Rodeo athletes from the 1920s and 1930s were talented and tough. One woman who changed the landscape of rodeo is Bonnie McCarroll. She was from southern Idaho and won many bronc riding contests, including Cheyenne, Madison Square Garden and Wembley, England.
McCarroll wasn’t competing at Pendleton the day she was killed, September 19, 1929. She was thirty-four years old, giving her last performance as an exhibition before retirement. The organizers assigned a bronc named Black Cat for her to ride. According to a description from the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, Black Cat fell and went into a forward somersault. He recovered and began to buck, but McCarroll was riding hobbled and her left foot caught in the stirrups.
Riding hobbled means tying the stirrups together beneath the horse. It was considered an easier, but more dangerous method than riding slick with stirrups loose. The Pendleton roundup required that women ride hobbled even though McCarroll preferred to ride slick. The rest is history and documented in the film by Steve Wurstas called From Cheyenne to Pendleton: The Rise and Fall of the Rodeo Cowgirl. Here’s a trailer. The film is on DVD and available from libraries
April 21, 2016 at 8:58 am
How scary to be stuck on a horse! Not on my top 10 list for sure. Thanks for sharing!
April 21, 2016 at 2:05 pm
Thanks for sharing this bit of history!
Joy @ The Joyous Living
April 21, 2016 at 2:38 pm
The 1930s has lots of really talented, courageous cowgirls.
April 21, 2016 at 6:09 pm
Lori. I think I’ve spent about 40 minutes exploring your blog. Fascinating! Your book sounds great, as does your mother’s story. I’m sure by now you’ve searched ancestry.com. I just got my DNA tested. Wow, I have relatives coming out of the woodwork! 🙂
Good luck with your book. I’m sure you won’t have to worry about acting like a rookie. 🙂 I loved the youtube videos … especially Clara.
Best to you,
April 21, 2016 at 10:10 pm
Thank you Jess. I’m glad you stopped by and hope you’ll come back. I’m going to catch up on your writing tips.
April 23, 2016 at 2:08 am
Thanks Lori, this was really interesting. I enjoyed learning more about cowgirls back then when opportunities were so limited for women. Pendleton is actually quite close to where I live. Thanks for sharing!
November 2, 2017 at 7:04 pm
Trying to find a copy of this DVD. Seems impossible. any ideas?
November 2, 2017 at 8:50 pm
Hi Mandy, I googled from Cheyenne to Pendleton and it looks like libraries on worldcat.org have it listed. It was on Amazon, but no longer. If you have a local PBS station, they might be able to help. Good luck