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National Day of the Cowboy

We celebrated big!

Happy National Day of the Cowboy — and Cowgirl!

In 2005, National Day of the Cowboy (NDOC) began by a bill in the US Senate sponsored by Wyoming Senator Craig Thomas. The purpose to preserve and celebrate cowboy culture and history in that state, naming a holiday to be observed on the fourth Saturday in July.

Former president Bush said this about the National Day of the Cowboy: “We celebrate the Cowboy as a symbol of the grand history of the American West. The Cowboy’s love of the land and love of the country are examples for all Americans.”

Dayworking cowboys and cowgirls gather a pasture of Red Angus, then pushing the herd to water before driving them to the working pens. Sanford Ranch. Pic by N. Bright.

I propose we add “Cowgirls” to that official celebration, because through generations most western women work right alongside their cowboy, as you know. Which brings us to the question, “what is a cowboy”?

I followed an interesting online thread regarding that very question. Some felt that a “cowboy” is defined by a man who makes his living on a horse. There are those of us who were not blessed to have grown up in the country. I only spent summers there. We were never around horses and cattle outfits on a daily basis, but that doesn’t mean we don’t love the lifestyle. In fact, maybe we are a bit more obsessed with all things western and we have to relay that passion through stories, song lyrics, and screenplays. Does that make us any less a cowboy or cowgirl?

Take my father for example. He wore a hat and cowboy boots his whole life, and he hated horses (because he had owned a few in his youth). We lived in town and never owned cows or pasture land, but he owned a Gibson guitar. He was the lead singer of a country western band through high school and while in the military. He loved country music. We had a record player housed in a fancy cabinet as big as the television set. Music filled every room most evenings and I am now the proud owner of his record collection. He loved rodeo. I recall being very young when I went to my first one, followed by scores of small-town competitions. Dad may not have ever made a living from roping cows, but he was a cowboy. The work ethic, love of country, unending generosity, and a willingness to help anyone. Those are the qualities of a “cowboy” and I believe he was a cowboy at heart.

Fortunately, I married a cowman who moved me to the country as soon as we could afford it. My husband does not make a living from roping things either, but we rely on the talents of those that do. We couldn’t raise Angus beef without cowboys and cowgirls. Yes, they are real.

Sanford Ranch. Pic by N. Bright

Gone With The West Music

This year, the National Day of the Cowboy celebration at the Sanford Ranch on July 22nd was extra special. A few of these gals have spent time in a saddle, and they are all cowgirls in every sense of the word. The lyrics of the songs they write speak to that truth. This newly formed musical group, Gone with the West, took over the bunkhouse and treated us to a concert much to the delight of our ranch neighbors.

Follow the Band: Website ~ Instagram ~ Facebook

The group combines award-winning singer/songwriters, who are successful in their own right. The result is a four-part harmony that comes out smooth and fierce as if they’ve been singing together for years. Added to that, a fiddle, keys, two guitars and lyrical imagery drawn from the West. Their talent blew the roof off!

There was an awkward moment at the end. They sang their last song, I think it was Blue Prairie, and as the final notes hung there in the air around me, I did not move. (Apologies to the band.) Partly stunned and the other part of me sad because it was over. What I should have done is jumped up and hollered, “yee haw!” Their show was so awesome!

Merna, Tecia, Natalie, Micki, and Mary Kaye at the Sanford Ranch, Texas Panhandle.

This musical journey is more than a performance. As a few band members shared with me, it’s about a group of women who are finally at a point in their life where they can declare ‘it’s me and my music time.’ Why not hit the road together, not only to share musical talents, but to encourage other young girls and women to take a leap. Follow the thing that feeds your soul.

The band’s lyrics and emotional voices convey the western legacy with standard cowboy songs and original material. Songs inspired by their kids, love and lost loves, the American West, and the work of cowboys and cowgirls. We laughed, we sang along, and some songs brought tears to our eyes. And we are all the better for having had Gone with the West cross our path.

So cute and delightfully fun: Gone with the West, Nashville’s newest Super Group!
l to r: Merna Lewis, Tecia Mckenna, Mary Kaye Holt, Micki Furhman

GONE WITH THE WEST—”Nashville’s newest supergroup”. What a fitting title! Please follow them on social media, purchase their music, share their posts and tell your friends.

As a side note, the first three books of our Wild Cow Ranch series is available in Audio read by the talented Micki Fuhrman. Yes, that’s her pictured above!

Listen now Books 1 – 3 read by Micki Furhman.
Click here.

As we patiently wait for Road Tour No. 2 from Gone With Whe West, I hope you find ways to convey your love for all things western each and every day. Hats off to all the cowboys and cowgirls out there; whether in the saddle or deep in your heart…

Natalie Bright is an author, blogger, speaker, and writing instructor. The WILD COW RANCH series is six books from CKN/Wolfpack Publishing is written with co-author Denise F. McAllister and is available in eBook, print or audio. KEEP ‘EM FULL AND KEEP ‘EM ROLLIN‘ features authentic recipes from the cattle trail along with ranch photography and history of the great cattle driving era. Look for END OF TRAIL EATS coming early spring 2024 about the food and history of Cowtowns.