Story by Ruth Nicolaus The Mid States East Rodeo Association member lived in Texas for five years before moving back to her parents’ farm in […]
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Meet the Member Clay Milhollin
story by Michele Toberer
Rodeo is an intrinsic part of Clay Milhollin’s DNA, as the third-generation cowboy has steer wrestlers and calf ropers on both sides of his family tree for the past three generations. Not only did both of his grandfathers, Jim Bohlander and Jack Milhollin compete, but the family participation in rodeo also stretched to aunts, uncles, cousins, and both of his parents, Rick and Rebecca Milhollin. Clay’s mom competed as a barrel racer and his dad competed in steer wrestling and calf roping; actually just jumping his final steer last year at the age of 66. Now, at 67 when many cowboys have hung up their spurs, Rick is Clay’s primary hazer and hauling partner, “My dad competed as a steer wrestler for 51 years, he’s been my main teacher and mentor, and is easily my best friend. I am very fortunate and blessed to have him on the hazing side because I know he will put my steer in position for me and that I can count on him.” The partners started out with Clay hazing for Rick when Clay was just 11 years old. “I grew up watching, I was either on a pony or in the backseat of a truck going to rodeos. When I was 11, I started hazing for my dad at some PRCA rodeos, but not all the larger rodeos would let me haze for him because I wasn’t a permit holder. I hazed for him at many smaller PRCA rodeos that would let me, as well as at IPRA rodeos.”
Even as Clay looks out his Parker City, Indiana kitchen window, his rodeo roots run deep, because he is looking out at the same arena he grew up learning the ropes of rodeo in. Clay purchased his grandparents’ 144-acre farm where much of his childhood was spent and feels blessed to have it in the family for another generation. “I grew up playing in these barns and practicing in the arena, it’s pretty awesome to still be here baling hay and straw and running cattle in the same fields that my grandparents did.”
Clay competed in junior and high school rodeos, before starting to compete in IPRA rodeos during high school. Although he mainly steer wrestles now, calf roping was a regular event for him for many years. After graduating in 2002, Clay went just 10-miles away to college, graduating from Ball State University with a financial planning degree. He now works as a senior accountant for North American Midway Entertainment, one of the largest traveling amusement companies in the world, and is grateful to work in their corporate offices just a few miles from home.
Clay has enjoyed competing in the Mid-States Rodeo Association for the past 8 years, and although the 2018 season started with a knee surgery in March, he made the finals for the eighth time since joining. “My doctors weren’t thrilled with me competing so soon after my surgery, but everything felt good, so I just got started and was glad to make the finals in October, finishing the year as the 2018 Steer Wrestling Champion.” Clay rides a 12-year-old black Quarter Horse gelding named Yogi, that his dad bought from the race track. “We like getting ex-racehorses because they’ve experienced a bunch and have proven speed. We bought him and trained him at home, and I’ve been using him for four seasons now.” Rick hazes for Clay on a 13-year-old sorrel gelding named Skeeter, “My dad saw him in a pasture as a yearling and tried to buy him, but they didn’t want to sell. The next year my dad got a call that he was for sale and bought him even after not seeing him for a year. When we picked him up, he was so malnutritioned that we had to carry him off the trailer. We started feeding him right and he grew big and tall, and he’s excellent at his job so it all worked out.”
When Clay’s not steer wrestling, he enjoys spending time with his girlfriend, taking trips with friends, wakeboarding, water-skiing, and playing basketball. He plans to continue to compete in the MSRA, and now that his horse is more seasoned and consistent, he would like to step back into pro rodeo competition.