Audrey Liddle was 10 or 11 years old when she first learned of the Miss San Benito Rodeo competition. From that very moment, Liddle had a goal to be the top queen.
On June 18, that dream was realized when Liddle was crowned the 2016 Miss San Benito Rodeo. In front of family members and friends in the Heritage Room at Bolado Park, the 17-year-old Liddle enjoyed one of the highlights of her young life.
“That was probably one of my favorite moments ever,” said Liddle, a San Juan Bautista resident. “Honestly, I wasn’t thinking I was going to win, and I was going to be happy with whatever the decision was. When they called my name, I was in a bit of shock and disbelief. To see my family screaming and so happy was a great moment for me.”
Winning Miss San Benito Rodeo is no small feat. The four finalists were judged on their knowledge of the Saddle Horse Show & Rodeo, poise, appearance, speaking skills and horsemanship—specifically Reining and Equitation, a type of riding in which Liddle had sparse experience.
In Reining, the rider guides the horse through a precise pattern of circles, spins and stops. In Equitation, the rider is often evaluated, and not the horse. Equitation involves the rider’s position while mounted, and evaluates a competitor’s ability to ride correctly and with effective aids.
Even though Liddle didn’t have a ton of experience in Reining or Equitation, she did have 12 years of experience in Gymkhana, a fast-paced sport that involves the rider guiding the horse in timed events such as pole bending, barrel racing and keyhole events.
“It was refreshing to try another type of riding,” Liddle said. “I really enjoyed that aspect.”
With all of her varied experiences—Liddle has also done 4H for 12 years and some modeling—she was perfectly prepared for the Miss San Benito Rodeo competition.
“Being involved in 4H gave me a lot of experience about public speaking and leadership,” she said.
Liddle credited a number of people who helped her prepare to win the Miss San Benito Rodeo, including her two older sisters, her parents and her rodeo queen coach, Jamie Walker.
“I couldn’t have done it without any of them,” Liddle said. “They’ve all had a great impact in my life in different ways. My parents have always supported me and told me that I could do it even when I didn’t feel like I was worthy or thought I couldn’t do it.”
Liddle, who graduated a year early after being home schooled, plans to take a business management class in the fall with the goal of interning at a horse-training ranch in Texas next year.
“The end goal is to have a training program out of my own ranch,” she said. “I’d like to start colts for myself and clients. I’ve been training horses since I was 14 years old, and it’s a huge passion of mine.”
Liddle grew up on a five-acre ranch in San Juan Bautista. Liddle feels most at home when she can immerse herself in nature.
“I like walking out and knowing you live in the country,” she said. “That you can have peace in your own little land.”
Liddle said the greatest challenge she’s overcome is not believing in herself. However, Liddle has put aside those doubts and never plans to question herself again.
“I do have huge dreams and goals, and I used to always kind of self-sabotage them a little bit,” she said. “But accomplishing this made me realize I can do anything I set my mind to. I’m living by that now, and whatever dreams I have going forward, they’re going to be accomplished.”

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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