Meet the Member Emily Finney
story by Lindsay Humphrey Last summer, Emily changed her last name from Vinton to Finney when she married Doug. It was a match made at […]
story by Lindsay Humphrey
“I’m just excited that we have a full rodeo season to compete in this year after almost everything was canceled last summer,” said Katie Milligan-Mace from Hooper, Nebraska. “I really appreciate all the communities and rodeo committees picking up the pieces from last year and moving forward.” This season will be the first in several years that Katie is hitting the rodeo trail on a consistent basis. Previously, she was going to a couple of rodeos a year with her older sisters but mainly focused on jackpots, futurities, derbies and maturities for her young string of barrel horses. “In the last 5 years I’ve really been making training a passion of mine and I’ve slowly been seeing some success in that.”
In the process of training, Katie has also found a love for breeding and raising barrel horses. She finds her purpose as an equestrian in taking a horse from start to finish on the clover-leaf pattern. Perhaps this passion grew from Katie’s foundation in 4-H. “My mom was a 4-H leader and so she taught my sisters and I how to ride correctly. We did everything: showmanship, halter, horsemanship, trail, and all the games.” Katie and her sisters all learned to ride in a variety of events on just as many different horses. “And then we also ranched, so we got to learn the purpose of a horse as well. We used them to work during the week and then took them to shows on the weekends. We were really fortunate to grow up in that lifestyle.”
Following her sisters to the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Katie also followed in their footsteps to the rodeo team. “I decided to rodeo for the team as a freshman. I guess I just decided it looked like fun. That’s when I got my first taste of rodeo and enjoyed it.” Katie found success as a barrel racer both in college and after graduation. She earned her bachelor’s in secondary education and language arts and followed it up a few years later with master’s degrees in secondary education and guidance counseling. “Education is, of course, very important to me. While I was getting those masters degrees I took a break from horses and competition. I’m glad I did that.” Now Katie is a high school English teacher at Lyons Decatur Northeast.
For awhile Katie wasn’t sure she would ever get back to the toughest sport on dirt. “It feels good to be back in the sport. I really didn’t think I wanted to rodeo anymore, but once I got a taste of success, those old feelings came back again.” The M-SRA has been a prominent association for as long as Katie can remember. When she was a kid, she remembers looking up to the barrel racers who were at the top of their game at the time in the association. Now, Katie is one of those top contenders. “I’ve heard wonderful things about the M-SRA and have a lot of friends in it and they all praise how well it’s ran. I also hear about how fun the finals are, so I’m making some goals in the next year or two to find out for myself.”
Although Katie’s jackpot schedule was packed full leading up to July, after Cowboy Christmas she started attending more M-SRA events. One of them on her bucket list was the Madison County Fair & Rodeo. “I’ve never been home to be able to run at Madison. I’ve never even been able to watch it, but I’ve heard lots of good things about it. I know it’s a really big rodeo with good added money, which always brings in the top competitors. That makes it fun to compete and watch.”
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