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Susan Allen George Fletchers Ride
by Susan Allen, click here for bio

Program: Open Range
Date: March 29, 2011

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The year is 1911, the contest; championship saddle bronc rider, the place,  Pendleton Roundup…  That year, rodeo’s classic event changed the sport   . In the words of W. K. Stratton author of Chasing Rodeo and by the way on of my favorite books on the history of the sport “the color line was firm,  never mind how well Fletcher rode” and apparently  no one rode  broncs  like George Fletcher. As a young black child  George was rescued  from the brothels by a pastor and raised  on the Umatilla Indian where he honed   horsemanship skills that would make him one of our first “horse whisperers”. He became  renowned  for his method of starting  a horse without breaking it’s spirit.  A talented rough stock  rider George was banned from most  rodeos because of his skin color. But on that day in 1911 he got to ride  at the Pendleton Roundup, and received a standing ovation for his spectacular ride. Obviously  Fletcher would be crowned saddle bronc champion. John Spain was awarded the winning saddle that day midst loud booing from the crowd. Angered by the prejudice judging  Pendleton  Sheriff Till Tayor sold enough pieces of  George’s  cowboy hat to purchase the black bronc rider  his own duplicate championship saddle. While George Fletchers ride changed history that day, sadly other rodeos refused to allow him to ride, George channeled his talent  into becoming a legendary horse trainer and respected member of the Umatilla Indian tribe.

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