Join C&I in congratulating the newest inductees to the Cowgirl Hall of Fame. Learn about the trailblazing women keeping the Western way of life alive.
The time has come for the prestigious collection of Western women to welcome five new legends into their ranks. The National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame recently announced the newest Hall of Fame inductees.
Based in Fort Worth, Texas, the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame honors more than 250 influential women across the West, both past and present. The class of 2023 comprises everything from frontier beacons of resilience in the face of prejudice to contemporary entrepreneurs expanding the cowgirl spirit beyond the West. Like the honorees before them, the five new inductees embody the qualities needed to shape the West: courage, independence, and compassion.
Without further ado, C&I would like to formally congratulate the 2023 class of the Cowgirl Hall of Fame.
Mary Fields was born enslaved in Tennessee in 1832 and will be inducted posthumously into the class of 2023. While most of pop culture refers to her as “Stagecoach Mary,“ her life and legacy reveal the nickname a misnomer, offering a story of resilience and perseverance.
Post-emancipation, Fields met and befriended Mother Mary Amadeus, the mother superior of an Ursuline convent in Toledo, Ohio, where Fields had been sent to live. When Amadeus was dispatched to Montana Territory to set up a school for Indigenous girls and fell gravely ill, Fields went to Montana to care for her. Once there, she jumped into action, taking it upon herself to save the freezing, starving students by hunting, farming, and hauling supplies and dry goods.
In 1895, after working as a protector for Indigenous children, Fields received a contract to drive horse and wagon for the Star Route, a service started by the U.S. Postal Service using contracted workers to protect and deliver mail to sparsely populated areas of the West. Fields became the first known African American woman to work as a Star Route mail carrier in the U.S., working the dangerous 34-mile route for two four-year contracts (1895 – 1898 and 1899 – 1903). While that in and of itself sounds like a full life, that’s just the half of it when it comes to the resilience of Mary Fields.
Meggan Hill-McQueeney’s passion for horses and serving the community has brought her to new heights, earning her an induction into the class of 2023. Through competing, ranching, running various horse operations and coaching, Hill-McQueeney has instilled a level of compassion within the equestrian world that is rare and precious.
Hill-McQueeney decided to spread her love of horses by starting two successful therapeutic riding programs. She then went on to serve as a PATH International Mast Level Instructor, a Special Olympics coach, and a USEF Para Olympic coach. Stepping into the leadership role, in 2010, as president of BraveHearts Therapeutic Riding and Educational Center, she transformed the organization into the largest horsemanship program for U.S. military veterans in the country.
She continued to provide for the community by initiating Trail to Zero, overseeing and riding horseback 20 miles with veterans and mounted police units, in major cities across the world, to bring an end to veteran suicide through healing horsemanship. Through her compassion and persistence, Hill-McQueeney has touched the lives of countless individuals and introduced the larger community to the healing power of horses.
Annie Reynolds has been showing them all how it’s done for years, and now she’s finally getting the recognition she deserves as a new inductee of the class of 2023. The Idaho native has come to be known as one of the most successful competitors, breeders, and owners in National Reined Cow Horse Association history, making more than $1.75 million in lifetime NRCHA earnings since her start in 1974.
Reynolds burst onto the competition scene with an unmatched confidence and skill. She has won the Snaffle Bit Futurity No Pro Championship a record eight times, and in 2012, she became an exclusively Open competitor. Not only is she an NRCHA Million Dollar Rider and Hall of Fame Inductee, but Reynolds is also the first female Million Dollar rider and the only competitor to achieve Million Dollar status as a non-pro.
Reynolds has built her success upon decades of breeding and training savvy, along with a constant willingness to learn.
Capturing the Western culture through the delicate gift of art is one of the most beneficial building blocks of Western preservation. Born and raised in Monterrey, Mexico, Gladys Roldan-de-Moras is known for her paintings that spotlight Spanish and Latino culture, bringing light to the beauty and diversity of the West and earning her a spot in the class of 2023.
Known for her unique skill and contagious passion, Roldan-de-Moras’ talent has landed her work in many private and public permanent collections, such as the Briscoe Western Art Museum, the University of Texas in San Antonio, the Desert Caballeros Western Museum, and Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico. Her artwork has been cited in several publications, such as Southwest Art Magazine, Western Art Collector, and Western Art and Architecture.
The unique designs and cultural significance of Roldan-de-Moras’ work have won her many awards, including the prestigious Frederic Remington Painting Award at the 2023 Prix de West Invitational Art Sale & Exhibition at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.
Coming from a four-generation rodeo family, Kendra Santos has earned not just the respect of the industry with her dedication to rodeo journalism and Western culture but also a spot in the Cowgirl Hall of Fame class of 2023.
Santos solidified her impact on the Western industry by serving long-term stints as the first-ever Professional Bull Riders editor in chief and Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association director of communications. The rodeo world showed their appreciation for Santos when she was given the PRCA and Women’s Professional Rodeo Association Media Award.
Santos takes great pride in elevating journalism in and around rodeo, with particular emphasis on representing the authentic voices of the cowboys and cowgirls. Using her voice to build upon and preserve the rich history of rodeo is Santos’ greatest passion. Beyond her work as a journalist, however, she has taken up the mantle of mother with pride. Santos is most proud of being mom to her two cowboy sons, Lane and Taylor.
For more information on these inspirational women, stay tuned for our October 2023 issue focusing on trailblazing women of the West.
To support the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame, check out their website and social media.
Images courtesy of the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame.