Not many people can say they’ve had a dream come true even before they’ve reached their teenage years. However, Hope Lowry, 12, of Osceola has managed to do just that.
Lowry was crowned the 2014 Leon Rodeo Princess during the Leon Rodeo July 2-5.
“Horses, they’ve been in my life so long, you know,” Lowry said. “Whenever we went to the Leon Rodeo — we go there every single year — so, I always see the princess and queen. I’m like, I would want to do that someday. It’s always been kind of my dream. It’s really cool. It actually came true.”
Lowry started competing in youth rodeos last year. She has been around horses since she was little.
“My grandpa, we rode together,” she said. “He put me in front of him in the saddle when I was in diapers.”
The Leon Rodeo was Lowry’s first time competing for a rodeo princess title.
“When I won the rodeo princess, I was really stunned,” she said. “I really didn’t think that I would really win it. For the first time (competing) … I thought I was just going to have a good experience and maybe try out next year if I didn’t win. But, I won and I’m like, ‘Oh, OK!’”
To win the title, Lowry had to compete in the areas of horsemanship, fashion show, an interview with the judges and a selection of random questions that are drawn out of a bucket.
With rodeo titles, horsemanship takes up a huge percentage of the scoring.
“Your personality takes a lot of it (too) because they want to see how good you are with the other people,” Lowry said.
Lowry also won the title of Miss Congeniality at the Leon Rodeo. She was chosen by a group of her peers.
All of the contestants vote who should have the honor, and whoever has the most votes wins.
The Miss Congeniality honor is essentially a reflection of a contestant who is the nicest or outgoing to other people.
“I was really surprised,” Lowry said.
Being rodeo princess is an exciting experience, but it can be time consuming. Lowry had to be at the rodeo till late at night and then up early the next morning for royalty appearances at scheduled breakfasts.
As for what Lowry liked most about the rodeo experience, she said she enjoyed learning more about working and building a better relationship with her horse, which is named Honor.
“We worked together the whole time throughout all (of) the rodeo,” she said.
Lowry, who will enter seventh grade next month and turn 13 in September, is also known for her musical talents throughout Clarke County. She can be heard singing the national anthem at various events throughout the area.
Next year, Lowry will return to the Leon Rodeo for an appearance and the coronation of the 2015 rodeo princess.
She will hand over her crown, sash and chaps for the future rodeo princess. However, Lowry will get to keep her specialty-made rodeo belt buckle.
For any other area rodeo that Lowry attends, she is required to wear her coronation attire, except for the chaps, to represent Leon.
In three years, Lowry will be eligible to compete for rodeo queen in Leon. However, right now, her goal is to work on barrel racing for other competitions.
With one coronation dream fully accomplished, Lowry said the Leon Rodeo princess experience taught her it’s a team effort between herself and her horse to win the title.
“I learned that it was just a really good experience,” she said. “You get to meet whole new bunches of people … and then you get a new relationship almost with your horse. You get more close to your horse. They bond with you. It’s really neat.”