Relatively new to Australia, ranch bronc riding is becoming a popular rodeo event for these courageous Aussies.

Story Hannah Siemer   Photo Sandy Bauer / Barkly at Heart Photography

In characteristic millennial style, 28-year-old Emily Howkins learnt the skill of ranch bronc riding via the internet. A former jockey, hailing from Emerald, Qld, Emily was chasing the rodeo circuit through Canada, successfully riding steers, when she discovered women dominating the bucking horses in the ranch bronc event. “I was like, ‘I wanna do that!’” she says.  

When Emily returned to Australia in 2019, she found little opportunity to train and compete in the sport, as it was barely heard of here. To scratch the itch, Emily dipped her toe in the male-dominated world of saddle bronc riding. It’s similar to ranch bronc, but with several key differences, including the type of saddle used. Unlike saddle bronc riders, ranch bronc riders are not required to ‘mark out’ (keep their feet and spurs forward on the horse as they come out of the chute), and they can hold a rope or night latch with their free hand, though a one-handed ride will result in a higher score.

Wendy Batchelor, 27, is a second-generation cowgirl. Wendy’s parents met through rodeo, so she reckons it’s in her blood. Having grown up on the rodeo sidelines in and around Grong Grong, NSW, and now competing in the arena herself, Wendy has seen firsthand that many women feel they need to prove themselves quicker than men do. “It’s this expectation that, as a woman, if you’re going to do it, you need to be bloody good at it,” she says. 

The women’s appetite for ranch bronc is insatiable. Their grit and determination far outweigh any concern about copping flak or getting injured. 


This story excerpt is from Issue #145

Outback Magazine: October/November 2022