WHUK talks to Carly Kinder
about the life of a Congress Queen
There is a quote that says, “From the outside looking in, it’s hard to understand. From the inside looking out, it’s hard to explain it.” These words help put into perspective the life of being a queen within the equine industry. From the outside looking in, I have been perceived as just a pretty face. From the inside looking out, it can be difficult to put into words not only the amount of work I have put into achieving my queen titles and the commitment of being a reigning queen, but also all that I have gained from my titles, which include 2014 All American Quarter Horse Congress Queen. I have been active with breeding and showing American Quarter Horses my entire life, growing up on my family farm in Ohio.
Before competing for the national title of the All American Quarter Horse Congress Queen, I reigned for a year as the Ohio Quarter Horse Association Queen. To be the best spokeswoman possible for my state and the quarter horse, I had to study constantly to remain educated on the latest in the industry. I began the daunting task of learning the AQHA Official Handbook of Rules and Regulations a couple of years before I even competed. It is even fair to say the rulebook travelled the world with me going on my study abroad trips to Zambia in 2012 and Australia in 2014. Between juggling my full-time load at college along with being a member of the varsity cross country team, it was all about finding any second I could to expand my equine knowledge. Often waking up long before the sunrise, I studied my box completely stuffed full of thousands of rulebook notecards, worked on interview and public speaking skills, and rode my horse to continue to improve my horsemanship. Each year the state quarter horse queens compete at a week-long competition during the All American Quarter Horse Congress including an impromptu question, interview, written test, horsemanship, and style show.
The emotions that flooded me the night that I was announced the 2014 All American Quarter Horse Congress Queen are inexpressible. It is a blessing to be able to wear the crown and sash, but I always prided myself on being the same person whether I was physically wearing the crown and sash or not. For the next year, I would have the great honour of travelling the country as the First Lady of the All American Quarter Horse Congress, the American Quarter Horse Association and the Ohio Quarter Horse Association.
My reign started the very next morning bright and early. For the rest of the Congress, I was at the show from start to finish and as many know the show often goes very late into the evening. From thanking sponsors, to presenting awards, I was on the go constantly. Between travelling and late nights, I would often find myself only getting a few hours of sleep. I promised myself early on in my reign that I would never let fatigue affect me.
I would always think that there would be some people that I would only ever see or meet once. For a lot of those people, I was their first or only impression of the equine industry and I took that to heart. It was important to me always to take extra time to meet new people and talk with kids.
Before being crowned Congress Queen, I had spent 20+ years showing American Quarter Horses. Each appearance I made was equally as important to me. I wanted to have an impact on the industry and the people that had become family to me. Posing for countless pictures and autographs is an important part of the job as a titleholder. However, there is also a lot that goes on behind the scenes. For instance, I would often stay extra late at shows to help out in any way that I could. The roles you must take on as an equine queen are limitless. I worked hard to prepare for each appearance whether it was a speaking obligation, attending a fundraiser, getting to a show early, etc. One year goes by all too fast, so my best boot was always forward.