“Pretty Ladies on Fast Horses” …But What About the Men?

Should men be allowed to barrel race in rodeos?

At barrel shows across the country, men are equal to women. Men share the spotlight with women in the National Barrel Horse Association and International Barrel Racing Association, yet, traditionally, the same men are not allowed in the rodeo pen.

Recently, Barrel Horse News posted a question to their readers on their Facebook site, asking readers if they felt men should be allowed to compete in pro rodeo. Women dominated the responses, with most saying that men should stay out of rodeo. But, the real question is, is this truly fair or are women sticking to tradition just for tradition’s sake?

At this year’s AQHA Congress, the Top 6 fastest times and ten of the Top 15 in the coveted Wenger Sweepstakes Finals were men. Trainers like Bret Monroe, Troy Crumrine and Lance Graves have helped take barrel racing to a new level, with younger, faster horses. This statement is not meant to take anything away from top talents like Brittany Pozzi, Lindsey Sears or even Charmayne James, but can women really say we’re the best in the world if we aren’t really competing against some of the world’s top talent? It’s kind of like the international baseball argument – is the World Series of Baseball truly the World Series when top Japanese or other international teams are not included?

Some of the arguments made on Barrel Horse News’s post suggest that women have to work hard enough as it is in professional rodeo that adding men to the mix would make things unfair for women. While women absolutely do work very, very hard, some of their horses are trained by greats like Lance Graves, and who is not to say that he didn’t work hard?

Personally, I grew up competing against some of the best youth in Pennsylvania and Ohio, male and female. I didn’t see gender as a youth. I never said, “I’m the best female youth,” or “He’s the best male barrel racer I know.”

I highly, highly doubt that rodeo will change it’s male-female policies any time soon, yet I just worry that stigmas attached to certain genderized issues can almost always be harmful. If women shun men from a “women’s” sport, I worry that women will be received the same by men when they try to make the same changes. Female friends of mine that rope have discussed going to round robins and men purposefully missing for them and going to jackpots where they cannot find a decent partner to save their soul. Double standards, in any case, can be dangerous.


6 thoughts on ““Pretty Ladies on Fast Horses” …But What About the Men?

  1. Well, I hate to be “one of those”, but at this point, barrel racing is the ONLY pro-rodeo event open to women, unless the PRCA is going to open the doors for the women to compete in the other events, I think they should be allowed to keep their ONLY event to themselves.

  2. I agree brown eyes. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, there were many events that women could pay up and play in: relay races, bronc riding, match races and more. These were slowly taken away with the change in attitudes and by 1945 or thereabouts, the events were all but gone for the women.

    1948 the WPRA was formed to try to fill this void a bit and for years they had a very active bronc, bull riding events. Today the majority of their members are ropers and barrel racers. There is a history to this that many people don’t get or don’t want to get and I truly think that it should stay as it is, women run the cans. There are a ton of other avenues for male barrel racers and those choices are growing for them, not dwindling. I personally think that the PRCA had a good idea when they tried to incorporate the racers into their fold, but they went about it all the wrong way and it will probably be years before they try it again, if at all.

  3. Excellent points Mary! And all too true. Women used to ride broncs and they put on quite a show.

    I meant to mention, that I find it hard to believe that men would deliberately miss for a female roper. It seems rather self-indulgent to purposefully take yourself out of the possible $$. I’ve never experienced anything like that happening. Quite the opposite in fact. I have often overheard men talking about certain women ropers with much respect. What I have seen and heard is women ropers complaining about their “partners”, when in fact, they aren’t very good themselves. Either they don’t handle the cattle very well and the heeler can’t get a good shot or they simply cannot heel very well. My 1/2-sister is one of those. It’s never her fault. But the reality is…she stinks. And because she blames everyone else, she will never get any better.

    Mixed roping is big in the local circuit rodeos in SD/NE/ND, etc. From the number of entries at every rodeo…those girls aren’t having any problem finding partners. Now that, I can actually see being pushed into a new PRCA event.

  4. I am a former western pleasure rider who decided to quit 4H and learn and try the cowhorse/roping/speed events. In the Nebraska High School Rodeos there are girls who do the team roping with boys or with other girls listed in the results. Women can do the roping in amatuer and women’s rodeos, and the breed shows. Yet, I don’t know why men can’t do barrel racing at rodeos( in any venue of rodeo) and women can go pro. It would need to be a win-win situation for both men and women. The rodeo events should be open to both genders, in all levels of rodeo. If women barrel racers critizise men, men will do the same to us. Ability and the time/effort you put into roping , barrel racing, steer wrestling, and roughstock events should count, not gender.

  5. Pingback: Top 10 of 2010 | The Barrel Racing Blog

  6. Actually, barrel racing is not a PRCA sanctioned event. The PRCA just “lets” the cowgirls run barrels at the PRCA as it being a finals event. Barrel racing isn’t even included on the PRCA website because the PRCA is a “cowboy’s” association. Personally I think if women are up to compete with the men they should be aloud to. In NE Boys and girls and compete against each other starting when your 1-3yo till your 15-18yo if they can handle it then, than why can’t they now? If women think they can compete with the men then let them. There wouldn’t be any rule changes or any special treatment, everything would be the same and they can go on competing. If men and women are “equal” then why must there be a men’s pro rodeo and a women’s pro rodeo? Combine the two and let them hash it out. I am a women team roper and barrel racer I have a male partner and we’re competing against other men and women so why can’t we keep going like that after the high school level into the pro level?

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