Back by Popular Demand:

Madison Mcdonald

She’s back, because she’s AWESOME!!!

By Katy Nesbitt, CJD Staff Writer
Photography by Angelika Ursula Dietrich, CJD PR Photographer

Chief Joseph Days Rodeo presents a specialty act not to be missed – trick rider Madison McDonald-Thomas. In rodeo cowboys ride rough stock at one end of the arena and highly trained roping horses at the other – it’s the middle of the arena where the women of rodeo really shine running barrels, drill team patterns and grand entry run-ins. And she is back! McDonald-Thomas brings her act of horsewoman talent back to the Harley Tucker Arena – the thrill and elegance of trick riding.

7X NFR Contract Act 2011-2017 2017 PRCA Top 5 Dress Act of the Year Nominee
7X NFR Contract Act 2011-2017. 2017 PRCA Top 5 Dress Act of the Year Nominee.

McDonald-Thomas was just finishing six performances at the Ponoka Stampede in Canada when the 24 year-old took a break at a laundromat to talk about her profession. A native of the Province of Alberta she said her next stop was the Calgary Stampede before heading back to the states for rodeos in Utah and Oregon.

As a pre-school age girl McDonald-Thomas said she accompanied her mother to the Wild West shows she organized for the Calgary Stampede. 

Mesmerized by the trick riders she started taking lessons when she was six and performing at eleven. 

“Mom and Dad put more miles on the road taking me to lessons and performances,” McDonald said. “If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be where I am.”

By the time she was 18 she was invited to the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, but it was a performance in Texas that drew out the true cowgirl in her, where she now makes her home.

I knew that’s where I wanted to go,” McDonald Thomas said.

She was accepted at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas and attended the school for a few years until she could no longer juggle her profession and still show up to class. She eventually chose to focus on her work, but Stephenville remains home base.

“Stephenville is cowboy capital,” McDonald Thomas said. “A ton of us PRCA contract acts are within 30 minutes of each other. It’s the big rodeo community that makes me feel at home when I go back down there.”

Despite the incredible distance, McDonald’s ties to Canada are strong. She said her mother serves as her secretary and helps design her costumes. 

“Last year my parents came to watch me in Great Falls and ended up staying for all five days. My Dad helped in the arena every performance. I told him, I knew you’d miss it eventually’,” McDonald Thomas said. 

In recent years her husband, Keegan Thomas, is her main support in the arena. 

“He does a lot of stuff in the arena for us – he’s our second set of eyes,” McDonald Thomas said.

When she isn’t performing, McDonald Thomas said she spends a lot of time teaching.  “Teaching helps me stay sharp and strong because I am always having to go over the basics. I can get burned out on teaching – performing is what it’s all about.”

A consummate horsewoman, McDonald Thomas said in her limited spare time she races barrels at PRCA rodeos. 

Check out McDonald Thomas during each of night of Chief Joseph Days Rodeo. 

Video of her performances are on her website or find her on Facebook at Madison McDonald-Trick Riding.

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