Three young women recently attended the Minnesota High School Rodeo Tournament and qualified to move on to the National High School; Rodeo going July 14-20. One was even crowned Queen of the Minnesota High School Rodeo.
Pine River-Backus High School Junior Jessica Hanneken said she wasn’t confident when she entered the Minnesota High School Rodeo Queen competition. She had never entered the contest before, but she said it was probably her personal interview that got her crowned.
“I’m glad I did it now,” Hanneken said. “I hope to do well, I hope to represent our state. I don’t know how well I’m going to do. I don’t know these other girls, but I’m going to try to do my best, and hope for the best.”
Hanneken’s personal charm is also responsible for other winnings.
Hanneken’s grandfather had sent her an advertisement from a South Dakota newspaper. In it was an offer by a South Dakota rancher with a pregnant prized mare.
“One of his mares got into the stud pen and got pregnant at about a year and a half old and had a premature filly. They thought it wouldn’t’ sell well at auction so they decided to give it to a child for Christmas,” Hanneken said.
The rancher asked for any interested children to write a letter explaining why they should recieve the horse. Hanneken decided to write.
In Hanneken’s letter she said that she already had a “lonely” horse and would feed and brush them every day at 5 a.m.
Whatever else she wrote, Hanneken was one of over 60 children to explain why they deserved the filly, but she was the only one to win. She named the horse Minnie. That very same horse helped her win MN High School Rodeo Queen.
Hanneken has even placed 4th in team roping at the event, thus qualifying her for the National High School Rodeo in two events.
Hanneken will be joined by her team roping partner Josh Cronquist, his horse Jet, her queen horse Minnie, and her roping horse Jackpot.
Hanneken will have local competition at nationals, because Sami Mcguire from West of Backus and her team roping partner Gannon Gustafson also qualified at the state rodeo by placing 3rd.
McGuire participates in multiple rodeo events, including barrel racing, pole bending, breakaway roping, and team roping. This is not her first year going to nationals.
“Last year I won the breakaway roping for state and I got 14th at nationals,” McGuire said. “I did really good there, I would have placed probably 3rd in breakaway in the world, but with my last calf I broke the barrier (and received a 10 second penalty).”
McGuire’s success is largely due to sheer practice. She often spends three hours a day practicing her roping, and during the winter months she continues practice inside of a large barn on her parent’s property.
McGuire said she began riding horses when she was only five years old in Missouri. She said that she became really active in rodeo when her family moved to their current farm.
“I was into it before, but now it’s like my entire life,” she said.
McGuire said that a large part of her success is also due to the people around her, including her partner.
“I have a really good partner. If he’s on his game he normally catches every one,” McGuire said.
She also thanked her parents, Mike and Teresa McGuire.
“They do everything. They come out and practice with me when it’s 100 and some degrees out and they deal with the mosquitoes that are biting us when we are trying to practice, and they are there for emotional support when I’m having a breakdown,” she said.
Joessa Giesen, a senior living in Pequot Lakes, will also be competing in nationals, but she will not be participating against Hanneken or McGuire. That’s because Giesen placed 4th in barrel racing.
Giesen is a regular at nationals. She said she has qualified every year since she was in grade seven. In grades seven, eight and ten she qualified in pole bending. In all but grade seven she has also qualified in barrel racing.
Last year Heart, her horse, was injured just before nationals, so she was forced to ride a brand new horse for nationals.
“I didn’t place, and in the poles I knocked. So it didn’t go well last year,” Giesen said.
She is hoping to do better this year.
“He’s been running pretty good, and he’s healthy, so it should go pretty good. We’ll see,” she said.
Giesen has been exercising her horse in preparation, but she doesn’t practice barrel racing much.
“I don’t practice my events a lot. I just exercise my horses to keep them in shape. I don’t want to burn them out on the pattern because they get pretty sick of it,” she said.
Giesen said that horses that have been burned out on a pattern often are hard to coax into a ring for competition, so barrel racing horses are often just given exercise to keep them in shape.