Officials will soon be taking entries for a new event designed to highlight the skilled and versatile female riders in the Western performance world. Called the World’s Greatest Horsewoman, the competition will be held in January in conjunction with the Art of the Cowgirl celebration in Phoenix, Arizona.
Structured similarly to the American Quarter Horse Association’s former event Battle in the Saddle, the World’s Greatest Horsewoman will focus on one horse and one rider testing their skills and versatility with the same bit in four exciting phases of competition – herd work, rein work, steer stopping and cow work.
Entries open October 15. The event will be open to 25 female competitors, and the entry fee is $250. Each rider will compete and be scored by judges in all four events.
The top five horse and rider duos will vie for cash, prizes and the chance to compete at the prestigious National Reined Cow Horse Association’s World’s Greatest Horseman, being held Feb. 13-22, in Fort Worth, Texas.
“Art of the Cowgirl is driven by horsewomen and I wanted to produce an elite cow horse event for women like me who come from ranching backgrounds and dream of taking a cow down the fence in Fort Worth, yet still respect the working cowboy, cowgirl and ranch horse,” said Art of the Cowgirl Event Director Mesa Pate.
Through the years, women have competed at the World’s Greatest Horseman, but usually there is only one entry per year. In 2018, however, five women – Naomi Bancroft, Alexis Blakey, Gusti Buerger, Abbie Phillips and Annie Reynolds– entered and rode against some of the greatest horsemen in the world. In 2019, Phillips made the finals at the event held at Will Rogers Memorial Center.
In announcing the new event, Art of the Cowgirl officials said they hope to inspire horsewomen of all backgrounds and levels of riding to elevate their horsemanship to the highest level possible.
“For a lot of horsewomen, horsemanship is their art, and they’re interested in reined cow horse because it embraces ranching,” Pate said. “They may not have the opportunity to compete due to finances and the long distance to travel to shows. The World’s Greatest Horsewoman is a unique way to tip our hat and show respect to working ranch cowgirls and the horses they’ve trained. We look forward to developing a longstanding relationship with NRCHA, because there are a lot of ranching men and women trying to get to a high level in their horsemanship and compete at reined cow horse events.”
The preliminary round of the World’s Greatest Horsewoman and the all women ranch rodeo will both take place Jan. 23-24, at the John Volken Academy Ranch arena in Gilbert, Arizona.
The final round of both competitions will be Jan. 25 at Corona Ranch & Rodeo Grounds. Tickets prices are $65 for a day pass and $175 for a three-day pass. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit ArtoftheCowgirl.com