At the age of 14, Lynn “Jonnie” Jonckowski took a job as a wrangler on a dude ranch. She was mesmerized by all the rodeo tales of Montana cowboys Bill and Bud Linderman, and, of course, the Greenoughs, Turk and his sisters Marge and Alice.

In 1976, Jonnie spotted a poster advertising an All-Women’s Rodeo in Red Lodge. She borrowed tack and equipment from local cowboys, and they helped her aboard a big bay bronc. She made the eight second whistle and was promptly dumped on her head in the muddy arena.

That same summer, several girlfriends suggested she try riding bulls. The Hayloft Saloon in Billings was offering bull riding for all comers for several weekends. Once again, she borrowed tack and equipment, relied on some quick advice from local cowboys, and climbed aboard. A bull called Man Mountain promptly unseated her in about four seconds. But the hook was set, and thus began Jonnie’s bull riding career that spanned an amazing 25 years.

Jonnie reached the pinnacle of her sport in 1986, when she won her first world title for bull riding in the PWRA. She went on to win another world title in 1988 and was reserve champion five other times.

Jonnie was her sport’s biggest advocate and cheerleader. She campaigned tirelessly to bring women’s bronc and bull riding to the biggest venues and arenas. In 1988, Cheyenne Frontier Days was one of those venues. She spent three years convincing the rodeo committee to bring back lady’s bronc and bull riding. It had been 50 years since a lady had ridden rough stock in Cheyenne, and now the committee agreed it was time. That year and again in 1989, Jonnie and three of her rough stock friends put on quite a show in Cheyenne, attracting media attention from all over the country and around the world. As Jonnie continued on her mission, her next goal was the Pendleton Roundup. It had been 68 years since the ladies were allowed to compete in rough stock events. In 1991, Jonnie and her cowgirl friends again stole the show in Oregon.

That same year Jonnie reached the crowning achievement as a cowgirl and rough stock performer when she was nominated and inducted into the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame in Fort Worth, taking her place next to other Montana women like Marge and Alice Greenough.

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