(WSYR-TV) — We know that agriculture is very important across New York State. Well, you might be surprised to know that rodeo is too.

There’s even a Miss Rodeo New York competition, and its 2023 winner, Emma Gutchess joined Bridge Street to tell us about her journey.

Interestingly, Gutchess didn’t claim the title of your average beauty pageant. Like any other competition, of course, looks and personality are judged, but those aren’t the only things that will ride you to victory. It’s not what’s on you [fancy dresses] that get you further; it’s what you’re on. To win, you need to be able to ride a horse.

Miss Rodeo USA is a pageant that aims to select a spokeswomen for the International Professional Rodeo Association. Each contestant gets judged on looks, personality, and horsemanship.

Competing started as what Gutchess called a “joke” with her trainer. While Gutchess was expanding her horse-riding skills, her trainer suggested that she compete in the competition since she had the looks and the ability. “So now, here I am,” Gutchess said, laughing.

Although Gutchess modestly laughs about her spontaneous decision to compete, the journey to win was laborious. At the show, each contestant gets a horse they are unfamiliar with and can not warm up with. They then have to perform a previously memorized reining pattern. Although the work may require a travail effort, Gutchess has fallen in love with it and feels, “It has been such an amazing whirlwind of a year.”

Gutchess’ motto is, “Find your own frontier.” She wasn’t the only young girl to know that despite where they are from, background, or demographics, they still can participate in rodeo and horseback riding.

Her next competition in Las Vegas is for the national title. “It’s everything but bigger, she said.” She can rely on determination to ride her into that rodeo.