Joan Hecker Larson Lennick is not only a cowgirl but was a rodeo queen, too. She grew up on a ranch north of Belfield, ND, where a horse was never far away. She dreamed of being a trick rider while riding her first steed, a Shetland pony.
Her father bought her a good horse in 1956. Speedy was a fast quarter horse that was born to barrel race. Riding Speedy, Joan racked up the 1956 ND High School barrel racing state title, and three NDRA barrel racing state titles in 1959,1961 and 1962.
She won the National American Collegiate Rodeo Association barrel racing and all-around title in 1960. To get that all-around title she had to compete in goat-tying too.
Persuaded by others to enter the Miss Rodeo North Dakota contest, Joan won the state title and was selected by The Western Horseman magazine to be the featured contestant in horsemanship at the pageant in Las Vegas.
In 1965, Speedy was retired, and Joan ended her arena competition career, too. Her efforts segued into coaching others to be winners and, through the years, she has assisted with horsemanship and rodeo queen seminars.
She has judged dozens of queen pageants, some horse shows and the Miss Indian America Pageant.
Joan taught middle school and elementary grades for 30 years in North Dakota schools while raising her three children. Now retired, she and her husband reside in Bismarck.