The National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame is proud to announce Mildred Farris, Sunny Hale, Barbra Schulte, and Stacy Westfall as inductees to the Hall of Fame for 2012. These four women were honored during the 37th Annual Induction Luncheon Ceremony on Thursday, October 25, 2012 at the Will Rogers Memorial Center in Fort Worth, Texas.
The purpose of the Hall of Fame is to preserve the history and highlight the impact of Western women living roughly from the mid-1800s to the present: the artists and writers, champions and competitive performers, entertainers, ranchers (stewards of land and livestock), trailblazers and pioneers. Today, there are over 200 extraordinary women who have been inducted into the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame since 1975.
Mildred Farris was an esteemed leader throughout the sport of rodeo. As a competitor, Farris was Texas Barrel Racing Association’s champion barrel racer from 1955-1957, she earned a qualification twelve times to the National Finals Rodeo, was the runner up to World Champion in 1959, 1960, and 1969, and in 1968 she earned the fastest time at the NFR. Active involvement in the Girls Rodeo Association (predecessor to the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association) meant that for six years Farris served as Director, Vice-President, and President. The year 1955 marked her graduation from Sul Ross University, and the year of her marriage to John Farris. In 1958 she joined the GRA/WPRA, and since 1960 Farris has served as rodeo secretary for many top producers including Tommy Steiner, Harper and Morgan, Neal Gay, Jerry Nelson, and the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo among others. Her dedication and contribution to the sport of rodeo as a secretary is noteworthy; she was named Secretary of the Year eight times by the Professional Rodeo Cowboy’s Association and received the same title in 1998 and 2008 by the WPRA. Additionally, Farris has been inducted into 3 Halls of Fame, in 1994, the Sul Ross Rodeo Hall of Fame, in 2004, the Texas Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame, and in 2006 in the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame.
The highest ranked woman polo player in the United States, Sunny Hale pursued a career in “the sport of kings” which was and still is greatly dominated by men. Hale began competing at age four, entered her first polo tournament at ten, was teaching polo at twelve, and was first hired as a professional player at nineteen. Hale has played all over the world including Jamaica, France, Switzerland, Argentina, Mexico, Canada, Singapore, and England; she was the first woman in 100-year USPA history to win the US Open Polo Championship; and she has been named seven times as the Woman Player of the Year by the Polo Excellence Awards. Honoring the legacy of her mother, Sue Sally Hale, who dressed as a man to become the first woman to play in a USPA sanctioned tournament, Sunny founded in 2005 the Women’s Championship Tournament series that unites women in polo with the universal goal of improving women’s polo across the U.S. and around the world. A greatly admired equestrienne who trains all of her own horses, Sunny exemplified her love of horses by founding in 2006 the American Polo Horse Association whose mission is to collect, record, and preserve pedigrees of polo horses in the U.S.
Barbra Schulte is a respected author, trainer, and clinician who has had a lifetime involvement with horses. Growing up on a ranch, Schulte helped market and show her family’s horses and she competed in several events including reining and cutting. Taking time to focus on her education, in 1977 Schulte earned a Master’s Degree from Western Washington University in speech pathology and audiology. Upon graduation she taught at the University of Arizona, but it wasn’t long before Barbra found herself back with horses as she developed a career as a horse trainer. By applying Dr. Loehr’s techniques from the book Mental Toughness, she refined her methods as a trainer. Schulte has produced a three-part video training series, and has published two successful books Cutting, One Run at a Time and THE GIFT. In 2000 Schulte was presented with the National Female Equestrian of the Year Award given by the American Quarter Horse Association and the Women’s Sports Foundation. Schulte currently lives in Texas with her husband Tom where she trains and continues to show cutting horses. Barbra personifies the strength, talent and determination found in every true cowgirl.
Westfall received her first pony at age six and has claimed to be “obsessed with horses from the beginning,” and continued working with horses throughout her childhood. While in high school Westfall began competing in jumping and barrel racing. In 1997 the horsewoman earned an Equestrian Studies degree at The University of Findlay in Ohio. Westfall didn’t stop competing, traded barrel racing for reining, and continued to win. Unique to the freestyle reining competitions, Westfall was often bridleless and in some cases, even competed bareback. In 2003 she won the National Reining Horse Association Freestyle Reining Competition, riding without a bridle. Her ride at the 2006 All American Quarter Horse Congress Freestyle created a sensation. She won with a high score of 239 and earned national recognition after a video of her ride landed on YouTube and has since been viewed well over a million times. That same year, Westfall was the first female to compete in the Road to the Horse competition; she proved her determination when she won, defeating her male competitors. Equally inspiring to her bridleless freestyle riding is her ability to train horses. She has produced several training DVD’s and is an inspiration to many. In 1997 Stacy and husband Jesse Westfall started Westfall Horsemanship, a training facility in Ohio where they live with their three boys.