Kearns and Sons RS Aesthetics

Local cowgirl vying for Miss Teen Rodeo Montana

Dakoda Hankinson is a past Missoula Stampede Rodeo Princess and Ravalli County Rodeo Princess and will be competing this weekend in Great Falls for the title of Miss Teen Rodeo Montana. Jean Schurman photo.

By Jean Schurman

Dakoda Hankinson of Stevensville will be competing for Miss Teen Rodeo Montana beginning January 10 in Great Falls at the Montana Pro Rodeo Finals. Hankinson is the 17-year-old daughter of Sarah and Calvin Hankinson of Stevensville. She is home schooled and is a junior. She has an older brother and sister, as well as a younger sister and three foster siblings. Her younger sister competes in Pony Club, 4H and does three day eventing. Hankinson said her younger foster siblings are also very interested in horses and will probably compete at some point.

The competition will culminate in the crowning of a new Miss Teen and a new Miss Rodeo Montana. Sarai McCollaum of Darby is the outgoing Miss Rodeo Montana and Hankinson said she has watched McCollaum throughout her reign and even watched the Miss Rodeo America event online.

Hankinson said she loves competing in pageants and loves the idea of being royalty and a cowgirl. “I like to show girls that you can be feminine and a cowgirl, and if you are a queen or a princess, you get to be both,” she said.

Hankinson didn’t grow up on a ranch but she’s always loved horses. She vividly remembers her first horseback ride at three years old. “We were at a circus and there were elephant and pony rides. My family went for the elephants and I went to the ponies, and never really got off.”

Throughout her childhood she has competed in the Bitterroot Gymkhana Club and in the Ravalli County Junior Rodeo series. She is a seven year 4H member and has even trained her own horse with the help of Stevensville horse trainer Dani Ede. More recently she has become involved with cutting and sorting. She said she has a very well-trained horse. She said she has had to learn that he really does know what he’s doing and trust him.

The pageant in Great Falls will consist of four parts. There is the horsemanship which involves running a pattern on a horse that is not the contestant’s, and then doing rail work where the contestant races around the arena saluting the crowd or carrying a flag. This is also done on a horse that the contestant has drawn for. There will also be a written exam on horsemanship, professional rodeo, and general agriculture knowledge.

The second part of the contest is a fashion show where the contestant will wear two outfits selected by the event sponsors. (The contestants sent in their measurements so the outfits will be fitted to them.) The third outfit is one of each girl’s selection. According to Hankinson, it should reflect her personality but also show what is trending in western wear.

Each contestant will have a personal interview for the third portion of the pageant. These questions are not limited to agriculture or rodeo, but are also a key to the overall personality of the girl.

The final portion is a speech. This is an extemporaneous speech on any given subject. The girls have 10 minutes to prepare for the speech which should be 90 seconds long. Hankinson said she has been preparing for this particular portion of the contest by taking a speech and debate course. She has also done a lot of theater work and loves to talk to anyone about horses, rodeo and agriculture.

Although you don’t have to have won a crown to be in the pageant, Hankinson has been in a few. In 2014, she was selected Ravalli County Rodeo Princess. In 2016, she was the Missoula Stampede Rodeo Princess. In addition to making appearances at the host rodeos, she has ridden in parades and appeared as visiting royalty at other rodeos and events. She loves to promote rodeo and especially loves interacting with young girls.

The pageant will conclude on January 13.

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