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  • Madi Baughman, editorial intern

More Than a Hat

Celebrating the history of the cowboy’s favorite accessory. 

“America has always had the cowboy. It’s a symbol of who we are as a people.” 

To Courtenay DeHoff, Fancy Lady Cowgirl® brand owner and motivational speaker, the cowboy hat is much more than a wardrobe staple in her everyday life. 

“It represents the American values that this country was founded on,” she says.

Shaking hands and meaning it, looking people in the eye, and taking care of your neighbor are all examples of what DeHoff believes is “cowboy culture.” 

“Powerful, brave, courageous, resilient. To me, those are the qualities that the cowboy hat represents,” she explains. “Cowboys and cowgirls are the greatest humans I’ve ever met.”

When DeHoff puts on a cowboy hat, she says her state of mind is completely transformed. 

 “That cowgirl state of mind that I was raised with, showing Angus cattle, living on a ranch in Kansas, it just exudes from me when I have that hat on my head,” she adds.

While you can often find DeHoff sporting a cowboy hat in her everyday activities, she admits it’s a kind of confidence that’s matured over the years. 

“When you’re a kid, putting a hat on your head and walking into the show ring, that takes a certain amount of courage,” she says. 

For Lexi Koelling, a junior member from Bowling Green, Mo., exhibiting cattle while wearing a cowboy hat has become a large part of her identity in the Angus breed. 

After seeing an older junior member wearing one at the National Junior Angus Show in 2015, Koelling says she saw a cowboy hat as more than a fashion statement. It was a chance to really make a statement.  

“I thought, ‘That’s an opportunity for me to separate myself and make my own [identity],’” Koelling says. “I like to wear them because it’s something for me to bring out my personality.”

Koelling and DeHoff both note importance of the traditions upheld not only by the symbol of the cowboy hat, but the Angus breed as well. 

“The Angus breed and cowboy hats are kind of synonymous with each other,” DeHoff says. “The Angus breed and cowboy hats, is there anything better?”

Koelling also recognizes the connection between the Angus breed and the cowboy way of life. 

“Angus cattle have been known to push the cattle industry forward,” she says. “We’ve always had that essence and that work ethic. It’s the history behind the hat and what that hat represents.”

As DeHoff and Koelling have found a sense of confidence and identity under a cowboy hat in their own ways, they both suggest anyone thinking about wearing one in the show ring to go for it.

“Do it, and do it 100%,” Koelling says. “Find your style and stick with it.”

DeHoff says the cowboy hat surpasses any one occupation or lifestyle. She describes it as a “state of mind.” 

“The way I feel in a cowboy hat, I hope that every little girl someday gets to feel that way,” DeHoff says.

“It’s 2024, right? I think it’s time we fully embrace being exactly who we are.”    

Editor’s note: Madi Baughman is a freelance writer from Stillwater, Okla.

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