Watch: Houston Filmmaker’s New Short Film Celebrating Black Women in Cowboy Culture


March 19, 2024

“Beyoncé got her drip from the folks who embraced the cowgirl culture before her.”

Black cowboys and cowhands have almost been erased from history, despite their contributions to the expansion of this country and the development of the rodeo. For Black women rodeo riders, there’s even less acknowledgment. Houston native and film director Isaac Yowman hopes to pay homage to the “Black women who defied convention and reshaped the landscape of rodeo culture” in his new short film, Rides & Hides: Honoring Black Excellence.

The film opens with a fictionalized version of  Myrtis Dightman Sr., known as the “Jackie Robinson of Rodeo,” standing on a front porch discussing breaking barriers as a Black cowboy when he’s interrupted by a woman who asks, “What about us women who want to make history?”


Fast-forward to the present day. Dightman Sr.’s real-life granddaughter and award-winning rodeo rider, Adia Dightman, shares the history of the Black men and women who continue her grandfather’s legacy to this day, leading trail rides, participating in Texas rodeo culture and instilling a love and knowledge of the history of Black cowboys for future generations. 

“Texas has deep culture in this cowboy scene,” Adia Dightman says in the film. “When people say ‘Oh, I never knew Black cowboys exist,’ you have to realize that outside of the state of Texas, you wouldn’t know that Black cowboys are a real thing and the culture is very large and important to us.”

Myrtis Dightman Sr. was the first Black cowboy to qualify for the Professional Rodeo Association National Finals. He would go on to be inducted into the Texas Rodeo Hall of Fame and the National Cowboy Hall of Fame. In the 1950s, Dightman Sr., along with Dr. Alfred N. Pointdexter and James Francis, started the Prairie View (or PV) Trail Ride to allow Black cowboys. The ride has continued for over 70 years. Myrtis Dightman Jr., known as the “Trail Boss,” now leads the PV Trail Riders Association, as Adia Dightman and her family continue to preach the gospel of rodeo culture.


The story of the Dightman family serves as the starting point of Yowman’s short film, a collaborative effort with Adidas and Jennifer Ford of Premium Goods. Yowman and his team traveled to the Dightmans’ 150-plus-acre property in Crockett, Texas, where everyone in the multigenerational family—from the tiniest baby to Myrtis Dightman Sr. himself—is entrenched in the horseriding heritage. 

“As a Texan, you grow up in this,” Yowman told ESSENCE Magazine. “You better believe that Beyoncé got her drip from the folks who embraced the cowgirl culture before her, like the women from the Prairie View Trail Rides. Whether you’re extremely engulfed in the culture or not, you already are – the rodeo is a big thing. I think Black women showing up in country, rodeo culture is so important for people to see.”

“There are a lot of women actively participating in rodeo culture. But if you’re not introduced to it, you would never know,” Adia narrates in the film, which highlights several Black women riders and cowgirls. Decades after her grandfather broke barriers, she’s hoping future generations will be inspired to saddle up and take life by the reins to carry on the legacy of Black excellence.


“Most of the people that are in this world are born into it. The next generation is moving the pedestal. Now that we have children, we are here to help build them up so we can help build the legacy for our grandfather,” Adia says.

Cover photo: Watch: Houston Filmmaker’s New Short Film Celebrating Black Women in Cowboy Culture / Photo credit: YouTube

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