The WPRA enjoys a rich history traveled on paths not always easy or sure, but certainly historic. For example, did you know the WPRA is the oldest standing women's professional association? It's true.
The 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 Women’s Professional Rodeo Association. It is the oldest women’s 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 Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo held in Oklahoma City, OK 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 Waco, TX 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. We approve over 1,300 events (500 rodeos and 800 jackpots) and had a total professional rodeo payout of over $5.2 million in 2012. 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 and Australia. WPRA members compete for millions of dollars in prize money each year and are now featured in their own television show, Women’s Pro Rodeo Today, which airs several times a week during prime time on RFD-TV. Click here to see the schedule.
In 2013 the WPRA celebrated sixty five years of women in rodeo and are looking forward to the next sixty five as the future of women in the sport of rodeo has never looked better.
The WPRA — World Championship Barrel Racing®