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.
Aggie 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 its not a one-way deal," she said.
"I have a lot of pride in the womans role in the West today but
theres a lot of good men and good partnerships in the ranching industry.
"I can make the decisions, but physically theres things I
cant do," she said. "Im 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 todays
evolving ranching industry.
"When I was raised on the ranch, women didnt 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 youre not strong- willed and innovative youll 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 whats the matter with a cow when it goes
down. You have to be a jack-of- all-trades."
Nine-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 isnt 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
Jan 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 dont 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."