Detroit ISD first-grader Rikki Long, of Dimple, Texas, has been named 2021 American Rodeo Cowboy Association’s Sweetheart.
“When I told her she won, the tears started flowing, and she couldn’t believe it. I’m just so proud of her,” said mom Brandie Holt. “She never gave up and kept going. She’d get on stage and do her best, and I’m just over the moon excited for her. She had to work so hard for it.”
Like a Rodeo Queen title, the Sweetheart category is for cowgirls, four-years-old to eight-years-old.
Growing up watching her big sister Rose Long compete in pageants, Brandie said that while her daughter is a “bit of a daredevil” and your typical cowgirl who loves hunting and fishing, Rikki loves the stage and always wanted to compete in pageants like her sister.
“Winning this title was all her. It wasn’t something anyone did for her, it was what she did for herself. She’d learn everything she had to, wrote her own speech, and from a young age could name all the parts of a horse. She put a lot of effort in.”
During the four day completion in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Rikki competed against seven other cowgirls from different states in horsemanship, speech, modeling, closed-door interviews, and more.
Competing in rodeo pageants locally, Brandie said this was her biggest pageant by far.
“When she hits the stage, and she’s in character, she is waving her hand and turns it on. She had to do a simple pattern on horseback involving walking, trotting, loping, backing up the horse, etc., and answer different questions about horses. She wrote her own speech that was two minutes long about her and her family.”
Holt said it wouldn’t have been possible without sponsor Paris Ford, all those who bought raffle tickets, and her Aunt BB, who helped with hair, make-up, and making sure they had everything they needed during the competition.
When asked what she loves most about rodeo pageants, Holt said, “I think she loves the glitzy clothes and meeting new friends. Probably the modeling also as she likes to be the center of attention.”
During her year reign as 2021 ACRA Sweetheart, Rikki will represent the association at local rodeos. She also plans on competing at more pageants throughout the year and one day hopes to become Miss Rodeo USA and a famous barrel racer.