Horses have been a part of Rachael Ostrem’s life since before she could walk.
“I’ve shown horses my whole life,” the third-year veterinary medicine student said. “But I just recently found rodeo.”
Specifically Ostrem has become involved in rodeo queen competitions. But even after a friend suggested she would be perfect for the competition, she was leery.
Then she competed in her first rodeo queen event two years ago and it has changed her life.
“That first competition was absolutely the best weekend I ever had,” Ostrem said. “My interest just skyrocketed from there.”
It helps that Ostrem is good at it. She placed second in her first competition and then went on a winning streak. She became Miss Rodeo Leon, followed by Miss Rodeo Dallas County before this past September earning the ultimate state prize – Miss Rodeo Iowa.
Ostrem was named Miss Rodeo Iowa during a three-day competition in Fort Madison that took place in conjunction with the Tri-State Rodeo. She will assume the title on Jan. 1, 2019 for the next year.
Contestants are involved in extensive interviews over rodeo knowledge, current events, equine science and competitions in events such as prepared and impromptu speaking, horsemanship, personal interviews and a written test. They are also judged on their appearance and personality.
Ostrem won the impromptu speaking, horsemanship and the written test competitions.
“Horsemanship is definitely my favorite event,” Ostrem said. “The competition judges the rider, not the horse and focuses on the rider’s ability to move a horse through a pattern of circles, stops and spins.”
The veterinary student used her experience navigating through that professional program for her speech. Ten minutes prior to giving their speech, contestants are given a choice of four topics. Ostrem selected “Life’s Not a Race, it’s a Journey.”
“I’ve wanted to be a veterinarian since I was eight years old,” she said, “so in my case, my journey has definitely not been a quick race. It’s been a marathon.”
Prior to getting involved with rodeo queen competitions, Ostrem said she was involved in 4-H and FFA but never found an activity that encompassed all her interests in “one, neat little package.”
“Horsemanship, public speaking, leadership, veterinary medicine – I was able to take all my interests and do them all at the same time in the rodeo queen competitions,” she said.
For the next year, Ostrem will travel more than 30,000 miles throughout Iowa and the nation promoting the sport of professional rodeo, animal welfare, agriculture and the “western lifestyle” of Iowa.
At the end of her reign, she will compete in the Miss Rodeo America Pageant in Las Vegas.