Anna Lee Aldred

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Anna Lee Aldred
Personal information
Birth nameAnna Lee Mills
NationalityUnited States
Born(1921-04-19)April 19, 1921
Montrose, Colorado, US
DiedJune 12, 2006(2006-06-12) (aged 85)
Montrose, Colorado
OccupationJockey, trick rider
Years active1939–1950
Weight100 lb (45 kg) (1939–1945)
Spouse(s)Wayne Aldred
Sport
CountryUnited States
SportHorse racing
Turned pro1939
Retired1950

Anna Lee Aldred (April 19, 1921 – June 12, 2006) was an American jockey and trick rider in rodeos. She was the first woman in the United States to receive a jockey's license. She pursued her professional horse racing career from 1939 to 1945, winning many races at state and county fairs. She then pursued a second career as a trick rider from 1945 to 1950. She was inducted into the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame in 1983 and the Colorado Women's Hall of Fame in 2004.

Early life[edit]

Anna Lee Mills was born in Montrose, Colorado, on April 19, 1921.[1] Her father, Tom P. Mills, was a horse trainer and racer, and raised horses together with her mother, Dottie (nee Marlow) Mills.[1][2] She had two brothers who became rodeo champions, and two sisters who also performed in the rodeo.[1][2][3]

Anna Lee began riding at a young age.[4] She won her first pony race at age 6 in an amateur competition in Montrose, and was participating in flat and relay races by age 12.[2][4] She raced at amateur tracks in Colorado and Wyoming.[5]

At age 18 she received her professional license from the Agua Caliente Racetrack in Baja California, Mexico, becoming the first U.S. woman to receive a jockey's license.[3][5][6] Aldred said in a 2003 interview that the racetrack officials had tried to deny her application, but could not find a written rule that only men could race horses.[7]

Career[edit]

God forbid I should go to any heaven where there are no horses.

–Anna Lee Aldred[1]

She lost her first professional race by a nose, but went on to win "scores" of other races at state and county fairs.[3] During her racing career, she weighed 100 pounds (45 kg).[3] But by 1945, having grown too tall at 5' 5" and weighing in at 118 pounds (54 kg), she retired from horse racing.[2][3]

She opened a riding school in California, and then embarked on a five-year career as a trick rider in rodeos.[5] She taught herself trick-riding skills at night in empty arenas.[8] Among her tricks were "standing atop the saddle of a horse bolting down the arena"[3] and "hanging by her foot from the side of a running horse".[5]

She quit her professional career upon marrying in 1950,[7] but continued riding until she was 80.[2] She served as a "pony boy", leading the racehorses out to the track of the Montrose Fairgrounds before races, and also appeared in rodeo ceremonies.[5]

After breaking her hip at age 80,[2] she entered a nursing home in Montrose. There she slept under a horse blanket.[3]

Awards and honors[edit]

Aldred was inducted into the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame in 1983[4] and the Colorado Women's Hall of Fame in 2004.[2] She was posthumously inducted into the Colorado Plateau Horseman's Hall of Fame in 2018.[9]

Personal life[edit]

In 1950, she married Wayne Aldred, a cattleman, in Raton, New Mexico.[1] The couple adopted a son and a daughter; their daughter was killed in a motorcycle accident while in her early teens.[8] She and her husband divorced after 35 years of marriage.[8]

Aldred died in a Montrose nursing home on June 12, 2006 at the age of 85.[6][8]

Her 1939 racing license, in the form of a small wooden badge, and her blue and white racing silks, are exhibited at the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame in Fort Worth, Texas.[3][5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e "Anna Lee Aldred". Montrose Press. June 16, 2006. Retrieved January 17, 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Anna Lee Aldred". Colorado Women's Hall of Fame. 2018. Retrieved January 17, 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Martin, Claire (July 4, 2006). "Anna Lee Aldred, 85, Jockey Pioneer". The Denver Post. Retrieved January 17, 2019.
  4. ^ a b c Hall of Fame: Anna Lee Aldred, National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame, archived from the original on October 5, 2006
  5. ^ a b c d e f Associated Press (July 5, 2006). "Anna Lee Aldred, 85, Hall of Fame Cowgirl, Dies". The New York Times. Retrieved January 17, 2019.
  6. ^ a b Simon 2007, p. 37.
  7. ^ a b Rothman, Lily (April 19, 2016). "See Photos of the First American Woman to Be a Licensed Jockey". Time. Retrieved January 17, 2019.
  8. ^ a b c d "West Slope Obituaries". The Fence Post. August 7, 2006. Retrieved January 17, 2019.
  9. ^ Silbernagel, Bob (August 9, 2018). "Annual Fundraiser and Induction set for September 28". Colorado Plateau Horseman's Hall of Fame. Retrieved January 17, 2019.

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