Chris LeDoux said it best, “if your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.” In the world of rodeo, we have been graced by the likes of many leaders. From the “Queen of the Cowgirls,” Dale Evans, to Pro Rodeo heroes such as Lane Frost, the past, present, and future of America’s western heritage has been celebrated and honored by cowboys and cowgirls alike.
One group of multi-talented women are doing just that. As “Ambassadors of Western Heritage and the Equestrian Way of Life,” Arizona’s very own, Cowgirls Historical Foundation is leading their community in celebration of the western culture that makes their home-state of Arizona so special.
“Saddled up for Service,” the Cowgirls Historical Foundation (CHF) is a 501c3 non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the past, present, and future of the western and equestrian lifestyle. As active members in the community, CHF participates in various community service activities across the state of Arizona and beyond in addition to performing as an equestrian drill team at various rodeos. With a focus on Faith, Family, and Freedom, CHF serves hundreds of community service hours annually.
The Cowgirls Historical Foundation is as unique as the women who make it a reality. With such a dynamic group of cowgirls making an impact in their communities, one of the founding members Julee Brady, helped to create a unique opportunity to inspire and empower women while protecting and preserving the western lifestyle. Women of accomplishment, CHF members are mothers, students, business women, former rodeo queens, rodeo champions, activists, artists, community members, and so much more. Julee shares,
“Our members have garnered numerous awards such as Mustang Makeover Champion, Miss Rodeo USA, Miss Rodeo Arizona, Miss Rodeo Iowa, Gilbert Days Rodeo Queen, and many more.”
Dynamic in character, personality, and individual interests, one thing is common across the board, these cowgirls can ride!
Saddled upon gorgeous horses, it isn’t hard to find these high-flying cowgirls performing death-defying equestrian drill moves in the rodeo arena. With undeniable speed, grace, a bright smile, and matching outfits, these cowgirls are ready to entertain rodeo crowds. From equestrian drills honoring those who are fighting and have fought Breast Cancer, to drills honoring our first responders and veterans, CHF is honored to share their talents and message with those who have given so much. Hours of hard-work go in behind the scenes to ensure safety of rider and horse alike. This dedication to their craft and professionalism in and out of the arena has allowed for top-notch performances for rodeo fans to enjoy.
When they aren’t in the arena, the Cowgirls Historical Foundation is making an even bigger splash in their community. As it states on the Cowgirls Historical Foundation website, “it is well known that people who serve others, end up saving themselves with a more content and happier heart.” CHF is dedicated to service and has been honored to volunteer at several honorable events. From the American Heart & Stroke Association to the Veterans Medical Leadership Council, CHF has had the unique opportunity to serve and give back to those who have given so much.
For Cowgirls Historical Foundation founding member, Julee Brady, CHF is much more than a passion, it is an homage to a family past that has upheld its western heritage throughout generations. When asked what inspired her to create this dynamic group of cowgirls, Julee shared the many influences she had. One of them being her beloved Mother-In-Law, Odile Frost Brady.
“Many hardworking people inspired the creation of The Cowgirls Historical Foundation. Our personal family history is blessed by the influence of Pat Brady’s rich family western heritage. Pat’s mother, Odile Frost Brady was the 1950 Reno Rodeo Queen. During one of our summer visits, we went into a basement closet and found a fun treasure – her vintage rodeo queen clothes made by Hollywood designer to the stars, Nathan Turk. To our delight, her clothes fit us. We loved hearing her stories and seeing the photographs of these great people and the vibrant outfits that they wore.”
This vintage western flair also inspired one of the most unique aspects of the Cowgirls Historical Foundation. Living up to their motto of preserving the past of America’s Western Heritage, when off-horseback you can find these cowgirls dressed head-to-toe in beautiful vintage western outfits.
“The majority of the outfits worn by the Cowgirls Historical Foundation are museum quality and originated from Hollywood’s Glitterati era from the 1940’s to 1960’s. Rhinestoned works of art designed by Manuel, Nudie Cohn, Rodeo Ben, and Nathan Turk for stars like Roy Rogers, Dale Evans, Sonny & Cher, and western singer Judy Lynn. Each outfit has a story of its own. Roy Rogers told Hollywood Designer Nudie Cohn to make him an outfit that shined so much that even the kids in the faraway cheap seats at Madison Square Gardens could see him and Trigger come sparklin’ in!”
And sparklin’ they are! So much so, that CHF has been honored to display their wearable art collection at various prestigious events. With the help of talented photographers such as Patricia Gomez, Charlie Brooks, and Nicole Bonilla, CHF’s distinct style has traveled the world.
“These talented photographers took photos that captured the colorful images of the CHF horses, wardrobe and camaraderie. These photographs have been printed in national magazines such Cowboys and Indians, Western Horseman, Cowgirl, Reno Rodeo Program, Chrome, Tournament of Roses, and many more.”
As ambassadors to rodeo and the western lifestyle, the Cowgirls Historical Foundation is proud of the work they do to better their community through education, preservation, and volunteerism. The Cowgirls Historical Foundation was created and organized by people who love western heritage and celebrate the equestrian way of life. For over a decade of service, Julee Brady continues to be instrumental in directing the activities of the Cowgirls Historical Foundation. The current Cowgirls Historical Foundation president is Kiva James. In her final statement when asked what CHF is doing to keep the past, present, and future of western culture alive, Julee proudly shares,
“We feel it is a privilege to share these wearable works of art and our love of horses with today’s generation. We often visit schools, perform at charity events, and participate in rodeos, concerts and festivals around the state and beyond. The CHF Cowgirls perform as an equestrian drill team and perform at rodeos, parades and tourism events across the states. We have been invited to travel to places like Ireland, Scotland, China, and France. We visit kids in schools there as we shared our western heritage with Lads and Lassie’s across the ocean. We participate in community events and town councils as we strive to protect the equestrian way of life. Participating on radio and TV talk shows, RFD-TV, the Cowboy Channel, we strive to share this lifestyle and unique beauty of awesome Arizona. Where we believe, the people are as warm as the weather. We share a kind deeds platform and have collected hundreds of stories about acts of kindness. We are proud to walk and ride alongside many great people who celebrate this great way of life also. Happy Trails!”
Stay tuned for the next Cowboy Lifestyle Network Western Industry Woman Highlight!
‘Cowgirl’ is an attitude really. A pioneer spirit, a special American brand of courage. The cowgirl faces life head-on, lives by her own lights, and makes no excuses. Cowgirls take stands; they speak up. They defend things they hold dear.” – Dale Evans
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