Women and Rodeo Events

In early rodeos, women and men competed in the same arena, drawing from the same stock. Women rode broncs, steers, bulls, and did steer roping or bulldogging as well as trick riding, Roman races and relay races.

I know that my grandmother, Toots Bailey Gasser, rode steers in small Montana rodeos. Other cowgirls, such as Marie Gibson, also from Montana, rode steers, bulls and broncs throughout the US, Canada and even London. While each cowgirl had her specialty, most participated in multiple events.

Vera McGinnis, Tad Lucas and Fox Hastings were probably best known for trick riding. This demonstrated numerous types of stands and vaults, performed while the horse was galloping at top speed. Other maneuvers included crawling under the horse’s belly, hanging just inches from the mount’s pounding hooves.

roman-race1In the Roman race, the cowgirl would stand with her right foot on one galloping horse and her left foot on the other. (The horses would have had to be very well trained to stay together, and the rider obviously had great balance and strength.)

The relay race required three laps around a track, and the rider had to change horses, and sometimes saddles, after each round. If they weren’t required to change saddles, many cowgirls perfected the “flying” change, leaping from the back of one horse to the other without touching the ground. Vera McGinnis is credited with inventing this move.

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Published in: on January 24, 2009 at 5:33 am  Comments (4)  
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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Interesting and informative post as usual. And “Toots Bailey Gasser – what a name!

  2. This was wonderful information and I also loved the name. Since I live in the Southwest, for over twenty years now, I find all the history very different from what the rest of the country experience.

  3. I just love reading about the golden age of cowgirls. Thank you for this interesting mention of the Roman style riding.

    Lisa
    http://www.lisawallerrogers.wordpress.com

  4. Hello Heidi — I’ve seen some of these photos at a small cowgirl museum in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Actually, the museum has grown into a larger space between my visit last fall and the previous one several years ago. While I was in Cheyenne, I picked up a photo at the state archives of Margie Wright. When I Googled her today, it led me to your blog! Now I really can’t wait to read your cowgirl story!! Your WWW friend — Joyce


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