Posted on August 31, 2019
(Saturday of Labor Day Weekend)
It seems that everybody's heard about cowboys - partly because of the Westerns (movies and TV) put out by Hollywood for years and years.
However, the "Old West," which refers to the Western frontier of the United States in the late 1800s, had strong, active women as well as men. Many women were businesswomen, but some were prospectors, journalists, performers, sharp shooters, and cowgirls.
Sometimes these professions overlapped. For example, Ethyle and Juanita Parry were twin cowgirls who were skilled at roping and riding - and they performed for Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show and later for Barnum & Bailey's circus. Cowgirls AND performers.
Another old-time cowgirl, Lucille Mulhall from Missouri, was a skilled rider who was declared - at age 14 - the "first cowgirl" by none other than Theodore Roosevelt (then Governor of New York, later President of the US). She won lots of competitions and ended up hosting a Wild West show.
|Mulhall said, "Be so good, they can't ignore you!"|
Since the early 1900s at least, there were rodeos that were open to female as well as male competitors.
Unfortunately, in 1936 many events were suddenly closed to women. After WWII, things got a bit better, but women were not allowed to compete in most events, but instead acted as "sponsor girls" or as horsemanship exhibitors. In 1948, cowgirls showed that they weren't going to take being sidelined; a group of 38 women formed the Girls Rodeo Association. And from then on, things have been getting better and better for cowgirls.
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