Audrey Griffin (left) learned to Roman ride from Sis Smith; the two are pictured here riding as teenagers. | Credit: Courtesy Griffin Family
Audrey Griffin

The news that Audrey Griffin had died on July 12 made its way around horse circles this weekend, casting a long shadow over the Santa Ynez Valley. Griffin was known for her passion for horses and was inducted into the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame in 2008. She had a courageous knack for “Roman riding,” or while standing on a pair of horses, even in recent years. Her friends said she died doing what she loved, on her horse, looking after cattle.

A rider since an early age, Griffin grew up in Santa Monica, according to, and drove hay wagons and gave riding lessons at Sunset Ranch in Culver City. There she found an intuitive ability to ride Roman through an instructor, Sis Smith, a skill born of Griffin’s fearless poise. She performed with the Flying Valkyries in 1956-57 and had a memorable “wreck” on a team of six horses when the two she was standing on refused a jump, she told the Santa Ynez Valley Star in 2017, adding that she last was Roman riding the year before at age 79.

Griffin moved to the Santa Ynez Valley in 1991 with her husband, the late Gary Griffin, and bought her first horse when she was 50. She was a competitive roper in every Fiesta within memory, said her friend Bill Reynolds, and was to take part in the team penning event this year.

“It’s astounding how many people she touched in her life,” Reynolds said.


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