Trick riders bring glamorous act to Last Chance Stampede | TSLN.com
Ruth Nicolaus

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Trick riders bring glamorous act to Last Chance Stampede

Trick rider Madison MacDonald entertains at the 2016 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. The native Canadian who now lives in Texas returns to entertain at the Last Chance Stampede and Fair in Helena July 27-29. Photo by Jackie Jensen

Speed, glamour, sequins and sparkles, all on the back of a galloping horse, while hanging precariously attached to a narrow leather strap on a saddle!

That's the definition of trick riding: three beautiful women, dressed in glitzy costumes, as they perform daredevil stunts on horseback!

Magic in Motion, featuring Madison MacDonald, Jessica Blair and Rae-Lynn Armstrong, will be on hand to entertain rodeo fans at the Last Chance Stampede in Helena!

MacDonald, an Alberta native, saw trick riding when she was three years old and convinced her mother to let her try it. She took lessons and when she was fifteen, she entertained fans at the big Alberta rodeos, including Ponoka.

MacDonald graduated from high school in 2011 and, the same year, was honored to be selected to work on rodeo's biggest stage, the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, held in Las Vegas each December. She was eighteen years old. She has worked the WNFR for the past six years. It's been an honor, she said. "That rodeo alone has been something, a major crazy highlight. I never expected (to be selected). You dream of performing there."

She now lives in Stephenville, Texas, with her husband, Keegan Thomas. In addition to performing at rodeos, MacDonald gives trick riding lessons and finds that trick riding, which was once a lost art in the U.S., is making a comeback.

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MacDonald has three trick riding horses and will bring them all to Helena. Her main horse is a ten-year-old palomino named Chex, who was first purchased by the Calgary Stampede and used as a liberty horse. Chex is irreplaceable. "I wish I could clone him," she said. "He's gorgeous, and so big, stocky and well-built." Her second horse is a seventeen-year-old black horse named Vegas, a versatile horse who is "push-button" easy.

Her backup horses include Spider, a buckskin she has ridden for the past dozen years. She usually doesn't bring him along, but she will, in case another trick rider needs him and to accommodate for the larger arena in Helena. "These trick riding horses are running as hard as they can, and sometimes they're in there for four or five minutes. I like my horses to last," she said, "so I rotate them."

This will be the second time MacDonald has entertained in Helena, and she's excited to return. "I love that rodeo. The energy is amazing in that place. Some of my best performances are in that arena, and I'm excited to be back."

MacDonald and another trick rider will entertain during each performance of the Last Chance Stampede and Fair at the Lewis and Clark Co. Fairgrounds July 27-29. Rodeo tickets are available online at LastChanceStampede.com and at the gate.

The Last Chance Stampede and Fair runs July 26-29, and includes a Billy Currington concert on July 26 at 7:30 pm followed by three nights of rodeo, July 27-29 at 7:30 pm each night. Tickets are available online at LastChanceStampede.com and at the Lewis and Clark Co. Fairgrounds.

Advance sale rodeo tickets for Thurs., July 27 are $15 for adults and $5 for children, and all Thursday night tickets are general admission. Advance sale rodeo tickets for July 28-29 are $18 for all seating, which is reserved.

Tickets on the days of the rodeo are $18 for adults for July 27 ($5 for children ages 3-12) and $21 for July 28-29.

–Last Chance Stampede & Fair