Shelby Loop, a 15 year-old Anchor Point resident, was crowned Miss Alaska High School Rodeo on June 18 in Ninilchik and will travel to Springfield, Ill. for the 59th annual National High School Finals Rodeo this month.
Photo courtesy of the Loop famil
Since she was 9 years old, Shelby Loop of Anchor Point has been interested in riding horses.
Now 15, Loop has three of her own horses, and on June 18 was crowned the 2006 Miss Alaska High School Rodeo Queen. Later this month, she will compete for the national queen title at the 59th annual National High School Finals Rodeo.
“My friend (Michelle Schade) was last year’s queen and she had a lot of fun doing this,” Shelby said. “So I decided I’d give it a try.”
The national rodeo will be held in Springfield, Ill., July 24-30. It is expected to draw more than 1,500 young cowboys and cowgirls from across the United States, Canada and Australia, and offer more than $175,000 in prizes and $325,000 in college scholarships.
Although Loop competed in several riding events at the Ninilchik Rodeo on July 1 and 2, she will focus all her energy on the queen competition in Springfield, with the help of coaches Natasha Morrison of Homer and Mary Rainwater of Soldotna.
“Natasha went through it last year with her step-daughter (Schade), and she knows what we need to expect. She’s set up a calendar: today we need to do this, tomorrow we need to do that,” said Kindre Loop, Shelby’s mother.
“Mary’s been to this before, too. She’ll be down there with us, escorting Shelby.”
Queen contestants are judged on modeling, personality, appearance, a two-minute speech and an impromptu speech, horsemanship and a personal interview.
“The hardest part so far is probably the speeches, getting in front of people,” Shelby said.
For her mother, the biggest challenge is coordinating behind-the-scenes support, including fundraising.
“Last year’s queen spent $10,000,” Kindre said. “We have to lease a horse, which is $500-$1,000 per event. She has to do two rodeos a day, have four changes of clothes a day and rent an evening gown for the modeling competition.”
The family brother Kindre, dad Jeff and sister Amber plan to be in Springfield, cheering for Shelby, and a grandparent from Arizona also plans to attend the rodeo.
Representing Alaska in riding competitions at the national high school rodeo are Rhianna and Sierra Carr of Homer, Jennifer Murray of Soldotna and Ray Smith of Anchorage. This is the second time the Carr sisters have entered the national competition. They will compete in barrel racing and pole bending. This is Murray’s second time to enter the national rodeo, competing in the goat tying event.
“(Murray) was just featured in the American Quarterhorse Journal,” said Ina Jones, president of the Alaska High School Rodeo Association. “Just last month, I opened my magazine and there she was, running the poles in Wyoming.”
Smith is a bull rider and will be attending the national competition for the first time.
The queen crown and sash worn by Shelby at the Ninilchik Rodeo on July 1 and 2 were attention-getters, leaving some of the curious tongue-tied.
“Some didn’t really know what to say,” Shelby said, laughing.
Now with three quarter horses of her own Sis, 14; Rage, 9; and Denali, 2 Shelby has advice for 9-year-olds who might be interested in horses like she was at that age.
“Stick with it,” she said. “It’s a lot of work, but it’s a lot of fun, too.”
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