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Meet the Member Carson Mills
story by Lindsay King
Ten years separates Carson Mills from her oldest sibling, her best friend. Tegan, 27, and Carson, 17, were inseparable from the start. “I was basically her live baby doll when I was little, so we have always been close. She taught me a lot and helped me in any way she could,” said the Loving, New Mexico, header and breakaway roper. “My sister is my biggest influence in just about everything inside and out of the arena. She works hard at everything and is just a great person.” It was a calf Tegan scored at practice that Carson remembers to be the first neck her loop wrapped around at the age of five. Rodeo is a family sport, no question. “My older siblings (Tegan and her older brother Cutter, 23) were going hard when I came around, so I got into competing when I was about six.”
As a high school senior, the NMHSRA takes Carson to every corner of the state. “My parents (Stacey and Tia) have taught me everything I know about rodeo and horses. They have been the most supportive coaches and cheerleaders I could ask for. Wherever I wanted to go rope, as long as I worked for it, we went.” Living in the most remote part of New Mexico, roughly an hour from town, Carson decided to homeschool through New Mexico Connections Academy. This allows her more time in the arena and on the ranch. She had a good fall run, but plans to take the spring season one calf at a time. “I just want to make the best runs I can no matter what calf I draw and see where that takes me.” Her focus is on the lightning fast sport of breakaway while she searches for her next great head horse.
A team roping accident in June of 2017 put Carson on the sideline for four months with an injury to her right shoulder. She got behind in the standings and never quite caught up. Though it was easily the most important year of her rodeo career. “I worked super hard to get back that fall and I can remember my first rodeo back. I was roping really well and a dad of one of the younger girls asked if I would help his daughter because he liked how I roped and my attitude no matter the circumstances.” The heart-swelling moment led to a friendship and a learning experience of a lifetime. “It just showed me that people really do pay attention to the little things that I work so hard at and they appreciated it enough to ask me for advice. It was so much fun roping with that girl and I think I learned just as much as she did.”
This fourth-generation rancher currently serves as the NMHRSA president while maintaining a 4.0 GPA, which keeps her in the National Honor Society and the National Society of High School Scholars. “Most of the kids I rodeo with I have grown up with since we were all in diapers. New Mexico is home and we get to travel all over meeting lots of new people.” Though the biggest takeaway from rodeo for Carson are the life lessons along the way. “It is a very rewarding sport, but everyone who has ever competed knows it is also a humbling one.” Upon graduation in May, Carson intends to pursue a degree in kinesiology followed by a Master’s degree to become a physician’s assistant. “I have always been super interested in medicine and I love helping people. I think I would excel at it.” She intends to rodeo in the southwest region while in college. “When I start my career, I probably won’t have the time or money for a horse right away. But I plan to eventually get a horse and keep going down the rodeo trail.”