Tillie Baldwin, born in Norway, came to the US as a hairdresser, learned to ride and by 1912 she was a cowgirl star. Below she is defeating her rivals at a Roman Standing race.
Prairie Rose Henderson was just about as well-known for her flamboyant outfits (often decorated with ostrick feathers, sequins and beads) as her rodeo talent. A girl after my own heart...
There's just something about this picture that is pure beauty. Kitty Canutt was even more famous for having diamonds in her two front teeth. The story was that she pawned them out every time money got tight; I suppose she eventually bought them back when money was flush again. She totally had grillz way before y'all be frontin'.
And my favorite, Fox Hastings. She was touted as the world's first and only bulldogger (in which you leap off your horse and wrestle a steer to the ground. In actuality, she wasn't, but she was likely the most famous female bulldogger.
Another, probably her most famous, photo:
Pride and joy just exude out from this photo -- if you just glance briefly, you can only see that beautiful face. Your mind just blanks out the poor cow.
I suppose, in the end, the real reason I love these women is that they commanded power and respect in an age where women were relegated to mainly caretaker roles. Or, perhaps more importantly, they were people who were doing something physically remarkable regardless of gender. They were a force to be reckoned with and the audiences loved them for it. These were not women you look to and say, "Well, what they were doing was important at the time because X wasn't allowed." No, there's no hedging here. These ladies flew in the face of convention and were successful because of it, not in spite of it.