I admit it upfront: I have a thing about cowgirls, but maybe I should define what I’m talking about. Cowgirls did and do a lot more than herd cattle (although they did that too on occasion). Sometimes they lived on ranches and worked the livestock along with raising kids and keeping the ranch house in some kind of order (Lyle Lovett has a beautiful song about this called “Bosque County Romance”). They were also outlaws (Belle Starr), rodeo riders (Bonnie McCarroll and Kitty Canutt), sheriffs (Margo Frasier), and just about every other western role you can think of. In other words they were tough western women who didn’t take any crap, although occasionally they had to put up with crap that was pushed on them by others.
But lots of other people find cowgirls fascinating. There are lots of pictures, historical and contemporary, available for viewing. I’m not the only one who has a cowgirl Pinterest board. Ft. Worth has an entire museum devoted to these women, the Cowgirl Hall of Fame. It’s definitely worth a visit if you’re ever in town. You’ll find exhibits there about the women rodeo riders along with cowgirl country singers like Emmylou Harris and cowgirl actresses like Gail Davis (who played Annie Oakley on TV). But they also have pictures and stories of ranch women and pioneer homesteaders, the original cowgirls whose names have been lost to history. My favorite coffee mug has their motto: “My heroes have always been
And here’s the thing—you don’t have to be a westerner to be a cowgirl. You don’t even have to own a horse. All you need is the cowgirl attitude: the belief that if something needs doing, you’ll do it because you can. That you’re strong enough and brave enough to get something done, whatever it may be.
Cowgirls, God bless ’em.