This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending the inaugural Art of the Cowgirl event in Phoenix, Arizona with my good friend Jamie Kirkpatrick. What an incredible 3 days it was! I decided that the best way for me to tell all of you what went on is to do a sort of review. I like doing reviews and I've done quite a few of them. I'm going to different review segments...starting now with the women's ranch rodeo. I hope you enjoy this!
The women's ranch rodeo preliminary was held on Friday, February 8th, 2019. This is what the schedule for the Art of the Cowgirl looked like:
We got up early and ventured out to the South Buckeye Equestrian Center. A friend of mine told me it had gotten down to 28 degrees the night before there so the fact that I was freezing made sense. We had flown out of Rapid City the day before with it being almost -40 with the wind chill. I was a bit shocked it was that chilly in Arizona, but I have heard that it can get quite cool there. At any rate, we were up and ready to watch some women's ranch rodeo action. We arrived right before 8 am when everything was getting started. At 8:30 am the Elite Ranch Horse event began. Here is what that entailed:
I really enjoyed watching the gals and their horses going through the pattern, working a steer, and then roping it. Talk about handy! Call me funny, but I love to watch horses who can rock a flying lead change! :)
After the Elite Ranch Horse event came the Team Roping. This was good watching! Teams of 4 gals broke off into partners. They each had to head and heal their steer. The 5 second rule applied. The time stopped when both sets of ropers were stretched tight. I didn't get any pictures of this event because at that time I literally was so frozen I couldn't move....almost kidding!
After the Team Roping came the Sort & Doctor event. This was good watching too! The 4 gal team went through a gate in some panels. One team member had to sort off their steer and work him for 30 seconds. After the whistle blew the team brought the steer through the gate. They headed and healed the steer. The 2 team members not roping dismounted to get ropes in the right spot. The head rope was removed and placed on the 2 front legs. The heal rope was placed on both hind feet if only one had been caught. The steer was then considered doctored once the ropes were pulled tight and the 2 team members on the ground were clear.
During the Sort & Doctor event I witnessed something really awesome involving one cowgirl in particular. This cowgirl is.........11 years old and her name is Emme Randall!! She was a member Bad Rash Cattle Co. Look at this picture below of her snagging two feet on that steer. Not only did she rope the heck out of that critter, but she also dallied him up and stretched him out like an old pro!
I was super impressed by this young cowgirl's abilities in the arena. Some might think that an 11 year old has no business in the arena with adult cowgirls. I beg to differ....and I know folks who might think that would have their minds changed after watching Emme. I was happy to hear later that Emme was awarded the Top Gun Award for the rodeo!
After the sort and doctor event was over the last event was up...the branding. With the arena till split in half for the sort and doctor event two teams were able to go at the same time. I really enjoyed watching this event too. The team of 4 cowgirls split into pairs. 2 cowgirls were responsible for heading and healing one of the 2 steers in their pen. They were not allowed to get out of a walk/trot to get him headed either. This definitely made it more difficult. While the ropers got their job done the other 2 gals made up the ground crew. The head rope was removed from the head and placed on the front 2 feet. The heal rope was placed on both hind feet if only one foot was roped. The critter was then stretched tight. Once that was done the branding iron could come out of the bucket and the critter could be "branded". They had to be branded in a certain spot and the white chalk of the brand had to show. The steer was let up and the branding iron went back into the bucket. The 2 pairs traded places. The ground crew got on their horses while the ropes dismounted and got ready to be the ground crew. They repeated the same steps with the remaining steer that was "unbranded". All I can say is these gals are pretty handy and definitely know how to work together to get the job done! I didn't get any pictures of this event either. I have to admit the lighting was pretty rough in this building for a photographer. I'm sure that Nicole Poyo or Jennifer Dennison were able to get some better pictures than I was. I felt lucky to be there watching and to take in every run. It was a great event!
Out of 25 total teams competing, the top 4 teams came back in the finals the following day at Corona Ranch. Here is how that broke down:
After the ranch rodeo was completed we headed back to Corona Ranch about 45 minutes east of the South Buckeye Equestrian Center. Jamie and I had luckily befriended a couple from Saskatchewan. They happened to have a rental car and were gracious to give us a ride back. Here is a picture of the four of us at Corona Ranch. What nice people Scott and Alicia Adamson are. On our drive back we also discovered that Alicia was the recipient of the Horsemanship Fellowship with Lee Smith. We congratulated her and we are anxious to hear all about her 10 days with Lee when it occurs sometime in 2019!
The Corona Ranch was a sight to see...very clean and elegant! We walked into a wonderful sight of bright colors, vendors, and pretty lights!
Smiles were everywhere and you could feel the excitement in the air! Jamie and I had fun looking at all of the vendors. I made a beeline to the J.M. Capriola booth to get one of their fleece lined wool sweaters. I had found one for Shane for Christmas and he was always saying how warm it was. Well, I was still freezing. That sweater saved my life I'm pretty sure!! :) The opening ceremony was wonderful! Western Horseman and Cowgirl Magazine were both tied into to this event. The support from such upstanding, longtime publications was amazing. Curt Pate did a great job of emceeing and introducing his wife, Tammy Pate. I could tell from the first moment that I heard about this event and visited with Tammy on the phone that this event was something in her heart and soul. That came across loud and clear during this entire weekend for sure.
Seeing Judy Wagner honored by Western Horseman for the Women of the West Award was a definite highlight of my weekend. I've known Judy and her husband Alvin for many, many years. Our families are both rodeo families from Montana so it was just a given to know them. Judy has been a light in terms of women creating success for themselves and their families. She is the Vice President of Marketing and Communications for Montana Silversmiths. I enjoyed her speech immensely. Judy and Alvin began Gator Ropes years ago. It was fun that her speech talked about the five strands of a golden rope. She talked about each strand and how it's all entwined to create something called cowgirl spirit. I wish I would have recorded that speech. Tears welled up in my eyes when I heard her words...they really hit home and I feel they really summed up this entire thing called Art of the Cowgirl! Here is a picture of Judy as she picturesquely explained each strand of her golden rope:
Here's a fuzzy picture of Judy accepting her award from Western Horseman along with Tammy Pate.
This ended the stage presentations for the evening. There was much visiting and mingling afterwards. Exhausted from a day in the cold Jamie and I made our way to our hotel - the Vee Quiva Hotel & Casino. Their hot tub was a welcome sight for sure! We had much to talk about that evening as we looked forward to Day 2 with much anticipation!
Stay tuned for Day 2 coming soon.......