From the Queen’s Saddle

Miss Rodeo America 2016 Katherine Merck shares her AQHA journey across the nation.

The American Quarter Horse Association

Katherine Merck, Miss Rodeo America 2016. (Photo: courtesy of Katherine Merck.)

Professional rodeo’s first lady, Katherine Merck, is no stranger to American Quarter Horses. She has owned, ridden and shown American Quarter Horses since she was a child in events that include reining, ranch riding, dressage and jumping. The Spokane, Washington, native is an experienced horsewoman who has a deep love for the western lifestyle.

Katherine was crowned as Miss Rodeo America 2016 last December at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. Her duties include traveling throughout the year to Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association sanctioned rodeos and informing people about the sport of rodeo and the American Quarter Horse. During her year, she rides an average of 75 registered American Quarter Horses at the rodeos and events she attends.

She is an old hand when it comes to riding different horses, but she also calls five American Quarter Horses her own.

  • Dregers Snoopy Tuck, is a 1989 bay gelding by Doc Tom Tucker out of Dregers Dry Chex by Dry Doc. Dregers Snoopy Tuck is a past Ford Youth World qualifier in reining and is the horse Katherine credits with teaching her how to ride.
  • Holly Pine Dun It, a 1999 dun mare by Dun Its Lucky charm and out of Misty Leo Pine by Barry Pine. Holly Pine Dun It earned her Register of Merit in youth reining with Katherine.
  • Lucky Little Dun It, a 2015 buckskin filly by Nu Steps To Cash out of Holly Pine Dun It by Dun Its Lucky Charm. Lucky Little Dun It is currently in training to be a reiner.
  • Wranglers Dun It, a 1998 sorrel gelding by Dun Its Lucky charm out of Wranglers Pretty Gal by Wranglers War Leo. Wranglers Dun It competes with other members of Katherine’s family.
  • Surprise Jacks Dunit, a 2003 sorrel gelding by Jerry Lees Dunit and out of BJs Ginger Bar by Bacobi Jack. Surprise Jacks Dunit is Katherine’s main man; he helps her in all events, including rodeos and AQHA reining classes.

Katherine and Surprise Jacks Dunit

While studying abroad, Katherine learned to jump and ride dressage horses, so she understands the importance of being a well-rounded horsewoman and can relate to every AQHA member in all disciplines.

Miss Rodeo America is sponsored by AQHA, which provided Katherine with a life membership as a coronation gift. AQHA also awards the winner of the MRA pageant horsemanship competition a scholarship and saddle. Every year at the pageant, AQHA also has an AQHA judge on the Miss Rodeo America judges panel.

Follow Katherine on her journey as Miss Rodeo America 2016 on Instagram and Facebook to hear her stories of riding American Quarter Horses across the nation, and look for her blog, “A Queen’s Journey,” this year on