Woman Warriors and The Cowgirls

 

The 2010  Retreat for Women Veterans

In May of 2010 the Cowgirl Co-op was honored to sponsor a retreat for Woman Warriors, women veterans who had served on the front lines of war or offered support to those that did. In partnership with the Spokane Veteran’s Outreach Center, the ranch hosted 27 woman warriors and 8 counselors for a two day adventure centered around horses, art and gardening. 

The out come? The weekend itself fostered a sense of healing, community and camaraderie for these women who have done so much to defend our freedom.  Not only that, 100% of the participants came “off the mountain” with a renewed commitment to continuing their healing by accessing the many resources available to them through Washington state Vet Centers and VA medical facilities.   The Women Warriors and The Cowgirls, women veterans retreat

The women warriors  join the cowgirls for a wild west adventure and two days of fun.

The Women Warriors and The Cowgirls, women veterans retreat

Friday afternoon and the Green Bluff Grange served as the registration post and evening bunk house.

women warriors and the cowgirls, women veterans retreat

Then it was into a familiar mode of transport and up the road to the ranch.  They sang all the way!

women warriors and the cowgirls, women veterans retreat

The cowgirls were waiting along with a few friends who knew just how to put on an event.

women warriors and the cowgirls, women veterans retreat

Unloading and ready to ride! These ladies are amazing. Did you know that today there are over 200,000 women serving in the armed forces? That comprises  more than 17 percent of the total force.  55,060 women vets reside in Washington State alone making it the eleventh largest state population of women veterans.

women warriors and the cowgirls, women veterans

Cowgirl welcomes and orientation. It was a cool day in May, but no rain……yet!

women warriors and the cowgirls, women veterans

War changes lives in profound and powerful ways. Returning veterans of both genders often suffer from physical and psychological injuries that can make readjustment to civilian life demanding. On the battlefield there is team and peer support, but that camaraderie can be difficult to find once vets leave the military and try to blend back into home life.

women warriors and the cowgirls, women veterans

An outstanding catered dinner always starts an event well.

women warriors and the cowgirls, women veterans

Then it was the Xtreme Egg Throw Challenge! Give a group of combats the materials to create raw egg launchers and watch out!

women warriors and the cowgirls, women veterans

These ladies can aim! 10 dozen eggs later and they still didn’t want to quit!

women warriors and the cowgirls, women veterans

Tearing themselves away from egg target practice, it was back to the grange for an evening of rock and roll.  Women warriors can dance a mean line dance with athletic abilities and percision timing!

women warriors and the cowgirls, women veterans

The historic 100 year old Green Bluff Grange served as the Woman Warrior Bunkhouse for the retreat. Donated cots from the Red Cross and sleeping bags from Cross Walk gave a cush to the old dance floor.

women warriors and the cowgirls, women veterans

A candle light ceremony concluded the evening. Each candle represented a personal vet wish and dream for peace both for their country and in each of their own bodies. These women warriors proudly served and are  still serving their country, living up to the oath that they took to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic…”. As our veterans return home to families and communities, our women vets in particular tend to hold their combat experiences close to their heart, isolate their feelings and too often suffer in silence. Tonight, we took time to recognize the urgent need to address the unique challenges that returning women veterans face.

women warriors and the cowgirls, women veterans retreat

women warriors and the cowgirls, women veterans

Up early for a Cowgirl Tex-Mex breakfast. women warriors and the cowgirls, women veterans

There was no shortage of good food. Cowgirls and women warriors like to eat! Now its hit the trail for the ranch. There’s horses that need riding, clay pots that need forming and herbs to plant.

women warriors and the cowgirls, women veterans retreat

Off loading from the “covered wagon” and ready to ride!

women warriors and the cowgirls, women veterans retreat

women warriors and the cowgirls, women veterans retreatwomen warriors and the cowgirls, women veterans retreat

The animals were ready!

women warriors and the cowgirls, women veterans retreat

The horses were ready and the warriors rode!

women warriors and the cowgirls, women veterans retreat

The Cowgirl Xtreme Trail Course was conquered by each woman warrior and enjoyed by both horse and rider.

women warriors and the cowgirls, women veterans retreat

Obstacles, both real and internalized,  were over come by horses and riders. Horses are used in many therapeutic programs because of their innate ability to bond with humans. Being somewhat large animals they can bring out fear and also help to conquer fears.

women warriors and the cowgirls, women veterans retreat

Up, up and away!

women warriors and the cowgirls, women veterans retreat

Not even a miserable rain, then hail and cold, deterred these warriors! They came to RIDE and RIDE they did! 

women warriors and the cowgirls, women veterans retreat

Everyone learned horse grooming in the shelter of the barn. One pampered group of equines!

women warriors and the cowgirls, women veterans retreat

New friends were made and milestones accomplished.

women warriors and the cowgirls, women veterans retreat

While some warriors rode, others created art. All during the day there were 5 or 6 different animal, art,  gardening or other classes occuring at once in various parts of the ranch.  After each hour session the farm bell rang and everyone shifted to a new experience.

women warriors and the cowgirls, women veterans retreat

Each 35 pound stepping stone was hauled home by its  maker and now adorn gardens every where.

women warriors and the cowgirls, women veterans retreat

Woman warriors can handle playing with fire easily and cutting signs with the plasma tourch was a hit!

women warriors and the cowgirls, women veterans retreat

Makin metal!

women warriors and the cowgirls, women veterans retreat

Showing off the masterpieces.

women warriors and the cowgirls, women veterans retreat

Next came playing in the mud as each warrior tried her hand at the potter’s wheel.

women warriors and the cowgirls, women veterans retreatwomen warriors and the cowgirls, women veterans retreat

All budding potters !

women warriors and the cowgirls, women veterans retreat

 The dinner bell rang for lunch!

women warriors and the cowgirls, women veterans retreat

Clustering around the campfire with lunch. Thank goodness for buckets of hot coffee and cocoa!

women warriors and the cowgirls, women veterans retreat

women warriors and the cowgirls, women veterans retreat

Next class was all about digging in the dirt. Sustainable gardening and ending up with a pot of herbs to take home.

women warriors and the cowgirls, women veterans retreat

Making friends over soil-ful conversations, dirty hands and the healing found in the living plants of the earth.

women warriors and the cowgirls, women veterans retreat

Learning about horse breeds and the art of breeding winners.

women warriors and the cowgirls, women veterans retreat

Meeting the stallions.

women warriors and the cowgirls, women veterans retreat

The cooking class had been busy fixing dinner under the careful eye of Chef Erin, caterer to the Seahawks training camp. Now it was time to try the results. Delicious!! The evening was rounded out by cowgirl poets and writers with entertaining tales.

women warriors and the cowgirls, women veterans retreat

The last night ceremony when candle dreams can come true. A tired bunch of warriors (and cowgirls!) turned into sleep.

women warriors and the cowgirls, women veterans retreat

Breakfast brought the last meal together but still some cowgirl surprises!

women warriors and the cowgirls, women veterans retreat

Spokane Mayor Mary Verner made a special point to tear herself away from Bloomsday activities (Spokane’s major 50,000 people plus, runner marathon, held each May) to come and personally talk with each vet. 

Spokane Mayor Verner with the women warriors and the cowgirls, women veterans retreat

Each woman warrior got her personalized attention,  encouraging words and heartfelt thank you for their job well done.

Spokane Mayor Verner with the women warriors and the cowgirls, women veterans retreat

 women warriors and the cowgirls, women veterans retreat

As each woman warrior said good-by and headed back down their own trail, they went knowing that there were new friends to back them up, there was a community that cared about them and there were people they could trust to help. It’s the beginning of a trip back to a happy trails life.

 women warriors and the cowgirls, women veterans retreat

 women warriors and the cowgirls, women veterans retreat

 women warriors and the cowgirls, women veterans retreat
 women warriors and the cowgirls, women veterans retreat women warriors and the cowgirls, women veterans retreat women warriors and the cowgirls, women veterans retreat
women warriors and the cowgirls, women veterans retreat
 women veterans retreat, Spokane Mayor Verner and the Cowgirls

From the Cowgirls, a very sincere thank you to all
the Woman Warriors for what you do for us.

We would also like to thank all the volunteers who made this event possible, the individual people who graciously donated to our fund and to our major sponsor, Washington Trust  Bank.

 

 

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2 responses to “Woman Warriors and The Cowgirls”

  1. Reading this and looking at the photos again just gave me goose bumps and makes me wanna cry! Because we had so much fun and there was so much healing for all of us. Thank you so much for all you did Cowgirl Coop and I so look forward to this years retreat!!!!!!!!! Brenda Thurman, LICSW/VET CENTER US ARMY Veteran.

  2. So the 2011 retreat starts tomorrow. I’m excited. Going over these photos makes me miss the Tacoma women I met and the women that graduated and moved on to other states. This year we get to be in the Armed Forces Day Parade which will be fun!

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