ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Education and Science»
  • Sociology & Anthropology

Let There Be Cowgirls, Part 6

Updated on August 3, 2015

Rodeo Cowgirl

Girls and women of the rodeo harbor a passion to ride, courage to compete, and endurance to see things through even when the odds may be against them. Even the bonds they share with their horses extend past competing. Grit, style, and determination - all these elements diverge together and form the spirit of the cowgirl.

Ten-time consecutive world-champion barrel racer, Charmayne James Rodman, the “Million Dollar Cowgirl” has graced the cowgirl rodeo circuit, a star in her own right, earning her fame and fortune with her athleticism, talent, and speed, with her first win at only 14 years old. For the next consecutive 10 years, she reigned as champion barrel racer along with her majestic horse, Scamper. She earned National Finals Rodeo qualifications for 19 consecutive years, and a seven time National Finals Rodeo Average Champion. She was inducted into the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame in Fort Worth, Texas, and professionals around the world respect her immensely. She was the first ever million-dollar earner, and winner of most professional barrel racing world championships.

In the 19th century rodeos, men were the exclusive stars. However, since there were no laws stating that women could not participate, they buckled up, spurred up, mounted up, and tried their hands at competing. In 1896, Annie Shaffer rode a bucking bronc in her first rodeo, and in 1897, Bertha Blancett rode a bronc and raced wild horses during Cheyenne’s Frontier Days.

A few years later, Prairie Rose Henderson signed up for the bronco-busting event in Cheyenne, only to be turned away by the judges who told told her that no women were allowed. Prairie stood her ground and demanded to see the rule book. She found nothing stating that women were unable to compete, so she demanded her right to enter the competition.Though she did not win, her grit and determination helped pave the way for other women with the same ambitions. Prairie went on to enter other competitions and win titles.

Tragedy would claim Praire's life in 1933. She and her horse were caught in a Wyoming blizzard, and never returned home. Her body would not be found until years later; it has been said that she was identified by a championship belt buckle she had won.

A Cowgirl Knows Her Wranglers Fit Just Right If...

She has to lie down to zip them.

Her legs go to sleep when she sits too long.

She cannot tuck in a blouse.

She dreads going to the ladies' room.

She plans ahead to sit down.

(--The Cowgirl Companion)

A little sumthin' you may not know...

The National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame in Forth Worth, Texas displays a wide range of artifacts, photos, statues, and scores of information on inductees into the Hall of Fame.

A Few Cowgirl Hall of Fame Honorees...

  • Lucille Mulhall (1885-1940) 1977 Cowgirl Honoree - Competed with, and frequently beat her male competitors in steer roping events.
  • Vera McGinnis (1892-1990) 1979 Hall of Fame Honoree - trick riding, bronc and bull riding and Roman racing, winning at all events. Her most famous trick was the under-the-belly crawl at full speed.
  • Nancy Binford (1921-1998) 1979 Cowgirl Honoree President of the Girl's Rodeo Association, (1950). Also competed in bull riding competitions.
  • Stacy Westfall - 2012 Cowgirl Honoree - Stacey often rode bridleless, and in some cases, even competed bareback. In 2003, she rode bridlelss and won the National Reining Horse Association Freestyle Reining Competition.
  • Charmayne James Rodham - 1992 Cowgirl Honoree - Charmayne won the World Championship Barrel Racing title for ten consecutive years. She won an 11th title years later. She was also the first barrel racer in rodeo history to win more money than any PRCA cowboy during a single rodeo season.
  • Dale Evans - (1912-2001) 1995 Cowgirl Honoree - She came to Hollywood, working in films with John Wayne, Joe E. Brown and Roy Rogers, whom she married. Together with Roy, she made 27 films, a television series and raised a large family.

Lucille Mulhall
Lucille Mulhall | Source
Vera McGinnis
Vera McGinnis | Source
Nancy Binford
Nancy Binford | Source
Stacy Westfall
Stacy Westfall | Source
Charmayne James Rodham
Charmayne James Rodham | Source

What do Cowgirls Do In The Rodeo?

Speed pattern racing and timed games for riders on horses.

  • Barrel Racing - The most traditional women's rodeo event. Rider and horse must complete a clover-leaf pattern around barrels in the quickest time. Goal is not to knock over any barrels -which is a 5 second penalty added to their time for each barrel knocked over. There is a 60 second time limit in which to complete the event.
  • Calf Roping
  • Rough-Stock Riding (Bulls)
  • Team Roping - The only event where women compete equally together with men.
  • Break-away calf roping
  • Tie-Down calf roping

More Equestrian Speed Timed Events

  • Pole Bending - A timed event where the horse must run a pattern correctly, as fast as possible, and cannot knock down any of the poles. The horse is trained to obey rein and leg aids. If the horse and rider miss a pole, there is a five-second penalty, and both will be disqualified if they go off course.
  • Key Hole Race - a timed event where the horse is required to run the pattern correctly as quickly as possible, and without stepping outside of the keyhole shape marked on the ground.

Did You Know?

Cowgirls have their own Professional Rodeo Association? The website details events, schedules, results, standings, and updated news, and much more!

Trick Rider, Rio

Old Abiquiu - Rio Arriba County Fairgrounds, El Rito Highway in Abiquiu, New Mexico
Old Abiquiu - Rio Arriba County Fairgrounds, El Rito Highway in Abiquiu, New Mexico | Source

Jessica Blair, Trick Rider, 2013

What Is Trick and Roman Riding?

  • Trick riding - the rider stands a top her horse, single vaults, double vaults, wings, drags, saddle falls - all while the her horse is galloping.
  • Roman Riding - the rider stands on the backs of two horses at the same time. Sometimes a team of more horses are added, so the rider may be riding on the back of two, but there are two more horses in front, leading.

More Trick Riding Stunts:

(Extremely Dangerous Unless Trained Properly)

  • Suicide Drag
  • Hippadrome
  • 1 Foot Stand
  • Reverse Neck Layover
  • Full Bender
  • Side Saddle Layout
  • Backward Fender
  • Stride Layout
  • Side Back Bend

Roman Riding In The Snow

Cowgirl Etiquette

• Leave muddy boots outside.

• Always look your best at church.

• Always look your best at the rodeo.

• Don’t walk away from a fight.

• Don’t go looking for a fight.

• No heavy petting - at first.

• No cussing in front of children.

• No white boots for Easter.

• No such thing as Wranglers too tignt

• No snickering at castration time.

• Flush with your foot.

--"The Cowgirl Companion"

The 'Ole Wild, Wild, West

In the ‘ole wild, wild, west, there were cowboys; ah, but there were cowgirls, too. Yes, cowgirls, and they were the shoot’nst, ropn’st, ridn’st, rough’n, toughn’st ladies of the ranges, maybe sometimes misunderstood, but never underestimated.

In the 1800’s, as scores of families piled into covered wagons traversing from the East toward the greener pastures of Mississippi, there were women, usually ranchers’ wives, widows, or daughters who gussied up in their spurs and swinging lassos, who performed the same duties as the men-folk, riding horses, roping, and driving cattle.

Among these young girls and women, were those with reputations. They were dignified, and in no way going to go through the world meek and mild. They needed to stand out, so they went by nicknames, and among some of them were:

  • Airship Annie
  • Annie Oakley
  • Bowlegged Mary
  • Bronco Sue
  • The Bandit Queen
  • Madame Moustache
  • Little Sure Shot
  • Calamity Jane
  • Side Saddle Sal
  • Freckle-Faced Fran

Their styles stabilized the image of the American cowgirl, whom with her hair tucked beneath her Stetson, simply went about her business, happy to be ranching, content with simplicity.

Molly Goodnight, wife of Colonel Charlie Goodnight, the famed Texas Ranger, was among them. Often, she went on cattle drives with her husband, handling the wagon, cooking, and caring for animals and cowboys.

Other women drew respectable reputations from their shooting skills. One woman from Arizona, Molly Owens, always carried a pistol in a secret apron pocket in case of from her cooking to assist in shooting an Indian or rustler.

Still others, lured to the excitement of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West shows, came at a time when western entertainment was high in demand. Such was Annie Oakley (born name, Phoebe Ann Moses) who became famous for her shooting skills and riding prowress. Buffalo Bill’s shows combined rodeo, county fair and vaudeville, with western flair such as demonstrations of riding, roping, and shooting. There were enactment shows such as a pony express ride, a buffalo hunt, and exaggerated Indian attacks.

Texas Sally Skull divorced her husband, grabbed her pistol, spewed out some cuss words, and slapped her Circle S brand on any horse or cattle she desired. She kept an arsenal of guns including a rifle, a couple pistols, and several knives. She traveled along the Rio Grande making deals on horses in both the United States and Mexico.

Myra Bell Shirley, the daughter of Missouri innkeepers, educated in Greek, Latin, arithmetic, spelling, and a variety of other courses, found that life as a good girl was not her style. As a teenager, she met and took to hanging out with an infamous band of outlaws - the James brothers and Cole Younger. She married three times, and throughout her marriages, while her husbands were robbing trains, stealing livestock and killing people, she kept up an appearance of a well-suited woman. She ran a livery, played piano, made influential friends, and wore eloquent clothing. In her mellow days, she rode side saddle, but when she was in the mood for trickery, she successfully passed herself off as a man, even taking part in some of the killing sprees. The mystery was - who was the real Myra Bell? A respectable woman or conniving mischief maker?

Annie Oakley
Annie Oakley | Source

Cowgirls and Hollywood

Helen Gibson, wife of cowboy star, Hoot Gibson made $8.00 a week filming early westerns.

Others were stunt women:

  • Bertha Blancett for Bison Moving Pictures in the 1910's, stunts.
  • Vera McGinnis, stunts, and once stood in as a double for the leading actress.

Scores of actresses portrayed cowgirls:

  • Lana Turner, Honky Tonk
  • Rita Hayworth, Trouble in Texas
  • Doris Day - as Calamity Jane
  • Katherine Hepburn, Rooster Cogburn
  • Jane Fonda, Cat Ballou
  • Joan Crawford, The Law of the Range,Johnny Guitar, and musical-Montana Moon
  • Barbara Stanwyck - Annie Oakley, The Cattle Queen of Montana

"How 'Bout Them Cowgirls?"

What can be said of a cowgirl? Is she feisty, determined, and unstoppable? Yes, but she is also an icon, whether in America or abroad, whether idealistic or realistic, whether an image in the motion pictures, a courageous trick or bull rider, or a skilled horsewoman, she carries the torch of centuries past. More than likely, there are several ways to identify a cowgirl, but perhaps she can best be summed up like this:...“A cowgirl is a woman with guts and a horse.”

I would like to watch an all girl rodeo!

See results

Source: (National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame)

American Cowboy

'The Cowgirl Companion' - Gai Gilchriest

Madison Pillon,


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.