Margaret Owens Montgomery
Margaret Owens Montgomery competed in the rodeo world for 21 years. Born in San Angelo, Texas on March 25, 1922, Margaret worked alongside her father (Tom Owens) on the NH Ranch, roping, branding and breaking colts. She admired the ladies of her day who exhibited broncs and roped in the rodeos. She longed for a chance to compete herself.
Margaret first competed at the West of the Pecos Rodeo in 1945 at the age of 23. At 33 she was killed in a car accident near Sierra Blanca, Texas. However, Margaret’s accomplishments shaped the standards and rules for ladies in rodeo competition.
A contest sponsored by the West of the Pecos Rodeo in 1945, invited neighboring towns to send a girl to represent them. Montgomery was one of eighteen girls that showed up for the two day contest. The rules were set, including that the race be run in a cloverleaf pattern and that the girls wear “flashy” western attire. Margaret, representing Sheffield, won that contest. Margaret was a favorite at Pecos, winning the Girl’s Calf Roping four straight years along with wins in the Line Reining Contest and Barrel Racing.
On February 28, 1948, in San Angelo, 38 women decided to form their own organization. Thus, using legal information that Margaret and her sister Sug gathered, they formed the GRA, the Girls Rodeo Association. They established standards for competition and rules for earning points towards world championships.
At age 26, Margaret was elected the GRA’s first President with her sister, Sug serving as the first Publicity Director. Blanche Altizer Smith was the first secretary/treasurer for the GRA. In 1948, Margaret won the first GRA World Championship in barrel racing on a horse, Pee Wee she shared with a teenager.
Aboard her horse, Joe Brown, Margaret beat the men at the calf roping events in Pecos.