Madison Rau competes at National High School Finals Rodeo

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After finishing third at the South Dakota High School Finals Rodeo in Belle Fourche, Mobridge-Pollock High School freshman Madison Rau, has qualified to compete with the S.D. State/Provincial National High School Rodeo team. Rau will be traveling with her fellow teammates to Rock Springs, Wyo., for the July 14 through 20  rodeo.

There will be more than 1,500 contestants from 41 sates, five Canadian Provinces and Australia. More then $200,000 in prizes and $350,000 in college scholarships will be awarded. Contestants are also competing to be named National High School Finals Rodeo (NHSFR) Champion.

Rau is excited about competing, but she is also excited about helping with a smaller rodeo that is focused around special needs children. Cowboys and cowgirls lend a hand with different events, creating a safe and fun event for the volunteers along with the children.

“I think it’s cool they want us to help,” Rau said, “and I think it’s cool to see their faces light up.”

Rau trains and competes in four rodeo events including pole bending, goat tying, and break-away roping but she focuses most of her energy on barrel racing. At the age of 15 Rau says she can already match and even beat the times of professional barrel racers, including those who competed in last week’s Sitting Bull Stampede. She hopes to compete in the Stampede next year despite her age and lack of professional standing.

Rau is planning her life around rodeo.  Besides applying for a pro card when she turns 18, she will also be applying for admission to Black Hills State University in Spearfish, S.D..  Although she is not certain of what she will major in, the school’s rodeo program caught her attention. The schools facilities mesmerized Rau, with access to both indoor and outdoor arenas, including stables, where she can keep her horse.

Rau at times feels different than her peers in Mobridge due to her strong connection to rodeo and dedication to her training.

“Kids at school like to know about rodeo because it’s foreign to them,” Rau said, “But I don’t know if they enjoy me talking about it all the time.”

When the opportunity arises Rau likes to take her friends to the stables where she shows them how she and her horses train. She also allows her friends to ride her horses, hoping to share with them a part of her rodeo life.

“My friends are amazed that I get to ride horses all day. I think its kind of amazing, too,” Rau said.

Rau likes to think she lives two separate lives. One focuses around rodeo, where she has friends that connect with her about competing and training animals. The other life focuses around school, Mobridge friends, and more conventional sports. In the rodeo off-season she likes to play basketball, volleyball, and to run track.

Rau’s favorite subject in school is science; however this is a new development. She gives credit to Mrs. Wells, who has helped her understand the topic and has made it fun.

Outside of school and sports she likes to hangout with friends and watch movies, mostly thriller and comedy, although she is not too fond of romantic movies. Rau has the unique ability to quote any movie she has seen from credit to credit. She also likes all kinds of music with the exception of polka. While hanging out with friends, watching movies, and listening to music is fun, Rau prefers to train her horses in her spare time.

Rau likes to begin training and groundwork when the horse are young. It gives her immense joy watching the foal grow and comprehend the training.

When the horses start working with her Rau said, “then it’s like, okay I’m doing something good.”

She has nine horses that she trains and cares for. Her favorite out of the many is Piper, her barrel horse, who will be joining her at the National Finals. A freshman qualifying for nationals is not unheard of, but it is not overly common. Rau is confident that she and Piper will do very well.

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