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Vera McGinnis, Daring Rodeo Queen

Vera McGinnis, Daring Rodeo Queen

A rodeo, circa 1918 or 1925, Fort Worth or London (accounts vary). Vera McGinnis and her horse thunder into the arena, hell-bent on winning.

There’s the pound of hooves as she flies past, the choke and swirl of dust. The murmur rolling across the stands. You see, Vera’s wearing pants, a first for a rodeo cowgirl. The men wonder (to themselves, wisely) why they’d ever objected to trousers on a woman. The women (the ones not clutching at pearls) admire her daring good sense and make a mental note to call on a seamstress.

Over her 21-year career in the rodeo, she racked up an impressive list of feats. She ran the clock her first time on a bronc and her first time on a raging bull. She invented the “flying change”—transferring from one horse to another without touching the ground. Acted in movies. Survived when her trick pony Rosie somersaulted on top of her during a relay race, an accident which nearly killed her.

Vera was inducted into the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame in 1979, and into the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum Rodeo Hall of Fame in 1985. Read more of her story here

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