Cowgirls have a crack at Rodeo Queen Quest
WHEN the Australian Rodeo Queen Quest for 2016 officially opened last month, two entrants who didn't waste any time shining their boots, donning their hats and registering their interest for being next year's Queen of all things rodeo were Shannon Killman and Amy Dolbel.
The Rodeo Queen hopefuls, who hail from Tara and Chinchilla respectively, may come from the same region but they couldn't be more different.
After a 14-year-long career as SGT Medic in the Australian Army, Shannon Killman is taking advantage of her well-deserved long-service-leave (in which she has also had a baby) to have a crack at realising her dream of being a rodeo queen.
"Ever since I was little I would be amazed by these beautiful women in their long chaps sitting up on their horse with the Australian flag," Mrs Killman said.
Despite a life-long fascination with rodeos, horses and even Country and Western clothing, Mrs Killman's heavy involvement with the army and its constant relocations since she was 17 meant she had little time to engage these other passions.
Fortunately, this changed after she went on long-service leave over a year ago and moved to Tara with her husband.
Since then, Mrs Killman is on horseback any chance she gets, when she isn't nursing her one year old son, Jackson.
"Determination is one of my main attributes," she grinned.
"I'm going to achieve it or I'm going to die trying. There are so many things I want to go out and achieve, and I guess a lifetime isn't really long enough."
Mrs Killman said her favourite aspects about rodeos were the electric atmosphere of the "heritage sport".
In almost stark comparison, Chinchilla's Amy Dolbel has grown up on the rodeo circuit, and although she is only starting out in her career in child-care, the 18 year old has already added an impressive amount of notches to her horsemanship belt.
Miss Dolbel's most recent of accomplishments occurred just last weekend at the Injune Rodeo, where she picked up both second and third and two separate open barrel racing events.
"I live on the rodeo circuit," Miss Dolbel said.
Although this is the first year the young barrel racer has been old enough to compete in the Australian Rodeo Queen Quest, she has had success in the junior categories of the state equivalents.
"In 2008, I was the Queensland Rodeo Association Princess and in 2011 I was Junior Rodeo Queen."
Miss Dolbel said her favourite thing about rodeo in Australia was the sense of community.
"I like the fact that everyone's one big family and we're all there to support each other so it's not just about competition."
The Australian Rodeo Queen will be announced in September next year after a week-long competition on the Gold Coast.