The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 98, July 1994 - April, 1995 Page: 621
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ing event in which contestants rode two horses simultaneously, standing with
one foot on each mount's back. (The back cover of the book features a startling
image of Tillie Baldwin defeating an otherwise all-male field to win the Roman
race at the 1913 Winnipeg Stampede.) Even when special cowgirl contests
emerged in such events as bronc riding, women continued to compete, often
successfully, against men in a variety of events. During the 192os, the golden age
of sport, many cowgirls enjoyed unprecedented prosperity and celebrity for their
athletic accomplishments. A woman trick rider's repertoire included extremely
dangerous events such as automobile jumps and bulldogging, in which a contes-
tant jumped from the back of a speeding horse onto a bull which she wrestled to
According to Le Compte, 1929 was a turning point in the history of rodeo
cowgirls, as the tragic death of bronc rider Bonnie McCarroll and the formation
of the Rodeo Association of America (RAA), an organization of rodeo produc-
ers, combined to change the basic structure of the sport and women's position
in it. The RAA membership, which did not include women, as there were no fe-
male rodeo producers, opposed women's contests such as bronc riding, which
became increasingly rare. Males made rules that limited the athletic opportuni-
ties of females. Women's abilities to compete as athletes were further diminished
with the introduction of "sponsor contests" that emphasized beauty rather than
Le Compte assigns much of the responsibility for the new image of cowgirls as
dependent, domestic, and noncompetitive to the popularity of Gene Autry; in
both his Hollywood westerns of the 193os and 194os and in his Flying A Rodeo
Company, women appeared only as passive and gentle decorations. Women's
role in rodeo was almost completely marginalized by 1948, but that year marked
the formation of the Girls Rodeo Association (now the Women's Professional
Rodeo Association), and after a struggle of nearly thirty years women returned
to the mainstream of the sport. The last chapters of the book are a tribute to the
spirit and determination of the women determined to provide females with new
Le Compte, an associate professor in the Department of Kinesiology and
Health Education at the University of Texas at Austin, has produced an account
that is highly readable, especially because of the insight it offers into the careers
and personal lives of individual athletes such as Florence LaDue, Lucille Mul-
haul, and Tad Lucas. I particularly appreciated her determination to ignore the
border between the U.S. and Canada, as did the sport of rodeo. Le Compte
makes a commendable effort throughout the book to link this story with broad-
er developments in the history of women and sport. It would be interesting to
extend this study and locate the experiences of professional women rodeo ath-
letes within the context of recent examinations of sport, masculinity, and the
gender order that attest to a pattern in other sports remarkably similar to the
one Le Compte outlines.
Universzty of Calgary
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 98, July 1994 - April, 1995, periodical, 1995; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101216/m1/691/: accessed November 19, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.