Goshen Cowgirl Mia Miller

Mia Miller

SAU Grad/Cowgirl

Published July 2023

Goshen Native Living The Rodeo Dream

People keep telling me I have a Southern accent now, but I don’t really hear it. I went to college at Southern Arkansas University—I just graduated in May, and I’m still down here—so I guess it’s possible I’ve picked up a bit of a twang.

I’m a cowgirl.

I do Barrel Racing and I do Breakaway Roping. Barrels is a rodeo event, my favorite event, where I try to have the fastest times riding a cloverleaf pattern around preset barrels, and Breakaway—which is the fastest-growing event in rodeo right now—is where I rope a calf, but then I don’t throw and tie it. As soon as it’s roped I stop on my horse and when the rope breaks then the time stops.

I did both of those events on the rodeo team at SAU during my time there and it was a great experience being part of a nationally competitive collegiate rodeo program. I could’ve gone back for another year of competition but I felt like I was ready to move on to the next stage.

Right now I’m exploring a lot of options. I’m lining up to possibly enter events in regional organizations like the ARA (Arkansas Rodeo Association) and the LRCA (Louisiana Rodeo Cowboy Association). But ultimately my goal is definitely to be a professional rodeo athlete and ride at the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas. The NFR is basically the Super Bowl of rodeo, that’s where all the Michael Jordans of the rodeo world end up. This is what I’m working toward, and have been for a long time. That’s the level I want to be at.

I grew up in Goshen and I have family there—my dad is Dewey Miller, who is active with the Elkhart County 4-H Fair and helps coordinate their rodeo. My dad actually helped a lot to bring Breakaway events to this area. The Elkhart County 4-H Fair was one of the first in the region to feature Breakaway.

Mia Miller Barrels
Mia Miller roping a calf
Young Mia Miller

I got started in rodeo pretty much by way of Elkhart County 4-H. I was in my second year of Saddle ClubI was a little kid, and still very new at everything—and one of my friends let me ride her barrel horse one day. It was a good horse, experienced, and it knew what it was doing. That was the first time I remember ever being on a really good horse and going really fast.

It was amazing, just an amazing feeling, and I’ve never looked back. I’ve pretty much been doing rodeo ever since. I was in Little Britches, and the National High School Rodeo Association before going off to college; I’ve had some really nice wins and a lot of great moments in the arena.

My first horse was Streaker. I got her when I was 12, and I still have her 10 years later. At first I just ran barrels with her, but once I was in Little Britches I started roping off of her, too. I love her, she’s just such a great horse; loves her job and loves when I ride her. When we’re running barrels I never have to fight her. I trust her to know what to do and to make any adjustments to the ground. But she’s getting older, so I’ve been giving Streaker a break.

And Stella, my other horse—a Texas barrel horse I got in 2020—has been out for about a year with a back leg injury. It’s not career-ending, and doesn’t cause her pain, but the injury takes a long time to heal. And then once she’s healed it will take time to get back to where we were. But the main thing is to not rush her back into anything, make sure she’s back all the way and there’s no regression.

With Stella still coming back from injury and Streaker on break it’s been an adjustment to be in sort of a waiting mode. But as soon as my horses are ready I’ll be itching to go, I’ll probably be riding barrels every night trying to get back into form.

In the South there’s not nearly as much cold weather, and there’s always a lot of events on any given night—a lot of opportunities for roping and barrel racing. So for someone like me, who wants to go professional and do this for the rest of my life, it’s the right region to be in right now.

But Goshen will always be my hometown.

Without the support I had growing up in Goshen, from my parents and my community, I don’t know if I’d be the same person I am now. I’m so thankful for it. Everything I experienced growing up in Goshen, and being involved in Elkhart County 4-H, has helped shape me into who I am. I’m proud of where I’m from, and I’m going to keep working as hard as I can to get where I want to be.

Written by Jake Sandock