Texas Tech University

From Rhinestones to Denim: Fashions Worn by Ladies of the Saddle

October 24, 2023 – April 17, 2024

Rhinestones to Denim: Ladies of the Saddle

Texas horseback riding is a centuries old practice that is defined as the art of riding a horse and controlling the animal's movement and speed with precise skills. Women from diverse cultures and backgrounds have shared in this art, participating in all its forms as it has developed and evolved throughout time. Equally matched with their skill, special attire has played a key role for female riders, serving as protection for their bodies and to add flare and attention during competition.

With the vast and significant garments from the Museum's Clothing and Textiles Division, we are excited to announce the upcoming exhibition From Rhinestones to Denim: Fashions Worn by Ladies of the Saddle, which will feature vintage riding pieces in contrast with what is worn by women in competition today.

The exhibition, curated by Dr. Marian Ann Montgomery, will highlight the Museum's female riding collection which begins with a late 19th century side saddle ensemble, then progressing through the divided skirts of women of the early 20th century. Continuing with the rhinestone encrusted blazer and trousers designed by Nathan Turk for Cowgirl Hall of Fame Honoree, Fern Sawyer. These diverse garments showcase the wide variety of riding events and how women's involvement with horseback riding has changed over almost 150 years.

To highlight more recent riders, the exhibition will include on-loan garments from competition sports such as cow, horse, and rodeo competitors, including barrel racers. Dr. Janet Tornelli-Mitchell, who rides Dressage and rodeo queens, has graciously loaned some of her garments for this exhibition. Each of the pieces showcase the historical, long-standing versatility of female riders and their inherit athletic ability, combined with their attention to detail and flare.

The exhibition will feature artworks (on loan) from Donna Howell-Sickles.