For Norton, being a rodeo queen is much more than a hobby
FORT MOHAVE — Mary Norton isn’t a typical rodeo queen. She didn’t grow up around horses but one day the passion for all things equine hit her and it’s been horses and rodeos ever since.
Norton said she liked to watch the show “Heartland” and it struck her that she really wanted a horse.
She said she talked to her parents about it and at first it seemed like it was a phase, but it was not.
“I started watching that and thought ‘this is cool, oh wow I want a horse,’ ” said Norton.
A year past and she still wanted a horse and then met one of her horses, Jewlz, as a surprise from her parents.
Two weeks after that surprise, she and her parents purchased Charlie and the love of horses was entrenched.
She was born in Bullhead City and now lives in Fort Mohave. She and her family have a total of seven horses, including a miniature horse. She also has a dog she loves, she said.
Norton is now 16 years old, already finished with high school, having been homeschooled, and has future plans for schooling to become a large animal veterinarian technician but also more rodeo royalty.
She said she has plans to become the Turquoise Circuit Queen, Miss Rodeo Arizona and when she’s a little bit older to become Miss Rodeo America.
She has worked her way up, starting out as the Needles Colorado River Rodeo Princess a couple of years ago.
Norton, who was recently crowned Miss Teen Rodeo Arizona, said one of the things she loves about being rodeo royalty is going to other rodeos, such as the Andy Devine Days Rodeo, and representing rodeo.
Andy Devine Days is coming up this weekend in Kingman.
“I love the sport of rodeo and I like being able to represent it. I like to say that rodeo queens are walking billboards for the sport of rodeo,” Norton said.
She loves everything about rodeo, she said.
“I love to just go up to the fence and watch rodeo. What I love about it is that it’s a sport but not a sport; it’s a way of life.”
Those who participate in rodeo still use those skills as a way of life, said Norton. Bullriding is still a bit of a mystery, she admitted with a smile.
“It’s fun to watch though,” she added.
But for her, while promoting the sport of rodeo is important and without a doubt part of being rodeo royalty, it’s more about being able to talk with children, being a role model and setting an example.
“It’s an amazing platform,” said Norton. For her, that platform is getting the message out that “every moment matters,” she said.
“Something I’m very passionate about is being the same person always,” she said. She said she focuses on being the same person whether she’s in a T-shirt and jeans or her rodeo royalty attire.
“You’re always a rodeo queen,” she observed.
That message isn’t just about being professional all the time but about living in the moment, said Norton. It’s about not always being on the phone or computer and enjoying life, she said.
Norton said that she used to look up to rodeo queens but now that the shoe’s on the other foot, she doesn’t see herself as being more than herself, she said.
“It’s such a cool experience to be that for other kids now,” said Norton.
She’ll be traveling around California, Arizona, Oklahoma and other locations to represent rodeo and she’s excited about that, she said.
Norton said she is grateful to her parents for supporter her and her rodeo endeavors. And for getting her that first horse.