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!
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