Faye Blackstone, rodeo trick rider, dies at 96

Faye Blackstone, a rodeo trick rider who was elected to the Cowgirl Hall of Fame and was best known for her saddle-dangling signature move, the reverse fender drag, and who helped launch the career of country singer Reba McEntire, died Aug. 30 at a hospital in Bradenton, Fla.

She was 96 and had complications from cancer, said her great-niece Deanna Blackstone.

Mrs. Blackstone was 3 when she began riding horses on her family’s Nebraska ranch. She taught herself how to do tricks while riding her horse to school.

She and her late husband, Vic, a bow-legged bronc rider from Texas, married in 1937 on horseback in the center of a rodeo arena in Bladen, Neb. They performed on the rodeo circuit during the 1940s and ’50s. During that time, she also rode in a traveling show with Gene Autry and entertained crowds in New York’s Madison Square Garden and as far as Havana with her gymnastic feats.

Mrs. Blackstone could do headstands while her quarter horse galloped at full stride. She could drop down from the saddle, let her boots kick the arena dust and spin to the horse’s other side.

Diana Vela, the associate executive director of the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame in Fort Worth, said that Mrs. Blackstone is credited with inventing three maneuvers: