ASU freshman Brooke Smith vividly remembers her first rodeo.
She was “super little,” and with her family in Prescott for the seven-day Frontier Days.
“We’ve always gone since I was young,” the Tempe native says. “That’s where I learned about trick riders and rodeo queens. I’ve always loved horses and that’s when I decided I needed to learn about rodeo, I wanted to get into it really badly”.
She was so overwhelmed she asked her family to help her learn. Now, Smith has been riding horses for 11 years and became involved in the sport of rodeo in 2014. She is the current Cave Creek Rodeo Days queen, alongside her friend, Teen Queen winner Rylee Anforth.
Cave Creek Rodeo Days is Friday, March 22, to Sunday, March 24. In its 42nd year, with Sanderson Ford as the 2019 title sponsor, the event will take place at Cave Creek Memorial Arena with three PRCA rodeo performances featuring top-ranking Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association and Women’s Professional Rodeo Association contestants.
Cave Creek Rodeo Days Queen and Teen Queen contestants were judged on their horsemanship, personality and appearance. In addition, they were required to communicate a strong understanding of rodeo.
Smith and Anforth will travel the Turquoise Circuit, representing Cave Creek Rodeo Days at events throughout the Southwest during the remainder of 2019 and into early 2020.
“My goal is to be a great ambassador for the sport of rodeo, and our rodeo in particular,” says Smith, who just turned 19. “We travel all over the state, representing rodeo and helping teach people about rodeos.”
Smith graduated from Marcos de Niza High School in Tempe in 2018 and is now studying psychology. Smith participated in the Southwest Arizona Sisters Inc. Equestrian Drill Team from 2014 to 2018. She is now part of the Copper State Renegades Equestrian Drill Team. She enjoys competing in rodeo royalty programs and was named Copper Dust Stampede Senior Teen Rodeo Queen in 2015 and 2016, Lost Dutchman Days Senior Teen Rodeo Queen in 2017 and Sonoita Rodeo Queen in 2018.
Smith received an Educational Scholarship Award, Cave Creek Rodeo Days belt buckle and other prizes. Anforth received a Cave Creek Rodeo Days belt buckle and other prizes.
“I’ve always loved rodeo and have been fascinated by the queens,” Smith says. “I’m excited to be part of the community and help represent the people of Cave Creek as best I can.”
“It’s been such an incredible journey. I’m the only one in my family who does horses. There’s a lot of preparation and studying that goes into it. It’s not just general rodeo knowledge. It’s the community, the town’s history, the rodeo’s history. My friends and I are rodeo queens and we study for the title. They’ll give us patterns, and we’ll practice horsemanship.”
Smith has high hopes for 2020.
“I’m hopefully going to go to Ms. Rodeo Arizona,” she says. “That’s my next plan, then I’ll hopefully keep competing with my drill team.”
If her plans don’t come to fruition, Smith won’t be too upset. After all, everything happens for a reason.
“It sounds cheesy, but I say believe and support yourself and try not to be so hard on yourself,” she says when asked what she would tell other contestants.
“You can better yourself and learn from experience. Even if you don’t win, practice. It helps you get better.”
Cave Creek Rodeo, Cave Creek Memorial Arena, 37201 N. 28th Street, Cave Creek, 480.304.5634, cavecreekrodeo.com, various times Friday, March 22, to Sunday, March 24, $22 in advance.