My fascination with cowgirls began while I was growing up in Brooklyn, where the closest I got to horses was the carousel at Coney Island. Ride ‘em I did—every summer – and my love of the cowgirl and her lifestyle grew. I read novels about romance in the wild, open spaces of the frontier and biographies of famous cowgirls including Annie Oakley and Calamity Jane.
OK, I never became a cowgirl but now I live in a place where I can taste the spirit of the West, visit ranches and see rodeos prevail. I even know some cowgirls, and during this week of yee-haw celebration (Tucson Rodeo) I’ll introduce you to two of them.
First up is Karen (see photo), proprietor of Solarwind Ranch. While I was still a New Yorker, Karen gave me my first taste of pioneering life. I loved the times I could visit her ranch, where I was awed by endless wild Arizona spaces and mountains, and where I first learned to haul hay to the horses and Karen’s “ark” assortment of ducks, goats, sheep and border collies. Karen may not call herself a cowgirl (she’s a county fair supervisor, border collie rescue and breeder, herding and obedience trial judge, friend and loving foster mother rolled into one). But, to me, Karen personifies the independence and strength of extraordinary women called cowgirls. They were the foundation of the families who helped settle the American Southwest. I tip my hat to my cowgirl friend Karen (shown here with Silver, in a pix taken by Leigh this past summer.)