Stampede royalty ready to represent Medicine Hat
Haley Schlenker and Abby Perrett are geared up and ready for a busy 12 months ahead as they represent Medicine Hat on the rodeo circuit and at regional community functions. The
2018 Medicine Hat Exhibition and Stampede Queen and Princess, respectively, have already been taking part in events across the city as the annual exhibition and stampede kicks off.
The two had competed in last year's event that saw eight competitors vying for the Stampede crown. The loss did not discourage either one of them who worked hard to get ready for the 2018 Rodeo Queen contest.
As the only two who entered the contest, they already knew each other, which made the experience that much easier.
"Last year, we had eight girls compete and we didn't know what to expect. This year, we knew each other. It was a different atmosphere and that allowed us to bond easier," said Schlenker, adding that they help each other through any challenges they may face.
Schlenker who grew up on the family farm west of Medicine Hat, has been involved with rodeo in various capacities, including as a barrel racer with SAAMIS Barrel Racing and the Chinook Rodeo Association. She is a member of the Medicine Hat grand entry team, something she would like to be more involved with. She also volunteers for the annual horse show.
Support and connections with former Stampede royalty was her inspiration to compete this year.
" I am good friends with some former royalty and I had a lot of support from them. They really inspired me," she said.
Schlenker recently received her Bachelor's degree in Nursing and currently works in the Psychiatric and Maternity wards at the Medicine Hat Regional Hospital.
Perrett grew up in the Raymond/Coaldale area and was always close to her grandpa's side as a young girl, learning as much as she could about horses.
"My grandpa really interested in horses. He taught me how to ride and it was him who encouraged me to compete in the Rodeo Queen contest," said Perrett, who has done some team roping with him.
Perrett would like to start a riding drill team for young girls who aspire to be part of a grand entry team.
"I want to start a riding drill team for young girls who can work up to grand entry, for those who are too young to be a grand entry girl. It would start the next generation," she said.
Typically, the riders start out with riding the sponsor lap, then work their way up to doing the anthem ride, and finally, the grand entry.
Perrett has taken part in cattle drives, cowboy challenges, and trail rides and has ridden in many parades, including at the Calgary Stampede. She was also part of the Calgary Stampede Show Riders.
Schlenker and Perrett would both like to see more girls compete in the Rodeo Queen contest and encourage them to give it a try next year.
The 2018 Medicine Hat Exhibition and Stampede Queen, Haley Schlenker (pictured, right) and Princess Abby Perrett (picture, left) are excited for the upcoming 12 months when they will serve as ambassadors, representing the City of Medicine Hat at...