14 Nov RIATA CHRISTIANSEN
Born into an equine world, where both parents (Mistie and Kirk) competed in high school rodeo and continue to hit local events, it seemed only natural that Riata and her four wrestling brothers take to the arena. “My older brother and I compete in the high school and my three younger brothers compete in the junior high division and the 5th and under. My parents got us into rodeo, and for that, I am very grateful. They have taught me everything that I know and continue to coach me. They are so very supportive and I am so grateful for everything that they do,” Riata said. Mistie, the mayor of the families’ hometown of Emery, Utah was an all-around cowgirl, while Kirk, a horse trainer – racking up titles such as: Utah Trainer‘s Challenge and the Extreme Mustang Makeover Challenge, competed as a rough stock rider and roper. Their experiences have brought their kids to compete in other associations, such as the National Little Britches Rodeo Association and the American Quarter Horse Association, where the entire family remains members.
Introverted is one word that once described UJHSRA queen Riata Christiansen, but the 15-year-old cowgirl says that it was all changed due to her experience within the queen contests. “I love the people involved and it has taught me a lot of life lessons. Previously, I was really shy and couldn’t even talk to people, but it has brought me out of that. It has also taught me to think on my feet, stand up for what I believe in and has shown me that it takes all kinds of people to make the world go round,” Riata said of her favorite event.
As the high school freshman holds the crown, she is currently competing in her first year within the UHSRA, where she has already qualified for the state finals in most of the events that makes up her extensive list – barrel racing, pole bending, goat tying, breakaway roping, occasionally team roping and, of course, queen contest. “I would say that goat tying is my favorite event outside of queen. I feel that it is a skill that you have to work hard at, beyond riding a horse,” she said.
In addition, the Christiansen family all work together on their ranch, running approximately 150 head on a heifer-system, but make time to keep outside activities a priority. “I run cross country with my school, but in the off season, my family is all very involved in it as well and we enter races as a family,” Riata said. The family involvement brought her two younger brothers to competing at the Junior Olympics last year. “They both got good times and had lots of fun,“ Riata said.
In true spirit as a student-athlete, Riata maintains a 4.0 grade point average and is the President of her freshman class. She was also on her high school drill team last year.
Riata’s dream of becoming a queen hit at the age of 3. “My cousin, Angie Prevedel-Kellett, was Miss Rodeo Utah and I got to go see her at a rodeo, where she gave me her autograph. Since then, I remember always wanting to be brave, pretty and involved in rodeo, just like her, “she said. Holding the dream of one day becoming Miss Rodeo America, Riata says that she wants to influence others with additional titles that her sights are set on. “At first, my brothers were skeptical about me being a queen, but they have grown to the idea and are very helpful, encouraging and supportive,“ she said. In the meantime, she hopes to, at least, make the Silver State International Rodeo, if not, Nationals. “I really just want to continue to beat myself each time; rather than focusing on beating others,“ she said
—story by Magie Downare-Nevius