Her Voice: Rodeo pageant bittersweet
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JESSIE, N.D. – Taylor Zimprich of rural Jessie, N.D., recently returned from competing in the National High School Rodeo Association Queen Contest in Wyoming.
The 17-year-old took 18th in the nation and said she placed in the top 10 in personal interview.
“The competition was really tough,” she said. “A lot of them have been training since they were tiny to be rodeo queens. I didn’t come from that background, but I thought I’d give it a shot and I thought I did very well for this only being my second pageant.”
Zimprich was crowned North Dakota High School Rodeo Queen in June. Her first pageant was for Miss Ashley Rodeo Jr. Queen 2013, where she won the crown.
The National High School Rodeo Association Queen competition is judged on horsemanship, speech, modeling, interview, appearance and an impromptu question.
“I thought it would be a really awesome opportunity, and I really wanted to represent High School Rodeo, which is really close to my heart because that’s mostly what I compete in as far as rodeos go.”
Zimprich said she was overjoyed to win the state title.
“I didn’t really expect to win. I had prepared myself for the worst and was hoping for the best,” she said. “When I did win, it made it all the sweeter.”
Zimprich, who will be a senior at Griggs County Central in Cooperstown this coming school year, will spend her year promoting High School Rodeo across the state.
While most of her experience at the national competition was positive, Zimprich said that on her way home, her horse, Caddy, developed colic, went into toxic shock and died.
Colic refers to abdominal pain and can range from excess gas in the intestines to sever torsion or twisting of the intestines, according to americashorsedaily.com.
Caddy’s intestines had twisted, and she went into shock before Zimprich was able to take her to an animal hospital for surgery, she said.
“It’s just one of those freak things that happens sometimes,” Zimprich said.
Caddy was the horse Zimprich did all but her goat-tying events with, she said. She had the horse for four years.
Zimprich got her first horse when she was 8 years old. She said she didn’t come from a horse family and had to beg for a horse. She started competing at youth rodeos when she was 12.
“In general, the people I get to meet are all really supportive of each other,” she said. “It’s like a big family.”
She competes in barrel racing, pole bending and goat tying at rodeos. She likes the adrenaline rush and speed of barrel racing and the bond she has to form with the horse in all of the events.
“It’s something you have to experience for yourself before you truly realize how special it is, the bond between your horse and yourself is really amazing to experience,” she said.
Zimprich said she hopes to get another horse soon and plans to continue participating in rodeo events.
After high school, she wants to go to college at North Dakota State University or a similar school to major in zoology before going to veterinary school. Her ultimate goal is to focus on equine research and surgery.
“Especially now after I lost my horse to colic, I want to help continue to find ways to better combat colic and other issues,” she said.
She said she will likely eventually compete for Miss Rodeo North Dakota.
“Rodeo will always be a part of me,” she said. “It’s been really special to me. I want to find a younger horse to bring up through the ranks. It can be really challenging, but it can be really rewarding emotionally to do that.”