Among the many performers who thrilled the crowds at the Calgary Stampede in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, in September 1912, was a nineteen-year-old cowgirl trick rider named Dolly Mullins. New to the sport, Dolly shared the arena with well-known rodeo entertainers Lucille Mulhall and Florence LaDue. All the women were part of the Miller Brothers 101 Ranch Wild West Show and competed for top spots in roping and riding galloping horses.
Dolly Mullins was born in New York on May 20, 1893, and after attending her first rodeo in 1903, she knew she wanted to be a cowgirl. She mastered the art of roping and riding by the time she was twelve, and when she graduated from high school she began participating in various competitions.
On September 6, 1912, Dolly won the cowgirls’ trick and fancy riding contest at the Calgary Stampede. Her bold and graceful feats on horseback were some of the most popular at the event. According to the Calgary Herald, two of Dolly’s talented competitors, Bertha Blancett and Hazel Walker, “did some clever riding, but had not the same easy daring of Miss Mullins.”
In addition to being named World’s Champion Fancy and Trick Rider, Dolly was also awarded a gold mounted belt buckle and a $300 purse.
Dolly Mullins went on to participate in several other prestigious rodeos in New Mexico, Wyoming, Colorado, and Arizona. The daring acts of skill she demonstrated on the back of her horse, King, kept audiences amazed and event organizers grateful.
By 1915, Dolly was touring the country with a handful of Wild West shows, always thrilling ticket buyers, but sometimes suffering injuries in the process. Such was the case at a performance on September 5th at Youngstown, Ohio. While exhibiting her horseback riding expertise, her ride was spooked, and Dolly was thrown. She suffered a serious injury and was transported to a nearby hospital where she was treated for a possible skull fracture. By the spring of the following year, Dolly was working again with the 101 Ranch Wild West Show and performing in one of the Miller Brothers’ personal saddles.
In addition to trick and fancy riding, Dolly took part in relay races at rodeos in Minneapolis, Las Vegas, and Missoula. She raced against award winning cowgirls Lorena Udey and Kitty Canutt. Cowboys and spectators at Frontier Days in Cheyenne, Wyoming, in July 1918, told reporters who asked about the best women relay racers, noted that Dolly Mullins had “great potential” and was “some rider.”
On July 13, 1921, an article in the Pasadena Evening Post announced Dolly’s engagement to Los Angeles businessman J. Howard Mott. The couple married in the fall of 1921 and made their home in Beverly Hills. The Mott’s only child, Thomas Howard was born in late 1922.
Throughout the mid-1920s and 1930s, Dolly continued to participate in rodeos across the country, winning additional trick and fancy riding contests in many locations. Sadly, she retired from professional riding competitions in 1937 when both her son and her husband drowned while on a fishing trip.
Dolly wed cowboy performer and rodeo promoter George “Guy” Weadick in May 1952. The couple had met in 1912 when Dolly won the trick and fancy riding championship at the Calgary Stampede. Weadick had been married to one of Dolly’s fiercest competitors, Florence LaDue. Unfortunately, Dolly and Guy were married a little more than a year when he died of heart failure on December 13, 1953.
On May 20, 1965, Dolly was driving in West Los Angeles when she struck an ambulance that was being used to transport a fire victim to a hospital. The rodeo star died as a result of the crash. She was seventy-two years old.