Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Queens and Calf Ropers

This past week I was able to meet with two outstanding representatives of the sport of rodeo who were able to clear up some of the confusions about Rodeo Queens and the event of Calf Roping.

 As I mentioned in my last post, I would be meeting with Lauren Graham, Miss Rodeo Texas 2011 who clarified exactly what the duties of being a rodeo queen were. After doing some research and polling of what a general misconception of rodeo royalty was, that rodeo queens can't ride a horse. Lauren was able to explain that horsemanship is worth 1/3 of the entire competition at Miss Rodeo Texas, and that the contestants ride horses they have never ridden before provided by the pageant. Also, she elaborated, that throughout her year of travels as Miss Rodeo Texas, she does not haul her own horse, and therefore must be able and qualified to ride whatever the stock contractor or rodeo committee provides. Needless to say, horsemanship is a necessity.

After asking her about the article in Texas Monthly, as far as how she thought the idea of the cowgirl had evolved and how it correlated to being a rodeo queen, she stated "We all are cowgirls, that is where we start out." She went on to elaborate that she felt the term cowgirl stays true to its original roots from those women who still to this day work the ranches and provide for their families.

And to top it off...She's an Aggie! Whoop!

On monday, I was able to hang out and ride awesome cutting horses with my hero, and rodeo legend, Tooter Waites!

Tooter was the first man to qualify for the NFR and College National Finals in the same year (1971-1972) and was able to explain in my video interview the things that have changed in the tie-down roping since the 1970's to better defend the safety of the animals.

"The calves are much smaller than they used to be" he said, "They don't hit the ground very hard, and the cowboys are not allowed to jerk them down like they used to... and the arena sizes have changed."

Tooter mentioned in the video that the calves are typically only tied once every rodeo and that there are many rules governed by the PRCA to protect them. Over 60, to be exact!

Needless to say, I always have an incredible time with him and I am intrigued by his cowboy stories. His love for his family is radiant, he speaks with honesty.  I am so thankful for our friendship!
 "She never shook the stars from their appointed courses, But she loved good men, and she rode good horses."

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Cowgirl Up: Texas Monthly

"Our Heroes Have Always Been Cowgirls" is printed boldly on the cover of the most recent Texas Monthly magazine, as the face of a true blue ranch hand, cowGIRL stares into what today's society perceives the title.

The preface of the article starts with this:"Sometimes it seems as if women are are almost invisible in the history of the west, but the truth is that they were there the whole time, working cattle, going up the trail, and building ranches all across Texas. Problem is, the only word we have to describe them makes you think of buckle bunnies or Nashville queens. I aim to change that."

Wow- talk about powerful. In the effort of trying to clear up some of the misconceptions of rodeo, I found this quite intriguing, and extremely relevant to my cause and project. Originally, the word "Cowgirl" had the connotation of grit, determination, and honor. However, the article elaborates that due to haute culture and Hollywood, the name has been corrupted to a derogatory term regarding them as buckle bunnies or trolling with turquoise.

The article is flooded with stories and photos of true working rural women, day workers, cattle ranchers, rodeo cowgirls, farriers, etc.

Perhaps there are many misconceptions of what cowgirls are and where the label is going, but after reading it is easy to see that we stand for fairness, hard work and forthrightness.

A little later today I will be interviewing another Texas Cowgirl, Lauren Graham, Miss Rodeo Texas 2011 who is the goodwill ambassador and spokeswoman for the professional sport of rodeo in the Lone Star State. I look forward to hearing her take on where the direction of the cowgirl lifestyle is headed.

Long Live Cowgirls!