I am a multi-passionate person, an entrepreneur, artisan, a student of the horse, cowgirl, NIA dance lover, and a student of life dedicated with love to helping you and your horse express who you are through color, tradition, and quality handmade artisan gear.
A born-and-raised Nevada ranch girl with nothing more than passion, an idea and a dream, I’m proud to have created my brand "The Colorful Cowgirl" from a 200 year old artisan tradition in my family. I'm offering my quality handmade Mecate reins, and other traditional artisan made horse gear for people to enjoy all over the world.
Through my traditional techniques, I lovingly create one of a kind usable pieces of art for you and your horse.
I’m no sage from the stage and I don’t have all the answers. I make mistakes, have shitastic days and get mired in fear and self-doubt, just like the rest of humanity.
But hey, this is a business. I sell things. I'm proud and deeply grateful to earn a living doing so.
After several failed attempts at corporate jobs, other businesses, and a lot of angst trying to choose just one thing to be in life, I realized that my unusual combination of interests and skills was a strength, not a liability. The Colorful Cowgirl was born.
When I was growing up I was called "The Colorful Cowgirl" because I would wear purple, red and turquoise wranglers, red boots, and colorful shirts to match while I was working and riding on the ranch. In those days that was considered out of the norm. Being the out of the norm creative person that I am "The Colorful Cowgirl" was the perfect name for my business.
MECATE traditionally pronounced "Ma cah tee" or in a more modern pronunciation "McCarty" is the Spanish term for " horse hair rope" made of twisted horsehair, or other natural fibers such as alpaca.
One of the things I’m often asked is "How on earth did you get started in all of this?"
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been insatiably curious about colors and putting them together whether it be coloring in a coloring book, gluing a collage together from magazines, or putting together a fashion ensemble.
With being fascinated with colors, color combinations, design, fashion, expressing, and experiencing living in the city. I created a bright twist on the traditional Mecates by adding dyed color designs to them like turquoise, pink, purple, green, blue, yellow, orange, and whatever color I can get my creative hands on. I like to mix dyed colors with the natural colors, and I use white mane hair and dye it to a specific colors. Grandma Frankie and my Mom weren't really keen on my idea, but I received an order for a pink and white Mecate, and my brand went from there.
I am very fortunate and blessed to have over 200 years of hardworking women in my family that have paved the way for me to create the "The Colorful Cowgirl". My Mom, Helen Dougal Corbari is the 3rd generation Mecate Artisan, my Grandma Frankie Dougal is the 2nd generation, and my great Grandma Clara Whitby is the 1st generation. My Grandma Frankie started making Mecates at a very young age of 9, she is now almost 100. She learned from her mother Clara Whitby. The same pattern has followed suit throughout our generations my Mom learned from my Grandmother when she was around 9, and I started learning from my Mom when I was around 8. The feel of making them is nice to learn at a young age.
It alllll started back in the early 1900's by my Great Grandmother Clara Whitby. She had to make horse hair ropes at the 5 Bar homestead for her Uncles and Drummond brothers who ran horses on the Owyhee Desert for the Army. They needed the horse hair ropes for lashes to tie down pack saddles, and to tie items onto the pack saddles. My Great Grandmother Clara learned to make these horse hair ropes from an old Spanish man named "Jesus". She picked all of her horse hair by hand, and sold her horse hair Mecates for $2.50.
The " 5 Bar" Homestead where it all began in the Owyhee River Canyon-lands of Oregon and Idaho
Since learning, my Grandma Frankie has been all over the United States demonstrating this legacy including the White House in Washington D.C. , the Elko Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada, Trappings of the American West in Arizona, and various other venues, and she has a Mecate on display at the Smithsonian.
When my Mother Helen learned around 1963 it took longer, and more people to make Mecates because the equipment was way less modern. She has told me her arms would get very tired at times while making. When she learned, Grandma gave her scrap hair to twist and it wasn't very much fun. When my Mom taught me the tricks of this trade she said she wasn't going to do that to me. She didn't, so thank you Mom! Since my Mom learned a little old man by the name of Glenn Walcott made some of the equipment a little easier for us, and made it to where it takes less manpower to put them together, but it is still a process and a science.
All of my ropes are one of a kind, no two can be made exactly alike. I believe horse mane hair is the best for the way we make our ropes because it is softer, and easy to work with. We do our best to make them out of other textures upon special request like alpaca and human hair. In our tradition, we do not put cores in the center of the ropes.
Mecates have evolved to be a popular piece of horse gear for cowboys, cowgirls, showman, and buckaroos all over the world, especially in the Great Basin. Mecates are used for lead ropes, tie ropes or some call them get down lines, snaffle bit reins, two-reins, or bosal/hackamore reins. I have created a couple of my own styles too, Mecate split reins and a one loop roping style rein.
I am here to serve. My artisan company is built on a bedrock of love, a passion for what’s possible, and a commitment to be an unstoppable force for the good.
Three generations of our family Mecate Artisans (L to R) Gloria Hammond (Keys), Frankie Dougal (my Grandma) , and Helen Dougal Corbari (my Mom).
Three generations of family Mecates on display at the Western Folklife Center Gallery in Elko, Nevada L to R Gloria Hammond (Keys), Helen Dougal Corbari, and Frankie Dougal.
In the Western Horseman, and numerous other magazines.