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Wild Women Wednesday: Senorita Rosalie

COWGIRL LIFE

Wild Women Wednesday: Senorita Rosalie

senorita-rosalie

A jubilant group of children huddled around a massive color poster affixed to the arena walls of New York’s Polo Grounds.  The broadside, dated May 28, 1884, was filled with images of beautiful Hispanic women riding horses.  Bold print across the bottom read:  COME SEE THE MEXICAN SENORITAS IN A CONTEST OF EQUINE SKILLS.

“Those ladies are quite the daredevils,” a booming voice called out from behind the youths.  When the children turn around, they saw Buffalo Bill Cody sitting atop a white horse.  Pointing at the advertisement, he said, “The show is about to start.”  The children hurried into the arena as quickly as their legs would carry them.  Cody smiled and tipped his hat as they chanced a glance back.  

An international cast paraded around the grounds during the grand review that opened every Wild West Show.  Among the most impressive looking performers were the Mexican cowboys known as the Vaqueros.  The Vaqueros stood out among the other cast members.  Their short jackets, brightly colored collars, heavy leather trousers buttoned on each side, leather leggings, and wide-brimmed sombreros set them apart.

The senorita riders wore lavish skirts of gold, red, and black, and their hats were lined with silver bands.  As the Hispanic cast rode past the cheering crowd, the senoritas spun their lariats over their heads and twirled the ropes at their sides.

Senorita Rosalie was the Mexican star of the Wild West show.  She was a stunning, black-haired woman who had achieved fame as a trick rider.  She would jump over walls and ride holding the reins in her mouth while standing on the back of her horse.  With her feet firmly placed on the ground, she would spur her horse on and jump on its back.  While the animal was in full gallop, she would fling her body in and out of the saddle and dangle precariously off the sides of the horse.  She could even lie down in the saddle and retrieve items left on the arena floor.  

Senorita Rosalie’s expertise on a horse made her a highly sought after riding instructor.  Many Wild West performers benefitted from her horseback-riding advice.  

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Chris Enss is a New York Times Bestselling author who writes about women of the Old West.

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