Profile of Alice Sisty

Alice Sisty Roman Jumping a Car with two horsesNo words needed to describe Alice Sisty’s “Roman Jump” riding two horses at once over a car, this feat really only requires a gasp.

I wanted to do a brief profile on rodeo extraordinaire, Alice Sisty, after seeing on old black and white photo of her Roman Jump. As you can see from the photo on the right, some pictures really do not require words. This classic black and white photo of Alice Sisty performing her “Roman Jump” riding two horses at once over a car really only requires a gasp.  But before I got too deep into my article writing, I found an old article about her that pretty much tells it all.

The article tells of her origins, passion for the lifestyle, and about a bet that inspired her to ride a horse she loved from Reno, NV to New York.


Champion Girl Won Fame on Reno To New York Ride

By Ruth Ayers, The Pittsburgh Press, April 21, 1935

Her grandfather was a circuit riding person, going up and down maintain trails of Pennsylvania on horseback to care for the scattered churches in his parish.

So Alice Sisty took naturally to a saddle — although the circuit she rides is for a rodeo instead of church.

Five-foot-two and just a little this side of 105 pounds, Alice Sisty won high point in such events as bronc, trick, steer and relay riding to make her all-around champion of cowgirls in Madison Square Rodeo in New York in 1832.

Now in Pittsburgh for the Dusquesne Garden Show, Miss Sisty faces a week of hard and fast riding on the tapering back of “Chopo,” her show horse.  Anything might happen in a week — bad throws, broken bones, even death.

But is the circuit-riding parson’s granddaughter trembling in her size-four boots?  Not at all.  She won’t wear her new yellow outfit for the first performance because there’s a tradition that yellow brings bad luck for an opening show.  Nor will she fling her ten-gallon hat on her bunk — because that’s a bad sing, too.

Yet with due regard to these superstitions, she’ll ride and jump without getting a jitter.

“I guess you become pretty much of a fatalist in this work,” she said.  “If anything happens, you always blame the horse or the rope or the hurdle.”

Alice Sisty doesn’t have one of those expected rawls in her voice.  Cowgirl though she is from her bandanna handkerchief to fringed chaps, she isn’t a product of western spaces.

She is a native of Dunnelle, NJ.  Her early life was spent there and in Florida.  She was graduated from St. Petersburg High School and next year, her trunks packed with sport clothes and college pennants, she left for State Teachers College in Gainsville.  She was all set for a career as a teacher — studied for a year toward her degree.

Her parents had taken Alice Sisty to dude ranches in the West during vacations.  The summer after her first year at normal school she became attached to Spot-Tail, a spotted steed with tapering legs.

She didn’t want to leave him in Nevada, so a plan evolved whereby she could keep the horse if she rode him from Reno to New York on a bet.  Meanwhile, folks in Cheyenne heard about the trop and asked her to carry an invitation to Mayor Walker for the Frontier Day celebration.

The ride brought Alice Sisty into popularity and soon after she decided to become a rodeo rider and forget her teacher’s training.  She’s been rodeoing in the seven years since.

Once in Atlanta, GA, where she was doing a jump with a pair of horses, she slipped and was injured.  But she made a quick recovery.

She doesn’t smoke — veers away from liquor as much as her granddad die when he was a gospel preacher.

A few years ago she was married to Milt Hinkle, head of the rodeo.

“Settle down?” she asks.  “I should say not.  I’m happily married but I’m afraid I wouldn’t be if I had to give up my saddle for a kitchen range and a washing machine.”

Read Original Printed Article (PDF):  Champion Girl Won Fame on Reno To New York Ride.

“In 1932 Alice Sisty was one of several riders, including Pauline Lorenz, Rose Davis, Alice Adams, and Ivadell Jacobs, who were employed by Clyde Miller. Sisty married Milt Hinkle, nicknamed “The South American Kid,” on horseback in the arena at New Haven, Connecticut. During the 1930s Sisty did trick riding on her horse, Chappo, and competed in the cowgirls’ bronc riding.” Source: National Cowboy Museum

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