Kyla Lightfoot is fired up about the beginning of the Foothills Cowboy Association (FCA) rodeo season and will be riding in style in a customized saddle while representing the Cochrane Lions Rodeo and serving as an unofficial ambassador for Cochrane.

The club presented their rodeo queen with a saddle custom fitted for herself and her horse on May 16. It was kept veiled until the moment of truth to build excitement during the presentation.

Since being crowned at last year's Labour Day Weekend Rodeo, Queen Kyla has made multiple appearances in the Cochrane area, including major events like Cochrane Light Up, the CP Holiday Train visit, and the Lions Spring Barn Dance.

She says being queen has been everything and more than she expected, calling it the experience of a lifetime.

"It's been an amazing opportunity," she says. "It's been such an honour to represent our Cochrane Lions and help bring Western Heritage to the rest of the town, and I look forward to the rodeo season starting."

Lions president Chris Connon says she's doing a fantastic job representing the rodeo and Cochrane.

"I've had nothing but good comments and compliments from every event she's attended since we crowned her on Labour Day."

He says they use to have the saddle prepared in advance of the queen's crowning but now wait.

"It was always an issue of the saddle fitting the horse and the saddle fitting the rider. Every time we'd buy one, we didn't know who it was going to be coming into it, so they got an ill-fitting saddle. So now, after the queen is crowned, we work with K&K Livestock and they fit a saddle for her and her horse. Now she's outfitted and ready to go for the rodeo season. It's a lifelong keepsake for her."

Connon says they have introduced a new sponsorship program for the saddle. The sponsor's name would be included on the saddle, alongside that of the Lions Club. 

Rodeo Queen Kyla will be doing a lot of riding when making special appearances at about 30 rodeos across Alberta this summer. She'll also be riding in a few parades.

She's already represented the Cochrane Lions at the Taber Spring Classic Pro Rodeo and will be at the Water Valley Stampede on June 3 and 4, the first FCA rodeo of the season.

saddle presentationLions Club president Chris Connon, left, and royalty committee member Jim Thorne with Rodeo Queen Kyla Lightfoot.