Miss Rodeo Texas ready for nightly shows, selfies with fans at San Antonio rodeo

February 3, 2019

Samantha Cayton, Miss Rodeo Texas, wasn’t born into a life of barrel racing and pitching hay. But as a youth, that was all she ever imagined.

Now, as the queen of the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo, the 21-year-old from Tarleton State University in Stephenville, near Fort Worth, is totally immersed in what she calls the official sport of the Lone Star State — the rodeo.

Nightly before every show, she will wow crowds at the rodeo sitting atop a horse she’ll race around the arena, waving flags and welcoming audiences. Then she’ll take hundreds of selfies with rodeo fans.

Born in Lufkin, Cayton, as the Miss Cowboy Capital Pro Rodeo titleholder, won the Texas crown last June. That sent her to Las Vegas and the Miss Rodeo America national showdown in December. She didn’t place at the finals during the competition, “but it did teach me that those eight days was an endurance race, not a sprint.”

Clearly, she’s more than ready for a month of appearances during San Antonio’s rodeo followed by rodeos in Houston and Austin.

“Rodeo is in my heart. From a young age, I have always been obsessed with horses. When I decided to go to college, I moved to Stephenville to be around horses,” she said.

Stephenville is near the Wagon Road Ranch in Bluff Dale where Cayton has taken care of more than 20 horses.

She’s a junior at Tarleton working on a Bachelor of Science degree in animal science she’ll complete in 2020. She’ll then use her $20,000 scholarship prize as the winner of Miss Rodeo Texas to pay for her master’s degree in equine industry management from College Station’s Texas A&M.

Eventually, she hopes to own and operate an equine rehabilitation center that also will help sheep, goats and cattle.

“I want to rehabilitate these animals so that they can perform at their highest level,” she said.

As a child, Cayton recalled dreaming about riding horses and helping heal them, too. She always spoke about it.

“Ever since I was a toddler, my mom said I was interested in horses and the rodeo,” she said, adding that at age 5, her grandmother gave her a miniature Shetland pony. Cayton named it Little Bit.

“I wanted to be a cowgirl so badly,” Cayton said. “I would have never guessed that little horse would have led me to where I am now. I love being a cowgirl and everything that comes with it — from throwing around 50-pound hay bales to putting out feed for cattle to slinging a saddle on my back.”

But mostly she loves riding — and its benefits from building physical strength to strength of character.

“I definitely love getting back to the roots of where rodeo came from and that’s riding.” At the rodeo, she’ll have the opportunity to sit on a horse and push out cattle. “I love using a horse for its natural ability.”

She also loves horses for teaching her patience.

“I’m an extremely impatient person; and if you are wound up tight and in a bad mood, a horse can read that. So by staying calm and patient, you get more out of your horse.”

She said riding has taught her responsibility, accountability and self-awareness “because I am taking care of a 1,200-pound horse that relies on me.”

“I didn’t grow up with rodeo in my young life, but in my adult life it has taught me that winning isn’t always what leads us,” she said. “Sometimes it’s our failures that push us to our successes.”