During a recent visit to Canadian, Texas, photographer Ilona Szwarc was pleasantly surprised to see how many more girls were competing in rodeo competitions than she remembered.

Szwarc first encountered the rodeo as an exchange student in high school, but on a return visit years later, she was blown away by the young, female competitors. In watching them compete, Szwarc was struck by how the girls expressed their femininity in a stereotypically masculine sport while also adopting and adapting the masculine demeanor of rodeo competitors for themselves.

This sparked the idea for her new series "Rodeo Girls," which captures the spiritual connection the girls have with their horses.

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