The History of Lady Bronc Riding
An all-new original series, Cowgirls, is coming to RIDE TV this September! Brush up on your knowledge of lady bronc riding history before the start of the series!
1904 – Bertha Kapernik Blanchett’s bronc ride at the Cheyenne Frontier Days sparked a new era of rodeo. Although women had been riding in exhibition shows since the 1890s, none had broken into a big rodeo until Blanchett. Two years later, women’s bronc riding became an official event at Cheyenne.
1915 – After gaining rodeo fame throughout the 1910’s, Bonnie McCarroll took first place in bronc riding at Pendleton, her first big rodeo. She went on to win many other large contests, usually riding slick (without hobbling her stirrups together under the horse’s stomach, which was allowed for women in that era).
1929 – McCarroll returned to Pendleton, where ladies were required to ride hobbled, and got on a bronc named Black Cat. Black Cat fell, went into a somersault, and landed on top of McCarroll, who was then caught on the stirrup as Black Cat began to buck. Her head was slammed against the ground several times, causing severe injury, and she died the hospital 11 days later.
1930 – Women were no longer allowed to ride broncs at Pendleton following the death of Bonnie McCarroll as a result of her ride. Many other rodeos quickly followed suit.
1948 – The Girls’ Rodeo Association (GRA), which later became the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association (WPRA), was formed by 38 women barrel racers, ropers, and bronc riders in an effort to allow more competitive opportunities to women in rodeo. It sanctioned over 60 contests and titles in its first year, including its one and only saddle bronc title in 1949.
1987 – After three and a half years of hard work, National Cowgirl Museum Hall of Famer Jonnie Jonckowski finally succeeded in getting an exhibition of women bronc riders at the Cheyenne Frontier Days. She continued to set her sights on large rodeos across the country.