The Women’s Professional Rodeo Association was formed in 1948 when thirty-eight cowgirls came together in San Angelo, Texas to create an organization dedicated to the promotion and advancement of women in the sport of rodeo. The earliest pioneers of the Girl’s Rodeo Association (GRA) were ropers, bronc riders, and barrel racers. They were fed up with a system which did not grant them competitive opportunities in the arena and, when it did, operated under unfair conditions.The GRA began with 74 original members with 60 approved contests and total payout of $29,000. In 1981 the GRA changed its name to the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association. It is the oldest women’s sports association in the country and the only one governed entirely by women.
Today, the fast paced event of barrel racing dominates the activities of most WPRA members. WPRA barrel racers compete for millions of dollars each year, culminating in twelve circuit finals rodeos held throughout the country, the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo held in Oklahoma City, OK in April, and the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo held in Las Vegas each December.
The WPRA still honors its roots by hosting the WPRA World Finals Rodeo in Waco, TX in October. At the World Finals, the WPRA crowns world champions in roping- tie down roping, team roping, and breakaway roping.