SIERRA VISTA — Sunday’s Helldorado parade in Tombstone marked the first public appearance as newly crowned rodeo royalty for Preslee West and Allison Sartin.
West, 19, is the 2017 Benson Butterfield Rodeo queen and Sartin, 17, the princess. Both live in Hereford and are currently attending Cochise College.
The two were crowned earlier in October at a queen competition in Benson after demonstrating riding ability, general horsemanship knowledge and interviewing skills to a panel of judges.
“We’re very excited about the opportunity to represent the Butterfield Rodeo and serve as ambassadors for the sport of rodeo,” said West, who started riding 10 years ago, as a 9 year old.
Sartin’s interest in the sport started a little later.
“I’ve been riding since I was 11, but didn’t get serious about the sport until about a year ago, when I started taking riding lessons,” she said. “I started lessons because I wanted to work at improving my horsemanship skills, and it has helped me a lot.”
Preslee, a 2016 Benson High School graduate, is the daughter of Wendy West. She is studying fire science and paramedicine at Cochise College. Her horse is a tall, lanky thoroughbred named Cash that she is in the process of training for such competitive events as barrel racing and pole bending.
“For the queen contest, we had to perform a horsemanship riding pattern and were required to do a ‘hot lap’ where we race around the area waving,” she said. “And we had to show that we could carry a flag, also while moving at a fast pace around the arena.”
As part of the horsemanship component, contestants were judged on how well they controlled their horse at a fast rate of speed, West said. The competition also included interviews with a panel of judges.
Allison is the daughter of Andrea and Casey Sartin of Hereford.
“TheButterfieldqueen contest was my first equitation competition, so I was really excited about winning princess,” she said. “I had so much fun. We had to show that we knew how to ride and had several interviews with judges. They asked us a lot of rodeo-related questions, horsemanship questions and they asked us what our goals are.”
The contestants also modeled formal western wear and presented a speech, she said.
While a senior at Buena High School, Sartin attends Cochise College full time.
“So, I’m essentially taking my senior year of high school at Cochise College and I’m hoping to graduate from college a year early,” she said.
Sartin said she is looking forward to promoting rodeo and serving as an ambassador for the sport.
As royalty, West and Sartin will be making numerous appearances throughout the state. Look for them in the Fiesta de los Vaqueros, or Tucson Rodeo Parade in February, Benson’s Light Parade in December, the Benson Fourth of July Parade, the Sonoita Rodeo in September followed by the Rex Allen Days Rodeo, also in September.
“Those are just a few of the appearances that I can remember off the top of my head,” Sartin said. “It’s a whirlwind schedule, but it’s going to have a lot of fun.”
West will be joining other royalty from around the state at the Grand Canyon Professional Rodeo Association finals the end of November at Fort Mohave, in Northern Arizona.
“So far, this has been a fun experience,” she said. “We’re both learning a lot and have met some amazing people. It’s going to be a busy year, but I’m excited about it.”