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AN EARLY PHOTO OF TBRA OFFICERS, CIRCA 1950S
Below, a page from 1959 Texas Horseman Magazine, column written by Mary Archer of Harrold, TX.
PAGES FROM 1962 TBRA ROUNDUP PROGRAM
The article below is a project in work ... it is yet to be completely edited.
From my own memory, the Texas Barrel Racing Association was formed in 1955 in Fort Worth, Texas.
background history of barrel racing:
WHERE BARREL RACING BEGAN
Barrel racing had begun in Texas, most notably at the Texas Cowboy Reunion in Stamford, in the 1930s. Named “Sponsors Contest” it required the women be sponsored by a ranch or town. According to historical articles, the original purpose was to give an activity to the women of ranching in Texas, during the annual gathering of Texas cowboys. The women represented ranches or towns and were expected to be in the parade and other reunion activities, as well as at the Sponsors Ball, where they danced with the cowboys.
The barrel racing event at Stamford through the mid-1950s was a four leaf clover pattern, later evolving into the familiar three leaf pattern used universally in later decades.
ALL GIRL RODEOS:
Early in the century, women often competed with men in rodeo events. Women's rodeo, often called all-girl rodeos, expanded during the 1940s, but after the war it had waned somewhat according to other historical information I have found on the Internet.
By the late 1940s, again in Texas, women recognized the need for an organization to further their sport, which then had little or no financial rewards for the participants. So was born the Girls Rodeo Association, or GRA, the professional rodeo association which evolved into today's Women's Professional Rodeo Association.
As barrel racing became ever more popular, under the GRA's influence individual professional rodeos began offering GRA-approved barrel racing. It was a some time however, before the RCA, now the PRCA, recognized the women's association as a partner.
The Evolution of Barrel Racing ...
In the early 1950s several of us girls who barrel raced, and a few who rode calves, got together to talk about creating a new rodeo association. The Girls Rodeo Association (now the Women's Professional Rodeo Association) was already well established of course, but we wanted an amateur rodeo association, as we mostly went to amateur rodeos which were more abundant in our part of the world.
We didn't get as far as formally organizing, but the idea churned around and finally birthed the Texas Barrel Racing Association, chartered in the mid 1950s.
When the Texas Barrel Racing Association was formed, the women involved wanted an association that would include amateur rodeos as venues, and they pursued a goal of creating a popular rodeo event for women that would be recognized and rewarded.
Among their top goals was seeing that the women involved were well dressed, creating a glamour that the sport had not specifically had until then. [see the pictures of us in sleeveless shirts and blue jeans] The new TBRA dress code insisted upon long sleeve shirts with collars, western hat and boots, and non-blue jean riding pants. To give impetus to the dress code, the association began holding western fashion shows in conjunction with their annual meeting during the Fort Worth Fat Stock Show. Without question, the dress code changed barrel racing forever.
Within a short time, the women of the TBRA came up with the idea of a barrel racing futurity, a contest where horses were pre-nominated to a fall barrel competition in their 3 to 4 year old years. It followed of course that a derby was added for older horses, primarily coming from the ranks of the previous year’s futurity.
By the 1980s barrel racing futurities were popular in several areas, with the TBRA Futurity still going strong. In 1979 Fort Smith, Arkansas' Old Fort Days celebration held its first "World’s Richest Barrel Futurity” promising big added money and setting a new standard for possible earnings in the event. I competed in its third and fourth and fifth years.
The Texas Barrel Racing Association held sway for decades as the premier women's barrel racing organization. Had it not formed, who can tell if the sport would ever have progressed to the multi-million dollar level we see now in the 21st century.
Invitational Ranch Girls Barrel Race at the Fort Worth Stock Show Rodeo
In 1955 at the Texas Cowboy Reunion my close friend Ann Newsome placed in the top ten in the barrel race, or Sponsors Contest, as it was called due to each girl barrel racer representing a ranch or town, her sponsor.
As a result of that good showing, Ann was invited to be among the first group of girls invited to the Fort Worth Fat Stock Show and Rodeo, to barrel race, adding new glamour to the event. The girls were paid to participate that first year.
The Stock Show Rodeo barrel race remained an invitational event for decades, although not paying the girls, before finally becoming a professional event in line with its always-professional cowboy events. Getting an invitation to participate at the Stock Show in Fort Worth was a signal honor for many years.
THE BARREL PATTERNS, EQUIPMENT AND FASHIONS
Early barrel patterns varied considerably, with three more or less becoming routinely used. Stamford Texas used a four-leaf pattern for many years; rodeos generally used either a three-leaf clover or a figure eight pattern. The figure eight, or straight-away pattern continued in use for many years, but is rarely seen any more outside of playday events. Through the 1950s to 1980s, rodeos used whatever pattern they chose to, so barrel racers trained their horses to run either pattern.
Many also trained their horses to run the cloverleaf either direction, right or left hand first barrel. The layout of rodeo arenas often dictated the choice due to speed advantage in one direction over the other. For instance the Kowbell Arena in Mansfield, TX had an alleyway that was almost in line with the right hand barrel. Taking that barrel first made a rider start from inside the arena from a standstill. Taking the left barrel first gave her a running start from the alley, definitely a time saver.
SOME PERSONAL EXPERIENCES of Eileen Sammons Laird Tidwell:
I was fortunate enough in the 1950s and 1960s to be able to travel to Stamford and compete there in the Cowboy Reunion Rodeo.
In the accompanying photos you can see the 1950s version of an RV. That 1951 Ford Pickup with stock rack is my fancy horse hauling rig. I was very fortunate to have a Dad who would buy such a thing for me. And note the cots. And bear in mind that this is hot July, temperatures around 100 mid day. We were camped on the grounds of the TCR near a tiny stock pond, where we rinsed off the dust, swam to cool off, and even brushed our teeth with cups of our drinking water. Were we tough or what? Not really. In those days in Texas people were used to the heat and camping was almost always done this way.
Stamford, Texas 1955, TEXAS COWBOY REUNION
OUR CAMP on the grounds of the Texas Cowboy Reunion in Stamford, Texas 1955
ABOVE: Eileen Sammons, Frances Wallis Remirez, and Ann Newsom enjoying a treat while at Stamford
How we loaded and hauled our horses in the 1950s.
Pre Dress Code Days: Barrel Racer complete with rodeo entry number, circa 1953
A few barrel racing photos from Eileen Tidwell
|Eileen Tidwell and Maria Sangria, North Texas Futurity 1980s||Eileen Tidwell and Candy Bar Charge, TBRA Futurity 1980s|
|Charro Bar Charge and Tito Ramirez, full
brother to Maria Sangria
also barrel futurity horses
|1950s, Eileen on Jiggs||1960s, on crop out TB, Tabari|
http://www.youreeranch.com/index.html Florence Youree and her sister Sherry Price were barrel racing in the days when I started. That family is still a major force in the sport.
http://cowgirl.net/home/ The National Cowgirl Hall of Fame and Museum, Fort Worth
http://www.barrelhorsenews.com/ News of the Barrel Racing world
Old Fort Days, World's Richest Barrel Futurity, Fort Smith, AR Still one of the biggest futurities for barrel horses
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