Pages from the Past: Miss Western Life

In researching a story for Horse&Rider’s 50th anniversary, I flipped through April 1971’s issue. On the very last page of the magazine, I saw a monthly department, common in all early H&Rs: Miss Western Life.

The scan of the April 1971 piece, by June Vasbinder.

This section features a young lady the editors of the magazine deemed representative of Western culture and horsemanship. April 1971’s Miss Western Life? Virginia “Ginny” Hoak.

Ginny, who is now Ginny Bowman, has been my horse trainer since I was 9 years old. She saw me through battles with my rotten little pony Boogie, mounted me on 3-time ApHC world champion (and multiple time national champion) Images Candy to build my confidence as a pre-teen, found me Onyx and trained and coached me to all the wins (and all the bad runs and injuries) that came with her, and more recently, she made it possible for me to run Naughty and told me to buy Casady when a lot of people had their doubts. She put up with me through my teenage years (an effort for which she and her husband, Paul, deserve a medal), hauled me up and down the rodeo road to make my cowgirl dreams come true, and has constantly been my first responder to all medical/training/emotional emergencies that have come down the road. When my horse’s pee is a funny color, when her nose is snotty, when she’s tying up, when she’s running by a barrel, when my boyfriend breaks up with me, when I get a job, or… you get the point… Ginny is my first phone call. (She’s on speed dial, obviously.)

She still?is Miss Western Life, and she always will be. Growing up, I always wanted to live Ginny’s “Western life”, which is why I’m here today, still in the horse industry, making a career of it. Seeing her name in print, all those years ago, brought a smile to my face, and got me thinking of how her Western life affects my own. And I couldn’t be more thankful for it.

Who is in your Western life that you couldn’t do without?

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