Have you heard the story of the suburban cowgirl? The story starts with a lively two year old receiving a plush, three-foot toy pony named Butterscotch for Christmas. She rode in her parents suburban Star, Idaho home and had dreams of becoming a real cowgirl. Fast forward to the same suburban cowgirl, now eight, and after riding for five years, she is currently the reigning Rodeo Princess for the Western Riding Club with a real, live horse named Romeo.
Maycn McCullough has always loved horses and after receiving Butterscotch, it didn’t take long for this dreamy toddler to convince her parents to start her in “real” riding lessons at the Western Riding Club, where Jodi Perkins is the Pageant Coordinator. Although the Treasure Valley is the most populated area in Idaho, you don’t have to look far or wide to find a friend or family member with ties to horses. In this case, Maycn’s dad, Jay, a 10 year veteran fire fighter for the City of Boise, has a sister, who has a husband, who has a cousin, who is Jodi, who works with the Western Riding Club. Maycn started riding lessons at three and a half and hasn’t looked back.
Her real-live horse, Romeo, is a five year old Bald Face Paint Horse that, as her mom, Deanna, put it, “found her.” Romeo was being boarded at Jodi’s stables, but was never visited by the owners and found his way into practice sessions with Maycn. She and Romeo started riding together every week and this is where the love story of a suburban cowgirl and her horse begins. Although she was bucked off only once, Maycn got back on her horse and continued to ride, get better and come up with a plan to make Romeo all hers. She started saving every penny, doing extra chores and was working out a plan with Jodi to make payments on Romeo, all at the tender age of seven.
Unfortunately this past fall, Jodi had to inform Maycn that Romeo had been sold to a new owner. Maycn’s reaction, “Well, that’s just great” was a combination of sarcasm and a bit of happiness that Romeo now had a responsible owner. What Jodi didn’t tell her was that it was Maycn’s parents who purchased her and Maycn’s name was on the paperwork as an owner. It is a Christmas morning story that will be told for generations. Grab your tissues.
Jay’s family has a nice Christmas morning gathering and like any good mom, Deanna hatched a plan to show up at the stables that morning with Maycn to give Jodi her Christmas present. Even with family hitching along, Maycn still didn’t catch on to what was happening until Jodi showed her the paperwork of the “new owner.” As her eyes made their way down the paperwork to her name as “owner”, the never speechless second grader was just that, speechless. Maycn rode Romeo for hours that morning with a permanent grin and sighs of unbelievable love.
Deanna still gets choked up thinking about the love and commitment her little girl has taken on at such a young age. Being an only child, she has high expectations on her and even more responsibilities now being a horse owner and reigning Princess for the WRC. In June, Maycn was crowned the Western Riding Club Rodeo Princess and has buzzed in the Eagle Rodeo and will get to participate at the world famous Pendleton Round-Up as well. She has rode in parades with Romeo, made official appearances and has her sights set on becoming Miss Rodeo America someday. She is a busy, but happy eight year old.
Although there is a lot of glitz and glam being a pageant Princess, Deanna laughs that there are absolutely no spray tans and definitely no fake teeth. “Just big cowgirl hair” she says with a laugh at this new fact of life and her new title of pageant mom. Between the rodeos, parades and appearances that Maycn is in this summer, her new pageant wardrobe consists of Bedazzled shirts (some from Jodi’s plethora of former princess outfits) to off-the-rack sparkly rodeo shirts from D&B. Maycn isn’t the only one who gets “blinged up” — Romeo gets his share of horse glitter (also known as “twinkle”) and colorful, thankfully in stock, vet wrap to match Maycn and the occasion.
Maycn is an outsider when it comes to where she lives and how a suburban girl can love a horse just as much as any ranch-raised cowgirl can. But these little factors haven’t stopped her, nor will it, from continuing on with her training with Romeo and becoming the next suburban-based Miss Rodeo America. Deanna and Jay can’t say enough good things about the horse community and how welcoming, kind and helpful they all are, “It’s just overwhelming. You wouldn’t see this kind of openness in any other group that was, what we thought, so exclusive.” The Western Riding Club Queen, Megan Charrier, and her family have been guided by WRC Pageant Coordinator, Jodi, right along side the McCullough’s and couldn’t be happier to do so. Megan has become a big sister to Maycn and a role model on how a young woman should carry herself, behave, act and portray herself at all times — something that all parent’s strive for with their little girls.
Although the McCullough’s have no immediate plans to move out of the Star sub-burb’s, it is in the back of their mind of how nice it would be to have Romeo (and potentially a horse for every family member) on their own land along with their rabbit, Kyra and dog, Brutus. Deanna and Jay are seeing how much fun Maycn is having and how it is shaping her world with personal responsibility, kindness to animals and an unmatched kind of love that one hopes for.
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