At the age of 18, Anna Lee Aldred became the first woman in the United States to receive a professional jockey’s license. Accepted into the previously all-male profession when officials couldn’t find any rules prohibiting women from racing, she also had to prove her ability to handle a horse on the racetrack. From 1939 to 1945 – until she grew too big at five feet, five inches and 118 pounds — she was a tough competitor who raced against both male jockeys and the women who followed her example and became professional jockeys. The daughter of a horse trainer and racer and sister of two famed rodeo riders, she won her first pony race at the age of six on the amateur circuit in Montrose. After leaving professional racing, she became a daring trick rider in prestigious rodeos throughout the west. Until the age of 80 when she broke a hip, she continued to ride, often working as a “ponyboy” assisting jockeys at the Montrose fairgrounds and riding at the opening of the annual fair. Aldred was inducted into the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame in 1975 because she exemplifies the pioneering spirit of the Western way of life. Aldred died on June 12, 2006.
Books containing references to Anna Aldred:
Her Story: A Timeline of the Women Who Changed America
History of Colorado’s Women for Young People