Cowgirl Spring Roundup: Day 1

Associate/Digital Editor Nichole Chirico headed to Montana to attend The Resort at Paws Up's annual Cowgirl Spring Roundup.

If you’ve had a chance to pick up the April issue of Horse&Rider, you’ve probably learned a little about The Resort at Paws Up‘s Cowgirl Spring Roundup from our Travel section of the magazine. It’s a time where women around the country, and from all different walks of life, come together to embrace their inner cowgirl for a weekend filled with activities lead by National Cowgirl Museum hall-of-fame cowgirls. 

Each year celebrates different cowgirl honorees; this year’s group included Barbara Van Cleve, Veryl Goodnight, Marilyn Williams Harris, and fellow H&R contributor Sharon Camarillo. (Learn about minor tack adjustments for barrel racing from Sharon here.)

As a former horse-show girl, I’ve spent a majority of my life around horses, but in a very different environment. While my roots take me back to riding bareback in a pasture full of cattle, a majority of my riding career has been spent in the show pen. So when I had the opportunity to head to Montana for this amazing event I knew I couldn’t turn it down.

Within minutes of arriving to Missoula and getting off the airplane, it was easy to spot the women that were headed to The Resort at Paws Up. They arrived in their favorite boots and cowboy hats, and were already introducing themselves and excitedly talking about what activities they were looking forward to most. 

The drive is about 40 minutes from the airport, but it’s so beautiful and filled with history that I lost track of time. Once we arrived to the resort I grabbed a quick bite to eat and headed to my cabin. 

I stayed in one of the Big Timber homes, which was the perfect size for one person, but Paws Up offers luxury homes (and glamping tents!) for groups of all sizes. My pictures from my phone probably don’t do the cabin justice, but you can see more photos of the Big Timber homes here. 

It was an easy evening for everyone, as most people spent the entire day traveling across the country to get there. I was one of the very few that had a direct flight to Missoula. We started the night out with a cocktail hour and had a chance to mingle with the the Cowgirl Hall of Famers we were celebrating this weekend, and then sat down for dinner where we watched videos of the honorees and learned about their passion for Western horse life. 

The barn that cocktails and dinner were held in the first night at the Cowgirl Spring Roundup.

Once the videos were over, it was time for us to all introduce ourselves and share what brought us to Montana to be part of the Cowgirl Spring Roundup. There were women here that own and spend most of their lives on the back of the horse, while others enjoy the Western lifestyle from afar and wanted to be a cowgirl for the weekend. Like myself, many women were here for the first time, some on their annual “girls trip,” while others traveled solo to attend an event that’s been on their bucket list for years. Of course there were plenty of women that have become veterans to the Cowgirl Spring Roundup attending it year after year, telling me that they had so much fun the first time that coming to Montana for this event has become tradition.

Tomorrow starts early for everyone. Guests had the option to do a sunrise trail ride or a morning photography session with Barbara Van Cleve. 

Read about day two of the Cowgirl Spring Roundup here. 

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