Young Guns – Madison MacDonald

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!

A free spirit who has had the honour of working with some of the best equine entertainers in the world, Madison isn't slowing down anytime soon.

Madison MacDonald

(Nominated for Entertainers)
Age:20
Stephenville, Texas

So how does a girl from the small town of Okotoks, Alberta end up being chosen as a Wrangler National Finals Rodeo Contract Act in 2011 and 2012 while studying at Tarleton University? Not many can answer that, but Madison MacDonald sure can.

“My mother used to produce the Black Tie Wild West Shows for the Calgary Stampede. When I saw the trick riders, I told my parents that that was what I wanted to do,” remembers MacDonald.

Starting at the tender age of 4, MacDonald was competing in dance and unknowingly preparing herself for an exceptional career doing what she loves.

“Performing was something that I knew I wanted to do. I was fortunate enough to be able to follow my aspirations and never thought I would be where I am at the age of 20.”

As with everything worth having in life, the road to where she has gotten has been long and arduous, but he has had experiences and opportunities that people twice her age have not yet seen. She began riding with Ron Anderson and still credits his wisdom as the foundation that has helped her succeed atop a horse. At 11, she learned to twirl a trick rope in her own living room by legendary Tomas Garcilazos. Then in 2011 she found her greatest inspiration in Los Angeles.

“I would not be the trick rider I am today if it wasn't for Tad and Wendy Griffith. I have been extremely fortunate to be able to train under Tad who is referred to as the greatest gymnast on horseback. I lived with Tad and Wendy in Los Angeles where I trained under Tad for the National Finals Rodeo WNFR and then for Fort Worth where I trick rode with Tad's 3 boys. I never wanted the Fort Worth Stock and Rodeo to end. Each day felt like it was just another of practicing with Tad and his boys, as we came into that show of 3 months straight of practice and preparation, the show was the easy part compared to the rehearsals prior to. They are my “other” family.”

How do you start to list the credits of a young woman that has traveled the world doing what she loves? Her high school years were filled with rodeo; earning countless awards in pole bending, barrel racing, goat tying, breakaway roping and team roping.  In 2012, she was cast as part of the Calgary Stampede’s production Tails, which kept her busy for three performances daily over the ten days of Stampede. She has performed twice at the WNFR in Las Vegas and repeatedly performed at the Fiesta of the Spanish Horse.

For MacDonald, the horses are about more than the tricks and the bright lights. “The horses keep my life busy and full. They have been my life forever they are a part of me and it is something that I cherish everyday as I feel fortunate to be able to have the lifestyle that I do. Between training horses, practicing trick riding, roping and keeping my barrel horse going my days are full but I love every minute of it.

“I was like a lot of young girls – they see the costumes and the fast horses and it catches their eye. I see it now when I perform stateside, afterwards at the autograph signings we are surrounded by young girls that are enthralled by the performance and have the same dreams as I once had. It is inspiring to know that my performance has captivated them and lifted their spirits to encourage their aspirations.”

What better inspiration could there be?

~ Dainya Sapergia

Crazy Cowgirls Support Children’s Wish

The arrival of spring marks the start of what promises to be an exciting rodeo season for Cassie Horner and Shelby Cummings, who form the dynamic duo known as the Crazy Cowgirls. For the past three years, the Crazy Cowgirls have been travelling to rodeos throughout Alberta. More than just providing amazing trick riding performances, these young ladies have also been serving as ambassadors for Children’s Wish.

Since their partnership with Children’s Wish began, the Crazy Cowgirls have continuously found new ways to include their charity of choice in their performances. A Children’s Wish flag is always flown at the beginning of each performance and announcers share information about local children whose wish has been granted. The Alberta & NWT Chapter office is located in Calgary, AB with subchapters throughout the province but with a limited staff, the chapter relies on volunteers to help represent the foundation in rural communities. Stopping in any and all communities that host a rodeo, the Crazy Cowgirls are helping raise funds, and even more importantly, awareness for the Children’s Wish mission of granting the most heart felt of children diagnosed with a life threatening illness.

As part of their show, wherever possible, they invite local wish children to learn the basics of trick riding and perform a trick with them. This past summer, nine year old Phoenix, who had a liver transplant as a result of end-stage cirrhosis, got to ride with the girls in Brooks, AB.

To kick off their performing tour, Cassie and Shelby recently performed in Calgary for two shows as part of Aggie Days. While in town they met with Children’s Wish Chapter Director, Jason Evanson to present the donations collected over the last year, totaling $2,500. These young women are turning their passion for riding into a way of helping create the magic of a wish. Whenever the girls finish a show and are signing autographs at their trailer, a Children’s Wish donation box is sure to be close by.

About Children’s Wish

The Children’s Wish Foundation grants wishes to children between the ages of three and 17 who have been diagnosed with a life threatening illness. Since our inception 27 years ago, we have granted over 17,000 wishes to Canadian children. The AB & NWT Chapter grants approximately 120 wishes annually, roughly one wish every three days to a local child.  To learn more visit ChildrensWish.ca