By: Julia Dondero
They are out feeding horses amid brutal Montana snow storms and blistering Texas heat. They spend countless hours patterning horses and running chutes in the arena. They’re raising the next generation of cowboys and cowgirls. They are excelling in their careers and writing their names in history books. They shatter glass ceilings and break records in every arena and life. They are cowgirls.
Cowgirls are the epitome of true grit forged by the rugged demands of the Western lifestyle, as well as the gentle hands nourishing and cheering on others. The spirit of the cowgirl is untamed and relentless and is alive more today than ever.
Cowgirls like Jimmi Jo Montera are trailblazers in and out of the arena. As a leading team roper and breakaway roper, the Colorado native has spent most of her life perfecting her craft on the dirt. The 2021 Women’s Rodeo World Championship Champion Heeler reflected on events like the WRWC’s impact on cowgirls nationwide.
“When I was younger, I was the only girl entering team ropings,” Montera said. “Now it’s evolved, and it’s great to see all the young talent entering. I feel so fortunate and grateful for the opportunities afforded by the WRWC. The future for women in rodeo is bright.”
Montera also explained the WRWC works for her busy lifestyle, as she is also a devoted mother and wife.
“The opportunity to compete at this level while raising a family has been great. Raising our children has been my greatest pride, and having these opportunities has been so fun,” said the Colorado native, who also spends her days roping alongside her husband, Rick.
Montera’s family is at the core of everything she does. From traveling to club basketball games with her sons Colby and Garrett to spending time with her stepdaughters Chancy, Jena, and Keiley, being a mother is at the core of the cowgirl lifestyle for Montera.
Cowgirls come from various backgrounds and experience levels. However, they all have the grit, determination, and passion to perfect their crafts.
Led by many trailblazers, the future for cowgirls and women in rodeo continues to brighten like the summer sun on a Texas day. One standout, youth All-Around Cowgirl Amy Ohrt, looks to continue to blaze her own path while following in the footsteps of the many great all-around hands to walk before her.
Growing up on a cattle ranch outside of Victoria, Texas, Ohrt has raised and trained her current line-up of rope horses. With many long days spent on the family ranch, Ohrt has also learned many valuable lessons regarding the value of hard work, perseverance, and dedication.
Ohrt also accredits her robust support system and her string of equine partners for her multi-event success. From her father being in the box with her to her mother and brother supporting her behind the scenes, her family’s support has meant everything to the young cowgirl.
“I’ve learned so much from my family and wouldn’t be anywhere without their support,” said Ohrt, who will attend Wharton County Junior College this Fall with goals of becoming a surgical technician and an active competitor on the rodeo team. “Being an All-Around Cowgirl means so much to me. I don’t want to be good in just one event; I aim to be good in all of them.”
Generations of cowgirls exemplify the hard-working, determined spirit of the Western lifestyle. As women’s roles in rodeo continue to evolve, so do the copious amount of opportunities. Ceiling-shattering events like the Women’s Rodeo World Championship have continued to open new doors for cowgirls to continue their passions in and out of the arena. As the torch of the Western lifestyle continues to be passed through generations, one thing is for sure—cowgirls will be there to bear it.