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For the week of May 31 through June 6, 2000

Cowgirl reflections

The changing western landscape


By KEVIN WISER
Express Staff Writer

Cowboys need not apply.

The fifth annual Women of the West Performance Horse Sale in Picabo on Saturday is definitely a cowgirls’ event.

Three cowgirls participating in the riding and auction activities were asked to present their gender views on the changing western landscape.

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Aggie BrailsfordAggie Brailsford is a 58-year-old Idaho native who has ranched all her life. She and her husband Bill work 1,500 head of cattle in the Hagerman area and trail two bands of sheep to the summer pastures of the Stanley Basin.

Brailsford describes her role in the ranching operation as a cooperative partnership with her husband.

"I was raised on a ranch and have done practically everything in the industry that men do, but it’s not a one-way deal," she said.

"I have a lot of pride in the woman’s role in the West today but there’s a lot of good men and good partnerships in the ranching industry.

"I can make the decisions, but physically there’s things I can’t do," she said. "I’m not big enough to pull a cow but as far as being a manager, yes, I can do that."

Brailsford said women are taking on a different role in today’s evolving ranching industry.

"When I was raised on the ranch, women didn’t do the things they do now," Brailsford said. "When it was time to move livestock, the women went to the house and did chores.

"The technology and economy of today have dictated some of the things I do in ranching. If you’re not strong- willed and innovative you’ll never survive. You have to know a little something about everything. You have to be able to fix the tractor when it breaks down and know what’s the matter with a cow when it goes down. You have to be a jack-of- all-trades.’"

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Erin GreenNine-year-old Erin Green of Eagle, a future woman of the West, has been riding horses since she was 3 years old.

"I really like being with the horses and riding around and chasing the cows," Erin said.

When asked what she wants to be when she grows up, Erin said, "Probably a cowgirl…and I want to write books."

Erin has learned early in life that being a cowgirl isn’t a glamorous film role. It takes a lot of hard work.

"Both men and women have to work hard to be good at it," Erin said.

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Jan McCain-LuppinoJan McCain-Luppino, 42, is a single mother of two from Red Bluff, Calif., who makes a living training horses and riders.

"Being a single mother, I had to find my own place in the horse business," she said.

Luppino is a well known and highly regarded horse trainer in Northern California and also puts on cowgirl horsemanship clinics throughout the West.

"My theory is that women have to do things differently than men," Luppino said. "We don’t have the size and muscle."

In training horses, Luppino uses a non-confrontational approach that embodies the use of brain instead of brawn.

"The days of breaking a horse are gone," she said. "Getting on them and bucking them out is a thing of the past. Teaching a horse, instead of forcing them, is the most effective way to train a horse."

 

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Copyright 2000 Express Publishing Inc. All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited.