The horsemanship portion of Miss Rodeo Kansas began Thursday.

This Miss Rodeo Kansas pageant has been a major asset to Dodge City Days as well as the Miss Dodge City organization for several years. This year’s pageant kicked off on Thursday morning with a horsemanship competition.

“What the girls are judged on is how well they ride,” said Miss Rodeo Kansas 2013, Kara Hackney, who was volunteering for the pageant. “They’re also judged on how well they control the horse, there’s a lot of different factors that play into that. The horse itself isn’t getting judged though, it’s just the girls that are getting judged.”

Contestants for Miss Kansas Rodeo include Brooke Wallace of New Cambria, Shannon McLachlan of Pittsburg State and Mikhayla DeMott of Rio, Illinois. Contestants for the teen portion of the pageant include Jaylinn Pfeifer of Ellis, Pepper Splechter of Wichita and Emmie Noyes of Linwood.

“The horse they ride is selected at random draw, so the girls have never rode these horses before until they get out on the arena,” said Hackney. “It shows true horsemanship because they’re not used to these horses and have never been around them.”

According to Hackney, the horses are from Harry Vold Rodeo Company, which is the stock truck company that provides horses for the Roundup Rodeo.

During the horsemanship competition, the contestants performed a horsemanship pattern set by Miss Rodeo Kansas 2017, Hannah Neuenschwander, where the contestants would ride their assigned horse around the arena once, then went to the middle where they would show off their ability to rein their horse back. From there, they went over to the judges.

“They have an interview where they ask them some horsemanship and personal questions,” said Hackney. “They do it to kind of get to know them a little, then the contestant will dismount.”

After all the contestants performed their horsemanship pattern, they all entered the arena for the railing portion of the competition, where the judges assesed each contestant's ability to control the horse.

From there, the teen contestants performed. Following the horsemanship competition, the girls went to the Boot Hill Museum, then to Wright Park for the wacky trike race.

Afterwards, the contestants will head to Guymon Petro, where they will answer personal interview questions.

“That’s not open to the public, it’s just the girls sitting down with the judges,” Renae Skelton, president of the Miss Rodeo pageant, said on Thursday. “Tomorrow will be at Wendy’s for lunch, so they will meet and greet people there. Then, we’ll have a speech competition at the Senior Center at 2 p.m.”

The girls will then head to Casey’s for dinner at 5:30 p.m., then to the rodeo grounds afterward for the roundup rodeo at 7 p.m.

Tomorrow at 11:30 a.m., the style show portion of the competition will take place at Knights of Columbus. Afterward, both winners will be announced.

To contact the writer of this story, email egarcia@dodgeglobe.com.