DeLong was born in 1897 near Walla Walla, Washington,
Her father, a bootmaker, introduced her to the
world of rodeo very early.
By the time she was
in her teens she had become
a natural horsewoman. She took lessons from Bill Donovan, a trick
rider, and won the trick riding contest in Walla Walla
three years in a row, 1913, 1914 and 1915.
Her first major accomplishments were as a relay
Drumheller, a friend and neighbor who raced horses,
asked, upon her graduation from high school in 1916,
if she could accompany his racing entourage and
compete as a relay rider. A chaperone, required by her parents, traveled with Mabel and
she began her rodeo career competing throughout the
Perry Blakely, a competitor of Mabel’s said, “She
was very aggressive and got the most out of her horse
around the track.”
Mabel married Hugh Strickland, a bronc rider and calf
first they settled on a farm near Mountain Home,
Idaho, but soon found themselves in debt.
They decided to go to a Round Up at nearby Twin
Falls and see if they could win some money to help pay
their debts. Hugh
not only won, but was also arena director which paid,
the way home the saddle Hugh had won was sold to a
young man for $250 and their debts were paid!
They decided farming was not for them, rodeo
was much more profitable, and proceeded down the rodeo
was not only a relay racer but one of the best trick
riders of the day.
Mabel was very talented racer and never
suffered a major injury.
She also rode steers, broncs and husband, Hugh,
taught her to rope steers and calves.
They were quite a team, and both had the talent
to win in a variety of events.
book, BOB CROSBY, WORLD CHAMPION COWBOY, written by his wife,
Thelma Crosby & Eve Ball, she wrote, “The
parade through the streets of Cheyenne was always a
That year ( 1925) it was led by Mabel
Strickland astride her beautiful white horse, carrying
an American flag.
Behind her rode Nellie Tayloe Ross, Governor of
1926 the cover of the Cheyenne Frontier Days program
was a photograph of Mabel Strickland riding a bronc
named Stranger. The
only woman to ever be featured on the cover of the
Strickland enjoyed pitting Mabel against male steer
ropers, and finally they encourage him to do contract
exhibition steer roping.
It was no secret they were ‘tired’ of
having Mabel as competition!
She rode Buster, Hugh’s roping horse, for her
trick riding performances.
She did hippodrome stands, vaults, and even
passed under the belly of the horse.
1922 Mabel had won at many rodeos, - Cheyenne,
Pendleton - to name a couple.
By the time they arrived at Madison Square
Garden in the fall her arrival and activities were
covered by the press. She had won the important McAlpin Trophy and invitations were
William P. Hamilton, chairman of the Argonne
Association, invited the rodeo participants to a
dinner, where she displayed Strickland’s trophy. A New York Herald reporter wrote that Mabel, along with
Bonnie McCarroll and Fox Hastings, all clad
beautifully in evening gowns, had “utterly ruined
all Eastern ideas concerning lady broncho busters.”
the 1930s Mabel and Hugh Strickland went to Hollywood.
She performed in movies, and did stunt work for
leading actors and actresses. She had a small part in Rhythm of the Range with Bing Crosby.
By 1935 women trick and stunt riders organized
into the Association of Film Equestriennes.
Mabel was President, and other rodeo cowgirls
were Bertha Blancett, Vera McGinnis, Bonnie Grey, and
Strickland passed away in 1941.
Mabel eventually married Sam Woodward and moved
to Buckeye, Arizona, where she became active in the
state and national Appaloosa Horse Club.
She was inducted in to the National Cowboy
& Western Heritage Museum Hall of Fame, the
ProRodeo Cowboys Hall of Fame, the National Cowgirl
Hall of Fame, the Pendleton Hall of Fame and the
Cheyenne Frontier Days Hall of Fame.
Unfortunately, only the Pendleton induction
happened during her lifetime, the others were after
her demise. After
a lengthy battle with cancer she passed away January
3, 1976, and her ashes were scattered over the hills
the Mabel Strickland Cowgirl Museum is open to the
public at 124 W. 16th St. in Cheyenne,
facility holds many of her outfits, boots, hats,
photographs and memorabilia, but also displays other
cowgirls trappings, as well.
It’s worth a visit.
For more information 1-307-772-0300.