McCready finds major success on Great Lakes rodeo circuit

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO Stephanie McCready and her horse Sadie run the barrel racing course at the Cinch World’s Toughest Rodeo in Des Moines last Saturday.

The rodeo circuit can be a tough one, but for people like Stephanie McCready of Marshalltown, it’s a calling.

McCready was just six years old when she participated in her first rodeo riding on her father’s roping horse. Her dad — Elmer Miller — roped calves and steer wrestled at rodeos, and her mother — Gwen Miller — was a barrel racer. Decades after her initial introduction to the wild world of rodeo, McCready is following in her mom’s footsteps and barrel racing all over the country.

She recently returned from riding on the pro rodeo circuit, where she placed 10th in the finals for the Great Lakes region. Because of the stiff competition she faced, McCready was thrilled with the results.

“I made the Great Lakes circuit finals, which is amazing,” McCready said. “It’s a tough circuit.”

After getting back home, she gave her barrel racing horse, Sadie, a month-long break before participating in any other rodeos to avoid overworking her after the long season. Last Saturday, however, she got back to it at the Cinch World’s Toughest Rodeo in Des Moines, placing second in the barrel racing contest. After taking a month off, McCready said the result was “still really good” from her perspective.

Looking forward, McCready is just getting started. Next weekend, she plans on participating in Sioux City’s World’s Toughest Rodeo before heading north to the World’s Toughest Rodeo in St. Paul, Minn., which will be held the last weekend of January.

Barrel racing is McCready’s passion, but the sense of community she gains from these events drives her to keep showing up and make new connections.

“I like how everyone comes together and everybody is pretty supportive of each other, but the thing I like the most is, everyone is pretty American. We definitely take a lot of pride in our American flag, and I love that,” McCready said.

That sense of community goes deeper than just rodeo: McCready also hosts barrel racing clinics — both at her own Burnin’ Barrel Ranch a few miles northwest of Marshalltown and across the state of Iowa — twice a year. McCready generally teaches the basics and provides tips on how to succeed in a barrel racing arena to about 15 students during each session.

“I have quite a few kids looking up to me, and I think that helps push me. I have a lot of little girls (from the barrel racing clinics), and I love that they’re super supportive,” McCready said.

She has gotten so comfortable with the rodeo scene over the years that competing has become second nature. If it doesn’t always go perfectly, that’s OK with her.

“My favorite saying is, ‘If it doesn’t go well, it’s on to the next, moving on, because there’s always another rodeo to go to,'” McCready said.


Contact Susanna Meyer at 641-753-6611

or smeyer@timesrepublican.com.


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