When people think about a rodeo, perhaps the last image that comes to mind is a woman competing alongside a drag queen partner who must be mounted on a steer to the finish line. That is just one of the things Tina Singleton, 50, expects to participate in at the 18th annual MGRA Show-Me-State Rodeo.
It was only four years ago when Singleton, a lesbian and a resident of Arizona, began to compete in rodeos.
“A friend of mine introduced me to it,” she said. “She’s been doing it for a long time, probably 10 years.”
She said that anyone who thinks that rodeos are mostly for men is sorely mistaken.
“We know a lot of women who do rodeo. They are a part of our rodeo family,” she said.
Singleton places a special importance on her rodeo family -- friends who also compete in the rodeo. It is a primary reason that she continues to compete.
“I do it for the rodeo family. We have a great one, and it wouldn’t be the same if they weren’t there.”
Singleton’s favorite events are the speed events: barrel race, pole bending, and flag race. “It’s an adrenaline rush.”
One of the harder events on her is mounted breakaway roping. “I’ve been doing breakaway for three years. It’s not an easy event for me. Just on my horse, it’s harder.”
“I like calf roping with my horse. We get better every time we do it.”
Singleton has had her horse since she started doing rodeos four years ago, but she doesn’t get to use her own horse at the MGRA rodeo.
“We fly in and use other people’s horses, so I won’t have my horse there,” she said.
She said it doesn’t really trouble her to use a different one.
“It makes me a little nervous to do that, but I do it every year I come. I just get a horse and go.”
This is Singleton’s third year going to the MGRA rodeo. “This is one of the funner rodeos I go to,” she said.
Singleton has had many memorable moments. “Probably the first time I got a buckle, that’s the big one in my head,” she said. She has won several now.
“I haven’t gotten a buckle for any of the speed events yet. I got really close at the last rodeo, but I got beat.”
She has yet to win a buckle in the Missouri Gay Rodeo, but calf roping seems to be Singleton’s forte. She won her first buckle in that event in Denver in 2010 and won another one there this year, won another buckle at Palm Springs, and won her latest one in Las Vegas this year.
Singleton said that in the beginning, she used to get nervous, but “I don’t now.”
It is never too late to start participating in the rodeo, Singleton said. She urges everyone to get involved.
“There are so, so many things you can do. Just get a partner.”
She says it is easy to get started. “Go to the rodeo website -- they have all the information you would need.”
Some events don’t even require horses -- just a partner. “Even if you don't have one, the people at the rodeo are happy to help you find one,” she said.
One of the primary things that Singleton wants people to know is how inclusive the rodeo is.
“The main thing is, tell people to come. There’s just about something for everyone. If you don’t want to do rough stuff, or don’t have a horse, you can put underwear on a goat. I mean, anybody can do that.”