“I’m going to introduce more and more people to the sport of rodeo.”
Miss Rodeo K-State 2014 Danielle Stuerman,19, emphatically stated her objective upon accepting the crown of that distinction during the recent K-State Rodeo at Kansas State University in Manhattan.
“Rodeo is a tradition in this country. Many people don’t have any idea how large a role rodeo and the Western way of life have attributed to our nation’s development, and how important they are to the economy today,” Stuerman added.
However, the new queen quickly related, “I’ve really only been involved in the sport of rodeo a couple of years. But, I’ve learned so much and want others to have the appreciation for the sport that I’ve developed in this short time. I have a great deal more to learn, and I become more excited about it all of the time.”
While a relatively newcomer to the sport of rodeo, Stuerman has been closely tied to a different aspect of it, competing successfully in horse competitions throughout the country.
“I’ve been riding horses since I was 10-years-old and showing my Morgan Horses on the national level for several years,” related Stuerman, who’s from Shawnee in Johnson County.
“We actually live in the suburbs, and I keep my horses in a nearby stable. That’s where I spend a lot of my time,” noted the oldest daughter of Mark and Marla Stuerman.
The queen’s sister, Val, 17, has little interest in horses, but races competitive arena-cross and motocross.
“While some people might think you have to ride a Quarter Horse in rodeos, I did start out with Quarter Horses, but changed to Morgan Horses, and really do prefer them. Morgans are all-around athletes and can certainly hold their own in the rodeo arena,” contended Stuerman, a K-State sophomore studying Animal Science.
Actually the new queen could readily back up her opinion of the breed as she collected the horsemanship title riding a Morgan Horse en route receiving her new queen crown from outgoing Miss Rodeo K-State 2013 Lindy Singular of Linn.
There are still those who contend the rodeo queen is just a title for a pretty girl who can’t do anything else at the rodeo, but Stuerman handily knocks down that old wives’ tale.
Of the divisions in this year’s pageant, Stuerman was first in modeling, personal interview, and the “People’s Choice,” as well as the most important to many: horsemanship.
Additional segments were Miss Congeniality, photogenics, public speaking, and written test. “I have to continue to learn more about the great sport of rodeo,” Stuerman admitted.
Few would doubt horsemanship is the key to a cowgirl, and Stuerman contended, “This was my first queen contest, but I was very confident. When a person has shown as much as I have, it’s just another day before the judges. Of course, riding the horsemanship pattern was my favorite part of the pageant.”
Then she added, “I wasn’t ever nervous until that night before the announcement was made at the coronation. I would have been happy for whoever won the title. But, since that night, I’m becoming more thrilled all of the time about the opportunity I’ve been given to benefit the sport of rodeo.”
Interestingly, the People’s Choice category is based on voting by spectators, and Stuerman had plenty of support in the arena bleachers.
“My whole floor from Goodnow Hall (dormitory) was there, and most of another floor, too. That really made me feel honored to have so many friends encouraging me,” conceded Stuerman, who serves as her resident hall secretary.
Other candidates this year were Shayla Lowry, Junction City, and Ashley Weems, Peabody.
For the pageant, Stuerman rode a 16-year-old chestnut Morgan mare called Divine.
“That mare is owned by Valerie Francis, who is a client where I keep my horses at home. The great mare is kind of semi-retired, and just needed a job. Divine was just perfect for the queen contest,” Stuerman said.
Her own horses are a pair of 11-year-old Morgan geldings. “Major is a bay I ride in Western Pleasure, and Spice is a gray I use for hunt seat and reining,” the queen described.
While Morgans are generally not considered stock horses, Stuerman is convinced hers will perform well in rodeo arenas. “They are fast, smart and do show cow sense. I’ve ridden Spice at a slow gait around the barrel pattern, and I think he’ll make a winner as I continue to work with him,” she said.
With no experience to date in roping, Stuerman intends to pursue that event as well. “I really want to learn to rope, not to compete in rodeos so much, but just for the entertainment, and my Morgan Horses will work well as my mounts for that new sport for me, too” Stuerman assured.
Getting her start riding by taking lessons until she was 17, Stuerman said, “I became more self-taught the summer before college. I now train my own horses, and if the opportunity arises in the future I would like to train horses for others.”
Sharing knowledge on all aspects of horses is extremely important to Stuerman. “I have given a few informal horse handling and riding lessons to friends, and I hope to increase helping others learn more about proper horse management and equestrian skills.”
To continue increasing her own ability, Stuerman related: “K-State has just introduced the Kansas State University Equestrian Team sanctioned with the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association. They are organizing a club this semester and have registered as a team, hoping to start competing next fall.
“I intend to participate in the club to compete and continue to represent K-State on horseback,” the queen said.
“Also, if I have time in my schedule during my senior year, I plan to compete for K-State on the horse judging team,” Stuerman added.
Already, Miss Rodeo K-State 2014 is filling her calendar with activities representing the university and the rodeo club. “I have nine rodeos scheduled to attend this year so far. I expect to be on the road every weekend going to a rodeo, participating in horse events and talking about rodeo to groups throughout the state and the Midwest,” she commented.
Although every situation is different, Stuerman said, “It costs so much to travel that host rodeos and organizations typically will assist with some of my expenses. I’m willing to cooperate with any group’s request in order to help them and the sport of rodeo.”
Just a sophomore, Stuerman is very much a leader. She also serves as reporter for the Block & Bridle Club and is treasurer of the K-State Rodeo Club .
“The rodeo club has several excellent events each year, and they can become more profitable if all of the members become more involved, and share the responsibilities,” Stuerman urged. “We have a large membership, but generally just a few members do most of the work. I can see that changing.
“There has seemed to be a separation between the rodeo club and the rodeo team in the past. We really have the same objectives, and I now see we are having closer collaboration on our projects.
“It’s all about the sport of rodeo, and we need to all work together as a team to improve our image in the Agriculture Department, and throughout the university,” Stuerman continued.
Optimistic for the sport of rodeo, Stuerman recognized the costs of rodeo participation. “Still, there are opportunities for all levels. The junior rodeo programs as well as high school and college have really expanded along with various levels of amateur competitions. Professional rodeo is becoming a big time sport, but not everybody can compete to that degree.
“So, I expect more participation in regional type rodeos, where cowboys and cowgirls have jobs during the week, and go to rodeos for their weekend relaxation. What better way to get away from stress of a profession than going to a rodeo with livestock and people of similar interests?” Stuerman evaluated.
That’s where Stuerman sees herself fitting into rodeo long term. “I’ll always have horses and be involved in horse competitions, hopefully more rodeos. I might even raise some of my own Morgan Horses to ride and show,” she said.
Uncertain of her exact career plans, Stuerman related, “I’ve become interested in the pig business recently, as strange as that might seem. I’m uncertain if it will materialize, but I’ll be involved in agriculture in one direction or another.”
Although Miss Rodeo K-State 2014 is in her first rodeo queen reign, Stuerman looks to the possibility of competing in additional pageants, maybe the Miss Rodeo Kansas competition.
“We’ll just wait and see how things pan out,” she said.
In the meantime, Stuerman’s main objective is: “Tell the world about rodeo and everything that it offers to so many, even those who will never compete, or have little background. But, rodeos provide everybody the exciting opportunity to watch top cowboys and cowgirls in action with outstanding livestock.”