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, mundane 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"
Many women of that time including Ruth Roach, Claire Belcher, Buckskin Bessie, and Fox Hastings, risked not only their lives, but family and social scorn, by climbing into the hurricane deck of a bucking bronc and staying 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 way of riding whirlygiggin' broncs. One old cowboy offered the opinion and 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?
Join me in this provocative discussion at True West Historical Society and let me know your thoughts.