A History of the Real American Cowgirl

The Wild Bunch celebrates the American cowgirl who burst onto the scene of a new century as one of the first truly modern women. A part of one of the most enduring sources of American popular culture—the American West—the cowgirl was a beguiling combination of genuine skill, self-determination, and courage. Taking the country by storm, the cowgirl boldly combined feminine looks with masculine skills in a totally new and exciting way, breaking social taboos at every turn. The Wild Bunch will trace the rise and fall of this classic American icon, from her early days as trend-setting performer and rodeo star to her post-WWII image of pretty cowboy sidekick, through her reincarnation today as both world-class athlete and rancher.

The cowgirl is a quintessential American: the product of a quest for individual identity melded with opportunism. Most of the early cowgirls were second-generation ranch daughters who learned riding and roping out of necessity. The coming of the Wild West Shows and the growing world of rodeos in the late 1800s gave some of these women a chance to leave the isolated life of western ranching to perform, or compete—sometimes against men.

Women who chose the life of the cowgirl broke traditions, and in the process, created new ones. They embodied the limitless excitement and self-determination that the West had come to symbolize for many. Among the first women to cut their hair and wear pants (to the shock and dismay of many), the cowgirl ignored fashion and invented new possibilities. These savvy, adventurous women used their new mythical status as “cowgirls” to slip the constraints of nineteenth-century Victorianism and move headlong into the modern era.

The Wild Bunch will be produced and directed by Jerret Engle.