Tag Archives: WRRA

Empowerment of Women

I wrote this article almost a month ago, but I wanted to share it with all of you today.

Empowerment of Women

By the time this article comes out it will be October. This month has a special place in my heart because it symbolizes empowerment for women. That may seem odd to some since October is officially Breast Cancer Awareness month, but the reason behind my sentiment goes back to when I worked in retail in the big cities. October was the time for girlfriends to get together to celebrate life and their health by getting makeovers, having mammograms, and taking part in charity walks, etc. The awareness of one of the biggest killers of women somehow brought us all closer in a positive way.

What does empowerment of women mean? According to various sources, empowerment refers to increasing the spiritual, political, social, or economic strength of individuals or communities. Throw the “women” part in there and I bet you know what it is focused on. Women have come a long way over the last 100 years, but the path we have carved for ourselves is still being built. Each of us takes part in our progress every day. That may not seem realistic, but I believe it’s true. Everything we do in our lives is witnessed by those around us. It’s important to never forget that especially as women.

Living in the agriculture world can sometimes take the empowerment of women part away. I don’t mean that in a negative sense. It’s common knowledge that living on a farm or ranch is hard work for everyone. There is no “fairer” sex when it comes time to getting things done. It’s hard to get away for a spa day with the girls (if it ever happens at all). Life takes over for us ranch gals when we get married and have children. We are the caretakers of our families and they rely on us to be there every hour of the day. It’s easy to lose sight of our own aspirations and dreams if we don’t pay attention. This is where women’s ranch rodeos came into play for me. I had been looking for something to get involved in for some time. I was looking for something that “empowered women” in a cowgirl sort of way and boy did I find it!

This past summer WRRA (women’s ranch rodeo association) members have been going down the road to various sanctioned rodeos competing in our 5 events: doctoring, branding, sorting, trailer loading, and tie down/mugging. We have all been trying our hardest to cinch up a spot in the world finals. We will be vying for the coveted titles of Year End Champions, Finals Average Champions, and Go Round Champions in Loveland, Colorado at The Ranch Events Complex on October 17th and 18th. One of our three performances is even themed for Punchy in Pink (breast cancer awareness). With women’s ranch rodeos being so close to my heart, now October means that much more to me!

The women competing come from a collection of states: Texas, Kansas, South Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska, Florida, and Montana. We have had sanctioned rodeos in Kansas, Texas, Nebraska, and Wyoming. We have experienced a lot of growth up here in the northern region this past year and we look forward to even more in 2015. If you want to see some fun, action-packed events come on down to the world finals. It’s guaranteed to be unlike anything you have seen before. Plus, the association’s main purpose is to support empowerment of women in agriculture while we represent our way of life. I don’t know about you, but it doesn’t get any better than that in my opinion! www.womensranchrodeo.org.

Like I said, I wrote this for my column in The Wrangler Horse & Rodeo News almost a month ago. The WRRA World Finals is now over with. How did it go? GREAT! It was a lot of work, but it ran quite smoothly. We experienced a few things that we learned from, which will allow us to make it even better for next year. Here are a few pictures from the World Finals (thanks to Tanna White of Western Lifestyles Photography for the great action shots!):

World Finals Branding Singletree Ranch

World Finals Doctoring Cowgirl Swank

World Finals Doctoring Y Six Livestock

World Finals Sorting Antelope Springs Ranch

World Finals Sorting

World Finals Tie Down Ranchn Rebels

World Finals Tie Down

World Finals Trailer Loading 4 Random Hands

World Finals Trailer Loading Ranchn Rebels

When it was all said and done, the Push Hard Cattle Company were the winners.

Champions Push Hard Cattle Company

My team, Turkey Track Livestock, didn’t have the greatest weekend in terms of winning, but we had a great time, worked together as a team, and came out of it stronger than before (also we were more sore than before too….see the pictures below)!

World Finals Mugging Turkey Track Livestock 2

World Finals Mugging Turkey Track Livestock 3

World Finals Mugging Turkey Track Livestock

A full week later, my hip is still majorly sore (I’ve been to the chiropractor twice). Bridgit (my teammate under the steer) had some horrific scrapes and bruises when it was all said and done. It’s crazy, but we LOVE doing this! 🙂

I think that is the most important thing in life….having fun…..and loving what you do! The women of the WRRA certainly love what we do….or we wouldn’t be doing it! It’s an amazing thing to be a part of an association that builds women up. We perpetuate the role of women in agriculture and ranching, while showcasing our lifestyle. I can’t think of anything better. The WRRA will soon be holding its elections. I have submitted my “Letter of Intent” for the position of President. I would love to have the opportunity to be a leader in the WRRA. 2015 will be an amazing year for our association which will include growth, awareness, and new partnerships. I will write about what we stand for until my hand falls off….if that’s what it takes to get the word out to the far ends of the earth. I guess you could say that I am quite passionate about the WRRA. What we stand for is an amazing thing! I believe the empowerment of women is vitally important. I’m so glad that I’m getting a chance to make a difference and to help make positive strides in our industry!

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It’s NEVER Too Late!!

The last few weeks have been about changes for me…..BIG ones! I got 10″ cut off my hair and donated it to Locks of Love. It felt great to give to such a great cause! I even got bold and had my stylist add in some caramel highlights. I absolutely love it!

My new hairdo

Then last week I announced that I had sold the crystal designs portion of my business, Cowgirl Swank, to my friend and former employee, Kayla Lien. Some folks were worried about me…..like I was going off the deep end or something? Not to worry! All is well here….I’m just focusing on other things (the ranch, homeschooling my son, etc.). I’ve been wrapped up in Cowgirl Swank’s activities for the past 7 years. I am enjoying my new found freedom. I knew the transition would be an easy one because Kayla has done crystal designs for the past 3 years so the only things that changes essentially is the business name and the fact that I’m not involved anymore. The same great quality and style of crystals designs on headwear will still be there! I wish Kayla and Rough & Rowdy Designs (her new business) the best of luck!

So, what else is changing? I wish I could say that I dropped 20 pounds like I was supposed to for our upcoming family pictures, but….yeah, that didn’t happen. The change that I’m talking about is really focusing on making things happen. You know how folks sit around and talk about their dreams and goals? You know how it sounds so achievable when you are talking? Well, why don’t we put those plans into action? Put our money where our mouth is so to speak? I’ve been guilty of this in the past, but as time goes by and the years add up I have had some time to think about this. I look in the mirror and I realize that I’m not a kid anymore (no, I don’t have one foot in the grave either, but you get what I’m talking about). Life goes by fast……and if you don’t have purpose before you know it you will be out of time. SO…….I’ve been thinking about all the things I had on my bucket list when I was 30 (11 years ago). I ran across an old copy of this list when I was cleaning the other day (see there are positives to cleaning). Right at the top of the list was “compete in Breakaway Roping again”. Ahhhh……there it was. The elusive goal that I hadn’t achieved yet. It may seem like a simple thing to some of you….just go get on your horse, back in the box, nod your head, and rope the calf. Well, it’s not that simply. Let me back up a bit…..

On the 4th of July, 2005, I was doing just what I described above. I was on one of the gentlest horses on the place roping at home. I backed in the box, nodded my head, and took off after the calf. He was a runner and I was late. I kicked old BJ up there and low and behold if he didn’t suck back and go to bucking…..what the heck?! I didn’t even know this old fart could do that! I’d like to think that he came uncorked like Tipperary, but I’m sure he looked more like those horses on the Merry-Go-Round…..nonetheless he unloaded me as I was mid-kick and mid-swing when he did this. So, yeah….there I was up in the air…..I came down hard on the saddle horn and hyper-extended my left wrist (my roping arm). I then proceeded to hit the ground like a bag of potatoes. It wasn’t pretty…..he knocked the wind out of me pretty good. I was laying there looking up at the sky with the most intense pain I’d felt in a long time in my wrist. Shane and my dad ran up to me to see if I was dead I’m sure…..nope, but I felt like I might die any minute. I got up after a bit and eventually hobbled up to the house. I took a bath….or tried to after I unloaded the 5 gallon bucket of dirt out of my shirt and pants. Eventually the pain got the better of me and we headed to the emergency room. Long story short….I didn’t break it…..but it would have probably been better if I had. I tore a bunch of ligaments in my wrist and hand. There really wasn’t much they could do for me since some of those ligaments are like fishing line (too tiny to repair). I was in a brace and a sling for a long time. I played the waiting game. I favored my left arm for a long time (even after the brace and sling were gone). I actually developed something that I had never had much of before….FEAR. Mostly it was fear of getting hurt again, but it was fear no matter how small. My dream of competing in breakaway roping sort of drifted to the back of my mind and to the bottom of my list as life took over and time slipped on by.

Fast forward to 2012 when I first learned about the WRRA (women’s ranch rodeo association). All fear left me in that instant as I vowed to get back in the arena to compete. It took some doing, but the summer of 2013 I did just that at the Cowgirl Swank Classic. I had the biggest smile on my face that entire weekend…..in reality I don’t think that smile ever really left. There is nothing that compares to rodeo…..no matter what event it is. I absolutely love competing in women’s ranch rodeos. I found a permanent home late this summer with Turkey Track Livestock. Our team consists of Tiffany Hampson, Jenny Walker, Bridgit Downs, and me. I feel like I’ve known these girls my entire life….and that it was meant to be!

Over the past 2 years I have been gaining confidence with my wrist in the 5 events at the women’s ranch rodeos. There are weird things that happen with it and I do tend to protect it. Sometimes stirring something on the stove, brushing my hair, or carrying a bucket of water or a bale of hay will set it out of joint. It tweaks it and it hurts like crazy. I just have to work with it until it goes back in (it can take minutes…..or days). It’s strange…..and unsettling, but for the most part that happens less and less. I think the best thing for my wrist is to continue using it as much as I can. So, a while back I was driving home in one of my daydream states when I started thinking about breakaway roping again. I should also tell you that breakaway roping has been in my blood since I was 12 years old. It was my very favorite event in high school and I was pretty darned tough at it. Tough enough that I won state in high school my senior year. Here are a couple of pics of me in high school competing in my favorite event:

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Here are my 3 favorite buckles (the ones I won at state in high school);

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*Shane and Stone have both won buckles this year so far……I am on a major mission to win a buckle before the year is over (more on this later)!

Some of our friends were at the youth rodeo in Oelrichs and they were talking about the upcoming SDRA rodeo. For many years I thought about entering it as a local, but never got the gumption to do much about it. Well, one week out I decided that I was going to enter it come hell or high water. That’s just how I am for the most part. I figure….go big or go home so here I am going big again! Shane entered the team roping with Kelly Dyer. I entered the breakaway roping and the mixed team roping with Shane. Kelly’s wife, Tami, is also in the breakaway roping and the mixed team roping with her husband. She is also involved in the WRRA and is tough competition (and a great gal). What fun this will be!

I won’t say that I’m going to go out there and be a fast 2……man, I’m just goaling myself to have a nice clean run. I’m not unrealistic about what I can do…..after all…I’ve had one practice session in 9 years and I haven’t backed into the box for 23! I like to think big, but not so big that I set myself up for failure. I’d like to think that next summer I can go to more of these and do some more breakaway roping. I guess we will see what happens. I’ll definitely make sure to report in to let you all know how I did….win or lose. One of the most important things in life is to remember that It’s NEVER Too Late to set goals and go after things…..you only get one life so make it a good one!! Wish me luck! 🙂

Horses Need Dentists Too!!

I grew up around horses. I don’t come close to knowing everything there is to know about them, but I have always felt adequately informed….until about two weeks ago. For some time I’ve been thinking about getting an equine dentist out here to check out all of our boys. I’m embarrassed to say that it’s been two years since we’ve seen an equine dentist and even then it was only a couple of our horses. There were a few “signs” that made me think we needed one (the way Doc tilts his head when he eats grain and experiences bit pressure, age on some of our horses, lack of dental care, etc.). Time just seems to pass so quickly and we are always busy out here on the ranch. In other words, I didn’t get it done as soon as I’d hoped to. Well, I finally found a guy who came highly recommended from several friends. He and his wife came out and spent the day at our place. Boy, did I get an education!

This equine dentist (who prefers to remain nameless, but if you want to know who he is just email me or give me a call and I’ll be glad to refer you) went above and beyond to ensure that we were informed and involved in the entire process from start to finish. This in itself was something new to me. Besides being an overall genuine guy, I found out that our equine dentist went through extensive schooling in Texas for several years and that he has worked on over 5,000 horses so far. He takes his trade very seriously and he is very professional. I felt confident that I had chosen the right man to trust our horses with and the fact that his wife works with him throughout the entire process is an added bonus. We were encouraged to stick around during the entire procedure, which for 11 horses was about 11 hours straight through. We got to feel inside each of our horse’s mouths before and after. I can’t even tell you how much each mouth was transformed! The fact that we were included in the entire journey of correcting tooth development errors was an epiphany to me and it made all the difference in my understanding of the importance of equine dentistry.

First up was my best horse, Doc. If you know me at all you know how much Doc means to me….enough said.

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I’ve been having some issues with him in the sorting pen and watching him eat made me worry for him. Well, after I felt in his mouth I knew why. His teeth were horrible….and his inner cheeks were all rubbed raw! I felt like the worst horse owner in history. I even got teary-eyed over it. We don’t baby our horses per se…..we let them be horses, but how I didn’t catch this earlier really caused me some distress. I decided right then and there that I was going to sit up and pay attention to the smaller details of our horses from then on. I will definitely never let our horses be in that position again.

The equine dentist was telling me how there are certain signs a horse can give you on the outside of his body about his dental health. One of those signs was big on Doc. His temporalis muscle (located in his forehead) was completely out of whack. It was longer and puffier on one side.

Doc Temporalis Muscle

Once we got inside his mouth it was evident what was going on. One side of his mouth was overcompensating for the other because his teeth were being ground off unevenly (causing the insides of his cheeks to be rubbed raw). When I first felt in his mouth it almost felt like I was feeling a tiger’s teeth….sharp and jagged.

Doc Dental Exam

Doc Dental Exam 2

Doc Straighten Top Teeth

Doc Straighten Lower Teeth

After the process was over, it felt like a smooth stone where those jagged points had been. It didn’t take long for Doc to be on the road to a healthier mouth with even teeth thanks to our equine dentist. Doc needed a little time to let his inner cheeks heal up, but within a few days I couldn’t even tell he had a problem in those areas!

We worked our way through 11 head of horses that day (ranging from 5 years old on up to 25). Dollar was the youngest patient of the day….he’s a big boy at only 5 years old!

Dollar Dental Exam

Each one was interesting with completely different areas needing help. I learned that horse’s teeth continue to grow until they are around 17-19 years old. I also learned that it is really important for younger horses (2-4 years old) to see an equine dentist and that it can make all the difference in their tooth development and future health at that stage in their lives.

The biggest shock we got was on Shane’s best guy and my back up horse, Shotgun. Here he is:

Shotgun Dental Exam 2

He is only 8 years old so I really didn’t expect any problems. Was I ever wrong! His lower #11’s (way back bottom teeth…or molars as we might call them) were the biggest (longest) the equine dentist had ever seen….in over 5,000 horses! See those long buggers way back there?!

Shotgun Dental Exam

He was absolutely shocked and amazed at what he found back there! We all felt in Shotgun’s mouth and couldn’t believe it at all. Once the dentist explained to us what Shotgun had been going through we could see the signs (hard to keep weight on him, lackluster hair in several small places, etc.). He had a very low grade infection because of these teeth and you would have never known it to look at him or in his mannerisms. Shane felt absolutely horrible about it as did I. The dentist said not to worry and that he would be right as rain in just a few days. He fixed those teeth and you know what, Shotgun looked like a new horse the very next day. In fact, I think he even kicked over his head a few times when we weren’t looking! This was yet another lesson to me on why equine dentistry is so important.

At the end of that long day, I wrote a fairly large check to the equine dentist…and I did it with a smile and a sense of accomplishment. I learned more about our horses in that day than I ever hoped to. We were treated like friends, students, and confidants all day long. The kids (my son and my nephew) even got to see what horse teeth look like (the equine dentist had a few from a previous removal). They were fascinated and each got to keep a tooth or two (that was highlight of their day)! Here is one of their treasures….err, I mean horses teeth. 🙂

Horse Tooth

Throughout the day, we were informed of why it’s important to keep up on your horse’s dental health (and it wasn’t a sales pitch). Perhaps if this fellow would have come in here and preached about spending up to $200 per horse every 6 months without taking time to inform us and including us in the process I may have felt like a lot of folks do. I’ve heard comments from various people. Things like: “older horses are the only ones who need to be floated” or “unless there is a definite problem, I don’t use those dentists” or “holy cow, that’s a lot of money to spend on your horses” or “I only take them in once a year if that”. I can tell you this; if you think $200 is a lot to spend on your horse then you must not think very highly of him/her. That may seem blunt, but here’s why I say that. Good horses are hard to find. So when you have some good horses a couple hundred dollars isn’t even a thought…is it?! I kind of compare that to this way of thinking: “I don’t use my horse much so I don’t shoe him….I just let the ground break off his hooves…he seems fine….when I need him I’ll just trim him up and lope off”. I guess that might work for some folks, but it just doesn’t work for me. I am happy with my decision to better my horses through their dental health. If you haven’t had your horses to a dentist lately, I highly suggest you do so. Look into equine dentists. Ask around to find a good one. We all prefer certain things about certain people. To me, it’s most important that folks be educated on what they do, passionate about it, considerate, and that they communicate with me. I know that I found the right equine dentist for us because he fits all of those categories. Your requirements might be different than mine. Nonetheless, get your horses on a good dental program. You will be so glad you did….and so will they!

Horse Happy Teeth

Oh and by the way, Doc and I just went to a weekend of women’s ranch rodeos in Hyannis, NE. He worked better than he has all year. We successfully sorted and roped every critter we came up against and he did so willingly without shaking his head or putting his nose up in the air to escape the pressure of the bit. How’s that for results?

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Plus, Turkey Track Livestock (my team) qualified for the WRRA world finals!

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I’m sold on equine dentistry, that’s for sure!

Apple Cake with Vanilla Sauce & A Magazine Cover

It’s almost the middle of July already….holy cow!! It’s just crazy how fast time goes by. I swear June flew by and I barely remember it at all…..no kidding!

My family and I had a busy 4th of July and that was rolled into my birthday on the 7th. I’ve always loved the 4th of July holiday because I felt like I got extra celebrating in for my birthday. The day after my birthday is also great because it’s the day my mom was born. If she could have held out a couple more hours we would have shared a day. I always tell her what a great birthday present I must have been….she just rolls her eyes at me. 🙂

I had a great few days of birthday celebration starting on the 2nd. We went to a kids rodeo in Crawford (it’s such a treat to see my son and the other youngsters learning the competition ropes in the arena). The 3rd and 4th of July we helped out at the Old West Trail Rodeo in Crawford. I helped distribute flags to the queens for the sponsor runs. If you have no idea what I am talking about you may want to pay attention. I actually kind of thought “how hard can it be…..all I have to do is hand flags to the queens”. Yeah, right…..you have to hand the right flag to the right queen at the right time…..throughout the entire rodeo. When they do the sponsor run (all flags out) it is like a war zone. I can’t remember the exact count, but there are something like 25 flags or so…..it’s just crazy! It went well through because I got to work with two great gals so that made it easier. Shane ran the roping chute during the rodeo. That’s not an easy job either…..you must pay very close attention to the roper nodding his head. He also helped all through the slack on the night of the 3rd after the rodeo and helped feed the stock. He got to our trailer and went to bed at 3 am! During the day of the 4th we were in the parade promoting the Cowgirl Swank Classic – Women’s Ranch Rodeo. It is coming up on the 19th and 20th so I’ve also been really busy planning it. After the parade we went to Fort Robinson to tour the grounds and stables. We also checked out the art exhibit there. What a great place that is! We had a fun few days, but we were worn out by the night of the 4th (we got home at 2 am).

Also, on the 3rd I was surprised and thrilled to be featured in Real American Cowboys Magazine. Not only was I the feature store, but I was on the cover!!! My hopes of being a cover model have no been fulfilled (j/k). 🙂 Here it all is:

Picture Quality RACM Cover

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Katie Barlett, who is originally from Australia, but now resides in Texas wrote the article. She did a great job! As thrilling as it was to be on the cover I doubt that Cosmo will be calling anytime soon. 🙂

I mentioned earlier that I’ve been busy planning our upcoming women’s ranch rodeo. If you’ve never put on a rodeo before, it’s unbelievable the amount of work that goes into it. I certainly couldn’t do it alone. I’m very thankful for good friends to help me put on a great weekend. If you want to check it out, here is our website:  www.cowgirlswankclassic.com.

Even though I have been busy with all sorts of things, I decided yesterday to make a cake I had seen the day before on Facebook:  Apple Cake with Vanilla Sauce. How yummy does that sound?! Without further ado, here it is:

Apple Cake with Vanilla Sauce

For Apple cake

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 large apples, cored and grated
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (optional- I leave them out)

For Vanilla Sauce (Makes 3/4 cup.)
•1 cup water
•1/2 cup sugar
•1 tablespoon cornstarch
•2 tablespoons butter
•2 teaspoons vanilla extract
•pinch salt

Apple Cake Directions

Cream together sugar and butter. Add eggs one at time.

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Add grated apples.

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Sift together flour, soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add in half of flour mixture stir in until incorporated, add second half and still until just mixed. (I stir in the flour by hand to avoid over-mixing.)

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Pour into a greased 9 x 13 baking dish.

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Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean. (less if you bake convection)

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Vanilla Sauce Directions

Bring water to a boil in a small saucepan. Combine sugar and cornstarch, blend well. Add sugar and cornstarch mixture to boiling water; reduce heat to medium, stirring constantly, and cook until thickened.

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Remove from heat and add the butter, vanilla, and salt, stirring until butter is melted.

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Spoon over dessert Enjoy!

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How was it? Amazing!!! I let the cake cool quite a bit then I made the sauce to put over the top…..YUM!!! Hope you give it a whirl…it’s going in my recipe box as a keeper (great way to use up apples when needed)! ~Cheyenne

 

Women’s Ranch Rodeo….Long Live Our Cowgirl Ways!!

May has been a crazy, busy month around here for me and my family. The month is starting to wind down now and today I am giddy with excitement! Tomorrow we head to Gillette, Wyoming for the first WRRA (Women’s Ranch Rodeo Association) rodeo of the season for us up here in the north country. We haven’t had a rodeo since last September so I’m really looking forward to it. My friend, Heidi Huggins of Bucking H Designs, has worked her tail off along with her helpers to put together and awesome event for us to enjoy this weekend. Hats off to them for working so hard!!There is something for everyone…even the kiddos! Here is the poster for the Bucking H Bash:

BHB 2014

I am so looking forward to competing with my team to try our hardest to win some of the awards awards and prize money up for grabs. Here is my team:

CS Team Hyannis

One of the members has changed since this picture, but this is what we look like…..all decked out in our bright red shirts….true Cowgirl Swank color! Our team is called Cowgirl Swank so that should come as no surprise.  The three other gals on the team are:  Heidi Cuny, Randi Selle, and Rhonda Matt. Great girls who are all quite handy! 🙂

I wrote an article about the WRRA a couple of months ago, but the publication it was going to appear in hit a bump in the road so I’m still waiting to hear from them. I’ve decided that it’s fitting to publish it here on my blog as I sit here waiting for the minutes to tick by until we take off tomorrow. Hope you enjoy the read! Here goes:

I grew up idolizing cowgirls. I was lucky because I had a great role model to look up to….my mom, Lila Glade. Just like my mom, I grew up on the same ranch in southeastern Montana north of the Yellowstone River smack dab between Little Sheep Mountain and Big Sheep Mountain. In truth, I don’t believe my mom aspired to be anything but a cowgirl/ranch woman. Don’t get me wrong, she went off and got a college education. She and her teammates even managed to capture the coveted Team Championship at the College National Finals Rodeo one of the years she was there! She enjoyed college, but deep inside I think she always knew her place was out on the range. She has always loved the outdoors and the animals associated with a cowgirl’s life: horses and cattle. My mom has always been a superior horsewoman and she definitely knows her cattle. She has had many accomplishments in her career as a cowgirl. I believe her greatest accomplishment was qualifying and competing in the National Finals Rodeo in 1976.

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She may argue with me a bit on this because she has other accomplishments to choose from, but I think it’s incredible! My mom roped a little bit, but not competitively. Growing up, I had some of the best barrel horses ever to compete on. How many nine year olds do you know who get to ride a horse that went to the NFR? Not many!

The fact is I enjoyed barrel racing a lot when I was younger, but as I grew older my dad started showing me the joys of what a lariat could do. I wasn’t a roper at a really young age like some kids are today. I didn’t actively start roping until I was 12 years old. There was just something about roping that go in my blood right away. I can thank my dad for passing on his athletic abilities to just pick stuff up. That’s how it was with me and roping….so barrel racing eventually went by the wayside. I did have a slight challenge along the way because I am left-handed. My dad never viewed it as a “handicap” and he never tried to change me. He always thought lefties had an advantage when it came to breakaway roping anyway…..no crossing over to worry about! I taught myself to tie goats right-handed and it worked out just fine. I managed to win 3 state championships in high school in goat tying, pole bending, and breakaway roping. *I’ve even taken to heading right-handed now. It’s quite a process and I’m not as “deadly” as I am with my left hand, but the fact that I’m trying to master both is a feat in itself. I love heeling, but it’s good to be able to rope both ends (heading and heeling).*

I went on to rodeo one season in college. I decided college really wasn’t for me so I went off to the big city to learn about the retail world. Fast forward, 13 years…..this is where my story picks back up. I moved back to Montana in the late fall of 2004. I met my soon-to-be-fiancé in early 2005 and within a few months we moved to southwestern South Dakota and started working on my folks’ ranch (my folks had sold their ranch in Montana in early 2000 and had relocated here). I was home….and boy, did it feel good! With the help of my folks, Shane and I went into the cattle business in the fall of 2005. With that part of my life lined out, I set my sights on getting back into the arena. As fate would have it, I suffered a bad injury on the 4th of July. I was at home in our arena roping on the gentlest horse on the place. It wasn’t good. I got bucked off and as it was happening I hyper-extended my wrist on the swells of my saddle. I tore some ligaments in my left arm/wrist and cracked some bones. It took me years to get it to where I could use it effectively again. So, fast forward again to 2013….

I had been watching ranch rodeos for several years from the sidelines as my husband and his friends went and did their thing. I might mention that I had our son in 2008 so up until this point I was pretty content being the cheerleader and caretaker. However, something inside me started longing for my goal of roping and competing again. I had let my arm heal significantly and I felt I was “ready”. There was something about ranch rodeo that really appealed to me. Perhaps it was the team camaraderie, the events (tying down a steer looked awfully fun to me), the excitement and atmosphere of it all. Whatever it was, I was hooked….but I wasn’t ready to jump into it with the guys. I didn’t feel confident enough for that (yet).

2012 came around and one day I was on Facebook. Something about “Women’s Ranch Rodeo Association” came on the screen. I stopped what I was doing and decided to check it out. Holy cow!! Here was an entire association dedicated to WOMEN in RANCH RODEO!!

WRRA

I thought I had died and gone to heaven! I devoured what I could read there and then went on to dive into their website (www.womensranchrodeo.org). I read and read until there was nothing else to read.

In my reading, I found out that the WRRA was founded by Kansas cowgirls in 2005 and that each rodeo includes the same 5 timed events in each of their sanctioned rodeos. They are: Calf Branding, Doctoring, Sorting, Trailer Loading, and Tie Down/Mugging. Here’s what happens in each event (and here are a few pictures of team Cowgirl Swank in action):

Calf Branding – 3 Minute Time Limit. There is one roper, one brander, and two gals to hold the calves down. The roper goes in and snags a calf by one or both hind legs. She drags it out where one gal tails the calf down and the other has the rope. Once the rope is removed the brander is signaled. She runs over and “brands” the calf with a branding iron that has powder on it. Once the calf is “branded” it is let up and the roper goes back in for the second calf. Everything is repeated. Once the second calf is “branded” time is called.

Branding Hyannis 2

Branding Hyannis 5

Branding Hyannis

Doctoring – 2 Minute Time Limit. All four team members start behind a line on their horses. Time starts when the first team member crosses the line. They take off after their steer that is on the other end of the arena. All four members are allowed to rope. The steer must be roped with a legal head catch within the first minute. The steer must be headed and heeled. Once this is achieved, one of the non-roping team mates jumps down and marks the steers face with chalk. Time is called.

Sorting 2 Hyannis

Doctoring Hyannis 2

Doctoring Hyannis

Sorting – 3 Minute Time Limit. Cattle with numbers on them are located at the end of the arena behind a chalk line. Time starts when the first team member crosses the line. While riding towards the herd, three numbers are called out over the loud speaker. They are in order (4, 5, 6 or 10, 11, 12 – for example). These are the numbers/cattle that must be cut out of the herd and taken across the chalk line. Any team member can sort, but only one rider can be in the herd at a time. Once a critter is across the chalk line, it cannot come back across or it is a no time. Also, no wrong numbered animal may cross the line. Once all 3 critters are across the line, time is called.

Tie Down Hyannis 2

Sorting 2

Sorting 3 Hyannis

Trailer Loading – 2 Minute Time Limit. Cattle with numbers on them will be located at the end of the arena behind a chalk line. Time starts when the first team member crosses the score line. Any team member can sort, but only one rider can be in the herd at a time. While riding towards the herd, the number of the steer to be sorted and loaded will be called out over the loud speaker. This steer must be cut out from the herd and taken across the line. The steer is then trailed to the trailer and loaded in the first compartment and the door is shut. One team member’s horse is then loaded in the second compartment. Once the door is shut and latched all team members must run to a designated spot near the judge. Once there, the judge calls for time.

Trailer Loading

Trailer Loading Hyannis 2

Trailer Loading Hyannis 4

Tie Down/Mugging – *This is my favorite event!* 3 Minute Time Limit. Steer will be let out at the opposite end of the arena. Team members start behind a chalk line. Time starts when the first team member crosses the line. Steer must be roped with a legal head catch in the first minute. No loop limit and all four team members are allowed to rope. Steer doesn’t have to be heeled; this is up to the teams’ discretion. After the steer is roped, he must be mugged and tied down by 3 legs. The three legs must be crossed. During the mugging process at least one team member must be in contact with rope or steer. All ropes must be off the steer and all team members must be clear of steer before calling for time. Time stops when one team member raises hands after the steer is tied down. Steer must stay tied for 6 seconds.

Tie Down Hyannis 2

Tie Down Hyannis 4

Tie Down Hyannis 3

Things don’t get much more exciting than those 5 events! I have been asked why there aren’t women’s rough stock events. I don’t have a technical answer on that except to say that I’m glad there aren’t. My 40-year-old body can’t handle much crow-hopping let alone a bucking bronco! I will say that I have been told that the WRRA’s outlook on their rodeos and events is that they want to include everyone and not exclude anyone. Even gals who aren’t bona fide ropers can participate as there are events that don’t require every single team member to rope (calf branding, trailer loading, sorting). Women’s bronc riding is only for a few select women who like to do that sort of thing (hats off to them too). The WRRA wants to showcase actual ranch events that occur on most any ranch. They want to keep it as safe as possible for contestants and animals alike. That makes perfect sense to me.

Since the WRRA sanctions the rodeos, their rules are followed and the gals participating must become members before competing. Money can be won and points are accumulated towards their World Finals, which will be held this year in Loveland, Colorado in October. Imagine, a World Finals…..for Women…..in Ranch Rodeos!! I was so excited about this that I called the phone number listed on the WRRA’s website. Enter Billie Franks into my life.

Billie FranksBillie is from Grenola, Kansas.

Billie is the Special Agent and Treasurer for the WRRA. She is quite a cowgirl and a determined leader of the association. We talked for quite a bit and struck up a friendship right then and there. With her encouragement and leadership, I decided that this was going to be “my thing”. Instantly it became my goal to get involved in this association and to hopefully host the first-ever WRRA rodeo in Nebraska.

I’m happy to report that I reached this goal last summer with the “Cowgirl Swank Classic” – Women’s Ranch Rodeo. I had a lot of help from some great people in the Crawford, Nebraska area. It’s a long story of how it all came to be so I won’t go into all of that. I will just say that with a positive attitude, hard work, and good people helping you…you can achieve most anything!

CSC Logo

So, what went on at the “Cowgirl Swank Classic”? Let me tell you….it was 2 days of the most amazing cowgirl action I have ever seen or been a part of! Imagine 12 teams of 4 competitive cowgirls, 48 well-trained horses, 50 head of steers, 25 head of calves, and over 2 inches of rain…..it was nothing short of the most entertaining rodeo ever! We had spills and thrills.….my pants were so dirty after each rodeo that they could have stood up by themselves….and I’m not kidding!

CSC Branding 4

CSC Branding

Me Muddy

The crowd was super….I was so worried that the rain would keep people away, but just the opposite happened. Crawford has such an amazing arena setup. It allows vehicles to pull up near the grandstands so they can look down over the arena. It truly couldn’t have been more perfect. We are still hearing comments about what a wonderful rodeo it was and how spectators and contestants can’t wait for the next one!

CS Classic Team Photo48 cowgirls competed at the 2013 Cowgirl Swank Classic. This is our group photo.

Like me a lot of the contestants are mothers and wives. We have our children and our husbands supporting us. The best part at our rodeos though is that the husbands are the ones in the stands with the video cameras ready to go and the kids playing in the dirt at their feet. Turnabout is fair play! Rodeo and ranching is about partnership. We have done it for them….and will continue to do so in the future…now it’s their turn to repay the favor….and they do it willingly. All of the husband’s I have visited with are thrilled with the advancements we are making for this sport. They truly think it is great and applaud us. They are happy to see their wives out enjoying themselves and having fun while representing our way of life. We ladies appreciate all the support we get from our families so that we can have our turn in the arena. It’s our turn to shine!

The first-ever women’s ranch rodeo in Nebraska was deemed a huge success. 2014 is going to be a very exciting year for women’s ranch rodeo in the northern region! We are in the planning stages for our second “Cowgirl Swank Classic”, which is scheduled to take place on July 20th and 21st in Crawford, NE.

CS_Classic_poster_2014

Another wonderful occurrence is other people having the same idea I did. They have taken it upon themselves to promote this awesome association/sport and put on their own rodeos. Hyannis, Nebraska was second last year with a two-day rodeo in September. They are planning for the second “Cowgirl’s Duel in the Sandhills” to take place August 2nd and 3rd. Three newcomers to the WRRA are Gillette, Hermosa (possible), and Cheyenne. Gillette, Wyoming will open the season with their two-day “Bucking H Bash” rodeo on May 31st and June 1st. Hermosa, South Dakota is looking at a possible date during their fair in August and Cheyenne, Wyoming is hosting a one-day rodeo on September 21st, which will close out the season for the northern division.

The great thing about how much interest has been generated in our area is that the ladies of the WRRA sat up and took notice. They are excited to have added us as their “northern division”. I was really glad to be voted onto their board of directors in December as was Mckenzie Minor from Hyannis, Nebraska.

McKenzie Minor McKenzie Minor is from Hyannis, Nebraska.

Together, we are pushing for even more expansion in the northern region in 2015. I envision additional rodeos taking place in Colorado, Montana, and hopefully North Dakota in the near future. With that said, if you are interested in hosting a WRRA rodeo in your area in 2015, please contact me. I would love to explain the process to you and answer any questions you may have. We are also searching for sponsors and people who want to get involved in this incredible association. Feel free to contact me at any time! I can be reached at thenativecowgirl@yahoo.com or on my cell at 605-891-1827. I look forward to hearing from some of you and continuing to work to spread this great association as far as we can.

As I said at the beginning of this column, I have always idolized cowgirls. The best thing is that through my life I became one. It’s one of my proudest accomplishments and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I revere my fellow cowgirls. We may come from different backgrounds or similar ones. We may “cowgirl” in different ways, but one thing is for sure: we are kindred spirits. We try hard and we don’t take no for an answer. We love our horses and our families. We are winners inside and outside the arena. Long live our cowgirl ways!

Women’s Ranch Rodeo – Calling All Cowgirls!

What a day! I’ve been up to my eyeballs in donation request letters….award catalogs…..mailing lists….etc. What for? Well, it’s for our 2nd annual Cowgirl Swank Classic – Women’s Ranch Rodeo!

This is something that I am VERY passionate about! Ask me about it and it may be hours before I stop talking. 🙂  What is a ranch rodeo? Well, let me explain…..

I grew up in a “rodeo” family. This meant that my dad rode bucking horses, bulls, and he roped calves as well as steers. My mom ran barrels. In fact, she was so good at it that she qualified for the National Finals Rodeo in Oklahoma City in 1976. My folks broke and trained the majority of all our horses. I was very lucky to grow up in such a family! I grew up breakaway roping, goat tying, running poles and barrels….and even did a little bit of team roping. I wasn’t much of a team roper back when I was younger because I’m a south paw (left-handed). Heading a steer isn’t an option in team roping if you are left-handed. So, my only option was to rope right-handed or heel, which you can do left-handed. My dad didn’t think he wanted a daughter lacking a finger or two (fingers can be lost in the dallies when heeling so it’s not for the light-hearted). He set out to teach me to rope right-handed. I could swing, but throwing wasn’t as powerful as it was with my left-hand. So, I headed a few times, but that was the extent of my heading career.

While I was away working in the cities later on in my life, I heard mom and dad talk about entering a ranch rodeo. What the heck was that? I actually kind of laughed and thought it was silly. It wasn’t “real” rodeo after all. Well, fast forward about 15 years and I have an entirely different opinion. I will forget about my earlier misconception about ranch rodeo…..cross it off as ignorance, if you will. Ranch Rodeo is the real deal!! Each one can consist of very different events and then some ranch rodeos are sanctioned so the same events are expected at different locations. When we moved down here, Shane decided that he would get in our local ranch rodeo….the rest is history. We were hooked! I loved it…..but I hung back because it had been 20+ years since I had competed in the arena. Clearly, the guys have an advantage when it comes to pushing steers into a trailer, mugging one down, etc. I still longed to be part of the action.

Then my life changed…..I was hunting for something on the internet when a picture of the Women’s Ranch Rodeo Association flashed across my monitor. HOLY COW!!! What was this all about? I went to their site and read everything I possibly could. I was mesmerized…..there was an association fully dedicated to ranch rodeo and WOMEN….it was sanctioned with a world finals at the end of the year and everything!! Could it get any better?! I think not! My heart almost beat out of my chest!! 🙂

About a year went by of me watching the association. It became clear that one of their sanctioned rodeos had never been this far north (they are mostly in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas)….it suddenly became my mission to bring it here. I was up for the challenge!

After a couple of visits on the phone with the WRRA’s special agent, Billie,  we were seriously talking about hosting one in Nebraska. As fate would have it, a gal I knew from town bumped into me and we started talking about it. She just happened to be on the fairboard in the nearby town. Before the end of the week, we were making plans for the 1st ever Women’s Ranch Rodeo in the panhandle of Nebraska! I couldn’t have been more excited!

We planned and our rodeo was set for the third weekend in July in Crawford. The weekend arrived…..and so did the rain…..and more rain!! I won’t go into details of the rodeo other than to say that it was truly a highlight in my life. I smiled the entire weekend….knowing that my dream had come true. After 22 years, I was back in the arena….I had recently turned 40 and I just knew that my best years were yet ahead of me….so far I’ve been right…..and I was happy knowing that I was responsible (with help from good friends) for bringing a women’s dedicated sport to our area! The crowd loved the action….I think the mud actually added to it. Since a drought had been upon us the years prior…everyone was happy to see some mud. My pants could have literally stood on their own at the end of each day….no, I’m not kidding! Our team photo of 48 gals (12 teams):

CS Classic

The best part of the weekend? True sportsmanship and camaraderie.  Ladies who I have never met before felt like lifelong friends…..husbands and kids became instant friends…..and it was apparent that the women’s ranch rodeo was a big hit!! In fact, another team there went on to host their own weekend of rodeos in September after our event. A true success! Photos fro the weekend:

Trisha Hunter Push hardCS Mugging CS Branding

So, on to our 2nd annual event. It will be bigger and better this year. We are kicking both days off with an Open Stray Gathering (open to anyone). The Open Stray Gathering is an event where a set of 4 people goes after two steers horseback. They break off into pairs and pick their steer. Each steer must be headed and heeled with ropes….then the cowboys/cowgirls dismount and tie the steers up. They must stay tied for 6 seconds. This is fun watching! The winning time at the Cowgirl Swank Classic last year was 45 seconds. I’m happy to say that Shane and his team won it….I was so proud!

We are also adding a calcutta both days so that the spectators can partake a tad bit more. We are also going to be entertained by Rehme Sutton on Saturday evening. I can’t wait to hear her play. She is one of my favorite singers of all time!

What does a WRRA rodeo consist of? Well, a team is comprised of 4 women who then compete in each of 5 events: doctoring, trailer loading, calf branding, mugging/tie down, and sorting. I’m sure I will be posting about this again so I can go over each event in detail then. I mostly just wanted to tell you all what had consumed my day for the most part. If you live nearby, mark your calendars for our 2nd annual event….July 19th and 20th in Crawford, NE. You will be glad you did!

Oh yeah, I forgot to say….as far as me heading? I can do that in ranch rodeos because the steers don’t come out of a shoot. In fact, I’ve headed several steers thus far in ranch rodeos (I’ve also missed a few, but we won’t talk about that right now) ;)…..talk about putting a smile on my face. I’ve always been proud of being a lefty…..now I can prove what this old left hand can do! 🙂 ~Cheyenne