It’s been one hell of a debut season in the CCA for Tana Millard.
As the CCA Finals Rodeo in Swift Current, Sask. draws ever closer, the 18-year-old ladies barrel racer finds herself in the midst of a heated race for the coveted top spot in the CCA standings.
“So far it’s been going pretty good. I started out at the pro rodeos and I didn’t even start going to the CCAs until about the start of June,” said the Red Deer County, AB cowgirl, who burst onto the CCA circuit at the indoor rodeo in Kindersley late in May, where she picked up a 3/4 split.
The cheque was enough to send her to third place in the standings, and she hasn’t looked back since.
In the nearly three months since then, Millard has been on a roll picking up the big cheques in Warman and Consul and finishing in the money in Whitewood, Gilbert Plains and Foremost to bring her season earnings up over $10,000 at the time of writing.
“I’ve started having to go to get a good rodeo count,” Millard said.
The second generation cowgirl grew up knowing that she was born to ride the clover leaf pattern.
“My mom (Dena Millard) has pro rodeoed for a lot of years – since she was my age. So I was kind of born into it. I’ve been going since I was three years old and started getting on really competitive horses at about 15,” Tana recalled, adding that by the time she was 16, she was already entering rodeos on the pro circuit.
Millard said she credits a lot of her success this season to her horse, Lightning.
“I’ve got a really nice horse right now that my mom trained and ran for several years, and I bought her this spring and got on her and started running her.”
Now the duo’s focus will turn to the final push for the CCA finals. Despite the fact that she’s got a $2,000 lead over the third place cowgirl, Millard said she’s not taking anything for granted heading into the home stretch.
“I find when you get to the top of the leaderboard it’s really hard to stay there. I’ve always come from behind and ended my season really strong. I got to season leader about halfway through the year this year and the mental part of it is really tough,” she said.
“You really have to think through each run and not think about looking at the standings, not think about what the other girls are doing behind you or ahead of you. Really just take it one run at a time.”
Millard noted that she will be putting a lot of emphasis on making a good run at the CCA championship this year.
“I think the CCA Finals are really important. I think the CCA is a really strong association and I think it’s going to be one of our top associations pretty darn quick here,” she said, adding that she has really enjoyed her first season in the CCA.
“They’re great rodeos, they pay great, the ground has been great here, everybody’s been super friendly.”
And with the Finals taking place for the first time in Swift Current this year, there is even more of an incentive for the young cowgirl to keep riding strong.
“When we’re on the Alberta side of the Saskatchewan boarder, it’s a lot closer for us to get to. Swift Current was good to me this year at the outdoor rodeo and I hope that the indoor rodeo goes just as well.”
Photo courtesy Randy Lewis