Meet Kayla Seaman
Kayla Seaman hails from the Flathead Valley, where in the late 1800s her family homesteaded. As a small child, Kayla showed marked interest in the horses pasturing in the meadow across the road from her home. Her parents knew they had to find a place for her to ride.
For years Kayla won many ribbons in open Western and English classes at the Northwest Montana Fair. Eventually, her skills outgrew her parents’ ability to help her and they arranged for Kayla, then a teenager, to travel with trainers to several regional and Canadian shows. She ventured into many disciplines: show jumping across North America, three-day-eventing at The Event at Rebecca Farm (the largest horse triathlon in the country), to showing random horses from California to Kentucky through the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association, and skijoring (winning the 2017 National Finals in Red Lodge in her division). She is not done though; she is working hard to be the first woman from Montana to win the Miss Rodeo America title.
She describes a recent day at the Belt, Montana PRCA Rodeo:
00:02 I get into my hotel room at the Staybridge Suites in Great Falls, pull off my boots, and tuck my Greeley hat in my hat can. I find the iron and ironing board, pick out my outfit for the morning, and make sure it will look professional and classy.
00:59 I hop in bed, wrap myself up in a fleece blanket that I packed from home, say my prayers, and turn off the lights.
06:35 My alarm clock goes off. I lay in bed for a few minutes before rising.
06:40 I turn on my curling iron, my hair straightener, and wash my face.
06:48 Now this is the most boring part of my day, but the more I do it, the faster I get. By now, the curling iron is hot and I start sculpting my hair. It must last ALL DAY so I use a thermal heat setting spray to protect it and make sure it is bouncy when I ride around the arena in the evening.
07:17 Then I put on all my make up.
07:50 I pack up a day bag filled with an extra shirt (accidents happen!), touch up makeup, lipstick, bobby pins, and other essentials.
08:01 I leave my hotel room as Miss Rodeo Montana and have the necessities packed in my custom leather briefcase.
08:04 I go to the lobby for the best breakfast offered by a hotel in the entire state. Bacon (my favorite!), yogurt with fresh strawberries, blueberries, and pineapple, just to name a few of their options. I say hi to the staff, and give Michelle T a hug. She is so kind and we have cultivated a friendship since the pageant in January.
08:13 I see Cody Carson, the Northwest Montana Pro Rodeo Teen. I catch someone taking a photo of us so I offer him the opportunity to pose with us; he is tickled. After explaining to them that this is our normal uniform and inviting them to the Belt PRCA Rodeo, 20 miles outside of Great Falls, we part ways.
08:22 I get into the Ford wrapped with the North 40 Outfitters logo and my name. No speeding for me!
09:20 I am at the Miss Rodeo Montana Clinic located in the Belt Community Theatre to help teach young women about the industry, improve their rodeo knowledge, enlighten them about rodeo queen etiquette, and how to have a positive influence as an advocate for the sport, agriculture, and the western way of life. I was blessed to be able to work alongside the 2016 Miss Rodeo America, Katherine Merck, throughout the weekend.
11:45 As a group we head over to Jack’s Beans for lunch and continue to talk about what is going on across the country within the rodeo and the rodeo queen world.
12:15 We head back to the theatre and work on modeling! It seems silly to some, but modeling clothes for sponsors is an important skill for these ladies to have.
13:37 We start our drive over to the arena to get our hands dirty learning about the ins and outs of each event and how the rodeo committee transforms the “greatest sport on dirt” into an action-packed entertainment show for all to enjoy.
13:42 The gals and I arrive at the rodeo grounds but before we get out of the vehicle, there is an impromptu dance party to Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus’ “Old Town Road” on the radio.
14:50 Gordy Kessler, a PRCA Rodeo Judge, and Clancy Sivertsen, longtime Belt Rodeo Chairman, have come to answer any questions and show us how the timed events run specifically within the barrier. From there Kenny Barringer with Brookman Rodeo from Sidney, MT walk us through the bucking chutes and a behind the scenes look at the professional rodeo athletes: the bucking horses and bulls.
16:19 LaTasha Wieferich, a hard-working family member of Brookman Rodeo, chats with us about their new bucking horse babies. These foals are so special because they come from bucking stock lines that have wowed the professional rodeo industry for almost 70 years.
16:26 The queen clinic is over for the day and we can go enjoy watching the rodeo or if they brought a horse, apply those skills they had just learned, and help the rodeo committee with grand entry and clearing stock from the arena.
16:30 From there the entire rodeo committee, stock contractor personnel, JJ Harrison the rodeo clown, bull fighters, announcers, local queens Katie Lynn Kraus and Shay O’Neil, and other volunteers come together for the production meeting to ensure the rodeo runs safely and smoothly. As a PRCA (Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association) rodeo with a WPRA (Women’s Professional Rodeo Association) sanctioned barrel race, it is imperative that all rules are followed.
16:54 Typically, as Miss Rodeo Montana, I borrow horses at a rodeo because it takes a lot of time, energy, and money to haul horses around our gigantic state. I meet friends on the side of the road outside of the rodeo grounds and we put my saddle on Sailor, a handsome blue roan American Quarter Horse gelding, and proceed to warm up.
17:07 With my marketing degree, I fully understand that part of my job is to be an attraction for the rodeo to sell tickets. Another is to be an ambassador of the sport and educate people about the sport of rodeo, the western way of life, and our heritage. After warming Sailor up in the arena, I go around with other “queens” and allow children to pet the horses, answer questions, and take many photos. I hope they start to love rodeo the way that I do.
18:00 Rodeo starts! We bow our heads to pray for the safety of our cowboys and animals.
18:04 I am honored to be able to carry the American flag at so many rodeos. I also carry sponsor flags of the rodeo to promote their businesses and community involvement.
18:10 We watch the bucking horses do their business when the gateman pulls open the chute. I love watching for the cowboy to mark out the horse then gracefully work together in synchronized form; it is truly a dance when performed correctly.
18:12 I switch from Sailor to Tom, a been-there-done-that American Paint Horse.
18:38 From there, the queens help push steers and calves from one end of the arena to the other in the timed events. This is one of my most important jobs. Queens are the only people allowed in the arena without a PRCA Card. Contestants, judges, and photographers are all required to hold a card. This is why rodeo education is so important. Can you imagine if a queen got in the way and a cowboy didn’t win because of her? This is his livelihood; he would never forgive not only that queen, but it would leave a foul taste in his mouth for every future queen. Yes, we wear beautiful clothing but ultimately, our job is to stay out of the way.
19:50 Have you ever heard of Mutton Bustin? It’s where kids hop on sheep and ride them out of a chute made for small children and ewes? I help put on helmets and protective vests and explain to the kiddos how to ride the sheep and get them energized to have fun. These kids have a blast and I can be found chasing after each of them. Once they do come off, I am there lifting them off the arena ground, giving them a high-five, and running them back to their parents.
20:22 Happy Trails. The rodeo has finished and the queens make the final lap with sponsor flags.
20:30 I thank my friends for bringing the horses for me to borrow.
I return the horse, Tom, and remove his tack before I brush him and give him a little kiss on the nose for keeping me free from danger.
20:44 I run over to thank the rodeo guests for attending the rodeo and wish them a safe drive home. I sign autographs for young rodeo fans and take pictures with everyone that asks. My heart swells.
21:20 I walk back over to my vehicle and realize I have not eaten so I grab a protein bar out of the back of the cab. Most of the time, rodeo days are long and exhausting like this, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
21:26 The drive back to Belt is quiet, the sky is unbelievably gorgeous and humbles me as I realize how blessed I am. I get to travel this state and meet the generous people within it. I love everything about Montana.
22:37 I go over to a friend’s place to try on some clothes she is selling. Being a rodeo queen is expensive so when friends offer you a discounted price on second-hand clothing, you spring at the opportunity… regardless how late it is. We laugh and enjoy the camaraderie we have found through rodeo queening.
23:30 The cycle starts over again. I return to my hotel room to shower, organize my clothes for the next morning, hop in bed, say my prayers, and turn off the lights.