HORSE SHOW ROYALTY: Krysti Cossin, Courtney Reich, Emily Healy and Katie Crummey
Outside, it was twilight. The setting sun's rays filtered through Sycamore leaves and young riders galloped their horses in the loamy rodeo arena. The smell of tri-trip rose from a barbecue.
Last month I drove out to the Clements Buckaroos Clubhouse, perched on a knoll above a rodeo arena. It was a Saturday night, and there was to be a coronation. I had agreed to help judge the speech portion of the San Joaquin County Fair Horse Show Queen competition. (I'd be remiss in not mentioning my fellow judges, Ted Barrett and Mary Nissen.)
I wasn't sure what to expect that night, but I came away impressed.
The girls had so much poise and intelligence: Courtney Reich, a 15-year-old Lodi High freshman, who was crowned queen of her division; Krysti Cossin, 15, who is home-schooled and was honored as princess; Emily Healy, 13, a student at Banta Elementary School, named queen of her division, and Katie Crummey, 13, an eighth-grader at Oak View School also honored as a princess.
It's not easy at any age to get up in front of a crowd of people and make a speech. But these girls did, showing grit and humor and good cheer. They also competed in a riding competition, held earlier in the month.
I heard the number of girls competing has dropped in recent years. Too bad. It is a wholesome event showcasing exceptional girls. (A tip of the Stetson to Royelle Diamond, who coordinates the contest.)
I am grateful to have been included as a judge.