When someone says “Cowgirl Up!” it means rise to the occasion, don’t give up, and do it all without whining or complaining. And the cowgirls of the early twentieth century did it all, just like the men, only wearing skirts and sometimes with a baby waiting behind the chutes. Women learned to rope and ride out of necessity, helping their fathers, brothers, and husbands with the ranch work.
But for some women, it went further than that. They caught the fever of freedom, the thirst for adrenaline, and the thrill of competition, and many started their rodeo careers as early as age fourteen. From Alice and Margie Greenough of Red Lodge, whose father told them “If you can’t ride ‘em, walk,” to Jane Burnett Smith of Gilt Edge who sneaked off to ride in rodeos at age eleven, women made wide inroads into the masculine world of rodeo.
Montana boasts its share of women who “busted broncs” and broke ranks in the macho world of rodeo during the early to mid- 1900s. Cowgirl Up! is the history of these cowgirls, their courage, and their accomplishments.