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‘Cowgirls of Color' bucks rodeo traditions

The ‘Cowgirls of Color’ is one of the country’s first African American women’s rodeo squad. The women come from D.C. and Maryland and train in Calvert County, Md.

Two years into her love affair and Kish Bowles is still riding high.

“I absolutely love it,” she said. “When I talk about it I get emotional - it’s a tingly feeling. It evolved my life and helped my life and helped me to grow as a woman and get through the grieving process,” she explained. “I used to come here depressed and no one knew but as I rode it got better and better and better.”

To truly understand why, we have to go back to the black and white westerns she would watch with her mom as a child.

“I found out after she passed that she used to ride. She had a horse and I never knew."

Her mom would also always attend the Bill Picket Rodeos – the country’s only all black rodeo.

“She would go every year and ask me to go and one year I did go and we were sitting in the audience and there were only two or three women in the entire rodeo. I remember sitting there thinking I would love to do that one day. I wonder how they learned to do that,” Bowles recalled, “and my mother passed two or three years after that and two years later, I was in that rodeo with these girls.”

They are the Cowgirls of Color, one of the country’s first African American women’s rodeo squad based right here in Prince George’s and Calvert Counties, some members even hail from Southeast, D.C.

Pinky Britt, KB, and her sister Pennie.

“I’ve never seen horses in the city unless it was a police officer,” said Selina “Pennie” Brown, “so to be able to ride horses and be a part of this cowboy community and go to rodeos it’s like, ‘how did this happen?’’

Three of the four-member relay team just started riding competitively two years ago, when they met veteran horseman Dr. Ray Charles Lockamy who offered to train them.

Sandra Dorsey, who goes by Pinky, returned to her roots: she competed as a teenager.

“I found myself again,” she said.

“It’s my teammates who push me it’s my teammates that give me confidence,” said Brittaney Logan.

The cowgirls are not only competitors, they’re mentor, inspirations, and teachers for first timers of all ages. They hope to spread the love of horses to young black girls and share the lessons they learned.

“The goal is to be able to reach out community and our sisters,” said Brown, “unite and help these horses and let the horses help us.”

KB Bowles said riding gives her a sense of “empowerment, courage, and freedom” she would like to pass on to the younger generation who may come up after her.

When they’re not riding the cowgirls have day jobs in fashion, pet grooming, baking and mentoring.

Selina Brown has a non-profit afterschool program in Southeast, D.C. and is now focusing on horse riding.

The cowgirls typically compete locally, but have been invited to attend rodeos around the country. They are raising money and looking for sponsorship.

To learn more, click here.


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