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The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture

Vivian White in 1992
(2012.201.B1366.0594, Oklahoma Publishing Company Photography Collection, OHS).


Of her career, Vivian White once noted that she was "just ridin' buckin' horses." Born near Enid, Oklahoma, on November 21, 1912, she worked on the family farm and grew up on horseback. She broke into rodeo at age fourteen at Cleo Springs, Oklahoma, where she rode a steer. She summed up her first success by saying, "I always figured I could do anything the boys could do," and she spent her first eight years of rodeo competing as a steer rider. Then she switched to saddle bronc riding (in those days, women competed in most of the same events that pitted men against each other).

In 1937 White won the ladies' saddle bronc trophy at the Fort Worth Fat Stock Show Rodeo and a week later captured the World's Champion title at Madison Square Garden in New York. In 1941, the last year that women were allowed to compete in the "men's circuit," at the Garden, she won the world title again. In the post–World War II years women rodeo performers created an "all-girl circuit," and Vivian White joined the new Girls' Rodeo Association and competed in their rodeos. In 1949 she won that organization's saddle bronc world title as well.

After retiring from the circuit, she trained trick riders and stunt riders for rodeo and for movie studios. With her husband, Cub Dillard, she operated a ranch and raised quarter horses and Black Angus cattle. Vivian White died November 3, 1999, in Warner, Oklahoma.

Dianna Everett


Joyce Gibson Roach, The Cowgirls (Houston: Cordovan, 1978).

"Vivian White," Vertical File, Rodeo Historical Society Hall of Fame, National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.


The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
Dianna Everett, “White, Vivian Gladys,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry?entry=WH006.

Published January 15, 2010

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