By random chance, I met 14-year-old Mackenzie Miller from Denton, Montana through MySpace. Preferring to be called Mac, she explained to me that she loved the Girls Can’t WHAT? web site and that it especially interested her because she was into bullriding and there just aren’t a lot of girls who do that sort of thing. Wanting to know more about her experience in this field, I asked Mac for an interview and she accepted.
Gretchen: So tell us Mac, when did you first become interested in bull riding?
Mac: After I rode my first steer when I was 12. When I started riding I went to a bullriding school with Ross Coleman and Justin Mcbride. One of the main reasons I wanted to do it is because I was madly in love with Justin Mcbride. Yes, pathetic, I know. After I fell off the steer, I had a new love I was hooked. Mom wasn’t so big on the idea. She thought I was going to chicken out. Well, so did I.
Gretchen: You obviously got over your fears quickly. How old were you when you started competing?
Mac: I was 12 years old.
Gretchen: Only 12? Wow! So you’ve been doing this for a couple of years now. Do you remember your first event? How did it go?
Mac: Well…The first steer riding experience was when I knew that this is what I was destined to do, it was my thing. My very first REAL bullriding experience was….well…interesting. Some of family friends invited us down to a local rodeo. My little brother and I were signed up for steer riding. The first night I had to get on a pretty small steer. My rope was too big so as soon as we came out of the shoots I slid off. The stock contractor was actually a female, and she offered to let me ride one of her 2 year old bulls the next night. Of course I said yes. Thankfully, it was just my dad who took us. He decided we wouldn’t tell Mom until after I rode. Well, we got there the next night. And I know when I say two year old bull, you’re thinking a small bull that doesn’t do much, haha..well I was too. We got my bull in the chute. My dad isn’t even paying attention to me…he’s too worried about getting pictures (typical dad) So, this very attractive (too old of course) guy offered to help me. Well, I definitely didn’t turn it down. Well, I can’t say I went out and won it all. I lasted about 3 seconds at the most. But I had a lot more guts than the girls that made fun of me for falling off.
Gretchen: Speaking of falling off…Have you ever been injured? What happened?
Mac: No serious injuries. Just the normal bruises and scars. The worst pain I’ve felt though is when a bull laid down in the shoot and my leg got stuck. I couldn’t move my leg after that. But Mom said if I didn’t stop being a wimp we were going home…so I didn’t make it noticeable
Gretchen: So Mom finally got on board with your bullriding career, eh? Have you ever been told you “can’t” because you are a girl? How did you respond?
Mac: Hehe…Of course. I ALWAYS run into some machoist who is convinced it’s still the 1800′s. I just laugh to be honest. If I let them get to me it makes me look weak, and I’m the farthest thing from weak. I remember I was at a rodeo, and there was a little jerk behind the shoots running his mouth. I carried my bag behind the shoots. He asked me if I was riding. I point at my little brother and say “No, I’m his assistant”, then walked away. I have a slight problem putting it nicely that YES…I am Female…and Yes I am Riding. Well, as I was walking away, the kid says “Why don’t you just go home, you don’t stand a chance” I just smiled and wished him the best of luck. I ended up winning. I gave him a big smile as I walked up to get my check.
Gretchen: Mac, that is a great example of both good sportsmanship and not letting anyone get the best of you. With two years of bullriding under your belt, what do you think is your greatest achievement so far?
Mac: Proving that girls can do something other than painting their nails. I’m quite the feminist to be honest. I have had a lot of little girls come up to me, telling me they want to ride. I think it’s awesome because whoever came up with the idea that bull riding was only a men’s sport….You’re dumb.
Gretchen: So true – you are proving that girls can do anything they want. Do you have a favorite event?
Mac: The only things I do in rodeo is barrel racing and bull riding, so those two would have to be my favorite. I’m still not sure why people always consider bull riding the sport for the REAL tough guys. Barrel racing is actually very complicated. It’s not just jump on a horse and gallop off. It takes so much time to train the right horse. And you have to have every single hand motion right or your going to tip over a barrel. For the people that make fun of ropers, shut your trap. I have a lot of respect for team ropers. I think it’s just as hard as bull riding. I pretty much just love rodeo. Everything about it. I also o-mok-see…that’s games played on horseback. This year I ended up getting the year end high point belt buckle. We have clubs and everything. We take it very seriously in Montana.
Gretchen: That is very cool. I have been to the local rodeos here (in Illinois) and I have a lot of respect for those who participate. It does not look easy and I know there is a lot of skill and training involved. Training your horse is a big part of it. Tell us a little bit about your horse.
Mac: Wrong question to ask. I could go on forever and ever about Dan. He’s 11 and a bay (dark brown with black mane) quarter horse. I have about 9 horses, but this one is my baby. You don’t get much better than him. He is the horse I use in barrel racing and o-mok-sees. No, he’s not one of those professional barrel racing horses. Far from it actually. I was actually the one who pretty much trained him. He hurt his leg really bad as a two year old, so he never got rode. But then my mare that I had since I was little passed on, and I needed a horse to take to my horse classes. We went through a lot of fights and misunderstandings. He was a horse who was a total spazoid. He would hyperventelate, he would attempt to buck. But, after a year of horse classes. We formed a bond that no one could break. He’s my escape. One of my best friends. Recently, I was at a barrel racing clinic, and my parents couldn’t take me so I went with a friend. And I was talking to my horse, and my friend looks around the trailer to ask who I was talking to. My face got red as a muttered “Dan” She said it sounded just like I was talking to a person. Bull riding has actually helped me with Dan because the thought of him bucking doesn’t scare me one bit, not like it really did before but now I’m more prepared for the fall off….Yes that was only a LITTLE bit about my horse. He is the “Fo Shizzle”.
Gretchen: Dan sounds like a great horse and it appears you share a mutual respect for each other. What advice would you give to girls who are interested in bull riding?
Mac: Go For It. Don’t let ANYONE tell you it’s not possible (as I have) I’m telling you if you are serious about it, you won’t regret it. It’s one of the greatest feelings. Don’t chicken out. I’m not going to lie, it’s scary. You can’t predict what’s going to happen once the gate opens. But it’s all worth it.
Gretchen: Thank you for being so honest and open about it being scary and for the encouragement to follow our dreams. Tell us more about yourself, Mac. What interests do you have outside of riding bulls?
Mac: Well….I’m very random. My friends describe me as, crazy, funny, unique, and just plain weird. I play basketball and volleyball. Don’t have time for track because I’m working with my horses. I love music. I have no musical talent but I love it. I listen to every kind of music. Look through my CD case and you’ll see. I absolutely do not put up with racism, or people who have nothing better to do than criticize gay people. I try my best to not judge other by their looks, but everyone does at some point. I live in a small town with about 200 people. My class has 12, and we are all best friends. I’ll be graduating from 8th grade this year so I’m excited. I’m not exactly the smartest kid in my class. I go to Special Ed. for studyhall. I’m not afraid to admit it. So anyone who does don’t feel embarrased. Some of us are just smart in different ways. I’m blonde, but not the pink-wearing-high-pitched-clone. I’m not exactly “skinny” either. I’m not fat, I’m average …Any girls who are convinced they are gross and obese. Just stop, you’re not. Not all of us are Paris Hilton (some of us don’t want to be ) I am a huge fan of Steve Irwin. He rocks. I LOVE ANIMALS…anything I do when I’m older is going to involve animals. Yup…that’s it
Gretchen: Mac, thank you so much for your time in doing this impressive interview. You are truly an inspiration to girls everywhere. You have such a bright spirit and an amazing attitude. Keep doing what you do! Stay in touch and keep us updated on your career as well. B-)
You can contact Mac on MySpace.