The wilder and more spirited the horse, the more Fannie Sperry admired it. She saw wild broncs for what they really were; a symbol of spirit, will, and pure strength.
In 1906, a 19 year old Fannie found herself staring relentlessly at a blue roan bronc by the name of Blue Dog. She was on the Herrin Ranch, surrounded by the droves of cowboys that had tried to ride Blue Dog and failed. Fannie wasn’t stirred by this, she still wanted her shot, and she wanted that horse. She was even prepared to trade the gentle mare she rode in on for the opportunity to take him home with her. It was an offer that would be accepted and Fannie now found herself in a predicament, she now had to get home on and “un-ride able” horse.
Fannie never hesitated when she took the new horse into the corral and began to saddle him, ultimately climbing up into the saddle seat. The air grew thick with tension and anticipation as the cowboys watching anticipated the inevitable explosion from the animal. They were shocked to see that in reality, though Blue Dog was initially nervous and tense, Fannie was able to easily gain control of him, coax him into a walk and eventually ride him home to the family ranch.
A few years later, at the age of 25, Fannie was invited to the 1st annual Calgary Stampede in Alberta, Canada where she entered the bronc riding contest. Her first day ended rather uneventfully as the rain soaked, muddy floor of the arena proved to be impossible for the animals to gain any footing, must less perform. On the second day, Fannie drew a bronc named Nett who was notoriously nasty. As the gate flung open, Nett performed true to form and the crowd watched in awe as the 122 girl held on and rode the horse out until he finally gave up and stopped dead in his tracks. As great of a ride as she had, Fannie knew that she had to do better, she was amongst pros. Her chance came on the final day when she drew the bronc, Red Wing. Red Wing was one of the biggest, wildest, meanest horses that had been brought to this competition and already had a reputation of being a killer. Just four days before the horse had thrown a rider in the holding pens and stomped him to death. It would take the ride of Fannie’s life to win this competition.
Fannie was lucky in the draw in the fact that she was sure to get a good ride and add more points to her total and she was confident that she could ride the bronc and make her stand. The time finally came for her ride and as Red Wing thrashed about behind the gate, Fannie lowered herself down and gave the sign to the cowboys to open the gate and make her claim to fame. Red Wing burst out of the chute and bucked with all his might, trying every trick in the book to throw his rider but Fannie didn’t falter and at the sound of the 10 second whistle, she sprang from the saddle and landed triumphantly on the ground. She knew that the horse had done his best to help her out and it was confirmed when the judges called her to the podium and proclaimed her as champion.
Eventually Fannie met Bill Steele at a rodeo and the two married. Together they started their own “Wild West Show” and built the “Sperry Ranch”. It was with this fierce passion for horses that Fannie spent the rest of her life. Her compassion for the four legged companions was unrivaled and led Fannie Sperry to become known as one of the best cowgirls ever to climb up in the saddle.
“Fannie Sperry made the Ride of Her Life”, www.historynet.com