Taryn Brady Hale, 23, of Mesa, Ariz., was chosen the winner out of more than 350 contestants and more than 28,000 votes cast. Her image will be featured on Ultimate Riding Jeans print advertisements throughout 2012.
It’ll probably be cold comfort to Hale’s rivals to learn she didn’t decide to enter the contest until the very last day she could do so.
Hale said she initially heard about the Ultimate Cowgirl Next Door contest from a Facebook friend she’d met during Cheyenne Frontier Days in Wyoming.
“He posted a link to the competition with the comment, ‘This is you!’” Hale said during an interview from her Mesa home.
Hale said she forgot about the contest for several weeks, then stumbled upon it again on the last day she could apply.
“As I was reading the description, I thought: ‘This is me,’” she recalled. “As I was coming up with the pictures and descriptions (for the application), it was something that was coming very naturally. I felt like it was who I am.”
Hale felt like she was a natural because of her background.
She was on horses “before I could walk” at her family’s citrus orchard on the outskirts of Mesa. She began roping with her father when she was in fourth grade. She competed in barrel racing, reining, and roping.
She also said her great-grandfather was prominently involved in rodeos, and her grandmother also served as a rodeo queen as a young woman.
“I feel like it’s in my blood,” Hale said. “It’s a family thing, but it’s also something that came before me. It’s not just a hobby.”
As a teen, Hale became one of the first members of the Cowgirls Historical Foundation, which plays a role in the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, Calif.
Also, she was named Miss Rodeo Arizona in 2009.
“Rodeo queen was a great fit for me because I was able to share that passion about the western way of life to the general public,” she said.
After submitting her application, Hale didn’t think about it much until she received a phone call from Wrangler headquarters one early fall morning, notifying her she’d won.
“I probably woke my husband up, because I was very, very excited,” she said. “My voice gets very high-pitched when I get excited. It was a really neat feeling to have this opportunity in front of me.”
Robin Rich, Wrangler Western’s senior marketing manager, said: “With such phenomenal women representing our lifestyle, including Jackie Rapp and Tammy Pate, appearing in previous Wrangler ads, we knew the winner of the contest would have big boots to fill. We’re thrilled to have found Taryn, a true cowgirl in every sense of the word who beautifully represents the western lifestyle and the values our brand stands for.”
A crew arrived in Arizona for two days in October to shoot photographs and video of Hale modeling Wrangler Ultimate Riding Jeans at Al Dunning’s ranch. Throughout the sessions, temperatures soared to a scorching 100 degrees.
“I’m used to it,” she said. “I’m an Arizona-born and -bred girl. But I really felt bad for the crew, because they came from North Carolina and Chicago.”
Hale said she held no qualms about being a spokeswoman for Wrangler.
“I’ve been a proud Wrangler-wearing girl for as long as I can remember,” she said. “My parents put me in cute little Baby Wrangler jeans, and I’ve been wearing Wranglers ever since then. And I can wholeheartedly stand behind Wrangler because we both are so traditional.”
Even though 2012 has barely started, Hale says she’s already seen her image in an advertisement in a quarter horse magazine. And a friend saw a life-size cardboard cutout of her at the recent Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.
Hale, an Arizona State University graduate who works in the corporate communications department of a power utility, isn’t sure whether future modeling gigs are in her future, but seemed open to the possibility.
“I feel like this Wrangler campaign is just starting to get rolling, so we’ll see what happens. I feel like doors are starting to open.”
(Photos courtesy of Wrangler)