Hello all, let me introduce you to Maddie Lijewski, a seventeen year old barrel racer from Prior Lake, Minnesota. Maddie has been around horses her entire life, and started showing them around the age of 3.
She began showing at the WSCA events in western, hunt seat, showmanship, and all of the timed events. It was not rare for Maddie to start showing at 5 in the morning, and not leave until 11 at night, but she loved every minute of it. At the time Maddie had two ponies, one for pleasure, and the other for timed events. Those ponies taught Maddie everything, and gave her a very successful start in the world of horses, from teaching her to pick herself up and move on after a bad run, to getting back on after getting bucked off. Maddie says that they taught her life lessons that only ponies can you.
While Maddie enjoyed pleasure riding, it wasn’t her passion, so she switched up to an older mare that was a very talented barrel horse, who understood that Maddie was little, and she knew how to take care of her, but Maddie describes it as a big step up for her. When Maddie first started running with her first full sized mare, she hadn’t participated in weekend barrel races before, and did not know very much about them. On the first weekend barrel race Maddie, her cousin, and mother all went to Cannon Falls, MN. They were all a bit overwhelmed to say the least when they looked at the draw, as there were 300 or more entered into that race. At that time Maddie was 9 years old riding a 19 year old, 14.2 hand horse, and they ran in the top of the 1D, and it instantly became an addiction for Maddie.
While Dancer, her mare, and Maddie were having a lot of success, her and her mom know that at 19 years old, her mare wasn’t going to last forever. Maddie’s mom decided to buy a 5 year old prospect with good breading and a good temperament. The 5 year old was patient with Maddie, he was always willing to learn, and the two of them bonded immediately. Little did they know at the time he would have some big shoes to fill sooner than anticipated when Dancer got kicked and broke her pelvis. Though Maddie and her new horse had an instant bond, it wasn’t an easy transition from having a top horse that was so automatic in the arena to having a younger horse that was not as used to racing. It wasn’t easy and there were many tears and trials involved in the process. There were even discussions about selling him, as he just wasn’t advancing in his performance, and Maddie wanted to be a strong competitor, and her horse wasn’t stepping up to the plate. Maddie’s stubborn attitude and bond with him pushed her through all the bad runs, and they continued to work hard together. People were starting to ask Maddie why she was still running him, but slowly he got better and better, and became a great horse! They ran in 1D many times, but they were never at the top. Maddie also ran in the High School Rodeo association, and would get in the top 10, but never the top 5.
They also competed in The High School Rodeo and would make it in the top 10 but unfortunately never the top 5. Maddie describes Dancer as a great horse that she rides in pole bending events, and he has continued to surprise her with how well he has taken to it, but Maddie had dreams of being at the top, and she just wasn’t quite there. At that point she hopped aboard her mom’s horse, Tug, and at their first rodeo together they placed 3rd in the first go, and 2nd in the second go! Like all cowgirls, that’s exactly where Maddie wanted to be, but it didn’t happen every run. Other girls were getting better horses, and Maddie, and Tug just weren’t clicking very well. Maddie explains that Tug was very different form Dancer, he has a lot of get up and go, but Maddie wasn’t familiar with riding a horse with so much power, and still struggles with that today. Maddie and Tug still have good runs every once in a while, but have a lot of bad runs in between. Maddie never jerked, or quit on him, but she still gets frustrated. However Maddie did get to the short go at the state finals for the High School Rodeo, and the pair ended up in 8th place for the year. Maddie puts in a lot of time on the back of Tug outside of the arena trying to get used to him, and building the relationship with him that it takes to be great, though Maddie fears they will never have the bond that Tug and Maddie’s mom had.
One Day Maddie’s mom received a message about a three year old that had just come off of the track. Maddie’s family was familiar with the sire, and she was a granddaughter of a horse named Bully Bullion, who was a race horse. The family all went to go look at the horse, but Maddie didn’t even get on her, as she was only track broke. Maddie’s mom ended up buying that horse, now known as Ridiculicious, for Maddie, for her 16th birthday. Maddie hauled her new horse to a few runs, to get some rides on her, and Ridiculicious did great! Maddie had never had a straight off the track hose like this before, so it did take some getting used to the way she pushed through the bit, and how strong Ridiculicious is.
Maddie worked with her new partner through the summer, but they didn’t get a whole lot of time, and Maddie now had her two other horses she had to keep in shape, and rodeos to go to, so Ridiculicious got put on the back burner a bit for the summer. Later that year, in November, Maddie and Ridiculicious ended up going to a clinic, where she was told by a NFR qualifier, and multiple round winner that Ridiculicious wouldn’t cut it, and that Maddie was wasting her time on her. Maddie had, had high hopes for Ridiculicious, and Maddie respected the professional’s opinion, but Maddie was not about to give up on her partner that fast. Maddie decided that Ridiculicious was in her life for a reason, so she would not give up on her.
Maddie has worked really hard with Ridiculicious, and her goal was to take her to some futurities. Maddie began doing some exhibition runs, and the team ran 2 or 3 times over the winter just loping around the barrels. In the spring Maddie signed up for a futurity, and realized they should get some runs in before then. The first one was on a Thursday night barrel race, where Maddie came second in 1D, behind none other than Tug.
With how great that run went, Maddie headed off to her much larger weekend barrel race, and placed in the 1D out of 200 other barrel racers entered. Maddie remembers feeling great going into her first futurity, but didn’t expect to do anything great running against mostly trainers who have much more experience. Well, Maddie ended up the reserve champion of that event! In the awe of that unexpected success, Maddie went out and sought help from multiple people who she respected and admired to help train the dynamic duo. The team went on to have many more successes since then, and ended up winning the last futurity they ran in Huron, South Dakota.
Ridiculicious was a natural, and Maddie is proud, and feels lucky to say she stuck with a horse she was told she’d never get anywhere on, and proved that to be wrong. Maddie accredits all of the success to Ridiculicious, and has skyrocketed Maddie into being a real contender, as she has been in the op of the 1D at several races where 300 plus contestants were entered.
Maddie is very excited for the coming summer, and cannot wait to get back out for some spring rodeos with her beloved Ridiculicious, to finish up her senior year in the High School Rodeo. Maddies goal is to be in the top for, and make it to nationals. Maddie is most excited to really start her rodeo career, as she plans to travel more in this next summer. Maddie feels very blessed, and fortunate to be able to ride Ridiculicious. Maddie gives all of the glory to God, because he has given her the strength she has needed to get through it all.
Thank you to all who have taken the time to got to know Maddie, one of our local mid-west cowgirls! If you or anyone you know would like to be considered to be one of our performer of the weeks, please Contact Us!
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