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Meet the Member: Madison Rau
story by Lindsay Whelchel
For Madison Rau, rodeo has become a much bigger picture than just a sport in which she competes. It has taught her about developing horses and strengthening her bond with her traveling partner-mother.
“I spend my entire summer with my mom. Every rodeo I go to she goes with me, so we’ve gotten a lot closer as mom and daughter, and I think it’s really something that we can share together,” Madison says and adds, “if I need something fixed she’s going to show me how to do it, and I help her.” Madison and her mother Lana both train the horses that Madison has ridden to success in the Northwest Ranch Cowboys Association, High School National Finals Rodeo and more.
Lana rodeoed while she was in high school but not while she was in college, so when Madison was 3, she started her young daughter in the lifestyle she knew. At the age of 9 Madison began in rodeo.
Her parents ranch and do custom work in their home of South Dakota, and it was Madison’s dad Ken who aided in getting his daughter her first horse, a rescue mare that got Madison her start. Soon she graduated up to her current rodeo mount.
“Then we bought the horse I’m running now, the palomino we call Piper, that’s gotten me everywhere. We bought her at a Breeder’s Classic sale, and we trained her ourselves. She’s just done everything for me, from barrels, poles and goats, and she’s qualified me for just about anything.”
Madison has two older brothers, Lane and Taten, and she is currently a senior in high school where she also plays basketball and runs track. Once school lets out however, Madison is right back to the arena training young horses and rodeoing through the summers with her mom. This year was her rookie year with the NRCA, and she loves being able to meet new people in the rodeo world.
“I meet new people every time I go to the rodeo, and you just get a second family which is really great. You’re there to cheer on everybody else. You want to do your best, but it’s great because you have other people rooting for you all the time.”
Madison plans to compete in college rodeo and study radiation science.
Rodeo has helped teach her about positivity and optimism, even when things go wrong.
“If something doesn’t go your way or the ground isn’t the way it should be or your horse is having a day, you’re not always going to have the perfect run every time, so you mentally better yourself and have things to change. There’s always going to be another rodeo.”