Latter-day Saint Sayge Madsen joins 5 others in Utah’s first Cowgirl Collective

‘Never sell yourself short,’ says Sayge Madsen, ambassador of new Utah Cowgirl Collective program

Sayge Madsen, a Latter-day Saint from Morgan, Utah, is one of six to join the first Utah Cowgirl Collective as a 2023-2024 ambassador.

The Utah Cowgirl Collective is a new Utah-based organization giving young women ages 18-25 the opportunity to get involved as western leaders in their communities. The organization’s goal is to be “a scholarship program dedicated to advocating for connection, kinship, and cowgirl grit among all women.”

Women are chosen based on their excellent horsemanship skills.

Those offered a spot will stay in the collective for one year to help teach others about the western community, participate in service projects around the state, and engage in different community events like the Days of ‘47 Rodeo.

The 2023-2024 Utah Cowgirl Collective ambassadors: Libby Huffman, Emma Stowe, Texie Butters, Sayge Madsen, Annie Roper and McKenna Addington.  | Utah Cowgirl Collective, provided by Sayge Madsen

Some of this service for the community will include going to schools around the community to teach kids about the western lifestyle and the agriculture, and helping people get more involved with it — especially women — and how they can be part of the western way of life.

A family legacy of rodeo

Madsen grew up in a rodeo family. It started with her father when he was growing up, and now she and her younger brothers have gotten involved in the sport as well.

Sayge Madsen as a child with her pole-bending horse in 2004. | Provided by Sayge Madsen

“Our family goes everywhere together. We support each other — we are always together,” she laughed. “They are our biggest supporters.”

In high school, she was heavily involved in competing in different events. “I competed in the pole-bending, the barrel-racing and break-away roping,” she said.

Sayge Madsen with her family posing for a photo in 2023. | Provided by Sayge Madsen

Competing for a spot in Cowgirl Collective

Madsen was one of six chosen out of 30 candidates, after intense interview processes of video interviews, in-person interviews and analysis of each applicant’s horsemanship skills.

Utah is known for having an extremely competitive rodeo division, Madsen told Church News. “I’ve ridden horses my whole life — been around it all,” she said, but those she competed against were also very talented.

But she has a positive and respectful attitude towards her fellow riders. 

“Everyone that tried out was amazing. They knew what they were doing. They were very talented and skilled, and I knew that the decision would be extremely hard for [the judges] to make. So I’m definitely blessed that I get to be part of it, because there were so many who were amazing at what they did.”

Sayge Madsen during a pole-bending competition in 2016. | Western Edge Photography, provided by Sayge Madsen

After being told that she had been chosen as one of the six to join the Utah Cowgirl Collective, Madsen said she celebrated first by calling her mom.

“I would definitely not be where I’m at right now without [God’s] hand in my life. Especially, in the rodeo world you have a lot of ups and downs, and I have been very blessed — Heavenly Father has blessed me a lot — have had a lot of cool experiences that I would not have recognized if I did not have the testimony that I’ve had.”

After finding out, Madsen was able to meet the other winners of the Cowgirl Collective — McKenna Addington from Grantsville, Utah; Texie Butters from Snowville, Utah; Libby Huffman from Duchesne, Utah; Annie Roper from Riverton, Utah; and Emma Stowe from Taylorsville, Utah. 

Together, they went to BridleUp Hope in Alpine, Utah, for a bootcamp involving meetings, a photoshoot, getting to know one another and planning what the new ambassadors wanted to achieve as a collective for the next year.

Sayge Madsen during a pole-bending competition in 2016. | Western Edge Photography, provided by Sayge Madsen

What Sayge Madsen believes about God and winning

Madsen wanted to let other aspiring cowgirls know to “never sell yourself short. You are way more capable than you give yourself credit for.”

She talked about the importance of focusing on relationships verses winning.

“You don’t need super expensive horses to be successful; because it’s about who you become in the process, the relationships that you make, the friendships you have and the support systems that help get you there — in the end that’s what matters,” Madsen said.

Sayge Madsen and her family in 2023. | Provided by Sayge Madsen

“Winning is fun and everything, but that only lasts so long,” she continued. “The bonds you have with your horses and with the people who are around you — that’s what’s going to carry you through life, and that’s what’s the most important.”

When given an opportunity to share what she felt was important about her story, Madsen said, “If you put Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ at the center of your life, life’s not always going to be easy but it’s going to make everything so much better. His hand will be even more in your life as you do so.”

Sayge Madsen and her family in 2023. | Provided by Sayge Madsen

She concluded by stating “in rodeo we see that we are the only sport that prays and sings the national anthem before every performance. And that is something that we will never stop doing because us as athletes knows how important it is to have Him our life — in the arena with us — and in everything we do.”

Even when the world tells them to not live their faith in God, Madsen says “that’s something we won’t give up because we know how important it is.”

Once her time as an ambassador for the Utah Cowgirl Collective is over, Madsen plans to continue competing in rodeo and supporting her brothers in the sport.

Sayge Madsen enjoys supporting her brothers in rodeo by taking pictures of them during their events. She is shown here at an event in 2023. | Provided by Sayge Madsen
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