faye blesing cowgirl iconic cowgirl magazine

Skillful and graceful trick rider Faye Blesing and her Palomino horse Flash raced by excited fans at the Butte’s Buckaroo and Homecoming Days Rodeo in Butte, Montana, on July 6, 1951.  Faye smiled at the spectators while demonstrating one of her most popular stunts, the Cossack, or Russian Drag.  Pulling her feet out of the stirrups she flipped herself around in the saddle, looped one foot through a slot in the seat jockey, and hung upside down with her other foot hanging over her head, her head and hands dangling inches from the ground.  With Flash running at breakneck speed, Faye twisted, spun, leaped, and swung around on the animal’s back. She ended her routine with a shoulder stand on Flash’s withers.  The mesmerized crowd cheered the amazing tricks performed by the talented woman fans called the “sweetheart of the rodeo circuit.”  She’d made every trick look effortless. 

Born on Christmas Day 1920 in Craig, Colorado, Faye was a teenager when her family relocated to Southern California.  Her father established the Lazy 3 Riding Stables in Burbank, where he rented saddle horses and provided wild horses for the movie studios. It was through her father’s business she perfected her riding technique, and at the age of sixteen, got her start in films.  Prior to being a trick rider, Faye was a stunt woman.  She doubled in numerous Westerns, performing feats considered too dangerous for Hollywood stars. Betty Grable and Rhonda Fleming were among the many actresses for whom she was a double.  

The transition from film to the rodeo circuit was a natural one for Faye.  She would attend rodeos and watch the trick riders work and then go home and practice what she’d seen.  For more than seven years, she rode in shows with various rodeos at Madison Square Garden in New York City.  She even spent a month in Paris and Rome performing in historical venues.

Some of Faye’s friends and family considered trick riding a dangerous business.  But in all the years she rode, she was injured only twice.  Both accidents occurred when it was raining.  The arenas where she and Flash were performing were muddy and slick.  Flash slipped and fell, and Faye broke her leg on the first occasion and her foot in the second.  She credited her talented horse for keeping her safe through most of their career. 

In 1942 she met Wag Blesing, a rodeo rider traveling in the same circuit, and the two married in 1944.  Wag was the world champion bull rider in 1947 and parlayed his love for horses and riding into film work.  He was a stuntman and actor, and he and Faye occasionally worked together performing stunts in television shows such as F Troop and Wanted Dead or Alive. 

Faye retired from trick riding in 1978.  She and her husband then moved to Ramona, California, and opened a bar called the Wag Inn.  Faye was inducted into the Cowgirl Hall of Fame in 1987.  She passed away on April 7, 1999, at the age of seventy-eight.