A hush fell over the large crowd at the Salt Lake City rodeo arena in July 1938, as daredevil woman rider Alice Sisty raced into the arena atop two English jumpers. She was standing on the backs of the animals with one foot on one horse and her other foot on the second mount. Alice coaxed the horses into a gallop around the arena and the audience cheered and applauded. She handled the jumpers, named Whale and Brownstone, expertly. Alice had performed the Roman Standard Jump a number of times and was confident the trick would come off perfectly.
The trick involved the excited horses leaping over a parked automobile. It was an outstanding feat, that when executed well, brought rodeo fans out of their seats shouting for joy. Alice did not disappoint: She performed her signature jump flawlessly. Waving to the wildly cheering audience, she urged her horses into another pass at the stunt.
Born in Netcong, New Jersey, in January 1913, Alice first broke into national headlines when, at the age of 20, she rode an Indian Pony from Reno, Nevada, to the steps of New York City Hall. It was a 3,000-mile journey, and when she arrived in New York, mayors from coast to coast celebrated Alice’s accomplishment with letters of congratulations. The Cheyenne, Wyoming, Chamber of Commerce helped defray Alice’s expenses on the journey and in return, she helped advertise Cheyenne Frontier Days by wearing a cowboy suit with the Cheyenne inscription on its back.
Alice had been riding horses since the age of 6. Her grandfather owned a race track and the love of horses was undoubtedly born in her. One of Alice’s first rodeo appearances was in Asbury Park. It was followed by well-received appearances in such places as Des Moines, Iowa; Cheyenne, Wyoming; Omaha, Nebraska; and Billings, Montana. She performed at the Chicago World’s Fair and at Madison Square Garden.
Billed as a trick and fancy rider, Alice won numerous cowgirl championships. She was one of the highest-paid female rodeo performers in the 1930s. Friends and fans seldom, if ever, saw her without her makeup and hair done to perfection and garbed in beautiful cowgirl clothing. The dark-haired, blue-eyed Alice decided to become a cowgirl when she was 19 and signed to ride in Colonel Zack Millers 101 Ranch.
In addition to the prized English jumpers she used to perform the Roman Standard Jump trick, she owned a white Arabian horse named Chopa. Chopa was a highly intelligent animal, who responded to her every voice command. The pair performed in rodeos from coast to coast.
Alice succumbed to an unnamed illness on September 11, 1953, in Crescent, California, where she lived with her second husband, Hennie Sommer. She was 40 years old when she died.