March 20, 2009

Cowgirls and Saddle Burrs

by DiAnn Mills

This past weekend, my husband and I took a detour off the road and headed into Fort Worth, Texas to visit the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame. The first item to lasso my attention was the display of photographs and movie posters featuring cowgirls. In my opinion, those gals were more daring and courageous than the men, and for certain this came from having to prove mettle in a man's world. And they did it quite well.

I studied the photographs of their rodeo tricks, but I didn't see how many of those women survived the dangerous challenges. Cowgirls come in all shapes and sizes, but they all share the same passion: competing in a rodeo environment. I loved the smiles and the mischievous glint in their eyes...and the girlfriend camaraderie.

One of the most interesting exhibits was the cowgirl fashion display. Everything from beaded Indian outfits to gold lame` clothed the rock-solid bodies of these horse-lovin', cattle-ropin', dirt-eaten' cowgirls. Then there were the hats and boots! Red was and is a popular color to draw attention to the cowgirl in the center of the ring strutting her stunts. Add a pair of spurs, a pearl-handled pair of Colts, and a rope, and the cowgirl is ready for some serious work.

During the 1940s, cowgirls were bucked out of the show and supposedly back to the kitchen where they belonged. That didn't last long. Can't hold back a woman on a mission.

The gift shop carried a stunning array of cowgirl gear. I was tempted at every whimsical turn to bring home a coffee mug, glitzy jewelry, something for my granddaughter, or a clingy knit shirt that let you know a cowgirl does it all better. Oh, and don't forget the big shiny belt buckle.

After I got home, curiosity piqued my interest, and I pulled The Women from The Old West Series in my Time Life books. There she was again in black and white. Two early cowgirls raced bareback "across an open stretch of Oregon grazing land." They wore split riding skirts, and you could almost hear the laughter. No sidesaddles for them. They understood the feel of a magnificent animal lunging ahead beneath them, the moment a horse stepped from a fast trot to the sensation of floating in air, and the wind bathing her face. She continues to mock the hurdles in her way and makes her own trail. Ah, my kind of women.

According to the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame "there are 190 amazing women who have been inducted into the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame since 1975." Hmm. I think I'll nominate a couple of heroines...I'd better get busy doing some writing.


Vickie McDonough said...

I'm surprised that so many cowgirls wore red. We tend to think of that color as belonging to the ladies of the night. I'm going to have to visit that museum one of these days.

Nice to see you in Dallas!

Mary said...

Interesting post. If I'm ever in the Fort Worth area, I most definitely would LOVE to see that museum. I'm a cowgirl at heart.


Janice Olson said...

Great post DiAnn,

I live in the DFW area and have never visited the museum, but now I will have to make the trip. You've article has sparked an interest up in the cowgirls' history.

Blessings, Janice

heidiwriter said...

My kind of women, too! I hope to be able to visit the museum some day.