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Event Spotlight Art of the Cowgirl
by Naomi Loomis,
WSRRA Association Representative
In 2013, the Western States Ranch Rodeo Association added a women’s division to the association. The WSRRA continues to experience rapid growth in the women’s division sanctioned events.
There is a special group of cowgirls that aim to empower women who believe in showcasing their skills and determination in the arena and out.
The world doesn’t seem to know these cowgirls but the ladies that compete in ranch rodeos are changing all of that. You see, these cowgirls have grit and know how to get a job done. They have no problem sorting and roping cattle, they can doctor sick animals, they can load and tie a calf, they can rope and brand calves and can put a handle on a ranch horse. They also have no problem pulling a rig down the highway, pulling a calf, and working right along with cowboys, they include mothers, daughters, sisters, grandmas, and wives who raise families, hold day jobs and help run ranches. They will do whatever it takes to get the ranch work done. The start of their day usually starts at the break of dawn. Whether it’s branding in the spring or fall roundup, these ladies know cattle. On the weekends, your will find them, competing in ranch rodeos-a true western sport that starting in 1900’s, and one that is preserving the heritage of the West.
The 2019 WSRRA ranch rodeo trail is in full swing and we are excited to include a new women’s ranch rodeo event to our schedule. This event is, Art of the Cowgirl was held in Phoenix, Arizona. I sat down with the producer, Mesa Pate.
Mesa grew up in Montana but currently lives in Oklahoma. This cowgirl raises bucking bulls and cows, train horses, competes in the reined cow horse and ranch rodeos when she can, and produced the Ranch Rodeo and Elite Ranch Horse sale for Art of the Cowgirl.
The Art of the Cowgirl has an awesome story. “Being held in Phoenix, Arizona at the Corona Ranch, Art of the Cowgirl is my mom’s lifelong dream event. She has wanted to put on an event to give back to the industry that has given so much to my family. She asked me to come on to produce the Clarke Butte All Women’s Ranch Rodeo and Elite Ranch Horse Sale because she knows those are two of my passions. I have wanted to put on a horse sale like this as long as I can remember and appreciate the opportunity to do so,” states Mesa.
The Art of the Cowgirl events included an Elite Ranch Horse class, reversed team roping, branding and sort and doctor. The short round events included the was the Elite Ranch Horse, team roping and branding. These events showcased cowgirls and their horses.
Women that compete in ranch rodeos must have strength, good roping and riding skills, and raw courage. The secret of success is the bond that these ladies develop working together. Many of these cowgirls, either come from the same ranch, or neighboring ranches, have known each other for years, through marriage and friends. They trust each. They believe in each other. Take their cowgirl attitude and put it to work on top of a good, athletic horse in an action-packed timed event and you have an event that is worth watching.
I have also been impressed with Mesa and her go-get-it-done attitude. She sets goals and aims for them everyday and this event was no different. “The initial goal was to create traffic to the horse sale, but that has changed some. I want this to be the highest paying all women’s ranch rodeo. I also want to add more men’s events, or events that couples can be competitive in together. The last thing we want is for Art of the Cowgirl to feel like it’s only something women can participate in or enjoy,” she explained. This event is an event that you will want to put on your calendar every year.
I asked Mesa what her opinion on, what keeps a rodeo running smoothly. “A great team and very clear communication! I learned a lot from this first year and really hope to improve on the production for next year,” she says.
Being a ranch rodeo producer is awarding and challenging. It takes a lot of time and energy to make an event run smoothly. Mesa has this advice:
“I made the mistake of competing and producing without having it clear who I was delegating decisions to. If you are going to compete it isn’t fair to be in the judge’s ears or making a bunch of decisions that might make it seem like you are setting it up for your own success while the rodeo is happening. If you aren’t competing, just having a good team you can delegate some of the responsibilities to makes a world of difference. Having a solid game plan before it starts too!”
On behalf of the WSRRA, thank you Mesa and your staff for including the WSRRA in your great event. “Giving people the opportunity to make the finals was great. The WSRRA also brought in sponsor dollars which was greatly appreciated,” Mesa says.
The 2019 Art of the Cowgirl Champions was The Bar Up Ranch made up of Jymme Dominguez (Oregon), Monel Shelley (Nevada), Desi Dotson (Idaho) and Taylor Hurley (California).
Women ranch rodeos are team affairs for working cowgirls, who compete in events that mirror the daily activities of ranch life. These cowgirls, in my opinion, are preserving the ranching lifestyle. Mesa adds to this, “The coolest thing I heard after the event was from a friend of mine from down here in Oklahoma that is very involved in the horse show industry. His wife and daughter, who is in high school, attended the event and they now want to have a horse in the sale and she wants to ranch rodeo. I think that is the coolest part about the ranch rodeo and especially the women who compete, I know I want to be girls like Jymme Dominguez and Carmen Buckingham when I grow up, and I think these women are inspiring a whole new generation of girls.”
“The Clarke Butte Ranch All Women Ranch Rodeo held during Art of the Cowgirl was a masterful display of the horsemanship and stockmanship art forms the female competitors practice everyday on ranches throughout the West. The women showed grace and grit as they worked as a team to get the job done in each event. What amazed me the most was how they adapted their riding and roping skills in an open pasture or large rectangular arena to the small, round lienzo at Corona Ranch & Rodeo Grounds with finesse.” Jennifer Denison, Senior Editor of Western Horseman, a sponsor of the event.