Keeping Western Lifestyle Alive Is Rodeo Queen’s Objective

There’s something about being a cowgirl that’s always in the blood.

A yearning that just won’t quit, despite diverse directions a young woman’s lifestyle take.

“I grew  up on the back of a horse riding at our Burlington farm. I’ve always loved horses,” insisted Miss Rodeo K-State Brande Iseman.

Yet, “My mom laughed at me when I told her I was going to take my horse to college. She just didn’t understand,” Iseman added.

Obviously, there was that inner desire to prove that she was a real cowgirl.

“I did take my horse to K-State, became involved in the rodeo club, and I’m learning to rope.

“One of my major goals is to become a successful contestant in breakaway roping,” Iseman continued.

When the K-State Rodeo Club solicited applicants to serve as their Rodeo Queen and official spokesperson for rodeo, Iseman signed up.

“I really didn’t have any idea what I was getting into,” she evaluated. “It was a lot more than I expected, but the most exciting and rewarding opportunity in my life.”

Three contestants were in the queen competition with the first requirement being their leadership in the rodeo club plus seven other divisions.

“I won the modeling, speech and horsemanship categories,” commented Iseman, indicative of her lifetime horse experience and well-learned lessons in 4-H and FFA.

Exciting time was Saturday evening coronation at the annual National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association performance on her Manhattan campus when Brande Iseman accepted the queen’s crown from outgoing Miss Rodeo K-State Courtney Hall.

“I was so excited,” acknowledged the personable, still-smiling cowgirl.

However, that’s when the work really began.

“I’ve been busy all spring and summer representing K-State and spreading the good words about rodeo,” Queen Iseman summarized.

Still early in her reign, she’s helped charity fundraisers, rode in parades, assisted at several rodeos and had numerous interviews.

“Participating in the rodeos themselves has really been fun,” claimed Iseman, reflecting her love for anything to do with horses and horse people.

“I ride in grand entries, carry sponsor flags, help drive cattle and whatever they need me to do,” explained the attractive cowgirl.

“It’s interesting how much I continue to learn. I’ve been around livestock and people all of my life, but every day I have an experience to increase my knowledge,” she admitted.

“That makes me want to help others learn more about what I know about the sport of rodeo,” Iseman continued.

One place where she’s been able to do this is by reading Western stories to young people.

“I love to read,” Iseman contended. “Reading is one of the most valuable tools we have, and I can’t emphasize enough how important it is.

“There are so many really good stories about rodeo and the Western lifestyle. You can just see these kids’ eyes light up.”

Serious concern for lack of knowledge about  rural life in general is incentive for Queen Iseman to do her job better.

“The Western lifestyle is dying. It’s sad to say that many people don’t understand what rodeo is,” Iseman stressed. “My challenge is to explain rodeo’s heritage and how important it is to our country.”

As society has lost ties to rural life, Iseman, who was raised on a farm with generations of agriculture background, wants to inform the public about their ample, low-cost, high-quality food supply and its producers.

“My family has always been farmers, so I can relate to others from my first hand experience,” Iseman said.

Her parents, Jim and Diana Iseman, have a diversified Coffey County crop and cattle operation. She’s a granddaughter of John (deceased) and Ellen Iseman of Burlington and Don and Betty Miller of Topeka.

Queen Iseman has two siblings, James, 20, who’s serving in the military, and Kalynn, a freshman at Burlington High School.

“Horses have been a part of my family. We’ve even raised some  horses,” related Iseman.

A dependable mount is essential for a cowgirl, and Iseman is especially pleased with her four-year-old gray Quarter Horse mare called Pistil.

“She’s still young, but takes everything in stride,” said Iseman, after riding in the parade at the Wild Bill Hickok Rodeo in Abilene, where she assisted during every performance.

A slow pitch softball player, Iseman added to her high school leadership resume by being a member of the top 4-H state poultry judging team and qualifying for national FFA land judging where she competed with her brother.

After earning an associate degree at Allen County Community College, Iseman attended the University of Kansas before transferring to K-State.

“I’ve applied for vet school, so my future largely depends on if I’m accepted,” Iseman related. “I’d like to have a career in equine research or my own rural veterinary practice.”

While the K-State pageant was Iseman’s first such competition, she will be in charge of planning next year’s contest.

“We don’t actually have a queen sponsor, so that job is on my shoulders, and I already have a lot of plans,” commented Iseman, who won’t vie for  additional rodeos ties while in vet school.

“I’d like to, but I just wouldn’t be able to do either one justice,” she admitted.

However, horses and rodeo continue of high importance. “I have a young horse I’m going to train myself, and I’m planning to start entering roping events,” she promised.

Future of rodeo raises concern as costs for contestants have skyrocketed like all of the economy.

“Rodeo is a professional sport with top contestants and outstanding livestock,” Iseman exclaimed. “They are the best ever. The general public must be informed about rodeo.

“I love the Western lifestyle, I’ve inherited it, and it’s here to stay. I just want to do my part so others know about this great life,” K-State Rodeo Queen Brande Iseman summarized.

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