Cowgirl apparel and calendars

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By Editha Bartley

I was the happy recipient of some fabulous calendars this year. The Muench Colorado photography calendar brought back so many memories of our visits to this picturesque state. Viva Colorado, as they say, and I could take the same spectacular mountain snow scenes right here from my yard as I write this.
The Cowgirls of the Old West Calendar is a treasure of old, historic photographs going back almost 100 years. These fun photos really jogged my memory. My grandfather Brown had to raise my mother and my aunt (they were 14 and 10) after their mother was killed by a train in Valmora. Dr. Maria Tichy, a dentist, tried to bring some girly things into the girls’ young lives, but my grandfather had other plans. Both girls became cowgirls at a very early age, and neither of them ever gave up that part of their lives. They could harness, then hitch up a team to a wagon in the time most of us needed to saddle just one horse.
Cows and horses were the most important things in their lives, and sweet brother Bill and I knew we’d better be understanding of this and do our chores, which included shoveling you-know-what out of the horse stalls regularly, and we’d better not gripe about any part of this job, including chopping thick ice out of the stock tanks on bitter cold mornings. Mother said these chores molded character and taught responsibility. And yes, our three kids ended up doing almost the same chores, and they questioned this logic just as much as Bill and I did so long ago.
The cowgirl photographs in the new calendar include all sorts of proper cowgirl dress, which included riding trousers, chaps and the fancy, high top cowboy boots. My mother and my aunt rode my grandfather’s fancy gaited horses in many events, even some parades in California.
He demanded they be properly dressed for the occasion (by his standards) so he had a saddlemaker make beautiful leather riding skirts for them. They were not allowed to wear pants, jeans of any kind. These riding skirts were hot, heavy and uncomfortable, I’m sure. They wore denim riding skirts when riding here at home.
Mother always had several pairs of Justin cowboy boots in her closet. One fancy pair was only worn for special riding occasions. Another pair was totally worn out (by my standards) and she always said they were the most comfortable, so she would never throw them out, must to my father’s dismay.
One of our big gaited geldings fell on her once, accidentally, and she ended up with a broken ankle, and I think this old pair of boots were soft and stretched enough to support that always-hurting ankle. Yes, she got back on King that day of the wreck and rode him home. She never, ever got on a horse with shoes instead of boots, and her boots always had high, slanted heels, not the flat ropers of today. Yes, she was one tough cowgirl!
I have lots of old family cowboy memorabilia here, including some well-worn red leather leggings made for me so long ago by Slim Green, the famous saddlemaker.
We all know everything old can be new again, and one never knows when one might need one of these old but solid treasures. I also have more than one pair of cowboy boots in the closet. Mother would approve, I know.

Editha Bartley  lives in Gascon in Mora County. She may be reached at 454-0563.