A larger-than-life personality, Ardith Bruce, lived life to the fullest and was to be inducted with the 2022 class into ProRodeo Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs, Colo. next month, passed away June 27. She was 90.
Bruce, who was tough as nails competing in barrel racing into her 80s, passed away at Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs. Bruce will be inducted posthumously on July 16 at the ProRodeo Hall of Fame.
Bruce joined the Girls Rodeo Association (GRA) now the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association (WPRA) in 1960 reaching the pinnacle of the sport in 1964 when she won the world title aboard a horse known as Red, registered as Shaws Kingwood Snip. That same year, Red was the AQHA Reserve World Champion Barrel Horse and in 1965 was the first GRA/WPRA barrel horse to ever be featured in color on the cover of the Quarter Horse Journal.
Bruce and Red were the first WPRA World Champion duo to go to the left barrel first. They had been hitting some barrels, so Bruce decided to change things up and go to the left. From then on, if a set-up was better for the left, she would run Red left. If not, they went to the right. She landed among the Top 15 in the world standings seven consecutive years from 1963-69.
Red loved running close to home – he won the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo in Bruce’s hometown of Colorado Springs six times. She was inducted into the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo Hall of Fame in 1997.
Bruce, who was born July 22, 1931, in Clay Center, Kan., was among the early GRA members to conduct barrel racing clinics and often traveled to Hawaii to conduct them. In addition to barrel racing, she spent a great deal of time on the racetrack and became the first female licensed outrider in the State of Colorado.
She gave back and remained loyal to the association for decades even after retiring from full-time competition. When the WPRA’s headquarters moved to Colorado Springs, Bruce helped get things up and running. Her dedication and loyalty to the WPRA carried over to the next generation with her granddaughter, Amber Bruce West, serving a term on the WPRA Board of Directors.
As well as her horses, family, and animals Bruce loved her garden and flowers and was an amazing cook.
Funeral arrangements are pending. She was preceded in death by husband, Jim Bruce, and son, Dan Bruce.
(Courtesy of PRCA)