A Cowboy’s Faith: ‘The Cowgirl’ everybody’s friend

Faye Heath rode Waldo to win the rodeo barrel race sponsored by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association at Longford.

“Certain people have a definite lifetime positive impact on others.”

Faye “Peck” Heath was one of those who had such an influence on so many through the decades. Her recent passing created a heart drenching void as fond reflections of Faye for nearly 60 years flowed freely.

A true heroine, Faye was a very real cowgirl who did more horseback than any cowboy then or now.

At the first “shodeo” ever attended, horseshow like rodeo, no broncs but pleasure riding and racing events, Faye was entered.

With her best friend Rosie “Rezac” Clymer, they won all of the team events. Faye personally won every individual performance class and speed competition that day and for years to come.

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.At a Saturday night Emporia yokel shodeo a year later, Faye and Rosie were shy a relay team member. As they often did before and after, the smiling cowgirls would ask any young person wanting to ride to join their team.

A skinny teenage wannabe on Nellie Belle got that special invitation eagerly accepted, excited toothy grin broadening. As was the expected Faye-Rosie tradition, their relay team came in first.

The blue ribbon streamer rosette awarded each team rider including the add-on wannabe remains proudly displayed in the bedroom cabinet.

As years went on, Faye was at all the shodeos, mounted ready to ride, help, encourage, and visit everybody there.

Faye had “lots of good horses” throughout her life, she said. That’s true because Faye was an outstanding horsewoman who made any horse a winner certainly, better than it was.

One of her last good ones was the big bay gelding she called Waldo, known by everybody all around. They could beat all comers in shodeos and even bigtime rodeos throughout the Midwest.

Many young horses were started in training by Faye mounted with the colt stubbed to Rosie’s horse, riding around shodeos. Improvements notable every weekend and by summer’s end she had a well-trained horse.

Husband good friend Marshall wasn’t a horseman, but he had to like horses to love Faye the way he did. They were regular attendees at the 25 annual ranch horse sales, making several purchases through the years.

For decades, wherever there was a horse sale in the Midwest, Faye and Marshall were there generally bidding. Always grinning like little kids when that winning bid was made, although they really didn’t need another horse.

The happy loving couple was especially proud of the outstanding performance bred stallion they purchased and stood to the public. It was so much fun when their eyes brightened talking about that stud and his potential.

Faye and Marshall also got into the cow-calf business. Their herdsmanship shined discussing purchasing, developing, and marketing cattle, too.

While Marshall came around to Faye’s admiration for horses, Faye matched him taking to the field hunting. Faye even took up competitive clay pigeon shooting; smiles came on both their faces when she was often the winner. “He gets too nervous,” Faye claimed.

Marshall enjoyed commodity futures trading, and like all sports of sorts one doesn’t always win. His gains made both happy, but when it was a loss, Faye was anxious to make the poking jive.

Everybody matures, yet Faye kept riding for a long time and it was terribly hard to stop. Her hand was still often in the air to buy another “yard ornament” to feed, pet and adore. “You can’t ever have too many horses.”

Health issues continued, but Faye was always upbeat anxious to talk about horses, cattle, and farming.

Losing Faye Heath is sad for all she touched but memories of “The Cowgirl” make one smile forever.

Reminded of Second Samuel 1:26: “Crushed by your death. Your friendship was a love exceeding anything ever known.”


030615-franksmug2Frank J. Buchman is a lifelong rancher from Alta Vista, a lifetime newspaper writer, syndicated national ag writer and a radio marketing consultant. He writes a weekly column to share A Cowboy’s Faith.


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