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The Lady Rode Bucking Horses: The Story of Fannie Sperry Steele, Woman of the West [Paperback]

Dee Marvine
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Jan. 1 2005
This is the story of legendary rancher and women bronc rider Fannie Sperry Steele.
Fannie was born on a Montana homestead in 1887. At the age of two, Fannie declared "I gonna catch me a white-face horsie." Even as a child, Fannie knew what she wanted.

Fannie was a remarkable woman who became a world champion. She raced thoroughbreds with a women's relay team known as the Montana Girls, twice won the title of Lady Bucking Horse Champion of the World, rode with Buffalo Bill Cody and other top western performers, became the first woman in the state of Montana to be granted an outfitters license, and was named a charter member of the Cowboy Hall of Fame.

The Lady Rode Bucking Horses depicts an era of the American West when capturing renegade horses from the hills above the homestead served as training ground for extraordinary horsemanship. It documents the life of the outstanding girl who outrode them all at stampedes and roundups and the woman she became, her spirit undaunted throughout a life marked with courage and adventure, triumph and heartache.

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Product Description

From the Back Cover

Long before rodeo, when bucking-horse contests were held at stampedes and roundups, Fannie Sperry Steele stepped into the bronco-riding arena-and won. The Lady Rode Bucking Horses tells the remarkable story of the girl who became Lady Bucking Horse Champion of the World-twice-and went on to become a western performer and legendary rancher.
Born on a Montana homestead in 1887, Fannie knew what she wanted from the age of two, when she declared, "I gonna catch me a white-face horsie." During her long and colorful life, Fannie competed on bucking broncos; raced Thoroughbreds with the Montana Girls relay team; organized a Wild West Show with cowboy husband Bill Steele; performed with the likes of Buffalo Bill Cody; became the first Montana woman to be licensed as a wilderness outfitter; and was named a charter member of the Cowboy Hall of Fame and, later, the Cowgirl Hall of Fame.
The Lady Rode Bucking Horses is a creative retelling of Fannie's life based on family archives, newspaper articles, and personal interviews. This dramatic narrative presents a fascinating look at the pre-rodeo era and the extraordinary woman who became a world champion.

About the Author

Dee Marvine spent fifteen years in Chicago as a corporate and magazine writer/editor before she moved to Montana to devote her time to writing. Her first book Last Chance (hardcover from Doubleday; paperback, Leisure Books) was nominated by Western Writers of America for their 1994 Best First Novel award. Her second novel, Sweet Grass (Five Star), takes place in 1886 Sweet Grass County and Butte, Montana. She has also written short stories, articles, and poetry. She also works as a freelance editor and conducts editing workshops for writers. A member of Western Writers of America and a founding member of Women Writing the West, she lives in Big Timber, Montana, with her artist husband, Don Marvine.

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars An Important Contribution to the History of Rodeo April 7 2011
A must read for anyone interested in the history of rodeo, and particularly in the history of women in rodeo. Fannie Sperry was the Lady Bucking Horse Champion of the World, twice, and was inducted into both the Cowboy Hall of Fame and the Cowgirl Hall of Fame. She was a feminist, without knowing it, before the word was invented. She lived from 1887 - 1983. The book is also a history of what life in Montana was like during that time. This is a very readable, well documented story that deserved to be told. Thank goodness Dee Marvine took the time to do it well.
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Amazon.com: 4.9 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended, especially for teenage girls March 16 2007
By Elise - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is an amazing book, the true story of Fannie Sperry Steele, a legendary rodeo rider who was raised on a homestead in north-central Montana during the late 1880s. The book chronicles her career in numerous Wild West shows, her remarkable personal life, and what it was like to live in the West at that time.

Fannie's family had very little money and earned extra cash by selling wild horses, which they captured and trained. By the time she was fourteen, Fannie was riding bucking horses to entertain spectators at local gatherings. Soon she was hired to perform in various traveling Wild West shows, where she participated in bronc riding, relay races, and sharpshooting exhibitions. In 1912 she earned the title "Lady Bucking Horse Champion of the World."

She was such a good rider that men were afraid to compete against her. Apparently male chauvinism was one of the main obstacles faced by dozens of women who competed in these shows, which were the precursors of today's modern rodeos.

For many years Fannie continued to ride broncs, despite pressure to get married and start raising a family. Eventually she did marry a cowboy who operated a Wild West show (unfortunately, the marriage was somewhat tempestuous), and finally they started a dude ranch in western Montana. She lived there until shortly before her death in 1983.

The book is written in such a smooth, interesting way, it's almost like reading a novel. The writer interviewed Fannie repeatedly and had access to her collection of letters, newspaper clippings, etc., which enabled the author to add a multitude of personal details that bring the story alive. The book includes about a dozen photographs: the primitive homestead where Fannie spent her childhood; Fannie on a bronc at the Calgary Stampede, her long dress flapping and her long braids flying out behind; and Fannie in her seventies, confidently riding one of her prized Paint horses.

Surely almost anyone (especially teenage girls) would be fascinated by this tale of a young woman who knew what she wanted to do with her life, and made it happen, in spite of all the people who kept telling her that it was not possible and not wise. This is one of the most inspiring stories I've read in a long time.
5.0 out of 5 stars There could not have been a better title for the book "The Lady Rode Bucking Horses" June 2 2014
By Mildred Joy Weaver - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is an great book for anyone who appreciates what it takes to ride rough horses. Fannie Sperry Steele was one amazing lady to be able to do what she loved doing all her life. I really felt the author did a good job in telling the story and made you feel like you knew Fannie the way her friends knew and respected her. I would have loved seeing her preform when she was in her heyday.
5.0 out of 5 stars Grit Jan. 28 2014
By Spring406 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
An amazing story of grace, grit and courage in an age where being a woman was already very difficult. The author presents a gripping story that makes putting the book down very difficult.
4.0 out of 5 stars Fannie Sperry Steele's Story is Outstanding June 14 2013
By L. Conroy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This amazing woman who was also a bronc rider is a fascinating read. The grit required to survive in that era in that area of the country is inspirational.
5.0 out of 5 stars True cowgirl book May 25 2013
By Susan Cross - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It is hard to believe that women of the old west were as strong as they were. This book states just how difficult it was for a woman to be in an male dominated world and sport. She acted like a lady, but rode just as well if not better than a man.
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