Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Fancy Lady Cowgirl: An Interview with Courtenay DeHoff


Fancy Lady Cowgirl Courtenay DeHoff
All Photos: Kirstie Marie Photography,
Styled by Cohen and HMU by Daniela Bell Beauty

Fancy Lady Cowgirl: An Interview with Courtenay DeHoff
by Gina McKnight
Archived from the September 2022 Issue of Florida Equine Athlete
No duplication without permission.
Fancy Lady Cowgirl represents people showing
authentically as themselves, embracing and loving
the lifestyle in whatever way makes the
most sense to them.” C. DeHoff 

Courtenay DeHoff is an amazing woman. She is the proprietor of Fancy Lady Cowgirl ® “championing women from all walks of life through the cowgirl spirit.” As a TV host and speaker, she creates engaging conversation with the best of America. Her Cowgirl Problems Podcastintroduces people who are upholding traditions of the West in unexpected ways. Urban and rural collide as Courtenay takes you on one unfiltered and often hilarious journey…”

A former rodeo queen and competitor, Courtenay has a lot to say about horses, competing, and life in general. She is an inspiration to women worldwide. She is a bucking bull mother to Top Bull, an award-winning stud-muffin. Connect with Courtenay on social media to see her fabulous photos, learn about her upcoming events, podcasts, and much more!

Welcome Courtenay!

GM: Courtenay, thank you so much for interviewing for my column! It is nice to meet you and learn about Fancy Lady Cowgirl and your ambitions. Let’s start at the beginning - when did you meet your first horse?

CD:  I've been around horses since I was a very little girl, in fact the first ponies that I started out with were hand-me-downs from my mom and uncles. I had a little pony named Tiny Mite, I had a pony named Jingles that my uncles, who are younger than my mom, grew up riding. So, my first encounter with a horse literally was from the day I was born, even before that because my mom was riding throughout her pregnancy. I've been around horses quite literally my entire life.

GM: As a seasoned cowgirl, you've competed in professional rodeo and more. Tell us about your favorite event …

CD:  I grew up high school rodeoing in the state of Kansas and then to the national high school finals as both a rodeo queen for the state of Kansas and in the goat tying event. I eventually went to Oklahoma State University where I was on the rodeo team at OSU. I got into rodeo first and foremost as a barrel racer. I love barrel racing, was very heavily involved in barrel racing and as I got a little older, I learned to goat tie, but honestly, I have to say one of my favorite events is the roping. I did not actually learn to rope until I was in college. I was very late to the game. I was competing in college rodeo in breakaway roping with girls who had been roping since they were two, three, four, or five years old. So, I was very, very late but it was such a new challenge, and it was so exciting. I really loved competing in breakaway in college.

GM: Congratulations on all your well-deserved accolades and accomplishments! How has the rodeo propelled your career?

CD: You know rodeo completely set me up for all of the success I've had outside of the western and agriculture world. Rodeo taught me the value of hard work, it taught me how to win, it taught me how to lose, it taught me how to fail and to continue to get back up and keep putting one foot in front of the other. Rodeo really shaped my entire mindset growing up because we know it's not an easy life. Rodeo really prepared me for the game of life, for the sport of life.

GM: Following on social media, I’m inspired by your beautiful photos and accomplishments! You motivate women to follow their dreams. Your Instagram is so much fun, especially pics of your bull, Top Dollar! Your fans all over the world are wondering how can you get so close to a bull?

CD: Here's the story about Top Dollar… in 2020 I had sort of this once in a lifetime career opportunity. I was hired by the PBR the Professional Bull Riders to be their sideline host for RidePass, their streaming service, and I got to go to Madison Square Garden. I was going to all of their premier tour events, so the top 50, top 25 riders in the world - the best of the best. I really, really loved it. That was January 2020. That dream job lasted full three months before the pandemic hit. In July of that year, I had a DM request on Instagram in my request box. It was from this girl that I didn't know, her name was Katie. She's like, “Hey what's up? You wanna own a bucking bull?” and I was like, “No, ma'am! I sure don't.” I don't know anything about the stock contractor side of owning a bull. I have never really been involved in the bucking bull industry. Because I was a girl, I didn't grow up riding bulls and I was just like, “What is this, like is this a joke? I don't even know who this girl is!” As the story goes, I became the owner of a bucking bull. I remember I went out and met Katie and her partner Laramie, just to make sure that they were like legit. I didn't really know enough to be able to tell if they were legit, but I went to see the place, just to make sure that they looked like they knew what they were doing. I really enjoyed and liked them. One of Katie and Laramie’s big things - part of the reason they reached out to me - they really wanted to encourage more women to get involved in the bucking bull industry and they wanted to show females that they could be stock contractors, too. I loved that 'cause it was very on-brand for me and my mission, and so I said, “Yes!” I became what is appropriately called a stock contractor, that's what they're called. I call myself a bucking bull mother. On that first meeting, he was this scrawny little bull, he wouldn’t even get close to me. He was out in pasture. I said, “If I am going to do this, I want to be able to pet him.” Katie, being polite, just meeting me, she smiled, “Oh, okay.” Sure enough, Katy tamed that dang bull, and he loves snacks, he loves women, he really loves little kids. Laramie, not so much, I am not so sure Top Dollar loves him. But he is just the coolest bull. Top Dollar, that very first year, went on to become the ABBI [American Bucking Bull, Inc.] yearling world champion, so not only did I get a bucking bull, but I got a really good one unbeknownst to me because I didn't know what I was doing. He is absolutely not retired now, in fact this year he got his first rider. We put a rider on him at Katie and Laramie's place. I saw the video. I think he looks like a champion, but what do I know. We’ll buck him starting this year late this summer with a rider. We’ll buck him all next year with a rider as well. His career is very much just getting started.

GM: With so many things on your plate, especially the proprietor of a successful global community, you must be busy! What do your days look like?

CD: Yes, this is like the million-dollar question. Every single day looks different for me. Sometimes I'm on the road, I'm working 12-hour days. Maybe I am at the AQHA (American Quarter Horse Association) show doing their television coverage the American Quarter Horse World Show interviewing champions, producing shows. Those are long, long busy days. I go for weeks at a time. Sometimes I'm doing keynotes, so I'm flying. I'm on airplanes a lot, airport hotels, delivering keynotes to people all over the country. I'm also trying to run my own business and grow Fancy Lady Cowgirls. Every day looks different. When I'm home, I like to get up, make some coffee. A couple of years ago I treated myself to an espresso machine, so I love to get up, fire up my espresso machine, have a coffee, check emails, and workout. I love to go on long walks. I live in a city, but I love to be outdoors. I grew up on horses, I grew up on a ranch, so anytime I can get outside I go on long walks and listen to podcasts, come back and work the rest after the afternoon. Every day is different.

GM: Every woman would like to know the key to staying inspired and motivated. What drives your success?

CD: When it comes to what I'm doing, this business that I'm building, it's really easy to stay motivated and inspired. What I'm building isn't money focused. What I'm building isn't about necessarily selling a tangible product. When I am doing, what I get up every morning to do is to keep the lifestyle that I grew up in alive. What I do every morning when I wake up saying, “How can I take the cowgirl mainstream? How can I introduce the rest of the world to the amazing people in agriculture and the amazing horse people all over the world? How can I use my platform to introduce mainstream audiences to who we are and what we do?” It's easy for me to stay motivated because this is a passion, this is very deep rooted within me.

GM: You know your way around horses, and we always need cowgirl wisdom. What advice do you have for those looking to purchase their first horse and follow the cowgirl lifestyle?

CD:  My personal brand that's turned into a global lifestyle brand, I believe that you can live the cowgirl lifestyle without a horse. My advice first would be if you wanna wear cowboy hat, buy a cowboy hat. If you wanna wear a pair of cowboy boots, go out and buy a pair of cowboy boots. You can live the cowgirl lifestyle in whatever way makes sense to you. I live in one of the biggest cities in America and I'm still living the cowgirl lifestyle because to me the cowgirl lifestyle is not about your occupation, not about how many horses you own or if you even own a horse. It’s not about how many cowboy hats you have, you don't have to own a cowboy hat. To me it is a state of mind, so I think that you can live the cowgirl lifestyle in whatever way makes sense to you.

If you're looking to purchase your first horse, well my advice would be to save your dollars. I have big goals. I would love to buy a cutting horse and get into the world of cutting my mom shows in. What I have discovered is that I have very good taste in horses apparently, so as far as purchasing your first horse, save your money, do your research, and don't make a rash decision or investment. Do your research, talk to people in the industry, reach out to people like me on social media, and be like, “Hey, what are your thoughts what are your advice? Where would you go first?”

GM: Who can be a Fancy Lady Cowgirl and how does a rural girl like me fit in?

CD: Anyone can be a Fancy Lady Cowgirl. You don't need to be fancy. You don't need to be a rancher. You don't even need to consider yourself a cowgirl. Fancy Lady Cowgirl represents women from all walks of life who appreciate the lifestyle, who have that cowgirl state of mind. Maybe you've never been around a horse, maybe you've never been on ranch, maybe you’ve no desire to do any of those things. You can still be a Fancy Lady Cowgirl. What I'm trying to do is help instill cowgirl qualities in people around the world because here's the thing, I think this world would be a whole lot better place a lot more cowgirls. Fancy Lady Cowgirl represents this table, this community where everyone is welcome - come as you are. You call yourself a rural cowgirl? That's great! Guess what? You’re a Fancy Lady Cowgirl. It really represents people showing authentically as themselves, embracing and loving the lifestyle in whatever way makes the most sense to them. So, the answer is anyone who loves the lifestyle, anyone who has a passion for it, or even just anyone who has a small interest in it. You can show up here and you can be up big city cowgirl.

GM: What does horsemanship mean to you?

CD:  I mentioned I was a barrel racer, so everything was fast and full speed all the time. It wasn't until I got to college – I had this really good barrel horse that we bought as a futurity colt. I was having a lot of trouble with him and took him to a cutting horse trainer as a last resort. I told him, “I can't get with this horse.” He told me that I was a great rider, I mean I could ride anything. He said to me, “Well, first of all I'm going teach you horsemanship.” I was so offended, but to me horsemanship really means understanding your horse. It's not just about throwing a saddle on and riding around. It's learning to feel. It's learning to anticipate their movements and what they're about to do before they even do it. That's something that this cutting horse trainer really taught me - the value of having a good handle on your horse. I guess horsemanship to me means being one with your horse and being able to anticipate their needs before they need them. This can be on the ground or while you're riding. I think a big part of horsemanship is being able to read them. You can tell by the look in their eyes if something is up – if they’re not feeling right, or if something is out of whack. To me, all of these things make up horsemanship.

Connect with Courtenay:

All Photos: Kirstie Marie Photography,
Styled by Cohen and HMU by Daniela Bell Beauty



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