From the split second that four mounted cowgirls burst through the gate, the solitary steer from the other end of the arena is on the move. Two riders sprint straight for the steer, lariats swinging and heels propelling their horses forward. As they home in on the cow, each cowgirl releases a loop—one, to encircle its bobbing head; the other, to trap its scrambling back legs.
As the ropes pull taut, the other two competitors spring to the steer. They string the front and back hooves and chalk the steer. In a split second, they release the steer and the team remounts. The second steer enters the pen. Without hesitation, two team members swing their loops repeatedly, barreling towards their next target. Again, the team skillfully ropes, ties and chalks the cow. Once all ropes are loose from the cow, the flag drops and the team’s run at “double doctoring” is done. As the horsewomen smile and hear their time announced across the arena’s loudspeaker, appreciative shouts, claps, and murmurs flow from the crowd.
With unwavering focus and infallible skills, the team of four horsewomen are ready to take on the next three events in Art of the Cowgirl’s All Women Ranch Rodeo. Women’s ranch rodeo—a relatively new phenomenon— brings together women of all ages to appreciate and honor their cattle, horse, and ranching heritages. The events emanate from those established at the very first ranch rodeos, showing off the skills needed to govern cattle, relying on advanced horsemanship, seasoned cow-sense and unwavering team work. Although women competing in ranch rodeos has been a tradition for the past 200 years, an all-women’s association dedicated to ranch rodeo competition and promotion is a relatively recent accomplishment.
Art of the Cowgirl’s All-Women’s Ranch Rodeo Producer, Sierra Brown, understands how all women’s ranch rodeos contribute to the legacy of cattle driving, hardworking, Western women. “Women have been a part of the ranching industry for centuries. We see it more commonly now for women to be horseback doing the jobs right alongside their husbands, family, or coworkers, but in fact, women have done these gritty tasks for many, many years,” she says. “Ranch rodeos like this one are unique because they bring these women, who are working hard at home doing these same “events,” to town to show off just how good they are at their jobs.”
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