The image of a silhouetted cowboy on a lonely horizon comes to mind when thinking of classic Americana—a rugged, handsome man of few words, mysterious and utterly capable. Most people are unaware that this culture lives on, but sadly even more folks have no idea that this archetype exists in female form. Yes, even today.
Cowgirls, much like you’d think of those cattle herders in the late 19th century, are strong and steady-handed. They too have a stoic heir about them when they’re on the job, dauntless in the way of weather, wild animals, and the unknown.
In the days leading up to the WWRA 2015 World Finals, I followed rodeo team leader, Rachel Smith, around as she prepared for the competition. When I showed up, I realized that I wasn’t going to be Rachel’s only shadow. Her 2 year old daughter, Jessa, was always in tow.
Jessa is a beautiful young girl, ferocious and funny. She always wanted to help and always wanted to be on a horse. If you were to ever meet her, you wouldn’t believe she’s been on the earth for such a short time. The bond between Jessa and Rachel was so strong, even though both are filled with such independence.
Something else I think goes unknown by too many is that the unflappable nature that dominates ranch life can melt into such a warmness. Rachel, this awe inspiring woman of strength, has so many facets. She knows the land and the animals like no other, she is a brilliant wife and mother, and she’s great to have a conversation with. In my mind, she’s a hero. May women of her nature be remembered as Americana in years to come.