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Remembering a True Cowgirl

"Cowgirl is a spirit. “The true cowgirl is someone with the spirit, and it doesn’t mean that she comes from a ranch or the West, but just a woman who has a belief in herself and is gritty. And ready to take on any challenge.”

~ Tammy Pate

Women, men and horses are mourning the loss of a genuine cowgirl this past month. Tammy Pate was the real deal. I am saddened by her passing, she was young and so vibrant, but lost her brave battle to cancer. 

We’ve all been told it’s best to “get back in the saddle” after we’ve been thrown and hurt. This sounds right, it sounds strong. But getting back in the saddle is not just hopping back on a horse. No, it means putting your foot back in the stirrup, facing your fear, and approaching it all with a positive attitude. It means learning from any mistakes and maybe making a change within yourself so you can change how you ride the horse. It takes courage and confidence and it’s not easy. Sometimes we need help or a mentor to take us through it.


That’s what I was looking for when I attended Tammy’s Horsemanship and Yoga Retreat at the Home Ranch in Colorado. Janice Baxter was the yogi, and together they helped me overcome the psychological barriers that I felt after a bad fall off a horse. 


Tammy tuned into me as soon as we met, gave me a gentle horse to ride, and helped me remember that I did know how to ride. She stressed connecting with the horse’s mind and body and going slow so that I didn’t overwhelm myself. Both she and Janice reminded me to stay positive and control my thinking as it always shows up in my body. And then of course, the horse feels it. By the end of the week, I was riding confidently around a corral herding cows and having fun again. 


And I wasn’t the only one who benefited from Tammy’s skill and insight. She could somehow intuit what people and horses needed. She had a quiet presence and confidence and she made everyone feel comfortable, even those who were less experienced with horses. Tammy came from her heart, and we all felt it.   


To me, she embodied the cowgirl spirit, which anyone, living far away from horses or ranching, can embrace. It’s a sense of being true to yourself, blazing your own trail, and facing life’s challenges with strength and grace. 


Tammy’s biggest legacy may lie in the creation of Art of the Cowgirl which is a growing event near Phoenix, AZ.  It was her vision to “gather people around art, horses, community, music - all the things that she loved.” I haven't attended this event yet, which happens in late January. I’m sorry I can't make it this year as they honor and make a tribute to Tammy Pate, and her cowgirl spirit.

Thank you, Tammy, for your heart, your skill and your loving presence.



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