Girl and horse of the west

Makayla Carrico and 15 year-old quarter horse G-Man. (Photo curtesy of Makayla Carrico)

Makayla Carrico from Victor has been named the 2020 Girl of the West as Ambassador of the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo in Colorado Springs.

Nineteen-year-old Carrico is no stranger to the Lake George area, having competed in the Lake George Outfitters and Gymkhana from 2004, at age three years, to 2017.

She intended to continue participating until she was 18, which is the oldest you can be to compete, but her involvement with the rodeo ambassador program and her summertime schedule made it difficult to attend.

Carrico was born and raised in Colorado and is the daughter of Chauncey and Teresa Carrico. She credits her mother with getting her interested in horses and riding.

“My mom grew up riding and worked at the Rainbow Falls Stables outside of Woodland Park. When she was pregnant with me, she still rode and before I could walk, she would throw me up on her mare bareback, holding onto me,” she fondly remembered.

The Girl of the West and her aide are young women who represent the West through their horsemanship ability. They emulate or personalize the youth of our region who wish to further promote the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo. They promote the western way of life and the ideal western-type American girl.

The title of “Girl of the West” was chosen because the girls are considered “Ambassadors” for the rodeo and not “Rodeo Queens.”

The first Girl of the West, Dawn Norris, was chosen in 1922. The competition has evolved to include speech, interview, horsemanship, personality and appearance.

Their duties today include giving promotional speeches at service clubs and promotional events, giving interviews on both TV and radio, making appearances at military installations, parades and rodeos throughout the Front Range and the Pikes Peak region. The Girl of the West represents the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo during her reign. She is always accompanied by her aide and an escort.

During her years of competition with Lake George Outfitters and Gymkhana, Carrico won several Championships and Reserve Championships.

“The one that I’m most proud of is when I won the Sportsmanship award voted by my competitors and their families in 2014,” she said.

She recounted fondly several memories, stating she was a shy kid and didn’t say much unless the conversation was about horses.

“I can’t help but smile when I reminisce about those days,” Carrico said. “At Lake George I felt the people and the atmosphere was beyond friendly, it was family. I learned what it meant to win and to lose, but most importantly, I learned how to have a special connection with my horse and with the people around me,” she continued.

“Lake George Outfitters and Gymkhana has no doubt helped shape me into the horseman and person that I am today. I can’t and wouldn’t want to imagine where I’d be if I had never been a part of a spectacular family like that. I wish the absolute best for the program and for many, many more years, changing the lives of horse-crazy kids,” she concluded.

Lake George Outfitters and Gymkhana was where Carrico  got her start in horsemanship, but she also competed in the Woodland Park Saddle Club Gymkhana and served as their 2014 Princess and 2015-2016 Queen.

After her time with the saddle club, she served as the 2018 Evergreen Rodeo Princess. Last year, she was the Aide to the Girl of the West, and feels very humbled to represent the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo as Girl of the West.

Carrico currently attends Lamar Community College studying Equine Business Management, and she is an intern for a horse trainer. She plans to continue her education at Texas A&M University, majoring in Agriculture Communications.

Her dream is to become a rodeo commentator. She is hoping to try out for Miss Rodeo Colorado in the next few years.

“It’s always been a goal of mine since I was a small child to represent my favorite state and sport as Miss Rodeo Colorado. Now that I’m coming of age for the age requirements, I figure, why not? Might as well try or I’ll always wonder,” she said.

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