By EMRY DINMAN, Basin Business Journal
MOSES LAKE, WA — Almost all of this country's great success stories seem to begin at the crossroads of serendipity and hard work, and Breana Daniels' long path to rodeo queen is a sterling example of that all-American legacy.
It began with $2 in tips from her mother's espresso stand at the Othello Rodeo. Daniels had her eye on a raffle for a horse, something she had long wished she could afford. Buying a horse was out of the question for the 10-yearold Daniels, but there was little harm in putting what little change she had into a raffle so she could dream of what could be.
Except Daniels won. Against all odds, she had been in the right place at the right moment.
There was shock, and then excitement — but then Daniels realized she had no idea what came next.
'We lived in a trailer park, we had no place to put a dang horse,' Daniels recalled, laughing at the prospect.
Daniels' lucky moment had presented her with an opportunity that she might not have come across otherwise. She had not grown up on a ranch, as so many other equestrian often do, and she had no experience training horses. Though none of it would stop her, there was a lot of hard work ahead.
The family managed to lodge the horse with an uncle of Daniels, but next came immersing herself in the world of rodeo. She got involved in 4-H, the Future Farmers of America and the Columbia Basin Barrel Rodeo Club Association, where she became better acquainted with the hard and dirty work of managing stables and training horses. By 2014, she found herself getting involved with Junior Rodeo.
Reaching her dream didn't just entail a dedication to improving her knowledge of raising and training horses. It takes a lot of money to keep, train and transport horses to rodeos, and none was going to hand Daniels that money.
She began work on a feedlot in 2015, all the while training her horses between the gig's seasonal employment. During that time, she drove water trucks, worked on yard crews, tended to cows and cleaned water troughs. The hours were arduous, but it was work she enjoyed.
[caption id="attachment_2260" align="alignleft" width="300"] Charles H. Featherstone/Columbia Basin Herald - Breana Daniels, Eastern Washington Junior Rodeo Association queen for 2017, in front of her horse trailer.[/caption]
'I've always liked ranch work/' Daniels said. 'I tried working at North 40 and Burger King, but I didn't find happiness. Ranch work made me happy.'
All the while, Daniels was preparing to enter a competition to become Miss Rodeo Othello. The hard work was paying off, both financially and in her confidence on a horse.
But the long hours would take their toll. One fateful day in 2016, Daniels fell asleep at the wheel of her car and rolled over into an irrigation canal.
'I didn't even remember what happened/' Breana said. 'It all came to me like a nightmare.'
What Daniels remembers is waking up with water up to her hips and her seatbelt pressed so tightly into her throat that it had cut through the skin. She had broken her jaw and pelvis, which she would not realize for weeks.
Despite great pain, Daniels pulled herself out through a back window, climbed a 10-foot embankment and walked a mile down the road to the nearest house. An elderly couple opened the door to find a young woman bleeding profusely in front of them. Daniels recalled being embarrassed that they sat her on their nice couch, because she was bleeding all over it.
Though it might have seemed like bad luck at the time, Daniels was later informed how lucky she had once again been. This time, it was simply because she made it out alive.
'I was told that if I didn't have an automatic window that I wouldn't have been able to get out of the canal,' Daniels said.
It wasn't for three weeks until Daniels knew the extent of her injuries. Her jaw was broken in four places and her pelvis had been broken in two. The damage to her jaw was so severe that it needed to be wired shut while the bone repaired itself. Though Daniels' injury occurred two years ago, her last surgery was just seven months ago.
Yet, two weeks later, despite the protests of her doctor, Daniels competed to become the Othello Rodeo Queen. It was a title she had dreamed of earning since childhood, and nothing would deter her from at least trying.
Though she ultimately didn't win the competition to be crowned Miss Rodeo Othello, Daniels' riding earned her the title of Eastern Washington Junior Rodeo Association Queen for 2017. As a result, Daniels went to 18 different rodeos and eight parades throughout the year.
'It was a really good experience having little kids looking up to me,' Daniels said. “ I loved it.'
Daniels spill into the canal didn't deter her from working long hours, either — she currently works 14 to 16 hours a day for Weyns Farms driving a 10-wheeler next to a potato excavator. Despite some initial anxiety, she said that she's gotten back into the rhythm of things. Once again, Daniels had been kicked in the head, and once again, she got back into the saddle.
Now, Daniels is looking forward to the future. Having aged out of Junior Rodeo last year, she's taking a year off to train herself back up and prepare for the next summit — the pro leagues. If Daniels' life up to this point is any indication, Pro-West Rodeo is going to be in for a treat.