Saddle Bronc Rider
Born Mary Ellen Treadwell in 1897 on her grandparent’s 2,000-acre cattle ranch outside Boise, Idaho, Bonnie McCarroll took to horses early and was riding “buckers” at age 10. She entered her first rodeo at Vancouver, Washington, in 1915, and married Frank McCarroll, a champion bulldogger, that same year. She soon made an impression on the circuit as a bronc rider.
Bonnie McCarroll competed and won against the best of her time, including greats like Vera McGinnis, Fox Hastings, Mable Strickland, Dorothy Morell and Tad Lucas. She was the first to win the bronc riding championship at Madison Square Garden and the only cowgirl ever to win at the Garden and at Cheyenne in the same year. She rode at the Pendleton Roundup from 1915 until her untimely death in 1929, capturing the saddle bronc title in 1921 and 1922. McCarroll also was among the star performers at Tex Austin’s first International Rodeo held at London’s Wembley Stadium in 1924. There she performed for royalty and won the Lord Selfridge Trophy as the champion lady saddle bronc rider.
Bonnie not only competed as a saddle bronc rider and trick rider; she also rode rank steers and jumped horses over cars as a contract entertainer . Tragically, her brilliant rodeo career was cut short when she was injured by a bronc named Black Cat at the 1929 Pendleton Roundup. Her death eight days later was a severe blow to women’s rodeo, as rough stock events soon were eliminated from distaff competition.