The Great American Cowgirl


A TRIBUTE

Most who know her will tell you that she takes care of her children with all the love that God intended. She is tender, loving, and has a faith that most wish they could have half of on any given day. She is caring, strong, loyal, honest, and steadfast in a world that lacks a lot of those attributes. She is strength and flexibility and heart. Mostly heart, God bless her!

She can joke and have fun being light hearted, then go out and turn and burn barrels with the wind in her hair and stretch her horse out as if she were betting the ranch on her time. She can dally a rope as good as any one, and may be better than most. She'll hold down a calf to be branded, vaccinate, tag, cut, and sort the bunch if needed to.

She can out work a lot of cowboys, and not speak a word of how she did it afterwards. She's no brag and all "get it done." She can gather all day, then cook dinner for the entire crew before going off to hold the hand of a sick family member or friend.

Yes, she is the American Cowgirl! 

She is hard working, and filled with a "Can Do Spirit" not found very often today. She is America's Sweetheart. She is the American Cowgirl! 

The first known reference to the term "Cowgirl" comes out of 1884, and while the history of women in the West, the women who worked on cattle ranches in particular, is not as well documented as that of men, she has a rich heritage. And in recent years, organizations such as the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame in Fort Worth Texas have made significant efforts to gather and document the contributions of women in the West.

There are few records mentioning girls or women working to drive cattle up the cattle trails of the Old West. But don't let that make you think that women did not do a great deal of ranch work. Fact is, because in many cases during the time -- especially when the men went off to war or on long cattle drives -- actually all of the ranch work including running the ranch and tending to the seed stock fell to the women to do. 

Friends, necessity dictated that wives and daughters had to do what was needed to be done simply because there was no one else to do it. Because of that reason in itself, there is little doubt that women, particularly the wives and daughters of men who owned small ranches - and in honesty could not afford to hire large numbers of outside laborers - did in fact work side by side with men, or do it all when they were away. And by the way, that is the legacy of American women in general.

Whether it was traveling side by side coming West by wagon train, working together on a ranch or farm, or doing the work that needed to be done in the factories during World War II when the majority of men in our country were off in the military - women did it all.

Sure the movies talk about the lone cowboy trying to make his spread a go, but that's not reality. Fact is, especially on the Great Plains, very few single men attempted to operate a farm or ranch alone without a wife.

Those who wanted to start a farm or a ranch truly understood the need for a hard-working wife and numerous children. Besides needing help to handle the many chores, including child-rearing, feeding and clothing the family, managing the housework, and feeding the hired hands, families meant stability. And in the West, after fighting the elements and what have you - family stability was as important as water and air. Family means life, and women provide life to the world.

During the early years of settlement, farm women played an integral role in assuring family survival by working outdoors. Even as far back as the California Gold Rush, there are stories of the wives of miners going to meet other wives socially just as they do today. Those women were tough. They needed to ride horses, control a team on a wagon or buckboard, and be able to perform all sorts of tasks right along side the men.

It's true that after a generation or so, a lot of women increasingly left the field work to the men, subsequently these rugged individuals redefined their roles within the family. Its true that new conveniences such as sewing and washing machines encouraged women to turn to domestic roles.

The scientific housekeeping movement, promoted across the land by the media and government extension agents, as well as county fairs which featured achievements in home cookery and canning, advice columns for women in the farm papers, and home economics courses in the schools all contributed to this trend. But even with the onslaught of modern conveniences, women running ranches and family farms were still taking place. Women still worked beside their husbands.

You see, although folks back East had an image of the Western farm family on the prairies as having lives that emphasized isolation of the lonely farmer, in reality rural folks created a rich social life for themselves. 

They often sponsored activities that combined work, food, and entertainment such as barn raisings, corn huskings, quilting bees, Grange meetings, church activities, and school functions. The women folk organized shared meals and potluck events, as well as extended visits between families.

But there were also gatherings and roundups, brandings and sortings, all still needed to be done. And just as the American Cowboy learned his skills from the Spanish Californio and the Vaquero, so did their wives and daughters. The American Cowgirl was right there learning and lending their skill and knowledge and experience to get things done.

Fact is, life really wasn't a whole lot different than in rural communities in America today. 

It was during the time of Wild West Shows that "Cowgirls" came into their own professionally. Those women were skilled performers, demonstrating riding, expert marksmanship, and trick roping that entertained audiences around the world. Women such as Annie Oakley became household names. But honestly, there were many who helped to tame the West whose stories are truly inspiring.

By 1900, skirts split for riding astride became popular, and it allowed women to compete with the men without scandalizing Victorian Era audiences by wearing men's clothing or, worse yet, bloomers. 

In the movies that followed from the early 20th century on, cowgirls expanded their roles in the popular culture and movie designers developed attractive clothing suitable for riding Western saddles.

Today's working cowgirls generally use clothing, tools and equipment indistinguishable from that of working cowboys. Other than in color and design, usually preferring a flashier look in competition, modern working cowgirls wear jeans, close-fitting shirts, boots, spurs, hats, and when needed, chaps and gloves.

When working on the ranch, just as it was years ago when first settling the West, women working as cowgirls performed the same chores as cowboys and dress to suit the situation. Independent and ruggedly individualistic, American Cowgirls epitomize the resilient spirit of America.

I've heard it said that it ain't the clothes that makes a Cowgirl, but that it's the attitude and heart. And yes, I believe that that is more true than not. The American Cowgirl is an attitude, a way of looking at life. And yes, she takes on the world and makes it her own. Without her, America would be lost.

The American Cowgirl helped shape the West, and in the process changed the World. I hope you enjoy the great pictures taken from around America!

These Are Great American Cowgirls!
Judy Myllymaki
Arlee, Montana
Tammy Ward
Fallon, Montana

Margaret Dorrance
Salinas, California
Lindsay & Sammie Gentsch
Fort Myers, Florida
Mari Laursen
Stevensville, Montana
Audra Peterson Austin
Arthur, Nebraska
Jesyka Renee
Dallas, Texas
Lucy Lawson 
Susanville, California 
Andrea Cline 
Springtown, Texas 
Jessica Loewer 
Cave Springs, Arkansas 
Jessica Bates 
Weatherford, Texas 
Photo by Christy Burleson
Teresa Robertson Sanders 
Alliance, Nebraska 
Sarah Berry 
Chandler, Texas 
My Wife 
Deanna Correa
Glencoe, California 
Emily Cary 
Lakeside, California 
Traci Price Gentsch 
Fort Myers, Florida 
Lynnsey Roberts
Pierce, Colorado
Photograph by Steve Crispin
Bobbi Wendt
Ogallala, Nebraska
Gussie Keetch & Kricket Hudson
Salem, Utah
Dina Smith Claudina Flores
Creede, Colorado
Melisa Ausherman
Canyon, Texas
Kay Bumguardner
Meeker, Colorado
Photograph by Sue Rodda
Mother & Daughter
Jean Lake & Pam Baggett
Conroe, Texas
These gals embody the spirit of American Cowgirls. And yes, I tip my hat to them.

Cindy Campbell
Midwest, Wyoming
Jodi Sedach
Valley View, Texas
Faith Holyan
Coyote Canyon, New Mexico
Alyssa Dixon
Nashville, Tennessee
Sara Baker
Kettering, Ohio
Jeanette Breckenridge Irby 
Gainesville, Texas
Jo Fowler
Bourke, New South Wales, Australia 
Tiffany Schwenke
Gillette, Wyoming
Calye Hicks
Amarillo, Texas
Katie Lee
Susanville, California
Brittany Luther
Susanville, California
Rielly May
Jackson, California
Ally Hurt
Whitewright, Texas
Jonni Smith
Wilder, Idaho
Photo by Pamela Beattie
Jessie Hebdon
Lodge Grass, Montana
Christine Cyr Seals
Berea, Kentucky
Sara Lucas & Shayla Sullivan
Browns Valley, California
Skye Wright
Chandler, Texas
Shelby Henery
Pocatello, Idaho

Bailey Elizabeth
Iron City, Tennessee

Mother & Daughter
Jordan Hand & Lila on Seven
Yes, this is where Cowgirls come from, on a horse with Mom or Dad is where it starts.

Tammy Pate
Ryegate, Montana
Joscelynn Waters
Blackfoot, Idaho
Yes, she is the American Cowgirl!
Kindall Cooper
Walla Walla Fair & Frontier Days Queen 2013
Christina Gomes
Enterprise, Oregon
Brandi Shannon
Ten Mile, Missouri
Cindy Campbell
Midwest, Wyoming
Hayle Gibson
Redcrest, California
Tammy Pate
Ryegate, Montana
Brandie Franco Flores
San Antonio, Texas
Reese Mertes
Cheyenne, Wyoming
Zoe Furr
American Fork, Utah
Audra Peterson Austin
Arthur, Nebraska 
Cress Nelson
Manhattan, Montana
Ashlie York
Nashville, Tennessee

Lorie Shrull Allard
Oak Creek, Colorado
Shelley Murphy
Helena, Montana
Leslie Ann Davenport
Williams, California
Emily Whiteford
Laurens, South Carolina
Kendra Torrey
Walla Walla, Washington
Brittany Luther
Susanville, California
Rhonda Hanson Kursave, 
Katie Westergaard, 
Edy Hill & Terri Kessler
Cody, Nebraska 
Jacqualin Key Waters
Blackfoot, Idaho
Shelby Henery
Pocatello, Idaho
Rose McCorquodale & Dad
Yes, she is the American Cowgirl!
Jordan Gutsch
Santa Rosa, California
Photograph by Kymberlee Nelson
Haley Keller, Jessica Loewer, 
& Ellie Westberg
Gillette, Wyoming
Courtney Cline
Nipomo, California
Photo by Christy Burleson
Cassidy Vick Hice
My Sister-in-law
Kimberly Quirarte-Correa
Susanville, California

Lyndsey Lamell 
Roswell, New Mexico 
Amy Laymon 
Augusta, Kansas
Jolene Murray
Faith Holyan
Coyote Canyon, New Mexico 
Jordan Gutsch 
Casey Lowe 
LaGrande, Oregon
Audra Peterson Austin 
Arthur, Nebraska 
Vail Carter
Fresno, California
Casey Rutter & Tuesday 
Orem, Utah 
Phoenix AnneLyn Gomes 
Enterprise, Oregon 
Lola Monge 
Lyndsey Lamell
Ignacio, Colorado
Jonni Smith
Wilder, Idaho 
Paula Saletnik 
aka Pistol Packin' Paula 
Sami Jo Sweeney 
Brighton, Colorado 
Megan Gray & Dazzle 
Linden, California
Andrea Cline 
Springtown, Texas 
Lynnsey Roberts
Pierce, Colorado
Photograph by Kevan Sheppard
Calye Hicks
Amarillo, Texas
Trinette Requena
Susanville, California
Allie Berryesse & little Emma Harris 
Brooke Bailey
Sulphur Springs, Texas

Jessica Loewer 
Mother & Daughter
Christina Gomes & Phoenix AnneLyn
Enterprise, Oregon
Tammy Hoeck 
Shauna Garrett 
Clovis, California 
Gale Iusti Whiteford 
Laurens, South Carolina 
Lacy Jean & Rocky 
Temple, Texas
Melissa Quicker 

Becky Worth & Cress Nelson 
Manhattan, Montana
Andi Deuel 
Twin Falls, Idaho 
Brooke Bailey 
Shelby Henery 
Tammy Ward 
Fallon, Montana
Photograph by Hannah Hogner 
Amazing Grace Photos 
Katie Lee 
Teresa Robertson Sanders 
Alliance, Nebraska 

Jamie Pearson 
Oroville, California 
Brittany Luther 
Susan E Gay 

Emily Cary
Hope Sickler
Denver, Colorado
Tiffany Schwenke & Smokey 
Zoe Furr 
American Fork, Utah
Donna Vann & Chelsey Bushnell 
Red Bluff, California 
Jatzibe Camarillo 
Ventura, California 
Brianna Brooks 
Lazbuddie, Texas
Haley Keller, Jessica Loewer 
& Olivia Fremlin
Kelly Kaminski 
Bellville, Texas 
Sara Baker 
Jillian Markelle Woodward 
Samantha Dallas 
Vail Carter
Fresno, California
Allie Berryessa 
San Luis Obispo, California 
Rielly May 
Jackson, California 
Kendra Torrey 
We Can Thank God 
That Cowgirls Come In All Sizes! 
Audra Peterson Austin 
Arthur, Nebraska 
Dawn Gray 
Cheyenne Rey & Sis 
Gianna Powell 
Inyokern, California 
Jennifer Martin 
Peculiar, Missouri 
Christina Gomes 
Shawna Deuel Correa 
Twin Falls, Idaho
Neali Jean Novak & Andrea Cline 
Springtown, Texas 

Zoe Furr 
Sara Baker 
Kettering, Ohio 
Jessie Hebdon 
Hardin, Montana
Hayle Gibson
Redcrest, California
Cierra Hubbard
Robyn Rae Johnston
Robyn Rae Johnston
Kelly Gilbert Haeckel
Norco, California
Lindsay Gentsch 
Calye Hicks 
Amarillo, Texas 
Jonni Smith 
Photograph by Pamela Beattie 
Brandie Franco Flores 
San Antonio, Texas 
Judy Myllymaki, Keaton 
& KayTee Schaffer 
Blayne Weaver 
Dos Palos, California 


Brandi Shannon 
Ten Mile, Missouri 
Raylene Beeson 
Ashley Cockrell, Jymme Martin,
Mary Kaaen-Maita & Allie Berryessa

Brooke Bailey 
Kymberlee Nelson 
Laytonville, California 
Tammy Ward 
Fallon, Montana
Photograph by Hannah Hogner 
Amazing Grace Photos 
Missy 
Denise Casey and 3 Amigos 
Cindy Campbell 
Kendra Torrey, Kindall Cooper 
& Beka Adams 
Advisors Cindy Humbert-Granger 
& Patti Litchfield 
Walla Walla Washington 2013 Fair Royalty 

Sara Baker & Rain 
Emily Cary 
Roz Beaton 
Lynnsey Roberts 

Amy Laymon 
Augusta, Kansas
Deb Puckett & Beth Anne Doblado
Sara Christian 

2010 CPRA Finals 
Angleton, Texas 
Macy Fuller 
Leslie Ann Davenport 
Haley Keller, Olivia Fremlin 
& Jessica Loewer
Katie Lee & Trinette Requena 

Cassidy Barnes
Jamie Christensen 
Melissa Quicker 
Christina Gomes 
Savannah Right 
Carmen Sitha Bergstrom 
Vail, Arizona 
Haley Keller 
Katie Lee 
Miss Rodeo Katie Patterson 
& Junior Miss Micayla Gray 
Jessica Bate
Christine Cyr Seals
Sara Baker
Kettering, Ohio
Chenae Shiner 
Kristy Monsche 
Cindy Campbell 
Kylie & Vail Carter
Fresno, California
Melissa Quicker 
Cheyenne Sherwood 
Haily Strahan, Kelly Gilbert Haeckel,
Tracy Bell & McKenzie Cooper

Skye Wright


Emily Cary
Leisha Welborn Griffith
Denton, North Carolina

Lucy Thompson
Trish Head
Loganville, Georgia 
Cheyenne Glade Wilson & Doc
Oglala, South Dakota

Alyssa Dixon
Nashville, Tennessee

Christine Cyr Seals
Berea, Kentucky
Faith Holyan
Reese Mertes
Cheyenne, Wyoming 
Jonni Smith
Wilder, Idaho
Photo by Pamela Beattie
Faith Holyan
Coyote Canyon, New Mexico
Statue Of The American Cowgirl 
located at 
The National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame 

The National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame honors and documents the lives of women who have distinguished themselves while exemplifying the pioneer spirit of the American West. It celebrates women, past and present, whose lives exemplify the courage, resilience, and independence that helped shape the American West. And yes, it fosters an appreciation of the ideals and spirit of self-reliance they inspire.

It is well worth a visit!
Skye Wright


1 comment:

Thank you for your comment.