Many of the early wild west show cowgirls never knew ranch life. They had never gentled a range pony, branded or doctored a calf, mended a fence.... Yet, rather than settle for a life of arranged marriages, unfulfilling jobs, spousal abuse and a lack of freedom and control over their own lives, many chose to run away to circuses and wild west shows to become "rodeo cowgirls"
They risked their lives by climbing into the hurricane deck of a bucking bronc and tried to stay there for a few seconds to make their ride. Most times they did this with the stirrups hobbled, tied together beneath the belly of the horse. It kept them seated but was extremely dangerous and several of the cowgirls were killed practicing this very dangerous practice. But like one old cowboy said "If they stuck to it for a few seconds, they got to eat that night. That's why they were there and that's the only reason."
What do you think, was that really the only reason they were there? Would you have had the courage to do what those women had to do in the early 20th c. to escape the small world society and law would have them living in? Could you see yourself being a wild west show cowgirl?
Booger Red Gets His Marker--By Jerry Bullock
Excerpt from story:
He was buried in the family plot in the GAR (Grand Army of the Republic) Cemetery. His grave has lain unmarked for 85 years. His loving wife Molly, his daughters and his sons would not have left him there intentionally. They fell on hard times, unable any longer to work in the professional Wild West shows, and moved back to Texas. Molly had every intention of placing a monument on Booger's grave.
It's obviously not a PRCA event. Back when I was riding in pickup rodeos, back before PRCA really took hold--late '50s, very early '60s--we had 'ranch rodeos.' Calf roping, steer roping, headin' & heelin' (team roping), saddlebronc riding, & that was about it. Once in a while we'd have bulldoggin'--they call it 'steer wrestling' these days. No bareback broncs, no bull riding. What we did was what a working cowboy would do on a ranch.
In the Gene Autry movie it was described as 'saddlebronc riding,' which is why I thought that was what it was. By the time I got into rodeo, in the middle '40s as a little kid, nobody was doing that at the rodeos I went to. When my folks & I went to Cheyenne for Frontier Days in the summer of '47, that wasn't one of the events.
About the closest thing we had to that was a calf scramble. Every kid brought a piece of rope with him. They turned maybe 20 calves loose in the arena. Dozens of kids, each one with a piece of rope, started chasing the calves. If you could catch one, get your rope on it, and pull it back to the chutes, you got to keep the calf. You had to be 12 or under to get into the calf scramble--no teenagers. I haven't seen a calf scramble in a rodeo in probably 40 years. Nowadays the event for little kids is mutton bustin'. They put football helmets with face guards on kids up to about 6 & let 'em ride sheep.
They still hold "ranch rodeos" at least up here in South Dakota. I like them much more than professional rodeos.
Some have "wild horse" riding as described above, but that is a dangerous event, for horse and men.