Molly Musick doesn’t remember much about her third birthday. But she’s pretty sure it was probably a horse.
For Musick, saddles and bridles came before learning the alphabet, Barney & Friends and those whimsical late 1990s videos of Baby Einstein.
Molly Musick was riding a horse.
“I used to ride horses before I couldn’t remember riding a horse,” Musick said.
It’s Sunday night, half past eight, and Alma’s second-grade middle school teacher is rushing off in preparation for the following week. While some of his colleagues relax, as most people do on Sunday evenings, Musick never stopped running.
Saturday mornings aren’t for coffee and brunch; it’s to go and promote rodeos.
Last November, Musick was crowned Miss Arkansas Rodeo Queen for 2022.
“You represent the state of Arkansas, and then you also represent your association,” Musick explained. “I represent the professional association of rodeo cowboys.”
Then the program loads.
“I can travel across the United States to represent and promote the western way of life in rodeo,” she said. “I’ve been doing this since (January).”
“We love it and the kids love it,” Alma Middle School principal Kim Loughridge said. “She lives a completely different life than most teachers, which is pretty cool – she’s gone most weekends.”
The title of Miss Arkansas Rodeo Queen comes with many perks, including a scholarship and a nostalgic trip to her native Utah. A 2016 graduate of Ozark High School, Musick was born in Spanish Fork, Utah to Randy and Lauri Musick.
The family moved to Arkansas when Musick was in fifth grade.
“It’s crazy,” Musick said. “We moved to Arkansas, then we moved to Washington State for a bit, then back to Arkansas. It’s like… cultures everywhere.
And, as was the case with Arkansas, sentences that included words like “y’all.”
“I feel like the first step here was different because of the accents; I couldn’t understand people,” Musick said. “But people everywhere are really caring, so you can see how people really are.”
In 2009, long before she graduated from teaching at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith, Musick watched with envy as older sister Micki be crowned Arkansas Rodeo Queen. The duo are now believed to be the third set of sisters to win and be crowned Miss Arkansas Rodeo Queen.
“It’s definitely a family affair,” Musick said. “My sister (Micki), when she was in high school, she had a teacher push her and tell her she would be great at it. She got into it and loved it. She was Miss Arkansas Rodeo Queen in 2009, so I kind of followed with her.
Becoming a rodeo queen isn’t much different than competing in all types of beauty pageants.
“It’s like a beauty contest,” Musick said. “We do modeling, interviews, we give speeches, but we are tested on our knowledge. We need to know the science of rodeo, the science of horses and the news.
The process is long. So is the journey.
This summer, Musick will be crossing the western United States, with rodeo stops in Cheyenne, Las Vegas, and the prestigious Canyonlands PRCA Rodeo in Moab, Utah, among others.
“I booked every weekend,” Musick said. “I’m going to Vegas to compete in Miss Rodeo America.”
Musick competes in ranch riding and reining competitions within the WestArk Horse Show Association. She also enjoys raising Pembroke Welsh Corgis and a variety of waterfowl. Her previous titles include Miss Rodeo NFC (North Franklin County), Arkansas State Fair Rodeo Queen and Miss Rodeo of the Ozarks.
When it comes to teaching, Musick said she took inspiration from her former Ozark history teacher.
“He really helped me become the person I am today,” Musick said. “Just seeing how much he touched me, I hope I can give back to someone else.
“I feel like (teaching) has always been in my head.”
Musick earned his bachelor’s degree in early childhood education and taught his students at Ozark.
“I did English in eighth grade, so it’s very different from fifth grade,” she said.
“She’s a great leader,” Loughridge added. “Most people are 4H certified either in math and science or in languages and social studies. Well, she has math and literacy. She is a great team member and is always responsible.