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Meet the Member Maddi Billingsly
story by Lily Weinacht
Maddi Billingsly, an 8-year-old barrel racer from Glenpool, Oklahoma, won the first KK Run for Vegas race of the 2019 season in February. She and her horse Cowgirl stopped the clock at 15.475—one of Maddi’s fastest runs in her career thus far—putting her in first place in the junior division at the Lance Graves International Barrel Race. Her time also put her 2nd in the youth division and 15th in the open. Following her run at the Lazy E Arena, Maddi ran at an SBRA (Sooner Barrel Racing Association) event the same day, where she won the youth and the open.
“(Guthrie) was really fun and I was kind of nervous because of how big it was and how many people were in it. If I get nervous I take deep breaths, and my aunt is with me before I run,” says Maddi. “Barrel racing is really fun and I get to play with my friends at the end of it.” She travels to all her barrel races with her great-aunt and uncle, Tina and Dexter Scanlan; and her great-grandpa Roger “Hodgie” Melson. Maddi’s grandma Penny Billingsly McCarthy took her to watch Tina at a barrel race when Maddi was 4. After watching her aunt chasing cans, followed by a ride on Tina’s horse Cowgirl, Maddi was hooked. “We had to find her a horse the next day,” says Tina. “Our friends Kasey and Kasey brought us Skip and she rode him for a few months, and then she moved up to Fonzy, my husband’s old rope horse. She rode him for a year and moved up to Dexter’s horse Peanut, and then I let her ride Cowgirl one day and I think that’s the last time I got to ride her.”
Maddi started running barrels when she was 5, and competed in one of her largest races thus far in 2018 at the World Barrel Racing League’s Youth World Finals in Memphis, Tennessee. She qualified through the Lance Graves International Barrel Race, which she decided to enter again this year after Tracey Martin, the wife of late jockey Jacky Martin, told Tina about KK Run for Vegas. “The other closest ones (KKP races) are four hours away, but we’re going to try to make a couple more of them just to see how she’s going to compete in Vegas. She’s a lot of fun to travel around with, and she tells me what I did wrong and she’s actually right,” Tina says with a laugh. “My husband travels with us, and he qualified on Peanut for the World Series in Vegas, so we’re already going to be in Vegas that week. It’s exciting!”
Between barrel races, Maddi is a third-grade student at Pretty Water Public School. “I like math, and we’re working on fractions right now,” says Maddi, who also plays basketball and is in the middle of her softball season, playing third base. “Our basketball season was good—we lost one game and won all the others.” Maddi also goes to her aunt’s house to ride Cowgirl three days a week. “I’ve been riding her since November and she’s really, really fast. Her name kind of matches her, because she would be a cowgirl if she was a person.”
Maddi is the horse lover in her family, but her three younger sisters, Ava, Blake, and Emmi, and her parents, Calli and Bradly Billingsly, come watch her compete. Practicing for the Junior World Finals is one of her main focuses this spring, along with her goal of becoming a world champion barrel racer.