A chat with the new ‘First Lady of Rodeo’

She’s blonde, she’s beautiful, she’s the new Miss Rodeo America.

Chenae Shiner of Utah bested a field of 30 other state rodeo queens to earn the title of Miss Rodeo America 2013 at the MGM Grand Wednesday, becoming the sixth MRA from the Beehive State after nearly a weeklong competition that was both grueling and exciting. Shiner, who is pursuing a bachelors degree in radiologic sciences from Weber State University, was all smiles Friday as she made a lap around the Thomas & Mack Center arena before Round 9 as part of the opening ceremony.

Chenae Shiner became the sixth rodeo queen from Utah to win the title of Miss Rodeo America.  (PRCA ProRodeo photo by Tom Donoghue)

Chenae Shiner became the sixth rodeo queen from Utah to win the title of Miss Rodeo America. (PRCA ProRodeo photo by Tom Donoghue)

She was still riding high on Cloud Nine Saturday evening before the final round and was nice enough to spend some time talking to me about her experience. Next year will be a blur for the 22-year-old as she logs more than 100,000 miles traveling the country as the sport of rodeo’s most visible ambassador.

Shiner said the experience of being part of the opening of Round 9 was a thrill.

“Oh, it was amazing,” said Shiner, who grew up on a beef ranch in Roosevelt, Utah. “I don’t think there is any greater feeling than riding down that alleyway in the Thomas & Mack and hearing them call your name as Miss Rodeo America. You can hear (fans from) your state in the crowd cheering for you, and that absolutely just made it so much more real for me.”

Shiner won the appearance and photogenic events and placed high enough in the personality, horsemanship, speech and congeniality events to edge Miss Rodeo South Dakota Courtney Peterson for the crown. Peterson was the person who helped make Shiner realize she’d actually won the title.

“It took a moment for it to sink in,” she said. “I had actually tallied up the scores from when they were giving out category prizes, and I thought I was going to be first runner-up. So, as they were sitting there listening to it and heard them announce the other state as first runner-up, it took a few moments for it to finally sink in.

“The other girl had to grab me and be like, ‘You’ve just won,’ before it finally hit me. It was just pure shock, and I just feel honored to be chosen from such an amazing group of girls to be the one to come forward and be able to represent this organization.”

Miss Rodeo South Dakota Courtney Peterson, left, had to tell Chenae Shiver she'd won before it sank in.  (PRCA ProRodeo photo by Tom Donoghue)

Miss Rodeo South Dakota Courtney Peterson, left, had to tell Chenae Shiver she’d won before it sank in. (PRCA ProRodeo photo by Tom Donoghue)

Shiner said she used her horse trailer to bring all of her clothes and gear, which included six hats and nearly 20 pair of cowboy boots. The six-day competition was grueling for her and the other pageant contestants.

“It was definitely a long week,” Shiner said. “We were extremely lucky though, and this year they actually gave us girls a lot of down time. So, we had a few more breaks in between to catch up on our sleep.”

Shiner will get the rest of December off to rest and recharge, and she’ll need all of her energy next year to fulfill her obligations in a schedule that’s going to be chock full of appearances and events.

“Ready or not, here it comes,” Shiner said. “I’m going to jump in with both feet and hit the ground running. I’m really excited to be able to travel to all of the different rodeos and meet so many great people across the country.

“I feel ready and excited.”

Miss Rodeo America 2012 Mackenzie Carr gave Shiner helpful tips about what she’s to expect next year.

“We’ve exchanged numbers, and we’ve been able to associate a lot these past few days,” Shiner said. “She’s given me all sorts of advice, from traveling and how to do laundry while you’re on the road to how to enjoy the down time and every little moment you can. She’s an amazing woman, and I just hope I can step up and do as great of a job as she has.”

Miss Rodeo America 2013 Chenae Shiner hung out in the press room to watch Rounds 9 and 10.

Miss Rodeo America 2013 Chenae Shiner hung out in the press room to watch Rounds 9 and 10.

Perhaps what Shiner is looking forward to most in 2013 is being able to attend rodeos in her native state as Miss Rodeo America.

“I’m especially looking forward to attending my own Utah rodeos, because they supported me so much as Miss Rodeo Utah,” she said. “I can’t think of any greater honor than coming back as Miss Rodeo America.”

Part of Shiner’s compensation for becoming Miss Rodeo America is a $20,000 college scholarship, which she’ll use to finish her degree after her reign is complete. She wants to help people by working as a radiology technician.

“I was able to spend a couple summers between college semesters volunteering at a local hospital, and one summer, I volunteered in the radiology lab,” Shiner said. “From that, I just got hooked on the whole system, helping people and being in the scene of modern technology. I just think it’ll be an amazing career.”

Poignant words from a woman who will be a great representative of the sport and who is an inspiring example for little girls everywhere.

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