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2016 Wrangler NFR Specialty Acts

           Madison MacDonald
             Already the only specialty act to perform at four consecutive Wrangler
           National Finals Rodeos, in 2015 trick rider Madison MacDonald extended her
           string to five straight appearances at rodeo’s ‘Super Bowl.’
             “I never thought this would happen,” says MacDonald. “It’s everyone’s
           dream to perform there, so I’m beyond lucky and beyond blessed. It’s always
           an awesome experience, and every year they surprise me. Last year they gave
           me my own opening with my trick riding students. That was stressful, especially
           since one of my horses got an abscess in his foot the day we left for Las Vegas.”
             But a seasoned performer never lets the stress show, and at age 22,
           MacDonald has been trick riding for 17 years. In fact, she’s beginning to think
           about slowing down, maybe in a few years when she starts a family with her new husband, Keegan
           Thomas. They live in Stephenville, Texas, where MacDonald teaches trick riding when she’s not on
           the road performing.
             “I always wanted to be a teacher, but thought it might be junior high math and science,” says
           MacDonald. “It just worked out that I get to teach trick riding instead. Like any performer, I don’t
           always want to share my secrets, but it would be too dangerous to keep it to myself – so I tell them
           everything they need to know. It all started when I posted a video last year that I had worked really
           hard on; it went viral, and I got really busy teaching.”
             MacDonald’s students come to Stephenville from around the neighborhood and all over the
           country – even overseas, as she had one student come from the Netherlands. She credits the increased
           interest to the appeal of the activity itself as well as lucky timing.
             “It’s a sport for young girls, with costumes and fast horses,” says MacDonald. “And a couple of
           movies that featured trick riding helped too, like ‘Cowgirls and Angels.’”
             That still appeals to the Wrangler NFR veteran herself – and, she says, to NFR general manager
           Shawn Davis.
             “Mr. Davis loves the glitz and glamour, so I always try to come to Las Vegas with new costumes
           and new flags,” says MacDonald. “He tells me what he wants, and he doesn’t have to worry about me;
           I’m a perfectionist, and I guess I haven’t let him down yet.
             “It’s like coming home to a family now, saying hello to all the grounds workers and the people
           backstage. But it’s also really exciting. It never gets old – being involved in that production – because
           it’s new and fresh every year, and there’s so much energy around that place. You just build off that.”

                                                                                  SPECIALTY ACTS

                                    2017 PRCA MEDIA GUIDE                  673
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