STORY HIGHLIGHTS


Cowgirls at Houston rodeo

CNC report from Houston
Added On March 16, 2013

The 81st annual Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is coming to a close, besides the most historically famous Texas cowboys, their female counterparts, the cowgirls also fully manifested the charisma of the Western spirit.

During the three-week Houston Rodeo, the world’s largest one of its kind, hundreds of professional cowboys gathered from around the world to compete their cowboy skills.

While tens of thousands of audiences amazed at the cowboys’ sophisticated skills on horseback and their dazzling performance, another group of contestants, the cowgirls, managed to explain the Western spirit in a combined way, feminine charisma and western chic.

Trula Churchill, 43, born and raised at a ranch in Nebraska, has been a frequent participant of the Houston Rodeo.

She competed in women’s barrel racing for quite a few years at Houston Rodeo and advanced into the semifinals this year.

Starting competing on horseback at the age of five, Churchill told CNC that she didn’t face many choices, since being a cowgirl seemed like a family legacy which had been decided the second she was born.

SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) TRULA CHURCHILL, Barrel Racer
“I pro rodeo in 1996. I do come from a cowboy family. My grandpa was one of the founders of the PRCA (Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association) back in 1930s, so I just followed his steps.”
When asked about how does she look at rodeo, which is usually called as a men’s game, Churchill said, instead of a game, it’s more like a lifestyle to her.

SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) TRULA CHURCHILL, Barrel Racer
“There are a lot of things we have to do that make it a little more masculine, probably we would like to see some days. You know cowboy isn’t boys’ life necessarily; it’s a way of life and who you are. You just love and you have to. It’s a commitment to do what you love.”

Having rodeoed for almost 40 year, cowgirl Churchill said this is what she wanted to do with the people she is with.

Although held in Texas, a place widely-known as the hometown of cowboys, the annual Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is truly an international event by any standard. 

This is the 12th year for Niki Flundra, a professional trick rider, from southern Alberta, Canada, to perform at Houston Rodeo.

SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) NIKI FLUNDRA, Trick Rider
“My father was a cowboy. He was a rodeo cowboy and my husband is a rodeo cowboy as well. My dad rode bareback horses and bulls and my husband is a saddle bronc rider.”

Over a month ago, Flundra, along with her husband and their son, departed from their ranch in Alberta and drove down to Texas for a list of local rodeos and their final destination, Reliant Park, the venue of the annual Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.

SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) NIKI FLUNDRA, Trick Rider
“I love our life. We have a great time traveling around as we raise our son in the Western lifestyle and around horses and we also have a working cattle ranch in southern Alberta. We really enjoy what we do.”

Having participated in Houston Rodeo for 12 years, Flundra said she always felt excited to be part of the world’s largest rodeo and always took her role seriously.

SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) NIKI FLUNDRA, Trick Rider
“I think to be a cowgirl is a really special and unique thing we get to take part in a lifestyle that is full of freedom and courage and determination and it’s really a unique and beautiful way to live.”

Taking their two-year-old son with them on the road, Flundra said he had already become a little cowboy, since he has obviously grown up with cows and horses everyday.