ALTUS, Okla. – Madison Kovar knew that competing at an elite level in college rodeo meant testing her skills against some of the best.
That’s why she made the move from her home in Swift Current, Saskatchewan, to Western Oklahoma State College in Altus – a 22-hour-plus drive one way. It’s a long way from home, but it’s the perfect place for her.
“I really like being in the Central Plains Region,” said Kovar, now in her third year in the nursing program at Western Oklahoma State. “At nationals, everybody said that it was always one of the toughest regions in college rodeo. I think you have to rope with the best to be the best.
“If you’re not pushing yourself every time, you’re not going to go anywhere.”
She proved her point this past weekend by finishing fourth overall at the Southeastern Oklahoma State University rodeo in Durant. She was one of just four cowgirls to rope both calves, and now she sits among the top 10 in the region standings after just two events this season.
“I was the second one to go in the first round,” Kovar said. “My goal was to just go out there and rope a good calf.”
She stopped the clock in 3.1 seconds; even though she didn’t place in the opening round, she earned a spot in the championship round. A broken barrier saddled Kovar with a 10-second penalty, but she roped solidly and took advantage of a few others’ failed times to score important points.
“When I nodded my head (to start the run), the calf turned his head back, and my mare went forward and kept going forward,” she said. “I broke the barrier, but I roped the calf fast.”
Kovar was recruited to Altus by former rodeo coach Guy Smith, who wrapped up a 10-year run this past spring. She’s received a ton of encouragement by the new coach, Jess Tierney, an all-around cowboy who has qualified for the Clem McSpadden National Finals Steer Roping six times.
“When I went into the box for the first round, Jess said, ‘Just make your run,’ ” she said. “That really helped, because it put me at ease.
“He is a very positive person, and he shows that in practice. He never gets down on you, and he’s always trying to lift you up, build you up.”
That comes in handy, but so does her partnership with her breakaway roping horse, Pearl Snap, a 6-year-old sorrel mare.
“I think a good horse sets up your whole run,” Kovar said. “My little mare is really honest and gives me the shot I need. She runs until you sit down and tell her to stop. She gives you the opportunity. I like a horse that’s a little more free and can take the cues and listens to you.”
She was joined in the short round by tie-down roper J.T. Adamson of Cody, Neb. Having other top ropers around helps everyone involved.
“We have a lot of great ropers around all the time,” she said. “You can find little things here and there, and you learn new things every time you watch somebody rope.”
If that’s the case, it’s no wonder Kovar is getting plenty of education at Western Oklahoma State.