There’s no better way to celebrate National Day of the Cowgirl than with our Women of the West series featuring the ladies who broke traditions and didn’t shy from hard work in the arena and on the ranch.
Every month since 2007, beginning with rancher Linda Davis, we’ve proudly shared these women’s inspirational stories. Over 200 women’s stories have been featured. From Lainee Sampson’s dedication to family tradition on the ranch to Hannah Usher’s relentless pursuit of knowledge in the farrier profession to the confidence and resourcefulness of Shawna Mahon managing cows on a large feedlot, each woman shares a common trait—their love of the Western way of life. As you scroll through these inspirational women, we hope they connect with your own love of the West.
Click through some of the featured women:
Sherry Cervi — January 2023
When you mention the name Sherry Cervi, most people imagine a tall, slender, blonde-haired woman, flying around the cloverleaf barrel pattern on one of her great horses. However, there’s more to Cervi than barrel racing. For the past four years, she and her husband, 15-time Wrangler National Finals team roper Cory Petska, have spent the summer and fall months pasturing yearling cattle on grasslands in Wisconsin.
Read more about Sherry here.
Melissa Fowler — May 2022
From extreme drought to hip-deep snow, western South Dakota offers a variety of weather for ranchers to navigate, and that is just fine for Melissa Fowler. Though born in California and raised in Oregon, Fowler didn’t truly find the place she belonged until she married Buffalo, South Dakota, rancher Ty Fowler. Today, the pair work his family’s Grubbing Hoe Ranch running cows and yearlings, and operating a successful horse program.
Read more about Melissa here.
Barbra Schulte — January 2021
Barbra Schulte grew up horseback with her family in southern Illinois. Her father, Cletus Hulling, a National Cutting Horse Association Members Hall of Fame inductee, expected excellence of his five children, and Schulte has more than lived up to that expectation. She took a brief hiatus from the horse industry to use her master’s degree to teach at the Arizona State School for the Deaf and at the University of Arizona in Tucson. However, meeting her husband, Tom, brought her back to the arena.
Read more about Barbra here.
Lainee Sampson — September 2020
This South Dakota rancher continues a family tradition of raising quality cattle, hard-working children and versatile horses. Lainee Sampson represents three generations of raising cattle and horses. Raised 25 miles north of Wall, South Dakota, she grew up working cattle horseback with her parents, Greg and Lori Shearer, and siblings.
Read more about Lainee here.
Hannah Usher — April 2019
When Hannah Usher shows up to trim new clients’ horses, she is often greeted with skeptical looks because she’s not a conventional farrier. But the petite barefoot trimmer from Colorado, has spent years studying natural hoof care, apprenticed under reputable farriers, and has been a practitioner of the natural hoof care principles of Robert Bowker, VMD; Jaime Jackson; and Pete Ramey.
Read more about Hannah here.
Janet Westfall — February 2018
More than just a cutter or a trainer’s wife, California horsewoman Janet Westfall has made a name for herself through dedication to her horses, cattle and family. On any day, Janet could be loading the dishwasher, loping horses, paying bills or fixing up the ranch. Her variety of responsibilities comes with being married to cutting horse trainer Russ Westfall, and raising their son, Brandon.
Read more about Janet here.
Tiffany McLaury — June 2017
Tiffany McLaury has specialized in starting young horses under saddle most of her life. But recently, she ventured into the show arena and quickly found success. Showing Lil Miss Wicked Pep (pictured) for Billy Green of W.H. Green Land and Cattle Company in Albany, Texas, McLaury finished second in the junior working cow class at the Stock Horse of Texas World Championship in October of 2016.
Read more about Tiffany here.
Kelli Neubert — January 2016
Now based in Texas, California horsewoman Kelli Neubert logs just as many saddle hours as her horse-trainer husband, Luke. Kelli spends much of her day riding back and forth. She helps Luke start 2-year-old cutting horse prospects. While he works a 2-year-old on a cow, Kelli serves as the turnback rider, keeping the cow moving and pointed toward Luke.
Read more about Kelli here.
Sheila Carlson — November 2015
This Arizona ranch hand wouldn’t trade life with her horses, dogs, cows and the wildlife at her cow camp on the high mesa. In the moonlight, with her gun and dogs, Sheila Carlson calls herself “the apex predator” as she watches over cattle. But when the early morning sunlight pours through the Ponderosas on Anderson Mesa, she’s likely to share a cup of hot coffee with any rare visitor.
Read more about Sheila here.
Lori Campbell — March 2014
Lori Campbell was raised on a ranch in southern Nebraska. During her senior year of high school, her family moved to Oklahoma, where she rode racehorses, started colts and met her future husband, Jeremiah. The couple manages the West Camp for Davison and Sons Cattle Company near Arnett, Oklahoma, while riding outside colts and finishing horses for their own use and for their three sons, Jake, John, and Josh.
Read more about Lori here.
Shawna Mahon — April 2013
The cattle manager for the J.R. Simplot Company’s massive feedlot in Idaho enjoys the cows, horses and fast pace of her job. Mud, manure, pipe fences and thousands of cows fill Shawna Mahon’s world. Although Shawna was raised on cow-calf ranches in Nevada and Oregon, she prefers working for a full-scale feedlot operation.
Read more about Shawna here.
Alie McKee — August 2012
Alie McKee always knew she wanted to make her living with horses and cattle. McKee and her husband, Jeff, were married in the historic barn on the Santa Margarita Ranch in 2006, and began their life together working there. While visiting the ranch on Christmas Day in 2010, McKee’s mother and aunt were murdered by a trespasser. Refusing to let the tragedy define her, McKee has found courage, compassion and an appreciation for the Margarita’s ranching heritage.
Read more about Alie here.
Heather Stiles — November 2011
Heather Stiles grew up on the legendary King Ranch in Kingsville, Texas, where her father, Joe Stiles, managed the Quarter Horse division. After graduating from college and working in the futures trading business, Stiles gave up city life in 2004 to operate her own asset management company, train her cutting horses, establish Stiles Land & Livestock with her brother in East Texas, and get back to the cowgirl lifestyle she loves.
Read more about Heather here.
Kirsten Vold — November 2010
Kirsten Vold of Pueblo, Colorado, was raised on the legendary Harry Vold Rodeo Company’s headquarters and spent her early years working and riding in the rodeo industry. This cowgirl had made a name for herself as one of the most-respected female rodeo contractors in the business. Her work to continue her father’s legacy of producing championship bucking stock has been rewarded with the success of Painted Valley, a horse Vold raised herself.
Read more about Kirsten here.
Mary Davis — April 2009
When Mary Bailey married into the Davis family of the famous CS Cattle Company, she went from showing horses in Georgia to caring for cattle in New Mexico. All along, she has continued raising and training versatile Quarter Horses. She and her husband, Warren, oversee the ranch’s horse-breeding program, start colts, tend cattle and handle the numerous challenges that come with running a large family ranch.
Read more about Mary here.
Sheila “Moe” Welch — March 2008
The late Sheila Welch grew up in California, but after she married legendary rancher and cutting-horse trainer Buster Welch, she was introduced to a whole new culture of horsemanship and ranching in Texas. “Moe” later won numerous awards in National Cutting Horse Association competition, including the 1980 non-pro world championship on Doc O Leo. Sheila and Buster were kept busy with grandchildren, horses and cattle on their ranch near Rotan, Texas.
Read more about Sheila here.
Linda Davis — March 2007
Lifelong rancher Linda Davis was the first horsewoman to be featured in our Western Horseman Women of the West series.
Linda, the matriarch of her family, managed the famous CS Ranch in Cimarron, New Mexico. In 2013 the CS Cattle Company won AQHA’s Best Remuda Award, honoring a ranch with outstanding ranch horses. Linda was also the recipient of the 2020 Women of the West Award.
Read more about Linda here.
Read about other cowgirls featured in the Western Horseman Women of the West here.