Ever heard of the Wild Women of the Frontier? If not, you gotta read on!
Formed in 1996 by a group of friends looking for a way to mix their love for horses, history and fun, it was initially a parade troupe. Over the years, the Wild Women of the Frontier grew and evolved into a facinating and entertaining group of women who share their love for horses and history all over the country!
Members must first try out for the group. Not only are they judged on their horsemanship skills, but their horses are judged as well. Not just any horse can be a Wild Woman horse. Crowds, gunfire, flags, sirens, and scampering children are but a few of the obstacles they are exposed to every time they enter the public eye for a performance or parade. Even after initial acceptance of passing the tryout is only the beginning. Horses must go through desensitization classes and Wild Woman “wannabes” are expected to attend meetings, contribute to the group, ride in parades, and attend performances during their “probation” year. Then, they must present their chosen female historical figure in a researched paper, first hand reenactment, and full period style costume. This is voted on for acceptability by the current Wild Women membership. Only if they pass this final inspection will the “wannabe” become a full-fledged, whoopin’ and hollerin’ Wild Woman of the Frontier! It’s an honor I hope to achieve!
Becoming a Wild Woman has been something I have wanted to do for some time, but life and other responsibilities kept me from dedicating myself. I know the group is time-consuming. In fact, my love for horseback riding has been pushed to the back of my list of “to do’s” for some time. I grew up riding, love horses, and live to ride. This was a huge part of myself that had been missing, and I felt it tugging ... hard. So, when I got the invitation to try out this year ... I DID IT!
I have the privilege of having a good friend who took the challenge with me. Kris is a nurse I worked with in the past, and when she heard I was trying out for the Wild Women, her horse-loving past also bubbled to the surface. She has not ridden since she was a kid and did not even own a horse ... but since I have more than enough warm and fuzzy hooved children populating my farm, I enthusiastically encouraged her to come with me! Kris rides Lakota, and I ride Cheyenne. Both are paint horses, and both seemed to me to be well suited to Wild Woman work.
So, the day of the tryouts came. Since neither of us knew quite what was going to be thrown at us (or our horses ... most likely literally), Kris and I mustered up our courage, loaded up the horses and headed to the arena to try out. We tacked assigned participant numbers to ourselves and our horses.
I started the day out with a nice Charlie Brown move by trying to use the side of the horse trailer to mount my horse (I was riding bareback). The early morning chill had left a thin layer of dew on the trailer wheelwells, and as I flamingo-balanced on one leg to drape the other over the back of my very patient horse, I slipped and landed WHOP! flat on my back at Cheyenne’s surprised feet! Ow. I giggled, as I was sure I had a large and grinning audience of “tsk, tsk” onlookers, but after jumping up and brushing myself off (nope, nothing broken), I found the whole embarrassing incident was unwitnessed. Whew. Even Kris hadn’t seen it, engrossed with getting Lakota tacked up as she was. I did tell her about it though. She was sympathetic. Probably because she knows one day it will happen to her, too!
We had our pictures taken, borrowed a step ladder from another tryout participant (how embarrassing) and rode into the arena. It was a day filled with obstacles and games on horseback. Our horses bravely trotted over tarps on the ground, wove through poles bearing a waving flag, stood their ground when a loud pipe filled with stones was shaken around them, kicked a ball playing horsey soccer, and didn’t freak out when guns were fired. They endured even more throughout the day, and Kris and I were so proud of them (and ourselves) as we passed each test with flying colors! The end of the day put us in small groups with a Wild Woman member coming up with an improptu skit to act out on horseback. We also had to choose a personality and present it to the group to see if they could guess who we were.
At the end of the day, we packed our gear back into my little trailer, loaded up the horses, and headed home. Both of us chatted about the day and wondered nervously if we made it into the group ... what if only one of us made it? What if neither of us made it? Our fears were relieved when we got the word from the Wild Women that we had both made it into the Wild Women of the Frontier! So, now we are researching historical female figures, collecting costumeage and training for our Wild Woman futures!
We have already ridden in the Ottawa, Kansas, Veterans Day Parade:
In the Topeka, Kansas, Christmas Parade:
And in the Lawrence, Kansas, Old-Fashioned Christmas Parade! Fun, fun! Can’t wait til we get to go to a performance! Stay posted, and each adventure will be chronicled here!