Episode 001 - The Fancy Lady Cowgirl, Courtenay DeHoff

Join Justin’s Content Developer, Taylor McAdams, as she uncovers the woman under the cowboy hat, Courtenay DeHoff. Listen as they discuss the agricultural lifestyle from the Fancy Lady Cowgirl. She owns the PBR Bull Top Dollar, is a sought-after keynote speaker, and network television host, and has even spoken in front of 65,000 people at the Lucas Oil Stadium for the 2021 National FFA Convention.

They discuss what it was like growing up in small-town America, the benefits of the National High School Rodeo Association (NHSRA), what it was like for Courtenay to be on the rodeo team at Oklahoma State University (OSU), and everything western lifestyle. They even touch on New York Fashion Week and what it was like for Courtenay to run into Florida Georgia Line’s Tyler Hubbard in Paris, France.

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Podcast Transcript

Taylor Mcadams: You're listening to the kick your boots up podcast where we swap stories of the West. Whether you're just waking up or getting in for the day, come on in and kick your boots up. Hello, and welcome to the Kick Your Boots up Podcast. I'm so excited for this episode. This is the one and only Courtenay DeHoff She's the fancy lady cowgirl. That's probably what you guys know her as I know, we're asked the girl from Kansas that was at the OSU rodeo team at Oklahoma State University that is Go Pokes. I'm so thankful to have Courtenay on and this is going to be a really good episode to talk about her story and all things fancy lady cowgirl and all the different hats you wear. So Courtenay, thank you for being on today.

Courtenay Dehoff: Thanks for having me.

Taylor Mcadams: You know something that's unique about you is you have worn a lot of different hats growing up, and then also now in the industry as well. Let's talk about your background a little bit. How did you get started in the industry?

Courtenay Dehoff: Yeah, I was really blessed in the fact that I was born into it. You know, my mom and dad both came from agriculture. My grandparents are still heavily involved in agriculture. So it was all I knew. I tell people I'm just a little cowgirl from Kansas, you know, now, people see me sometimes as a network television host or as the fancy lady cowgirl. And they're like how we, you know, how did you achieve all those things. And I say I'm just a little cowgirl from Kansas, I grew up riding horses was heavily involved in high school rodeo (NHSRA) into the national high school finals (NHSFR), I was on the college rodeo team at Oklahoma State (OSU). And we also showed Angus cattle all over the country. So I just had this really amazing, beautiful childhood and just a lot of credit to my mom and dad, because they spent a lot of hours in the truck. They spent a lot of money on my sister and I but you know, my dad always said he goes, I always knew where my kids were. Oh, that is so true.

Taylor Mcadams: And even you can relate to this being from Kansas, small town. I feel like everyone always knew everything about you before you even got home. So it was totally fine, right? And let's talk a little bit more about your family, then your mom and dad are very important to you. And obviously, like you said, have invested heavily but I also love how involved your mom is still as an adult as well. You guys have an awesome, awesome, awesome friendship. Talk to us about your family and your parents in particular.

Courtenay Dehoff: Yeah, my mom and dad, they're just you know, I can't say enough great things about them. They gave my little sister and I just such a magical childhood. And it's one of those things. As a kid growing up in it, I didn't appreciate it right. I had to leave it behind to really be able to come back and appreciate it. And so yeah, my mom and dad, you know, they did a lot for my sister and I you know, my dad spent a lot of money on good horses and good cattle. But again, like he said, I always knew it was an investment that would pay off in the future. You know, it would create great adults, which my sister and I think are pretty good adults. Yeah, my mom, you know, we're best friends. We have a lot of fun. And you know, shout out to my mom. She was a professional truck driver literally for 30 years with my sister and I. And two years ago, my mom at you know, 55 years old got her first horse and now she is tearing up the road. Going to cuttings with her little horse to and you know, I'm just really proud of her for taking that step because it was scary. She's like, I don't want to go by myself. What if I'm terrible? I'm too old. I can't afford a horse like what if nobody helps me and shout out also to the cutting horse association because they just scoop up people like my mom and take care of them. And so she's having a blast.

Taylor Mcadams: And that's what I really love about the rodeo industry is they just really want the Western industry to stay alive as a whole. So they're very inclusive. They let everyone in and you're right. Your mom should have her own podcast episode as well. Because she's she does on your podcasts on the cowgirl problems podcast. She's so inspiring. But let's talk about your rodeo day she was along for that. She got to kind of take the backseat Now obviously you You said she's getting to do her own thing. But let's talk about your rodeo days in particular with the high school rodeo college rodeo all of it.

Courtenay Dehoff: Yeah, no, I loved high school rodeo. (NHSRA) I ran barrels and tied goats primarily I tried to pole bend, I wasn't very good. And so those were kind of my three events in high school. I started breakaway roping in college, which is really fun. I got to go the WPRA finals and finish miraculously one year in the top 10 with you know, I like got to be in a picture with people like Jackie Hobbs-Crawford, and I was like this is the coolest thing ever happened to me. But yeah, grew up, you know, rodeoing and another thing that was sort of important, and back then I think I was sort of like, Ah, I'm a cowgirl. Like I'm a barrel racer, I'm a goat tire. I am not a rodeo queen. Okay, y'all, but I did I ran. I was a Kansas high school rodeo (KHSRA) queen actually two years in a row. I didn't know that I was first runner-up and second runner-up back to back. So I never got to be the national high school rodeo (NHSRA) queen but I look back at that experience. And man you want to talk about preparing me for my television career preparing me to go out into the world and live in places like Dallas and New York City in these big cities. I credit you know the high school Rodeo Association (NHSRA) a lot and I credit that queening you know teaching you how to speak in front of an audience how to have very well worded conversations how to answer tough questions about rodeo and animal welfare. So shout out to all the rodeo queens out there because I was one of you.

Taylor Mcadams: That is actually so inspiring. I had no idea and I feel bad. I was actually the national high school rodeo (NHSRA) Queen In 2014-15. Oklahoma high school rodeo queen (OHSRA). So I am like in awe, I just fall more in love with you, literally. That's so cool. No, thank you. But you're exactly right, you have such a good point, I'm gonna derail our conversation just a little bit. Because it's so important to know, you truly were prepared for life, not only the scholarships that helped set you up through these organizations but also, just like you said, you doing news and TV alone, that helped you with knowing how to do your hair, how to do your makeup, how to have a certain look. And then even just everyday, everyday people having interview skills, how to conduct yourself. So what do you think is the hardest part as a woman in the industry that can, you know, has so much control in a primarily male dominated world of like you lead interviews all the time? So really quick, and then we'll get back on the conversation, what do you think is the hardest part about all of that?

Courtenay Dehoff: You know, I think the hardest part about being a woman in the western industry is the pressure that I put on myself. Sometimes I walk into rooms, you know, when I started back in 2020, I had the privilege of doing some television work with the PBR (Professional Bull Riders) and I was a nervous wreck because I was like, Oh my gosh, these guys are gonna see this, can this girl walk into Madison Square Garden for an unleash the beast tour and be like, Who is this? This girl has never written a book, she doesn't probably know anything about bull riding. And that was all on me. Because I'm telling you what those men at that level, they scooped me up. They were professional, they answered every question. And now you know, I'm on the other side of it. I'm a bull owner fast forward a few years later. And you know, I think especially at the elite level, I've never really sort of been made to feel like I didn't fit in or wasn’t accepted. I think in those moments when I do feel that way. It's me I'm putting that sort of impostor syndrome in my own mind now is are there people in the industry who aren't as welcoming? Absolutely. You know, that's with anything. But I sort of just have learned now I just walk in like I own the place and they treat me with respect and I treat them with respect.

Taylor Mcadams: Without a doubt and that shows time and time again, I know I watch you a lot on Ride TV. I know you do a lot for AQHA (American Quarter Horse Association) world show all the different avenues that you have. You just have a way about you on camera that you have just understood you're taking up space, you are owning the area that you're in, and that is why people keep looking towards you. I personally feel but I want to back up a little bit. You talked about owning a PBR bull. I'm a big fan of Top Dollar. I think it's so cool that he's such a big and vicious bull you know whenever it comes to getting on and riding bucking for eight seconds and all that but he's also so fun. You can go I see all the videos all the time of people scratching and petting them. Tell us about that. That's got to be such a fun avenue for you.

Courtenay Dehoff: Top Dollar is quite the character and we love Him so dearly. I say we I'm one part of the ownership team Katie and Laramie of Hookin W Ranch. My mom and dad are part of the owner, ship team and then our friend Peggy VanCleave. So I always like to point out there's four women on the ownership team of Top Dollar, which I think is really cool. But yeah, Top Dollar is this special. He is a special creature. I mean, he truly is probably once in a lifetime. I came onto the ownership team when he was a yearling. I didn't know anything. I had come off of the PBR. You know, they had watched me on television, Katie and Laramie, and Katie sent me a DM I was at the high school finals,(NHSFR) I think working for Ride Pass, and I get this DM from Katie who I didn't know and she was like, Hey, we own and raise bucking bulls. Do you want to own one? I was like, yeah, no. Like, what? No, I don't. So I became the owner or a part owner of Top Dollar and it's been this really incredible journey and I have to give a shout-out to Katie and Laramie. The reason that I said yes, was not because I was like, Yeah, I'm gonna own a PBR bucking bull someday. You know, he was one we had no idea. I mean, Laramie did, I didn't, we had no idea what he was going to become. But they said, you know, we just really want to show that people from all walks of life can be a stock contractor that women have a place on the bucking chutes. And I was like, Alright, done sold. I want to be a part of this. And I said, you know, we're gonna document this and Katie and Jeremy said, Yeah, let's document it. Let's document the journey. He went on to become the ABBI yearling world champion in 2020. Last year, he made his PBR debut in Fort Worth in January of this year, he ran up the tunnel at Madison Square Garden, and it has been the coolest proudest bull mother experience of my life. And yeah, you know, top dollar. He's great. He was the high-marked bull in Albany, New York with a 46. We were so proud. But then the minute he's done, he's like, back in the back pens, like all right, I guess I'll take a nap. For Katie because Katie gives him scratches. He likes snacks. I mean, he's just truly a kind animal.

Taylor Mcadams: You know, I'm so glad that you mentioned Madison Square Garden a few times because for you, you had kind of a weird experience in New York, and you kind of started questioning your identity and then that also sparked something beautiful for you to create Fancy Lady Cowgirl, but talk about your time in New York at that full circle moment and how it feels now knowing that you could walk into New York and own it if you wanted to.

Courtenay Dehoff: Yeah, so I spent a decade in the television and entertainment industry doing mainstream TV. So hard news, lifestyle and entertainment, red carpets, you name it. I did not dress like this. Most of the people I worked with did not even know my background, most of them didn't even know where I came from. And that was because I was embarrassed of it. Because I was told very early on in my career by agents and managers, they were like, Look, if you ever want anyone to take you seriously, in the world of TV, you're the cat that had on your head, cute, but like, save it for a country concert on the weekends. And I was young. And I really wanted to be successful in television. So I was like, we're hungry. Yeah, I have to choose. I can be the cowgirl from Kansas, or I can be this great television host. And I decided to be a television host. And that literally spanned a decade of my young professional life. But I finally got to the point where I was like, man, something is missing. You can take the cowgirl, out of the cowgirl lifestyle, but you can't take it out of the person. And now trust me, I tried and so I finally sort of start embracing that more and more, you know, full disclosure, I went to New York, I always wanted to live in work in New York, I wanted to be on TV in New York. So I thought, Well, nobody's hiring me to go work in New York. So I'm just going to go to New York. And then if I'm there, maybe they can't ignore me and I had an agent there at the time. And I didn't do I didn't get any jobs. There was no work. And, you know, the PBR I had pursued the PBR for almost six months because I really respected that the PBR understood the importance of tapping into mainstream audiences, right? If PBR is really, really great at, okay, we're going to put this on a mainstream network, we're going to allow people from all walks of life to turn on their TV and learn and watch about this portable writing. And I wanted to be in on that. So I stalked them, essentially, January of 2020, I got to do some work with them on Ride Pass, which was incredible. My first gig was three nights live inside Madison Square Garden. And you know, we were doing not only was I live on Ride Pass, but we were also taking in-house hits. So I was interacting with Matt and Clint. And I mean, it was a lot. And I just, I look back. And I'm like the fact that I survived that, you know, first of all, because there's so much happening, you know, I have producers in my years, and they've got Pyro, and they're loading bowls, and there's cowboys, and it was just the most incredible experience. And so, it was really special because I walked into Madison Square Garden with a microphone in my hand and I had a cowboy hat on my head. And that was just like such a full circle moment for someone like me, who had hidden that part of me because I was told that's what I had to do to fit in. And Fancy Lady Cowgirl was really born out of my frustration that I didn't quite fit into the world of television and entertainment because I was a cowgirl. But then, you know, on the cowgirl side of things when they would see that I was living in places like New York and that I was like dressing up and going to New York Fashion Week and doing things like that. Some people in agriculture were like, I'm not sure if she's a real cowgirl because like she doesn't ride a horse and she doesn't live on a ranch and, and so Fancy Lady Cowgirl was really just my way of celebrating and creating this community that says look, being a cowgirl is a state of mind. It's not how you dress. It's not where you live. It's not what you do. It's not your religion. It's not your skin color, right? Like being a cowgirl is a state of mind. It's about living a legendary life. And I think that's you know, I think cowgirls are legends. And so my purpose with Fancy Lady Cowgirl is to just bust the gates wide open and say, Look, everyone is welcome in this lifestyle. If you have the cowgirl mindset or the cowgirl code, as I call it, right? Courage, originality, worthiness, grit, all of these things that make a cow roll then you get to be one you get to embrace it in your in your own way.

Taylor Mcadams: And I love that you put on events with we gotta shoutout Sarah Bohnenkamp too,one of my good friends as well that you get to put on events with people like her who also have such a state of mind as well. That's inclusive and encouraging to anyone in any walk of life. So we've got to talk about that a little bit too.

Courtenay Dehoff: Yeah, absolutely. Oh my gosh, my I've had two fancy lady cowgirl events, the first one, they would have never been a thing had it not been for Sarah, you know, another empowering woman. And Sarah came to me with the idea. And she's like, Hey, you know, I said, Oh my gosh, that sounds like a great idea. But I have no idea how to put on an event or what to do. And she's like, I'll help you. And so we partnered on that first event and it was amazing. And I had another one last year, you know, 100 women from three countries. 17 states, from all walks of life. You know, some of them were sixth seventh-generation ranchers. Some of them, you know, are professional rodeo (PRCA) athletes. And then some of them really didn't have any connection to the Western way of life. Other than that, they loved it and appreciated it and wanted to be at the table with other like-minded women. And so yeah, it's been really cool. Fancy Lady Cowgirl events, there will be more coming. They are a lot of work. I will admit. Everyone's like what's the next one? And I'm like, I haven't even I don't even know what I'm doing next week.

Taylor Mcadams: I’m still recovering from the other one. Yes, yeah, that's awesome. I know one of our marketing managers here at Justin got to go and she said it was just an incredible experience and I want to talk about that a little bit when we get to the talking about fashion because she was blown away with the way that you could the many different ways you could wear a wild rag but before we move on to that, where do you see the future of Fancy Lady Cowgirl going? What? What's What are your future plans?

Courtenay Dehoff: Yeah, you know, my biggest goal with Fancy Lady Cowgirl is to really get it out so that it seeps some into more mainstream audiences. I love agriculture. I love the Western Community. But it's always for me been about something bigger like I want to touch people far removed from the industry and show them how special the cowgirl and cowboy way of life is welcomed them in show them that we're kind, wonderful people who are you know, feeding the world. Like that's really been my goal with Fancy Lady Cowgirl. So obviously, I do a lot of keynote speaking I want to get on, you know, Ted Talk stages, I want to get on these mainstream stages so that I can interact with people from, you know, more mainstream walks of life. I had the opportunity to do an event in Dallas a few months ago, and I got on the celebrity panel, I'm not really sure how. But it was like me a Big Brother star, a Dallas housewife, you know, these women from like, all different walks of life. They ate up the cowboy hat and the clothes and they're like, oh my gosh, we're gonna get a cowboy hat and, and it was just so fun. And something that never ceases to amaze me is how amazed and thrilled and excited people are to just be around it like a girl in a cowboy hat to be like, can we just take a picture with you? And you didn't know who I was? Like, yeah, sure. And so I guess that's really my ultimate goal is to just sort of embrace and celebrate the cow roll way of life with mainstream audiences all over the world.

Taylor Mcadams: And you're well on your way to do that. Obviously, you've paved the way in a huge way. But also I can't wait to see how the future ends up for you. But kind of moving on to the fashion side of it the staples of a Western outfit, which is the hat the cowboy boots for you wild rags, love them. Let's talk a little bit about your fashion and how you decide to style outfits. I know you can dress an outfit up and down. Like you can literally be on the bucking chutes and then also in the field, and then also go to an event to speak the same day and you just have the best way of doing that. So talk to us a little bit about that.

Courtenay Dehoff: Thank you. Well, I'm looking very western today. I was feeling that Western vibes. But you know, my staples, always for an outfit, are cowboy hat, and the cowboy boots, you know, and I typically always have a wild rag on it seemed a little much with the fringe today. So I'm not wearing wild rag but and then a blazer anytime I'm on TV anytime I'm keynoting 98% of the time I'm in a blazer, it's just like, it's what I feel the most powerful in, I could walk into a room you know, it's it's professional, but it's businessy and classy at the same time. And so those are kind of like my go to pieces. But you know, Western fashion is whatever you want to make it. You know, it's I always see these conversations when the NFR starts and I'm not perfect like I used to. I've been the girl that was like, Oh my gosh, what are people wearing to the rodeo. But now I have such an appreciation for girls who maybe show up to a rodeo or something in an untraditional outfit because I'm like, oh, that's cowgirl. That's courage. That's individual out like she is outwardly expressing what it really means to be a cowgirl. And so I'm cheering those girls on. But yeah, you know, it's whatever you want to make it I was in that was in Europe earlier this year and wearing a cowboy hat under the Eiffel Tower. You know, from the neck down, I looked like a lot of the Europeans and my long black coat, my whatever. And then I had on my cowboy hat and it's just you know, it's embracing it in whatever way makes sense to you. And you don't even have to wear a cowboy hat maybe you're not into or maybe you don't like the way they look. That's fine. Don't wear one you know, you can still embrace sort of the Western lifestyle in the Western traditions. And I'll tell you what, like, Western is cool cowgirl is cool. They're wearing it to New York Fashion Week or they're wearing it on the streets in Europe like it is thriving.

Taylor Mcadams: Oh yes. And I'm so glad you brought up your Europe trip too because the ladies here in the marketing department at Justin we were so in awe of everything that you got to do there and the the boldness that you took but also you got to see you ran into and you didn't even know I think at the time it was Tyler Hubbard with Florida Georgia Line, right?

Courtenay Dehoff: So here's what happened. We have this amazing evening. It's New Year's Eve, we go to dinner. So my friend Jenna Paulette, who I know you all know of her. Her and her sisters happened to be in Paris at the same time. So we're like, oh my gosh, this is perfect. So we get together we have dinner we're like let's go drink champagne under the Eiffel Tower. Like how very French? Yeah, so we go we have this amazing time we get ready to go home. We did not realize that the trains were shutting down. Well, so my friend who I was with Alex and I were like, I don't even know we're five miles. From our apartment, we had to walk. I was in callaloo so we're walking hours and hours and hours are walking and I see down the street, a cowboy hat. Okay, that's pretty unique in your and I know it's not Jenna because I know what hat she looks like. There are three whole cowboys in Paris right now like, what are the chances? And I told my friend Alex, I said video visits are cowboy embarrassed and I went up and I, it's my husband. And I tapped him. I said I love your I like your outfit or something. He's like, hey, yeah, I like it. And I'm like, over it. Like, all I wanted to do was say hi, I'm like, hi, bye. I walk off and Alex is like, still videoing. And she's like, where are you from? He's like, Florida. I'm like, Okay, I'll be polite. I'm like, so what do you do? And he's like, I'm a country musician. I'm like, of course, all everything. Like everybody, you know, I, I was on the list. And I posted it on Instagram, just because I was like, Look, a cowboy in Paris. And you know, we're seven hours ahead. So I wake up the next morning. What has happened? I have DMS that are like, you know who that is? Right? I'm like, No, I don't. Is this somebody that I shouldn't? You know, I know. I love Florida, Georgia Line. But like, I just, you know, on the streets of Paris, like how unexpected I had no idea

Taylor Mcadams: It's hard to make that connection. Yeah. I apologize. Well, you know what, that's like a once-in-a-lifetime story. I feel like because what are the odds of all that happening? Even Jenna being there at the same time, that is incredible in itself. And there's just so many things that I could pick your brain about, but unfortunately, we're out of time for today. But your social media is so inspiring and so entertaining. I know I especially during or around COVID I really fell in love with the jogger watch. Just because it was so funny the things that you would do. And there was a whole saga with that leaving notes on the guy's truck guy. I still I still don't know. Yeah, the Chevygate. Yes. So anyways, let's where can people find you? How can they keep up with you? Because you know, they're gonna want to and you know, they're gonna have questions after this too.

Courtenay Dehoff: Yeah, so everything is sort of housed on my website, Courtenaydehoff.com. You can learn more there and it's just courtdehoff on Instagram, Tik Tok. We're at home on Facebook. Very nice.

Taylor Mcadams: And you want to make sure and say the court en nay the spelling of your name.

Courtenay Dehoff: Yeah. My mother's fault. It's the French spelling Courtenay. Why, no, we're not French. So.

Taylor Mcadams: Oh, very nice, Courtenay, it's been so good getting to speak with you. I learned a lot about you and discover things that I didn't even know. And here I have been following you for years. So thank you for everything you do in the industry. You continue to pave the way and I really, really appreciate that you keep the cowgirl in it. You keep Fancy Lady Cowgirl alive and well. And we are so, so thankful for you and everything that you do in the industry.

Courtenay Dehoff: Oh my gosh. Well, thank thank you for having me. And thank you to Justin for just empowering all things western, we couldn't do it without people like you.

Taylor Mcadams: Well, thank you. You're awesome. I hope you have a great rest of your day rest of your week and we will continue to follow along on social media. Thanks. Thanks for joining us on kick your boots up. I'm your host Taylor McAdams and we can't wait to share the next story of the West. Until then, feel free to like subscribe and leave us a review. Follow us on social media at Justin boots to keep up with our next episode. And we'll see you the next time you kick your boots up.