Cowgirls compete for World’s Greatest Horsewoman title during annual Art of the Cowgirl event
Every year, female artists, silversmiths, braiders, saddle makers and horsewomen gather to celebrate their contributions to the Western lifestyle and culture, raise funds to support emerging artists and expand their knowledge and skills via fellowships in their field at the annual Art of the Cowgirl event.
This four-day celebration includes a trade show, live music, an art auction, horse clinician demonstrations, colt starting, trick riding, an all-women’s ranch rodeo, an elite ranch horse sale, stock dog demonstrations, artist demonstrations and the crowing of the world’s greatest horsewoman.
This year, the Kimes Ranch World’s Greatest Horsewoman competition was held Jan. 18-22 in Queen Creek, Ariz. during Art of the Cowgirl and showcased several women from states across the West.
Road to the World’s Greatest Horsewoman
The World’s Greatest Horsewoman competition tests the skills and versatility of a horse and rider in four areas – herd work, reining, steer stopping and cow work.
The top 10 in the competition advance to a final round, where they start with a clean slate and compete for the title of the World’s Greatest Horsewoman.
Western states boasted seven of the top 10 finalists in the competition this year.
They included Maddie Fantaskey of Worland on Cr Tiny Tuff; Dylan Sponseller of Caldwell, Idaho on Spin N Twist Arey; Debbie Crafton of Ordway, Colo. on Logicality; Tina Robinson of Shandon, Calif. on Wendels New Editions; Karen Stallings of Camp Verde, Ariz. on Sheza Voodoo Dr and Tammy Johnston of Lindsay, Calif. on Mr. Cee Street.
The remaining top 10 finalists included Kelsey Love Thomas of Rising Star, Texas on Kit Kat Jerri; Morgan Holmes of Stephenville, Texas on Monster Truk; Gracen Walker of Canadian, Texas on Play Stylish With Me and Whitney Hall of Loco, Okla. on J Noble Daggett.
All-around cowgirl crowned
After an impressive showing across the board, Thomas was crowned the 2023 World’s Greatest Horsewoman on her mare Kit Kat Jerrie, fondly referred to as Elvira.
This is the duo’s second time bringing home the prestigious title. In fact, Thomas and Elvira received the same honors during the inaugural World’s Greatest Horsewoman competition in 2020. The pair also made the top 10 finalists in 2021.
In an Art of the Cowgirl interview, Thomas notes winning the 2020 event jumpstarted her cow horse career as well as her career showing in the National Reined Cow Horse Association (NRCHA).
Since then, Thomas has become a force in her field and boasts a long list of world titles. She is a five-time Ranch Horse Association of America World Champion, a two-time Women’s Ranch Rodeo Association World Champion, a Ranch Cowgirls Rodeo Association World Champion and a NRCHA Limited Open Bridle World Champion.
“Every year, the competition gets stronger with better showmen and better horses,” says Thomas. “Anytime we get to show against tough competition, it makes us step up our game and get better. We love that part of being out here in Arizona.”
She continues, “Being out here and showcasing the cowgirls and horsewomen, as well as the camaraderie and partnerships that come with it is pretty awesome. This competition will always have a special place in my heart for me and my mare.”
Hannah Bugas is the managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.