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Black Cowgirls inspire youth, break stereotypes in male dominated sport

<i>KPHO/KTVK</i><br/>For the thousands of fans who gathered at the Arizona Black Rodeo
For the thousands of fans who gathered at the Arizona Black Rodeo

By Warren Trent

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    PHOENIX (KPHO) — It is a thrilling and fast paced sport. To ride, you certainly should be focused. And fearless… well that goes without saying. For the thousands of fans who gathered at the Arizona Black Rodeo, they witnessed something special, Cowgirls in the spotlight.

“I’m barrel racing.” Thais Hathaway has been riding for more than 20 years. “In the respect that you can do anything you want to do, I grew up in the suburbs of San Jose California and when I was 20 years old I decided I wanted to be a Cowgirl and ride a horse and so I did that and here I am today and it’s been just a great blessing and just a good lesson for you for any age and it’s a great thing.”

Thais says her passion to ride began at an early age. “My aunt actually barrel raced and so that’s when I was a kid I would see it.” And Thais isn’t alone. Londynn Jackson credits her mother with introducing her to the sport. “My mom was a barrel racer growing up, she’s been riding horses growing up and I just grew around horses so it was just like, It’s in my blood actually.”

There are Cowgirls all across the country including right here in Phoenix, Arizona. And while they may enjoy doing what they do, they’re also smashing stereotypes in a male dominated sport.

Charlie Teasley says, “It’s kind of intimidating, a little bit, a lot of my mentors are men, are cowboys, so I get a lot of my toughness from them. So even being in a male dominated sport I have a lot of guidance from them, so I feel it doesn’t really intimidate me as much.” Teasley understands there are young girls watching her every move who might be inspired to some day, saddle up. “I actually do horse lessons through Double J Riding and there’s a couple little girls that I’ve taken underneath my wing because I want to eventually see them out here doing the same exact thing.”

For others like Andrea Underwood, riding has a deeper purpose. “I sought out horse riding for therapy and then it ended up sticking something that works just for stress relief and then ended up loving it.”

These Cowboys and Cowgirls who travel a rodeo circuit across the country are a pretty close knit group. Nijhel Motley is supporting his sister. “As a young Black man, women of all types of cultures, especially the Black culture, are being super supportive of me and other men and other cowboys, so it’s only right that we show love to the cowgirls and show them equal support.” Teasley goes on to say, “I’m excited, I’m happy, I love it just because it’s keeping the Western history going.”

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