Online Extra

Cowgirl Wisdom

June 14, 2011

We had more advice than would fit in the pages of America’s Horse magazine! See what these cowgirl hall of famers have to say.

By Holly Clanahan for America’s Horse Daily

Carol Rose in 1993. Journal photo.

Cowgirls have always been pretty good at telling their own stories. In the July issue of America’s Horse, we invited three members of the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame to do just that, in hopes of publicizing the cowgirl hall of fame’s call for nominations.

Legendary American Quarter Horse breeder Carol Rose, award-winning rancher Terry Stuart Forst and cutting champion Lindy Burch stepped up to the task of defining what, exactly, makes a cowgirl and why their personal stories are so resonant.

But here’s the problem: All three women had so many good stories to tell and so much good advice to dispense that it wouldn’t all fit in the magazine.

That’s not a problem for you, however, dear online reader. We’re happy to present additional cowgirl wisdom here on America’s Horse Daily and in the new digital Journal Plus, for subscribers to The American Quarter Horse Journal.  Be sure to check out the July issue of America’s Horse to read even more!

Carol Rose, Gainesville, Texas
She is AQHA’s all-time leading breeder of performance horses, and she has long been a trail blazer. In 1967, she became the first woman to win a National Cutting Horse Association non-pro world championship, she was the first woman to compete at the NCHA Futurity and was the first woman to be on the AQHA Judges Committee. She is a member of the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame and has been associated with a number of horses who’ve also been inducted there. Read more about Carol’s considerable accomplishments.

Q: If you could sum it up, what do horses mean to you?

A: “Gosh, they’re my life. They’re all I’ve ever known. I don’t have any children, so I guess between my dog, Belle, and my horses, they’re my whole life. That’s all I’ve ever known, good or bad. I love horses.

“I relate horses to children, and it’s so amazing to watch them learn. If you ask them to do too much at one time, they get where they don’t want to do anything, and if you don’t do enough with them, they get bored. It’s just like you teach a child something. If you teach them too much, they get confused. Same thing with a horse.

“I watch them think, I watch them be taught, how they learn, and I get amazed.

“If I feel like my help is going too fast with a horse, I’ll say, ‘Bob Loomis told me if a horse learns 1 percent a day, he’ll be trained in a hundred days,’ and we don’t want that. We just want to teach a little bit a day.

“It’s just way too much fun to watch the different personalities and how some of them try so hard to help you, and how some of them don’t try at all.”

The National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame is offering AQHA members a great deal this summer. Visit the Fort Worth museum between now and August 31, 2011, show your AQHA membership card and get $2 off museum admission!

Terry Stuart Forst. Photo by Primo Morales.

Terry Stuart Forst, Waurika, Oklahoma
She is the fifth generation of her family managing what is the oldest ranch in Oklahoma under continuous family ownership, having been carved out of Indian Territory in 1868. The Stuart Ranch won the AQHA-Pfizer Best Remuda Award in 1995, recognizing its excellent ranch-horse breeding program. And in 2004, the ranch’s stallion, Real Gun, was named the AQHA Superhorse, the equivalent of an MVP award at the AQHA World Championship Show. Terry is president of the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association, the first woman to hold that post.

Q: How do you define the term “cowgirl”?

A: “I believe a cowgirl is involved with horses and cattle, and her livelihood is dependent on both. But I also believe the term ‘cowgirl’ encompasses a certain attitude and independent spirit. A cowgirl attitude is one of determination – sometimes stubborn and hard headed (often to a fault in my case)! Most importantly, it is a willingness to work hard and get the job done, no matter the circumstances, and never quit. I also believe a cowgirl attitude is respectful to everyone and everything.”

Q: If you could sum it up, what do horses mean to you?

A: “My love and obsession with horses must have been my parents’ fault, because there is a picture of me at 3 months of age, sitting in front of my dad on his stallion, Big Shot Dun. I think I have been horseback ever since. The ranch horses, especially the mares and their legacy, have always been so important to me. They were what I had to ride and what we had to offer, so their success became a goal for me to achieve.”

Lindy Burch and Bet Yer Blue Boons. Photo by Midge Ames.

Lindy Burch, Weatherford, Texas
She began making history in 1979, when she became the first woman to win a reserve open championship at the NCHA Futurity. The following year, she became the first woman to win the Futurity. She and her homegrown mare, Bet Yer Blue Boons, hold the record for the highest score at the NCHA Open World Finals, and in 2000, the pair won the NCHA open world championship, making Lindy the first woman to do so. She also served as the first female president of NCHA. Learn more about Lindy and her horses.

Q: If you could sum it up, what do horses mean to you?

A: It’s such a way of life with me. This may sound sad to some people … but I don’t know my life without horses. They’ve always been the biggest part of my life. It’s like some people get up and breathe and go to work, I get up and breathe to go out and ride. That’s what I do. It’s really that simple. I’ve always ridden. I remember riding in front of my father on a horse when I was 2 or 3 years old. I don’t have very many memories that don’t contain a horse in them at some place, because I’ve always ridden.

“I’m most comfortable on a horse, and I love to ride. A lot of professional trainers, the minute they can, they’re off their horse, and they’re golfing or they’re doing something else or they’re traveling or they have their family or their kids. Well, whenever I’m finished training, I get on a horse and go take a ride. I like to go ride in the hills or ride on the beach. I just love to ride, whether I’m working a cow or not.

“I feel like I take care of horses the best, and that’s why I think I have such great partnerships with them. I like to do all the stuff with them – I like to brush them and saddle them and turn them out and bring them in and wash them off and pick their feet. I like being the caregiver. I never had any kids, so I think that’s probably what a lot of women do with their kids. I do it with my dog and my horses.”

Q: You’ve been associated with so many great horses … which one has been your favorite?

A: “Unequivocally, I have to admit that it’s ‘Bet’ – Bet Yer Blue Boons, my champion mare, and the mare they made the Breyer horse out of. She’s still living, thank God. She’s 21 now. I’ve had a lot of great horses, and she’s one.

“And the 3-year-old that I have this year, out of Bet and by Docs Stylish Oak, is named Stylish Bet, and she’s really a special horse. She has got a unique personality and very independent, which I like, very opinionated. She certainly thinks she knows more than she does. Hopefully, she’s going to grow into that and know everything that she needs to know. I’ve ridden many, many, many babies out of Bet, but this one reminds me the most of her mother. But the short answer to the question is, of course, Bet.

Get into the cowgirl spirit here on America’s Horse Daily at 1 p.m. CDT Wednesday, June 15, 2011! The National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame is sponsoring our Guess This Horse contest, so get ready for a cowgirl theme and a fabulous prize package from the cowgirl museum.

“Bet was never a kissy type of horse. She was never a pet. She was her own horse, but dynamic in the way she worked and the way she read a cow. The way she could out-think a cow was fantastic. That’s something that you can’t train a horse to do. They either have it or they don’t have it.

“She was predisposed, but she didn’t start off as a great horse. She was kind of tough to train. She never had her mind in the game all the time. She would promise you great things, and then she’d be done, she’d just walk off the cow, or she’d just say, ‘That’s enough, let’s quit, let’s be done.’ She did that to me for a couple of years, until she was about 5.

“But I’m stubborn, and being stubborn was great. The other thing was, I felt something there that I thought was special, the best. She certainly didn’t display it all the time, but to me, that’s what I loved about her most. She wasn’t easy. I had to train her, develop her, and then I had to give her some time and wait her out when a lot of people said I might as well throw in the towel. I wouldn’t do it. I said, ‘You’ll see. One day.’

“And then one day, when she was about 5 years old, it just clicked. Actually, she got hurt is what happened. She kicked the pen or something in Arizona and fractured her sesamoid, and I had to have it operated on. I brought her back to Texas, and she was off for about three months. And while she was off, I guess she thought about it. I don’t know. But when she came back, she absolutely never had a bad day after that. And I worked her less than any horse I’ve ever worked in the practice pen. All those great runs I had … she still holds the score for the highest mark ever, a 233, and I never worked her in the practice pens.

“Now, she’s just like the cookie monster. She loves cookies, and I can call her anywhere on the ranch she is, and she knows I’ll be giving her a cookie when she shows up, so she’ll come at a trot.”