What do you think of when you hear the word? Maybe Billy the Kid, Jesse James, or Butch Cassidy? These men were infamous indeed, but what about the western woman? The fearless females who took on the outlaw lifestyle and proved they were just as capable as the men. Martha Jane Canary, or Calamity Jane, was one such woman. She was a scout, frontierswoman, and a good friend of Wild Bill Hickok. She had a reputation for heroism, toughness, and charity. As she would say she “was a good shot and a fearless rider”.
Myra Maybelle “Belle” Starr was another notorious female renegade. Always carrying two pistols, yet riding side saddle, she had a way of strength and femininity about her. She was known for giving sanctuary to Jesse James and his posse.
“I am a friend to any brave and gallant outlaw.” –Belle Star.
Of course, the days of the Wild West are far gone, but these women each helped the future generations become strong and independent. Today women are strongly representing those same characteristics. Western heritage owes a huge part to women for keeping it alive and well. Jackie Hobbs-Crawford is an all-around hand and inspiration to today’s women in rodeo. This 17-time WPRA world champion is breaking barriers down (not literally) for breakaway to become a bigger part of rodeo. This finally adds another event for these ladies, other than the barrel racing, to compete in.
But speaking of barrel racing, we couldn’t talk about it without mentioning Charmayne James. With numerous NFR wins and a ProRodeo Hall of Fame inductee, she is a pillar for perseverance and determination. She continues to help future generations learn, not just about barrel racing, but about humility and hard work. Charmayne is one of the women in rodeo we could all look up to.
These are just a few of the women we could all learn something from. Each is distinctive in their own right and has something to teach us. We can inspire, learn, and persevere because that’s what being a western woman is all about.
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