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OKOTOKIAN: Nothing sheepish about Miss Rodeo Canada

Miss Rodeo Canada not afraid to mutton bust

You would think travelling across Canada, representing her western heritage and culminating into a week in Vegas would constitute something to scratch off a cowgirl’s bucket-list.

All impressive, but for 2019 Miss Rodeo Canada Jaden Holle she took a pen to her bucket-list when she hung on for dear life on top of something that might be the main material of that Christmas sweater you just purchased.

“I had always felt a little ripped off that I never got a chance to mutton bust as a young girl,” said Holle, who grew up and lives in Foothills County. “The first time I got on a sheep was in Dawson Creek.

“I was watching all these kids and I said: ‘Hey, do you got a sheep for me.’

“So they brought out this sheep and I got to check that off my bucket-list.”

Holle will complete her reign as Miss Rodeo Canada when she represents her country – and seven athletes – at the National Finals Rodeo Dec. 5-14 in Las Vegas.

She was named Miss Rodeo Canada in 2018 in November.

“I was crowned Miss Rodeo Canada 2019 in the dirt at the Canadian Finals for the first time it was in Red Deer,” Holle said. “This year, at the Canadian finals, it was my reigning CFR where I got to represent Canadian pro rodeo and represent my accomplishments with the Canadian athletes who I have gotten to know.”

She admits it was a strange moment to stand in the infield at the 2019 CFR in November, saying good-bye to the crowd and friends after a whirlwind year.

“I was kind of reflecting on what was more of a significant moment, last year when my dream came true or this year when a lot of these athletes became friends of mine – it really felt like home,” she said while tearing up. “The first night of the CFR this year, I got to carry the Canadian flag and they brought all the CFR qualifiers into the arena, so they were all standing in the dirt. They played the national anthem and the lights were down and in that moment I looked out into the crowd and I looked at all the qualifiers and I could see the flag move across their faces as I was riding.

“That picture in my mind is one I will never forget.”

While maybe not immersed in the rodeo life as say the legendary Bews, the Thomsons or other Okotoks area families, Holle can hold her own. Her  great-grandfather and her father both rodeod in Sundre and the United States respectively when they were younger.

The 25-year-old Holle became interested in becoming part of royalty at a legendary rodeo in the Foothills years ago – Little Britches in High River.

“When I was little I saw some rodeo queens at a parade and then I was kind of hooked,” Holle said. “My parents saw this desire and got me a horse and got me into 4-H programs and that is how I learned how to ride.

“Then as I got older and discovered what a rodeo queen actually is, I felt it was an opportunity to connect those dots in my family heritage.

“Essentially, this way of life is dying. I wanted to do my part to keep the sport alive. I have been able to reconnect with those roots… The rodeo community is like a family and it something that I will be a part of long after I give up my title.”

Her first attempt at royalty was when she tried out for the Calgary Stampede Royalty in 2014. She didn’t make the trio so she decided to travel, go back to school, but she realized maybe she had one more attempt at royalty in her.

She was successfully selected as a princess for the Calgary Stampede trio in 2018.

“I had a great experience as a Stampede princess, but I felt that my job wasn’t done and that there was still more for me to learn and do, that is when I decided to start running for Miss Rodeo Canada,” Holle said. “I had a greater desire to delve deeper into the rodeo community, which this role allowed me to do.”

The job goes beyond wearing a Smithbilt hat and a Pepsodent smile.

“It’s a public relations position, the athletes are often so busy to talk to fans or do media interviews,” Holle said. “So if a rodeo needs advertisements or video done, I might be the one they call.”

Her long-term goal is to become a teacher – and Holle gained some experience in that department as well as Miss Rodeo Canada.

She recalls being at a rodeo where a bull was trying to get in position in one of the chutes.

“They were poking at him to help him stand up and I heard some people say: ‘Oh, they are trying to get the bull angry so he will buck,’” Holle said.  “We can’t have people thinking we are trying to get the bull angry.

“I explained it is actually a safety issue. We want to make sure everyone is in the proper position before we open the chute.”

She often finds herself in the stands explaining complex rules such as the mark-out rule.

The mark-out rule requires bronc riders to have the rowels of both spurs in front of, and touching, the break of the bronc's shoulders on its first move out of the chute.

She’s comfortable in the public relations role.

Holle honed public speaking skills in 4-H. As well she was a formidable young actor. Holle had the lead role as a young potential murderess in Windmill Theatre Production’s The Bad Seed in 2005.

As well, she lived in Mexico as a High River Rotary exchange student for a year.

And being a small-town girl from Foothills County, proved to be a perfect fit for Miss Rodeo Canada – it’s not always stops at the Calgary Stampede and the Canadian Finals Rodeo.

“I really enjoyed getting to know the smaller communities throughout the province and the country,”  Holle said. “Often I got to go to these smaller communities and got to stay for three or four days. It was always great hospitality.

“The big rodeos are fun because they kind of have the glam, but the smaller ones, it’s like a family and everyone is rooting for each other. I really just loved them all.”

In June, she got to know a small-town girl who happened to be a former Miss Rodeo Canada. Holle was introduced to Phyllis Dahl from Okotoks – who grew up in Millarville and went on to become Miss Frontier (High River rodeo queen) and then Miss Rodeo Canada in 1959.

Holle and Dahl’s story got national attention when they were at the High River rodeo in June to celebrate Dahl’s 60th anniversary of being Miss Rodeo Canada.

“That was special and Phyllis was introduced at the Canadian Finals Rodeo in Red Deer this year – she is such a sweetie,” Holle said. “It meant so much to me to see how important to her being the queen was 60 years later.

"I know that this is going to be something that I will carry with me for a long time as well.”

Holle will end her reign in Vegas. She will be joined by seven Canadian athletes – including 2011 Foothills Comp grad Jordan Hansen in the bull-riding event.

As for mutton bustin, she had a chance to ‘saddle up’ again at the Okotoks Rodeo in Millarville in August.

“(Rodeo announcer) Mike Labellle announced that ‘we heard that if we got you a sheep you would mutton bust,” Holle said with a chuckle. “Well if someone puts up a challenge like that, I am going to step up to the plate.

“I got to ride again.”

But as a Queen, mutton bustin’ presents a challenge.

“As a rodeo queen we are not really supposed to have our hat off, I was more concerned about keeping my hat on than the poor sheep, ”Holle said. “I could probably use a rematch.”


Bruce Campbell

About the Author: Bruce Campbell

Bruce Campbell is the editor for and the Western Wheel newspaper. He is a graduate of Mount Royal College journalism program, 1991. For story tips contact [email protected]
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