Meet the Member
story by Lindsay Humphrey Basically every event that Gracie Lewis can enter in the OKJHSRA is what she’s entered the entire season. Aside from the […]
story by Lindsay Humphrey
Putting a bad run out of your head is a feat every successful rodeo competitor has needed to master to reach the next level of competition. Madison Lawther did exactly that during the second round of the NLBRA finals this past July. “In the first round I hit all three barrels,” said the 13-year-old. “I knew I had to put that behind me if I wanted a chance at the short round. I was just shy of making the short round in 18th place after a good second round.” Madison was proud of both herself and her horse after that performance, but what sticks out most are the people who stood behind her in the heat of defeat. “My parents, my friends and some of their parents were all encouraging me. Someone said, ‘To keep my head up and that I would get them in the next round. And that I couldn’t do any worse than I did in the first round.’”
It’s the friends Madison’s made through rodeo that helps her easily count her blessings. When she first started running barrels competitively four years ago, she didn’t know anyone. First in the NLBRA and then in the OKJHSRA. It didn’t take long to find friends and now they’re thicker than thieves and Madison considers her friends family. “My friends are like siblings to me. We all hang out at rodeos and have a good time together. We walk around the rodeo playing random games and just making each other laugh.” One of those friends really is Madison’s sibling. Eight-year-old Wrett isn’t usually far behind Madison and her friends at any given event.
“He hangs out with his own friends too, but he also hangs out with mine a lot. He breakaway ropes, steer stops, ties goats and runs flags in the Little Britches and NWJOR.” Wrett is still learning the ropes of rodeo and he’s lucky to have Madison there to help him through. Although he doesn’t always realize how helpful she is right away. “Sometimes he gets mad when I try to help him, but I still enjoy it. He usually understands that I’m helping him and then we can get it all worked out together.” Their parents – Todd and Jaime – are always on hand to open chutes and give pointers both at home in practice and on the rodeo trail.
“My parents have given up a bunch of their spare time to help us practice so we can be where we are today. They both help me stay calm and make sure that I’m relaxed and ready for my runs.” Madison is a speed demon through and through. Her main, and favorite, event is running the clover leaf pattern. “It’s one of those sports where you have to rely on yourself to guide your horse and you can’t blame a teammate for anything. You’re responsible for all of it.” She first started running barrels at the Woodward Roundup Club where her dad was team roping. That’s where many of Madison’s first and favorite memories of rodeo were formed. “I remember having fun with my friends and not doing it to be fast. When I won my first check it was super exciting because it was just all for fun.”
The aggressive competition of the OKJHSRA keeps things interesting and fun for Madison and her friends. Now in the eighth grade at Woodward Middle School, Madison is in her third year of competing in both barrels and ribbon roping. “I just like the running part, how I don’t have to do that much but I do like to run. Running frees my mind. If I have a bad run beforehand, I know that I just have to get the ribbon.” It shouldn’t be surprising that Madison’s horse – 13-year-old Wicked Jr – also enjoys running. “He’s one of the nicest horses I’ve ever met. He loves to be loved and he doesn’t have a mean bone in his body.” Together for the last three years, Wicked also runs barrels with Wrett. “He can go from running a 17 with me outside and then my brother uses him, and he goes just the right speed for him. He’s not hot at all and he’s just easy to love.”
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