On Monday, with the noon sun casting a spotlight, 148 rodeo athletes took center stage at the Cowtown Coliseum in the Fort Worth Stockyards as the Women’s Rodeo World Championship got underway.
“Women have been long underserved within the industry,” Women’s Rodeo World Championship Commissioner Linsay Rosser Sumpter said. “There’s a lot of very influential women that have worked really hard in the sport. It just finally has become our time.”
Rosser Sumpter said it’s only been within the last 4 to 5 years that women rodeo athletes could make any serious money in the sport. With $750,000 at stake, this year’s event is making history as the largest purse in the country for a single all-women’s rodeo.
“So we’ve been here a lot for women’s finals, but never for this kind of money,” challenger division competitor Patti McCutchen said. “So it’s exciting!”
McCutchen started riding more than 50 years ago when there wasn’t a path for women to be professional rodeo athletes.
“It’s exciting for these young girls,” McCutchen said.
The timing is not lost on two-time professional World Champion Breakaway rider Madison Outhier of Utopia, Texas.
“It’s really awesome that, you know, I’ve been able to come up in the era that breakaway has been able to get so many new opportunities and give us girls a chance to make a good living at this now,” 19-year old Outhier said. “Back when I was really young, there was no chance at that. So we were just doing it purely because we loved it.”
“This is a new chapter for women in rodeo,” Rosser Sumpter said. “It’s only going to get better from here.”
The Women’s Rodeo World Championship has athletes competing in professional and challenger divisions. The events are free Monday and Tuesday.
For tickets to Wednesday’s finals, click here.