Royal retreat encourages 40-somethings to get back on the saddle

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BRECKENRIDGE, Texas (KRBC) - Getting back on the saddle!

That is what the 40 Something Cowgirls are embracing.

They made their way into the Big Country this month, rocking their tiaras and country western heritage.

However, it is more than just horseback racing.

Nearly thirty 40 Something Cowgirls traveled from across the nation to the Breckenridge National Headquarters.

Some came as far as across the world, like Tracey Boogs, who was one of four who made the trip from Australia.

"The sense of sisterhood, the belonging to something that is so much bigger, but so much close at the same time. So, we are as far as these guys, as you could geographically get before you start coming back," Tracey Boogs said. She is a Cowgirl Princess from her chapter in Geelong, Australia.

Every year, the women get together to have a leadership conference.

"It's so much fun," Rhonda Martin laughed. "This is our final team-building exercise. And in addition with the teambuilding exercise with the royals where we put tem together. They don't know each other. They have to build a team and try to be successful out in the arena. In addition, we have our local girls who are competing for jackpot money at the same time, in the same events."

Martin has been in the organization for seven years. She is the members services director for the organization.  Martin was previously a Cowgirl Princess in Salem, Oregon, before moving to Texas for work. She connected with chapters here, upon arrival.

She has now passed the torch over to her mother, Tootie Martin, who has taken over as princess in the Salem, Oregon chapter.

Rhonda Martin said there is really no way to prepare for these events.

"We throw something new in them each time. So, it's a matter of just reading the rules and kind of talking to each other and figuring out who's better at what," Rhonda Martin said.
The competitions from range barrel racing, which is a tedious task.

"You go around each barrel and gather a giant marshmallow, which tastes like cotton. And you have to have three of those in your mouth whe you come across the line, not using your hands," Tracey Boogs said.

There is also a milking challenge and even cattle sorting.

Tootie Martin made the sorting task look easy.

"They have a pin of cows and they're all numbered from zero to nine. They would call a number when you go in and you will start at that number and go down the line and get them in the other pin, without the other ones following them. That's the hard thing to do," Tootie Martin said. "You're never too old to have fun. I'm 74. I don't care how many people know it and the little girls have got to keep up with the big girls. We just got four in! Yahee!"

With her team ahead of the others, Tootie is happy this network of girls will always be there for one another.

"My husband passed away and I needed something to do because if I stayed by myself, I wouldn't be doing as much," Tootie said.

Tootie Martin said the idea of getting back on the saddle keeps you young.

"We have people that are in the group that don't even have horses. So, we try and help them learn about horses and if that's not their thing then they help us with organization. Anybody can join. That's the neat thing about it," Tootie Martin said.

The 40 Something Cowgirls said the meaning behind the group extended beyond keeping country alive.

Kristi Williams said October is the appropriate month for them to hold their annual retreat because of breast cancer awareness. She is the founder and president of 40 Something Cowgirls International.

"It [the retreat] has a lot to do with breast cancer. I lost my mother to breast cancer and that's really what spurred it in 2010," Kristi Williams said.

She said her mother also had a love for the farm.

"My world was rocked when my mother called me and said, you know, 'I have breast cancer.' And I thought, well, how can I make a difference?," Kristi Williams said.

That difference is coming in the form of helping others who are battling breast cancer.

"We give to the Breast Cancer Foundation, five percent, up until about, where we started our Cowgirl Angel fund," she said.

Now, seven years later, the 40 Something Cowgirls is made up of about 1,000 members, nationwide, and spreading country worldwide.

"These are our leaders of our chapters across the nation and then we got our Aussie girls here that are now branching out into Australia so that they can do what we're doing here nationally," Kristi Williams said.

The organization is expanding so quick that this month's retreat had them at capacity and now the organization is working on making two retreats a year, instead of one.

In order to become a princess, Rhonda Martin said you must step up and volunteer.

"If you want to be a royal and if you want to step up into a leadership position, we provide training opportunities, so as soon as you say, I want to do it, we will set in our training program and get you everything that you need to be able to run a successful chapter," she said.

For more information about the 40 Something Cowgirls, click here.


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