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Meet Megan Pettyjohn, Rodeo Royalty and ordinary teenager

By Tammy Coulter

Did you know there is royalty in Bezanson? Rodeo royalty, but royalty nonetheless. Megan Pettyjohn is the 2019 Miss Teepee Creek Rodeo Queen, but is also just an ordinary teenager, struggling to deal with daily life in a world seemingly gone crazy.

Megan is 19 years old, born in Grande Prairie, but has lived in many different communities in the Peace Country, including Beaverlodge, La Glace, but her deepest roots are in the Bezanson area. Megan admits to being an introvert and quiet, even around family, but once she finds something she believes in, she is passionate about that something. Family is important to her and so she spends as much time with them as she can, but when she is alone, she paints and draws. Something to give her brain a chance to focus on, other than the outside world.

One of Megan’s passions is Hoofbeats for Hope. She’s been part of the drill team for about 6 years. It was her aunt, Julie Budgell, who encouraged Megan to join. When she first joined, Megan was part of the ground crew, so she helped sparkle horses’ bums, groom, pick hooves, and pick up poop. All the non-glamorous jobs, and she did anything and everything she could to help. She loves being around the horses. Caring for the animals gave her a huge boost in her confidence and horsemanship. Without this confidence and support from Julie and the rest of the team, Megan believes she never would have had the confidence to actually run for Miss Teepee Creek.

Megan has two horses which she rides on a regular basis, 60 and Kiddo, both part of the herd Julie has. 60 has been Megan’s horse for about the last ten years and has been Megan’s rock throughout her trials and tribulations of her life. She firmly believes 60 has saved her life more than once, especially her mental health. Being in 4-H with 60 taught her how to ride properly, with encouragement and training from Julie, as well as gaining confidence. The first time she ever rode 60, she explained how overconfident she was and how 60 made her realize she wasn’t really in charge. Now, a decade later, she rides confidently and 60 has her back. She feels caring for 60 is good therapy for dealing with her mental health and healing from past childhood traumas. She cares so much for 60, she got his brand on her wrist. Now 60 is with her all the time.

Her other horse is Kiddo, a sweet girl and the one she won Miss Teepee Creek on. Kiddo has also been used by Megan in 4-H at Achievement Days. At the club level, Kiddo helped Megan win Grooming and Horsemanship. While preparing for the inter-club Achievement Day, Megan went under Kiddo’s belly and ended up startling the horse, who then struck Megan in the head, causing a concussion. Megan didn’t actually know about the concussion, so she went into the arena and won Grand Champion in both Grooming and Horsemanship. Kiddo became her horse when she ran for Miss Teepee Creek Rodeo Queen when her beloved 60 got hurt right before the weekend started. With Kiddo under her, Megan had to learn to relax, let go and trust her horse to get through the weekend. One thing Megan found out was Kiddo really doesn’t like chuckwagons.

Megan was encouraged to run for Miss Teepee Creek Rodeo Queen by members of Hoofbeats for Hope, like Julie and Jessica Lavoie, a triple crowned Queen of three different rodeos. Being part of Hoofbeats for as long as she has, Megan grew up with the drill team at rodeos. One of the things Jessica told her was being a Queen will force you out of your shell. Being a Rodeo Queen means Megan can take part in so many of her interests, such as rodeos, horses, Western life and getting time to talk and engage with those with the same likes and life style as she enjoys. The one thing learning to Queen helped Megan with was how to deal with her anxiety, and feeling super awkward in social situations. While Megan tried for the crown twice, but freely admits she wasn’t ready to be queen in her first year. The extra time needed to prepare for her second attempt gave her all the tools she needed to win.

The hardest part of the second attempt was not having her beloved 60 with her at Teepee Creek. Instead, she had to use the spunkier Kiddo. But because of her previous experience and a good support system, the hardest part also became the easiest part. Riding Kiddo in the arena, Megan is always in the moment, not thinking about why or how to ride, just riding. What Megan found was the most fun was going around the grounds and talking with people who lived the lifestyle Megan lived. Megan never saw herself as a role model, but it felt incredible to see youth, especially the young girls, looking up to her.

When she was announced as the Queen for 2019, Megan isn’t afraid to admit she froze at first, unable to believe it. She was crying and unable to ride her horse. She shut down for the first moments after the announcement, then she took her victory lap, letting her horse go and do what Kiddo needed to do. She was overjoyed, exhilarated and the Hoofbeats team were right there cheering and crying with her.

For the first half of her reign, Megan was able to enjoy her time as Queen, attending rodeos as Grimshaw, Dawson Creek and Medicine Hat. These rodeos allowed her to listen and meet other Queens who share the same passions Megan does. There are so few opportunities for young women in the Western Life, so showing the young the Queen life is important to Megan. Other Queens have been Megan’s role models and you become family while you Queen. Once Covid hit and the lockdowns began, Megan hasn’t been able to do very much as a Queen, but she won’t give it up. She promises to remain Miss Teepee Creek until the rodeo goes again and she can hand over the crown in person. As long as Teepee Creek Rodeo needs a Queen, she will be there.

Megan admits Hoofbeats for Hope has been a huge help in her quest to become a Rodeo Queen, especially Julie. Julie was the first to encourage Megan to run and the first to be there to help pick Megan up when she stumbled on the road to the title. The other Queens in Hoofbeats, Alexis and Jessica, were also there to give advise and encouragement. Without Hoofbeats giving Megan the confidence boost to run, she isn’t certain she would have since she didn’t believe in herself the way the others did and still do.

When she isn’t Queening or spending time with family, Megan paints. She uses her painting as therapy as much as she uses caring for 60 as therapy. Nature is her inspiration and she uses her knowledge of things like how fur lays to create an image that takes into account the artist and how the artwork is a part of the artist. She hopes to one day have a career in artwork as this is her calling in life. Who knows? Maybe one day we will see her works in the Grant Berg Gallery in Grande Prairie.

This September, Megan will be entering the local college, GPRC, in the visual arts course with an art career as her final goal. That can mean anything from being an artist or doing something with graphic design, but what will be final career choice is anyone’s guess. Megan sees the next five years as a blank canvas she hopes to fill.

As for Bezanson, Megan would like to see more art in the community, using art to express the area’s history. She wishes there was some way to showcase the community, maybe by selling prints at the Bezanson Store. No matter what, Megan wants to see more beauty through art in the community, something to allow the area to shine. And she will continue to be a role model to the youth.

Megan Pettyjohn, Rodeo Queen, teenager, artist, inspiration. Where she goes next is all up to this amazing young woman.