… that wears the engraved, sterling and gold crown of the All American Quarter Horse Congress Queen, and for good reason. The 21 women, representing their state or regional associations competing for the title, know it isn’t one taken lightly, and the responsibilities that come as part of the package are substantial, but ohhhhh what a ride!
As the title implies, the winner represents the national association, and the world’s largest, single-breed horse show. For the next year, every appearance will be documented, every connection more valuable, and every experience one to not be forgotten. The road to the crown and sash is paved with blood, sweat, tears, more sweat, show sheen, coffee, and a circle of “farmily” to help hold you all together.
Prior to the Congress Queen competition, each young lady, age 18-25 as of January 1 of the current year, and not having been married, divorced, or had children, must compete locally for the state or regional association queen title. All tend to be comprised of the same puzzle pieces; interviews, written tests, and horsemanship tests. That’s step one. Once they’ve elected to vie for the Congress Queen title, it’s time to step up their individual games even more to compete at the national level.
Judging is based on the following model, 40% of their score comes from their interview results. Each young woman must answer an impromptu question, as well as a new addition to the 2015 program, provide a one minute speech to introduce themselves. As a national representative, she should be eloquent, articulate, poised, and in general, well-put-together. Public speaking comfort, and self-confidence are key. 40% of the score is based on their written test results. She needs to know the breed she represents inside out, as well as the rules and regulations of the association. As Congress Queen, you are the breed’s recognized voice. The final 20% is based on a ridden horsemanship class including pattern and rail work. Equine royalty must be able to prove her metal both in person and in the saddle.
Once the scores are finalized, and the crowd grows silent in anticipation of the announcement, it all comes together during the crowning ceremony. The 2015 All American Quarter Horse Congress Queen, is Miss Lauren Harrington, representing the Western Pennsylvania Quarter Horse Association! It all happens so fast, and in slow motion, as she’s presented to her audience, then the real whirlwind starts. The queen keeps a tight schedule.
In the upcoming year, in addition to her “normal” routine which often includes college classes and jobs, she’ll be performing countless public appearances. Her new responsibilities include awards presentations at the end of horse show classes, speaking engagements, fashion shows, photo opportunities, special meet & greets, and guest appearances just to name a few. Her impact will be felt on a national level, as well as on a personal level with each individual she meets. This is her year to make her mark, and she has a team to help her accomplish all those goals.
As much as she takes on in her reign, the cash and prizes are nothing to sneeze at! Each year vendors and sponsors donate thousands of dollars of merchandise to the program to keep the candidates and eventual queen representing in high style. The lengthy list includes items like clothing, boots, and jewelry, a horse trailer with her royal logo, tack and equipment, a two-year lease on a new car, and many custom items designed just for her.
Congratulations to Lauren, on all your hard work and effort paying off in one glittering, fantastic package. Enjoy your reign and be present in every moment afforded to you. From one former queen (albeit at a local, 4-H level) to another, it goes so fast!