Young Guns – Gillian Shields

In the May/June issue of Western Horse Review, we searched out some of the most accomplished and influential youth in the western horse industry and compiled our first-ever Young Guns – Top 25 Youth Under 25. We came up with six categories: Ambassadors, Artisans, Entertainers, Competitive, Entrepreneurs and Science. From self-discipline to unwavering focus, we were reminded that the dreams often fostered in young minds and hearts can translate to adulthood, and that good old fashioned determination can still achieve what many think is impossible. We loved the true western code of ethic each of our top 25 exude.

It evolved into such an inspiring piece we decided to recreate it online, with the fuller interviews and stories of each of our deserving Top 25. Look for them here at Screen Doors & Saddles over the next six months, as I’ll reveal one every week or so! 

Miss Rodeo Canada 2013

The reigning Miss Rodeo Canada is about more than rodeo; she is a musician and an aspiring leader for her rural community. Photo by Ian Neill Photography.

Gillian Shields

(nominated in the Ambassador category)

Age: 22
Location: Didsbury, Alberta

Miss Rodeo Canada has over 450 appearances booked north of the 49th parallel this year. Like most rodeo royalty, the reigning 2013 Miss Rodeo Canada, Gillian Shields, is constantly on the move; waving to the crowds, making speeches and signing autographs. Behind the glitz of her current position, Shields has challenged herself to make a positive and lasting impression during her banner year.

“This position has given me the opportunity to impact other’s lives and teach the importance of maintaining our western lifestyle,” said Shields. “I really want to embrace and inform people of how amazing this industry and lifestyle is, especially because it gives nothing but opportunity and positive impact for our youth.”

Shields has not been immune to life’s adversities and is an inspiring person to get to know.

“One of the biggest challenges I have come across in life is losing my mother at the age of 14, after her battle with cancer. It was extremely hard at that age to watch my mother go through cancer. Learning to be able to cope with lack of maternal support was a big challenge. It was actually my mother who got me interested in the rodeo queen world. I am very thankful she sent me in the right direction. I learned independence, determination, and I have learned to appreciate the support from my friends and family who helped me along this journey. I would not be where I am today without each and every one of them.”

Growing up in rural Alberta, Sheilds participated in 4-H, and competed as a barrel racer in numerous associations; including the Foothills Cowboy Association and the Canadian Intercollegiate Rodeo Association. She was crowned the Carstairs Rodeo Queen 2006, Miss Rodeo Sundre 2007 and Miss Rodeo Airdrie 2011.

Gillian Shields (right) and Grande Prairie’s Erin Head, who just was named Miss Teepee Creek Stampede 2013.

Besides being an active dignitary, she also enjoys playing the violin and has played in the Calgary Orchestra and at numerous fundraising events. She is also halfway through her Bachelor of Education and with her current position as Miss Rodeo Canada, she has the platform to captivate us all.

“I now have the opportunity to contribute to keeping the spirit alive in a lifestyle that deserves to be more embraced. After all, there is a little cowboy spirit in all of us.”

~ Deanna Buschert

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