Flashback: World Champion Cowgirl


“It’s been s
uch a big year it’s hard to say which title means the most to me,” she says.

“It was a very busy year,” she adds. “I was in college taking 12 hours from January to the first of May. I went to the big indoor rodeos in January, February, and March, but then didn’t go to any more professional rodeos until I got out of college in May. During those months in between, I concentrated on college rodeos. After college, Mom and I hit the road hard, getting to as many rodeos as possible for the rest of the year.”

BarrelsWhen Jimmie entered Albuquerque, she expected two go rounds in barrel racing. She figured she could drive to Albuquerque after she finished at Elko. As it turned out, they gave three runs at Albuquerque and the first one was Sunday night. She was scheduled to make her last barrel run at Elko’s Spring Creek on Sunday afternoon, and was in a position to win the barrel racing there. The only possible way to make connections was to fly, but there was no way to get her horse to Albuquerque in time. Rarely does a barrel racer ever loan her horse to another girl, but the reigning world champion in that event at the time, Jeana Felts, Woodward, Okla., heard of Jimmie’s problem and offered to let her ride her famous barrel horse, Excuse. No other person had ever ridden Excuse except Jeana’s sister, Barbara Day. There were no commercial lines out of Elko so Jimmie chartered a plane to Albuquerque. She ran barrels at 3 p.m. in Elko and lifted off the ground at the Elko airport at 3:20. She arrived in time to compete at Albuquerque and made a fast run on Excuse, but hit a barrel. “The bad thing about it all is that, without her 5-second penalty for hitting the barrel, Jimmie’s 16.1 would have beat my 16.3,” Jeana laughs. “She beat me on my own horse. I’ve been riding him for years and she had never before been on him.” Photo by ReedThe two of them laugh today about a series of incidents that seemed determined to keep her from making her second run at Colorado Springs in August.

Her mother explains, “Jimmie was up at St. Francis, Kan., in the afternoon and Colorado Springs that same night. She had split first place in the first go-round at Colorado Springs so it was important for her to get back there to protect her lead in the standings. Normally she would have had time to make it between the two towns easily, but we had three blowouts on the truck after we left St. Francis.

“A boy stopped and helped change the first flat and Jimmie changed the second one. When we had the third blowout, there just wasn’t time to have the tire fixed.

“I caught a ride into Limon, Colo., and some people who owned a restaurant there, people named Nordick, offered to help us. First they were going to loan us a small, one-horse trailer but, when they hooked it up, a wheel fell off. The only thing they had left was a 30-foot gooseneck trailer so they hooked it up to their outfit and drove us to Colorado Springs themselves.

“We got there ten minutes before the barrel race and Jimmie won second in the go-round and second in the average. After the rodeo, the Nordicks drove us back to our rig in Limon.”

Jimmie finds it hard to list all of the people who offered a helping hand during her big year. She does say, however, that it restores one’s faith in the people of this country to see how willing they are to help someone in need. 

When the totals were added at the end of the year she had cinched two world championships for her: the all-around and calf roping titles.

A few months later in the GRA office, they counted the votes for their elections for officers. Jimmie was elected to the board of directors. The administrative end of rodeo won’t be new to her, since she was elected twice to serve as girls national director on the NIRA board.

Coming up through the ranks, Jimmie attained success at every level in rodeo: junior, high school, college, and now professional. One would assume that no goals could possibly be left for the single girl with the long brown hair and hazel eyes. Not so, says Jimmie.

“I want to go back to college and finish my practice teaching. That’s all I need to get a degree in elementary education. I want to teach someday and I’ll need those hours of practice teaching out of the way.”

Will she be retiring from rodeo then to teach?

“I see teaching in my way-off future,” she says. “It won’t be any time soon. I can always teach, but I may not always have a good horse for rodeo. While Billy is winning, I’ll take advantage of it and go to as many rodeos as possible.”

Barring injury, it looks as though a girl named Jimmie and her horse named Billy will be a threat for some time to come.

WOW 07 webJimmie Gibbs-Munroe (2007). Photo by Ross Hecox Jimmie Gibbs (Munroe) was featured in the July 2007 issue in Women of the West. There Jennifer Denison writes, “Jimmie Gibbs-Munroe, whose Western culture roots are deep in the heritage of the 101 Ranch and Wild West Show, served 14 years as president of the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association (formerly the Girls Rodeo Association). Under her leadership, women achieved prize money equal to that won by men, rodeo committees and stock contractors began using electronic timers, and corporate and national sponsorships increased. Today, the cowgirl landed on the board of Professional Womens Barrel Racing, a subsidiary of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, and is helping shape the future of her sport.” 



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