“Horsemanship is a lifetime learning experience.”
Instead of talking about her personal achievements with horses, Eureka Rodeo Queen Shayla Lowry insisted on crediting her mount for the titles and accomplishments they’ve had as a working team.
“There is always a better way to communicate with your horse, and I’m constantly working to understand and improve the performance of my riding, and achieving the maximum ability from my horse,” insisted the Junction City cowgirl, who has trained and ridden her buckskin Quarter Horse gelding Boondoc to most diverse and envious accolades.
After serving as the Junction City Rodeo Queen, Lowry added to her royalty prestige as a climaxing highlight of the Eureka Rodeo during August.
“I’m so privileged and excited to represent the Eureka Saddle Club and spread the importance of the sport of rodeo and its impact on the great heritage of the Flint Hills,” Lowry acknowledged.
First runner-up in the Eureka Rodeo Queen Pageant was Bobbie Julian, and Cassidy Farmer was crowned as the Eureka Rodeo Princess.
Sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, the Eureka Rodeo drew champion cowboys and cowgirls from throughout the country who joined in the grandstand filled spectator applause as Lowry made her queen’s run in acceptance of coronation, outstanding cowgirl ability most apparent to all.
“I really do have to credit my horse Boondoc for being a major asset in me being named to the queen titles and for much of what I continue to learn about riding horses,” reiterated Queen Lowry.
While she’s most humble about her personal knowledge of personal riding ability, Lowry has a lifetime of experience being horseback along with horsemanship education from one of the most renowned equine training centers in the country.
“I grew up riding horses. I was riding with my Mom (Janice Erichsen) before I could even walk. I rode horses in 4-H, horse shows and on the ranch gathering cattle,” recognized Lowry, crediting her Mom as a major influence in her own personal horse interest and knowledge.
“Mom has always ridden horses and still rides on the ranch and in horse shows,” Lowry noted.
Exhibiting horses, Lowry showed champions in both Geary and Morris counties.
“Horses have been my main interest, but I’ve also had all kinds of livestock, showed just about every species and had local champion steers, hogs, sheep and goats,” the queen pointed out.
Active in 4-H club leadership and as a member of the Chapman FFA Chapter, Lowry participated successfully in livestock judging contests with emphasis on horses.
After graduating from Chapman High School, Lowry admitted that she really didn’t intend to continue in college.
“I just wanted to become involved in my family’s ranching and farming operations, work with horses, and expand my own cattle and meat goat herds. But, Mom insisted that I needed to get away from home, see another life, and expand my education,” Lowry said.
After looking at many alternatives, Lowry decided to enroll in the equine studies at Laramie County Community College (LCCC) in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
“Horses were in my blood. I knew there was so much more I could learn and needed to learn about horses, and LCCC was the perfect fit. I’m so glad I attended there. It really broadened my horizons in so many ways, of course foremost with horses, but well beyond that, too,” Lowry contended.
“Built on a strong foundation of training and expertise, the nationally recognized program continually adapts to incorporating the latest techniques and scientific advances to best prepare students for success,” Lowry noted.
After two years at LCCC, the Kansas cowgirl graduated with two associate degrees, one in equine science and the other in training and management. “There is a third option in business, but I thought two was all I could handle at the time,” Lowry related.
The training program is credited by Lowry for sharply advancing her awareness of techniques to work and improve horses with various levels of capabilities. “We handled colts at a very early age, and I also personally had several two-year-olds that I trained to ride,” Lowry said.
Working closely with instructors, fellow students and her personal assignments, Lowry explained that there were actually very few problems with different horses, if the basic training development procedures were followed.
“While I was there, only one colt didn’t turn out to be a good riding horse. It just had an attitude about it, and never completely became dependable. There are some like that, but most horses handled properly can become quite usable,” Lowry contended.
A 60-day training internship was served with a professional trainer as part of Lowry’s course studies.
Also, during her LCCC college days, Lowry was a member of the Stock Horse Team, riding in major competitions at several other universities.
“That was a learning experience in itself, traveling with the team, cooperating with my teammates, and seeing how the other contestants and teams worked with their horses,” Lowry recognized.
Especially close to Lowry’s heart is that she took her own horse Boondoc to ride while in college and as a team member.
“We raised Boondoc, he’s Skipper W and Doc Bar bred, so there’s lots of all around ability. Of course, Boondoc has had plenty of experience working on the ranch, and in a variety of show events, so he was a perfect fit as my stock horse mount,” Lowry insisted.
Upon completion of LCCC classes, Lowry returned home to become more involved with horses, to work the land she’d purchased personally, and to expand her livestock operations as originally intended.
“I stayed out a year, and then decided I really needed more education, if I was going to be as successful as I wanted. So, I enrolled in animal science and agronomy courses at Kansas State University,” related Lowry, who is a senior now with intentions to graduate mid-term 2015.
In the meantime, Lowry was in the Junction City Rodeo Queen Pageant and accepted that prestigious crown, and the stringent duties accompanying it. “The Junction City Rodeo Queen is actually expected to do a lot more than a number of the other queens representing even larger, more prestigious professional rodeos,” Lowry related.
“That was truly a great year’s experience traveling around as the Junction City Rodeo Queen to rodeos, parades and other activities promoting the sport to all levels of the population,” Lowry said. “I literally went to dozens of rodeos and horse-related activities throughout the Midwest.
“After my Junction City Rodeo Queen reign was concluded, I heard about the Eureka Rodeo Queen Pageant, and decided I’d enter it, too. I wanted to continue to help the sport of rodeo anyway I could,” she commented.
“There really aren’t any major requirements to serving as the Eureka Rodeo Queen other than attending their rodeo, the Greenwood County Cattlemen’s Day and a couple of other professional rodeos in the state. But, I intend to do a lot more than that for the benefit of the Eureka Rodeo and the sport of rodeo itself,” Queen Lowry assured.
Enrolled in equine classes among her other intense K-State curriculum studies, Lowry is furthering her knowledge of horse breeding. “I’m also a member of the K-State Rodeo Club and becoming more involved in assisting with their many activities,” she added.
Living at the family home in Geary County, Lowry keeps two customer horses in training most of the time, in addition to owning five horses of her own.
“I do start young horses to ride and also sometimes take horses for special training as well as conditioning,” explained Lowry, who participates successfully in circuit horse shows.
“I pretty much compete in all classes except English, but I’m planning to learn that as well. I do quite a bit of roping on the ranch, but not in competition, yet, and that might come, too,” she said.
Often coordinating her college classes to allow for working Wednesdays on horseback at JC Livestock Sales in Junction City, Lowry has been an employee there for an extended time, as has her Mom, on horseback driving cattle down the lanes.
Additional queen pageants are an uncertainty at this point. “I will check into the Miss Rodeo Kansas competition, and some others, but in reality at 24, I’m probably near the end of my queen contests. Time will tell,” Lowry related.
Optimistic for the world of rodeo, Lowry said, “Expenses to travel down the road are high for contestants, but added money from major sponsors is relieving some of that pressure. The sport is increasing in prominence, and spectator appreciation is at an all-time high with their television contracts. I’m doing everything I can to increase the knowledge and importance of the heritage of rodeo to everybody I come in contact with.”
Admitting that value of mediocre and low-ability horses is rock bottom, Lowry contended, “There is a demand for well-bred horses that can perform, and I see that continuing and increasing. Just look at the number of youth in some horse shows. They are learning to ride right, and will have good horses,” Lowry assured.
Upon completing her Eureka Rodeo Queen reign and graduating from K-State, Lowry said, “I plan to farm and ranch with my family and expand my own livestock operations.
“I may take more horses for training, and even further develop my own horse business. But, I definitely want to help others learn more about proper handling their horses for their own benefit and for the horses, too.
“Certainly, there’s always more to learn, and I’ll always be learning more about horses, and doing my best to help others learn more as well. That’s my main objective,” Eureka Rodeo Queen Shayla Lowry assured.