Competing in Medicine Hat Exhibition & Stampede’s Rodeo Royalty Competition is a dream come true for Kearra Borthwick, as it combines her love of horses with her passion for community involvement.
“It’s something I’ve been planning for years,” Borthwick told the News. “I love the community of rodeo. Everyone’s just so supportive and loving. And (rodeo royalty) are like the ambassadors for Medicine Hat Exhibition & Stampede because they talk more with the community. So, it’s the perfect fit for me.”
Borthwick is one of three contestants in the 2022 Rodeo Royalty competition, running Wednesday through Saturday this week. Events open to the public include Horsemanship (Thursday, 7 p.m. at the grandstand), Public Speaking (Friday, 6 p.m. at the Cypress Centre) and Fashion Show (Saturday, 2 p.m. at the Cypress Centre).
Born in Medicine Hat, Borthwick remembers visiting the Stampede each summer and being amazed by the horses she saw there. As Borthwick’s knowledge of and experience with horses grew, so too did her interest in the Stampede.
“I wasn’t born on a ranch (but) I always really loved horses,” Borthwick said. “Once I turned 10, my mother finally agreed to let me do horse-riding lessons. And then once I turned 13, I ended up getting my own horses. I had them for a little while, but then it just got to be too much with school, so I ended up working at Midnight’s Trail.
“I mostly did volunteer work; just helping out with guiding trail rides and lessons and stuff like that. The other girls (who worked there) were really into rodeo, so they took me to rodeos and I immediately fell in love.”
While Borthwick has long considered joining the Stampede’s Rodeo Royalty Competition, she never quite felt like it was the right time until now.
“The last few years, I’ve been really planning for it and preparing myself, so when I did try out, I knew I was putting in my best effort and I was most prepared,” she said.
While Borthwick has extensive experience with horses and rodeos, including taking part in the 2017 Southern Alberta Summer Games’ equestrian portion, she has never competed in anything similar to the Rodeo Royalty Competition.
While Borthwick admits she is a bit nervous, she’s mostly excited for the opportunity to try something new and showcase her skills, both rodeo and ambassadorial.
“I’ve spent a lot of years volunteering,” she said. “I’ve done volunteering with Midnight’s Trail, and then Relay for Life and the Canadian Cancer Society, as I’m a survivor myself. So, that was a great way for me to kind of get into talking to community.
“And then also, with my jobs, I got a lot of experience working with kids. And there’s a lot of kids at rodeo. So I think my experience with volunteering, and with the community and spending lots of time with kids, makes it a great fit (for the role of Stampede royalty).”
Beyond the Stampede, Borthwick is passionate about social work, a field she will be pursuing at Medicine Hat College in the fall, with plans to complete her schooling at the University of Calgary in several years time.
“I would really like to specialize as a family caseworker,” said Borthwick. “I love helping people, and I want to be like a support system for families.”
KENDALL KING, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News