Lori Henriksen

author of The Winter Loon



Fairness ~ Equitable, Honest, Upright, Honorable

Fairness is a continuation of Equality. Close, but somewhat different. To me, equality is a legal issue legislated by our elected government or the courts. Fairness is a social issue. Without it our society falls apart. We legislate equality, but fairness is a trait of a civilized society. Fairness is a close relative of the Golden Rule.

Many would say that what happened in the 1930s to women rodeo athletes  wasn’t fair. It’s the world Ruth, the protagonist in The Winter Loon finds herself when she leaves home at eighteen.

The challenge for a single woman to earn money often took inspiration and an adventurous spirit, life experience and a willingness to step out of her comfort zone. Inventive and flexible and even naive women such as Ruth discovered uncommon ways to survive.

cowgirl 2.jpg

Relaxing between rodeo events.

Popular throughout the Thirties, rodeo competitions offered cheap entertainment for small communities and provided an uncommon source of income for those able to compete on a rodeo circuit. Not many women qualified, but those willing to travel and endure harsh conditions could win substantial purses.

Rodeo tents.jpg

Rodeo performers often stayed in tents

Prior to 1930, Cowgirls had competed in all the same contests as men. Rodeo culture changed after a tragic 1929 accident at the Pendleton Roundup. A popular cowgirl, Bonnie McCarroll, was thrown and fatally trampled by the bronco she was riding. The Rodeo Association of America stepped in with a protective rather than an egalitarian rule to prohibit women from competing in what they considered dangerous—bronco riding, steer wrestling and roping contests—events with the highest purses. Some rodeo producers on small circuits ignored the regulations and allowed cowgirl events. Barrel racing, trick riding and relay races were the most common competitions for cowgirls.

By 1939, the singing cowboy, Gene Autry, took over most of the major rodeos and eliminated all women’s competitions except the sponsor-girl event of barrel racing.






7 thoughts on “Fairness

  1. I’m always astounded at the bravery of women who broke through boundaries and weren’t stopped by society’s limits. There was so much physical bravery (like here in the rodeo example) and also so much courage, like of women writers. I had no idea about rodeo culture; it’s fun learning about it.
    @DoreeWeller from
    Doree Weller’s Blog

  2. Definitely not an occupation for me but it is interesting to hear about these fine women. I am convinced I would have been a saloon girl. Thanks for sharing!

  3. It always amazes me to hear these stories of women who were working hard even back then. They faced a lot of challenges. Someone is doing a theme on women in aviation and there are so many women who were pilots long before women had equality.


  4. This was really interesting. Those gals must’ve had a lot of pluck to run in those rodeo circuits.

    The AtoZ of EOS

  5. It is very interesting to read about the women in American history.

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