If you want to be a cowgirl, get ready to live by a slightly different set of rules than many women. Cowgirls do not let their estrogen levels rule their lives, they are not princesses in the sense of Paris Hilton, but they may be princesses in the sense of Rapunzel, because they still believe that there is wonder in the world and they want to share it with the people around them. There is a long lost moiré of polite society that says a real woman is refined in the art of inclusion, of seeing that all of the people in the room are engaged in conversation, that nobody is going unnoticed, and a real woman would never put her own insecurity ahead of the welfare or comfort of others. That may be the most important cowgirl trait there is, the one that can talk to the old, the young, the lovely and the unlovely and make them all feel welcome, and she is confident enough to talk to the most attractive woman in the room in the kindest and most gracious of manners. Being a cowgirl means you understand that how someone feels about you after you leave is not nearly as important as how they feel about themselves.
She don’t need you and she don’t need me, She can do just fine on her own two feet
And she wants a man who wants her to be herself, And she’ll never change, don’t know how to hide
Her stubborn will or her fightin’ side, But you treat her right and she’ll love you like no one else
Yeah, how ‘bout them cowgirls.
Cowgirls are really just women who have decided what they want and figured out how to get it, without pretense or politics. They have it over so many other women because they learned a long time ago that if we really want to win, there will be a whole lot of people walking with us across that finish line, because winning isn’t something you do alone but with a crowd of people who have run right alongside us from the first lap to the last. Join some of the greatest cowgirls in the world at the Evergreen Rodeo this weekend, and stop in at the Pine Country Feed booth to take home a little piece of cowgirl for yourself.
Father’s Day weekend is legendary in Evergreen, Colorado; the weekend everything comes to a halt and residents become remnants of a bygone day, when there was nothing better than a night under the lights at the rodeo. Sit in the front row where you can feel the breath of the champion horses as they race past, carrying cowboys and cowgirls in their best show time regalia. We love the thrill of the ride, hoping the eight second clock will buzz before our cowboy flies into the air, wanting just one more bull rider to challenge the timer and beat the beast at his own game. It is the fun that reminds us we are Americans and we live in the west, where everything is a little wilder and a little more challenging and a lot more of what we love. Saddle up and wave your flag, you are about to enjoy a great chunk of Americana.
He hadn’t seen a day like this in weeks, when the sun was hot on the backs of his gloves, making his hands ache with the baking crackle of the leather. His narrow gaze scanned the backs of the wild horses as they grazed across the range, nickering softly to each other in their playful, coaxing voices, their eyes aware, though diverted. “He is watching,” they whisper. The cowboy pulled his hat further down over his eyes, guarding his gaze as he focused on the chestnut at the front of the herd, wondering if he was as fast as his muscled legs seemed to suggest, wondering how his own coal black pony would do in a chase with this masterful beast. The chestnut looked over, snorted and went back to eating, clearly confident in his ability to overcome any challenge, or perhaps he knew that the cowboy was only watching. The man on the dark horse lifted his chin in a nod to the burnished stallion and reined his own ride away from the herd, on an undefined path through the tall grasses. It was their agreement – a side by side existence without the chase, just the chance to glimpse the perfect beauty, the power of life, and enjoy the gift of freedom.
We have often wondered what it is about the legendary American cowboy that is so appealing to the world of 2011. They were people covered with calluses and basically held together by dirt, they rarely had money, many of them drank too much, they smelled of sweat both human and equine, they thought of spitting as a conventional past time and guns were their favorite accessory, and yet we love them and sometimes wish we were one of them. It is something about their grit, their willingness to keep going when the herd has run amuck, their quiet way of owning the room, their “not afraid of hard work, get it done” attitude that we think of as American fable. We want them to win, to get the girl, to love their horse, to kill the bad guy – and we want to believe that they do it all with the best of intentions and a heart of gold, because they belong to the roots of who we are. They are fully American and totally bigger than life and that makes them the center of our dreams and the thing we love to believe in. Just a bunch of guys who wrestled cows and rode the range and we can’t get enough of them.
I was out to lunch with a friend yesterday and I couldn’t help but over hear the conversation in the next booth. A young girl, in her early twenties I would guess, was saying that she was going to go to the Stock Show this year to see her first rodeo. The woman with her seemed shocked that a Colorado native had never seen a rodeo before. The younger girl said that it has never been her “cup of tea”, she wasn’t into that cowboy hick stuff and she didn’t like dirt.
I have to admit that I giggled for a minute and then sat in wonder for a bit. I have grown up loving the Stock Show, dirt, and the cowboy thing. For me it’s a way of life but for some it’s a foreign culture. For those out there in the world who don’t understand the “Cowboy Thing” let me fill you in.
The “Cowboy Thing” is a culture. It’s a culture that’s proud, that’s tough, that’s strong. We have well-built values, powerful character, and an unbeatable will. We aren’t afraid of hard work, falling down, or of getting dirty. That’s all part of life and we’re okay with that. We take our hats off when the Stars and Stripes are lifted atop a flag pole and we understand that a home cooked meal is more than just dinner, it’s a way of life. Our Sunday best might be our newest pair of jeans and the boots without mud on them, our version of a Cadillac might be a 4×4 pick-up truck with hay in the back, and some of us might do our hair by putting in a cowboy hat. To you this might not be your “cup of tea” but remember this, we are United States patriots, we have worked hard for every dollar we ever made, we love our family, stand up for our friends, fight for our country, and understand the value of what it means to be free.
It’s okay if you don’t understand… it’s a “Cowboy Thing”.