Real Life Ranch Wife

How To Be a Cowgirl

Here are some simple tips and tricks from a ranch wife that a cowgirl can use to be successful in her first ranch job.

Here are some tips and tricks a cowgirl can use for her first ranch job.

There are more opportunities for women in ranching than ever before. Well, maybe except for World War II, when so many left to fight overseas that women had to run ranches and other businesses. And the pioneer days in the 1800s, when women could hold jobs out West unavailable to them back east. 

Modern women are doing cool stuff in production agriculture, just like our foremothers before us. If you’d like to try your hand at being a real, working cowgirl, here are a few tips to keep in mind when working your first ranch job. 

Learn to rope.

You don’t have to be Jackie Crawford, but spend some time swinging and throwing a rope every day until you catch the dummy more often than you miss. It’s okay if roping isn’t your main passion in life. Just remember: The better you rope, the less you have to get off your horse and work the ground when doctoring cattle outside. 

Have a can-do attitude. 

This is probably the most important attribute a working cowgirl — or anyone else, really — can have. Always jump in and try, even if you’re doing it wrong. The boss can redirect your energy and tell you to set the rope on the front feet before the hind feet next time, but you can’t do anything if you’re not moving. No job is so big that you can’t accomplish it with a different strategy, another rope or more horsepower.   

Always carry a tie string on your saddle.

If you rope something that needs to be tied down, you can be the hero of the crew if you’re the girl who ties it down. Or, you can be like me and always be prepared to tie a wire gate shut when it’s strung so tight you can’t put the gate post back into its proper loop. Being prepared is a type of heroism, right? 

Learn to shoe.

You don’t have to be big and strong to shoe your own horses, but if you shoe your own horses, you’ll be big and strong. Besides being a practical skill every working cowboy needs to know, horseshoeing delivers a total full-body workout that personal trainers can only dream of. Remember: Shaping a shoe is more about technique than biceps. But biceps help, so maybe do some pushups in your downtime. 

Don’t be afraid to throw your weight around. 

As members of the fairer (and smaller) sex, we ladies learn to use our bodies differently than men to achieve manual labor goals. For example, the other day, I had to open a solid metal door to an old shipping container that’s now used as a tack room. The door was so heavy that I developed a unique method in which I grasped the handle with both hands and then suddenly threw all my weight backward. This moved the door about an inch and a half. I repeated the process several times until I finally (just barely) gained access to the trailer. 

To close the door, I reared back and threw all my weight against it. I repeated this until I was out of breath from body-checking the door. I looked up just in time to see a cowboy watching me from a distance. He seemed to be wondering if I had the situation handled or if women really were just a little bit crazy. 

Both can be true. 

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