|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 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 Tulsa, Oklahoma each November. The World Finals Rodeo is the largest all-women’s rodeo event in the world. At the World Finals, the WPRA crowns world champions in ten events, including original events, bareback riding, bull riding, tie down roping, team roping, and breakaway roping.
In addition to the traditional events, the WPRA has formed new programs to promote growth in the industry. Beginning in 2007, the WPRA now crowns a WPRA Junior World Champion Barrel Racer through its WPRA Juniors program for ladies under the age of eighteen. The WPRA also crowns world champions in the futurity and derby programs, 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 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, “Women’s 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!