Women's Professional Rodeo Association was formed in 1948
when thirty-eight cowgirls came together in San Angelo,
Texas to create an organization dedicated to the promotion
and advancement of women in the sport of rodeo. The earliest
pioneers of the Girl's Rodeo Association (GRA) were ropers,
bronc riders, and barrel racers. They were fed up with
a system which did not grant them competitive opportunities
in the arena and, when it did, operated under unfair conditions.The
GRA began with 74 original members with 60 approved contests
and total payout of $29,000. In 1981 the GRA changed its
name to the Womens Professional Rodeo Association.
It is the oldest womens sports association in the
country and the only one governed entirely by women.
Today, the fast paced event of barrel
racing dominates the activities of most WPRA members.
WPRA barrel racers compete for millions of dollars each
year, culminating in twelve circuit finals rodeos held
throughout the country, the Dodge National Circuit Finals
Rodeo held in Pocatello, Idaho in April, and the Wrangler
National Finals Rodeo held in Las Vegas each December.
The WPRA still honors its roots by hosting
the WPRA World Finals Rodeo in Lincoln, Nebraska in October.
At the World Finals, the WPRA crowns world champions in
Roping- tie down roping, team roping, and breakaway roping.
In addition to the roping events, the
WPRA has formed new divisions to promote growth in the industry.
Beginning in 2007, the WPRA now crowns a WPRA Junior World
Champion Barrel Racer through its WPRA Juniors division
for ladies under the age of eighteen. The WPRA also crowns
world champions in the Futurity and Derby divisions, designed
for young horses in their first years of competition.
Today, the Association is headquartered in Colorado Springs,
Colorado and boasts of over two thousand five hundred members.
The WPRA is governed by a fourteen member Board of Directors
and officers of President and Vice-President, all elected
by popular vote of the membership. The membership is spread
across the entire United States as well as several Canadian
provinces. WPRA members compete for millions of dollars
in prize money each year and are now featured in their own
television show, Womens Pro Rodeo Today,
which runs Wednesday nights on RFD-TV.
In 2008 the WPRA celebrated sixty years of women in rodeo
and are looking forward to the next sixty as the future
of women in the sport of rodeo has never looked better.
The WPRA . . . the past, present,
and future of women in rodeo!