Black cowgirls have been an important part of American history, yet their contributions have often been overlooked and marginalized. These women were pioneers in the male-dominated world of ranching and rodeo, breaking barriers and challenging stereotypes.
Throughout history, black women have played an integral role in shaping American culture, and the world of cowgirl and equestrianism is no exception. From Henrietta “Aunt Rittie” Williams Foster to modern-day riders like Cheryl White, black women have made significant contributions. Here are some notable examples:
- Henrietta “Aunt Rittie” Williams Foster: One of the first Black women to own and run a ranch in California with her husband. Known for her ranching skills and work as a midwife in the community.
- Bridget “Biddy” Mason: A former slave who became a landowner and entrepreneur, using her skills as a healer and midwife to build a successful career.
- Sylvia Bishop: A renowned cowgirl and rodeo performer who competed in the 1950s and 1960s. One of the first Black women to ride professionally and known for her signature trick riding style.
- Cheryl White: A modern-day Black cowgirl who has made it her mission to promote the legacy of Black equestrians and inspire a new generation of riders.
Caitlin Gooch and Brianna Noble are two modern-day black cowgirls who are making significant contributions to their communities and promoting awareness of the legacy of Black equestrians. Caitlin Gooch, also known as "The Black Cowgirl," uses her nonprofit Saddle Up and Read to encourage children of color to read while learning about horses on her farm in North Carolina. By combining literacy and equestrian education, she is helping to create a new generation of black cowboys and cowgirls who can honor and continue the legacy of black equestrians.
Brianna Noble, on the other hand, uses her Urban Cowgirl Ranch in Oakland, California, to teach sustainable pioneering of livestock and horses in intercity spaces. She became famous in 2020 for riding her horse through a George Floyd protest march, and she now uses her platform to inspire young people to pursue their dreams and overcome obstacles.
Together, Caitlin Gooch and Brianna Noble are part of a new wave of Black cowgirls who are bringing visibility to the rich history of Black equestrians and using their passion for horses to make a difference in their communities.
The National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame was established to honor and recognize women who have made significant contributions to the cowgirl and equestrian world. Among the inductees are several notable black women who have left their mark on the industry. Mayisha Akbar, for example, is a trailblazing equestrian and activist who founded the Compton Jr. Posse Youth Equestrian Program, which has been instrumental in introducing young people to the world of horses and horseback riding. Patricia E. Kelly, another inductee, is known for her work as a trick rider and performer in Wild West shows, and for her contributions as an educator and mentor in the equestrian world.
Mollie Taylor Stevenson, Sr. and Jr. were both pioneers in the world of cutting horses, with Sr. becoming the first black woman to win a major cutting horse competition in 1965. Jr. went on to become a successful trainer and breeder of cutting horses, continuing her mother's legacy. Clara Brown, another inductee, was a former slave who became known as the "Angel of the Rockies" for her work as a nurse and philanthropist. She used her wealth to help other freed slaves and even traveled to search for her long-lost daughter. These women, and many others, have made invaluable contributions to the world of cowgirls and equestrianism, and their legacies continue to inspire new generations of riders.
The legacy of black cowgirls and equestrians is rich and inspiring. From the pioneers of the Wild West to modern-day riders, black women have made their mark. If you're a fan of black cowgirls, rodeos or horses, be sure to check out our collection of products featuring these designs, including tops and mugs. Show off your love for black cowgirls and celebrate their lasting impact on American history with The Trini Gee.