A lifetime ago, I was lying on the bleachers watching the Reno Rodeo slack on a hot June day, regretting the very late night before. I was at the start of my career, and I had big dreams and big ideas. But that particular day, I was just really tired.
The sun didn’t feel great, so I had my eyes closed when a starched-up woman in a Charlie 1 Horse hat sat down next to me. She said, “Wake up. I need to talk.”
I rubbed open my eyes and looked at Lari Dee Guy—already a many-time Women’s Professional Rodeo Association world champion in the breakaway roping, heading, heeling, and all-around at that point. She was there roping in the all-girl team roping that accompanied the rodeo, and we’d written a few articles together in the past.
“I want to do something for women in the horse industry,” she said. “I’m getting old, and it’s got to get better. We really need to do something. I don’t know what it is. But something.”
Eventually, that something turned into the #RopeLikeAGirl campaign that Guy started, empowering young girls to get horseback, swing a rope, and enter up across the globe with the confidence that they can do anything they set their minds to, regardless of the limitations society sets upon them. We launched apparel lines, got the support of ropemakers, saddle pad companies, leather crafters, and more. Guy and her partner, Hope Thompson, taught schools to little girls from Abilene to Australia and everywhere in between, and they fostered young talent and a youth movement impossible to ignore.
That campaign, that I was so fortunate to witness and support with the written word, was part of the movement that helped propel women to the first-ever National Finals of Breakaway Roping in 2020, and set them on the ProRodeo trail in record numbers in 2021 in the sport’s newest event for women. Through this process, Guy has led the fight, both behind the scenes and in the arena, for equal opportunities and equal pay for women in rodeo. It’s been a passion project, full of sacrifice, and it’s paid off dividends.
If you follow much of what we do, you know I spend more than half of my time working for our sister publications, The Team Roping Journal and The Breakaway Roping Journal. This letter would find its place just fine in those magazines, but I’m telling you this story here to introduce to you a new offering for 2021: HorseWeek.tv. It’s our latest campaign from our parent company, Equine Network LLC, and it will be an entire week dedicated to telling stories of those who shape the horse industry, the horses that inspire us, and so much more. Guy’s story will be a part of that, in a documentary on the women who’ve shaped the West. But there’s so much more, and we’ll outline some of the stories we’re telling on page 8 in Saddle Chat. Our team has been crisscrossing the country for the last six months to produce a collection of content like never before for this week-long celebration October 3-9, 2021, all dedicated to the greatness of the horse and its influence on our society and our day-to-day lives.