SMWC senior awarded Second Runner-Up at Hoosier Horse Fair Queen Competition
April 19th, 2016 | SMWC
By: Katie Shane
Right off the bat Frances Garrett wants to clarify the Indiana Horse Council Queen Competition is not a traditional pageant.
“One of the main misconceptions is that it is a beauty pageant; it has nothing to do with our looks,” the Pine Village, Ind., native explains. “Yes, all of the women participating are beautiful, inside and out, but we have to take a written test on basic equine knowledge and then interview with a three judge panel and complete a [horse] riding pattern.”
The prestigious contest, sponsored by the Indiana Horse Council (IHC), just completed its second year at the Hoosier Horse Fair (HHF), crowning Purdue University student Kelsey Sajdera as the 2016 Queen. Garrett, a senior at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College was awarded 2nd Runner-up behind Lafayette, Ind., resident, Adrianna Erdie.
“It is an honor to be a spokesperson with this organization, which is so connected with the horse industry in Indiana,” Garrett says of the experience.
Established in 2015, the Indiana Horse Council Queen Competition was created as a promotion of young women in the equine industry, but also as one of the kick-off events of the annual Hoosier Horse Fair. In 2016, the crowning and awards presentation was hosted on Thursday, March 31, during the fair and expo’s signature event, the “TailGait.”
To qualify, participants must be Indiana residents between the ages of 16-25 years old, a member of the IHC and willing to commit to numerous appearances throughout the year promoting the IHC and Indiana equine industry in general.
According to the IHC web site, the IHC ideal representative “is actively involved in the horse industry with a desire to learn and grow… The program is designed to raise awareness of the Indiana Horse Council and its efforts within the equine industry. We need an outgoing, enthusiastic young horsewoman to be the face of our organization throughout the year.”
The IHC advertises for one young horsewoman, but the entire court, including Garrett, was put to work during the 2016 HHF, which was held at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. Duties ranged from greeting expo vendors to hosting children from the Make A Wish Foundation.
“It was amazing; we had the chance to spend the day with them,” Garrett explains. “I had three kids with me, and we went around with them; it was really a joy to spend the day with them and watch them being able to spend time with the horses.”
Spending time with horses is routine for Garrett, an equine business management major at SMWC. Although involved with the HHF for the past three years, she says her time participating with the Queen Competition has changed her perspective and given her even more knowledge for her future career. Garrett says she gained invaluable contacts while networking as her duties on the Queen’s court and learned there’s still plenty to explore in the industry after exploring the HHF and taking the competition’s written test.
“It's been a confidence builder,” she says. “Through this process, we had to enter a room with 20 candidates and are encouraged to talk to them and the board members of the Indiana Horse Council; it really enabled me to speak to people that I don't know in a professional setting.”
The skills will no doubt pay off when Garrett graduates from The Woods this spring. She’ll continue her studies at the College, enrolling in the Master of Leadership Development program, where she will focus on Not-for-Profit Leadership.
While still pondering exactly what she will do in the future, Garrett says she is leaning towards equine physical therapy with at-risk youth. With another year of schooling at The Woods in front of her during her master’s study and another year participating in the HHF, Garrett explains that she feels like the future possibilities are endless.
“There is really no other program like the one we have at The Woods,” she says. “The Hoosier Horse Fair is just another opportunity for the students; they really get out there in the industry and see how talented they can be and see that there are opportunities that are out there that they maybe didn't even know they could get. It’s amazing.”