Lauren Gilbert, 23, is an avid horse enthusiast, and has been in and around rodeos for much of her life.
“I practically grew up at the Nevada County Horsemens in Grass Valley,” Gilbert said. “That’s practically where I was born. I’ve been a lifetime member. I started riding and competing when I was 7 (years old) in barrels, team penning, and I started getting into the rodeo stuff the older I got.”
Influenced by her grandfather Bob Pelton and aunt Brenda Simlick, she embraced the world of rodeo and the one time Nevada County Horsemen Inc. Princess is now a bonafide Rodeo Queen after winning the prestigious designation at the Folsom Rodeo July 4.
“The Folsom Rodeo has more than 6,000 people attend every night, so it’s a major event for our area,” Gilbert said. “There are a lot of opportunities that come from (being crowned queen) that are community oriented. I will also get support from them to go onto Miss Rodeo California. Then, if I were to win that, they would help me move on to Miss Rodeo America.”
As the newly anointed Folsom Rodeo Queen, Gilbert said she looks forward to the responsibilities that come with the crown.
“There is a lot of promoting the rodeo,” She said. “Typically you are the spokesperson and ambassador for the rodeo. There is a lot traveling and participating in community events. And since the Folsom Rodeo is Pro (PRCA) its all over the states, and I will help promote Folsom and rodeo in general.”
While the allure of being a queen is what draws many to the competition, becoming a Rodeo Queen is no easy task, said Gilbert, who spent a lifetime training with her horse Sobe, and months preparing for the competition.
“Practicing for the competition, I spent 2-3 hours every night,” Gilbert said. “Between riding my horse, keeping him in shape, making sure he’s limber and fit and also practicing my speech, getting it written, memorizing all the things I need to know about rodeo as a whole, not just our rodeo. It takes a lot of time. I started practicing in March and the competition was in June. It’s non-stop with the questions and riding is year long.”
Gilbert, a Nevada Union graduate, went up against five other contestants for the title of Folsom Rodeo Queen. It was the largest field of contestants the rodeo had ever seen.
“As far as the competition in Folsom, we had a reining horsemanship pattern, which involved lead changes, speed differentiations, stopping, backing and general control of the horse,” Gilbert said. “There’s also a horsemanship interview which included parts of a horse’s body, a horse’s well being, how to take care of the horse, bloodlines and all that. Then there was a personal interview about general information about rodeo, like who are the leading riders in all the divisions, the history of rodeo and some political questions as well. Then we had speech and modeling.”
Gilbert was also the Rodeo Queen runner up at the Penn Valley Rodeo in May.
As for the immediate future Gilbert said she will promote the rodeo as much as she can as she works toward the Miss Rodeo California competition in October.
“I want to make as many rodeos as possible and share my love for horses and rodeo with others, especially children,” Gilbert said.
She also offered some advice for young girls who may one day want to be a Rodeo Queen.
“Anything is possible with hard work, as long as you stick with it, you can do it,” she said.
Gilbert also gave a lot of credit for her achievements to her time spent with her grandfather and aunt, and the support she has received from the Nevada County Horsemen.
“My grandpa and aunt have had the biggest impact on me as far as horses. They taught me everything I know and I spend many days riding with them and we travel together competing,” she said. “I also want to give support to the Nevada County Horsemen. That is my home away from home and they have done a lot to help me.”
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.