Joanne Kennedy on The Yee-haw Spirit
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What is it about cowboys? Women love them. Just look at the romance rack at any bookstore, and you’ll see cowboys with ropes, cowboys with saddles, cowboys with horses, but mostly, you’ll see cowboys with their shirts off. And nobody’s complaining.
When I moved out West, I knew a little bit about cowboys. Tombstone and Son of the Morning Star gave me a taste for Western history, so I knew all about the Earps and Wild Bill, the gold rush and the land rush and every other kind of Wild West rush you could think of.
But I didn’t know about today’s cowboys. Here in the heart of cow country, cowboys aren’t shadows from history, or inventions from novels.
As a matter of fact, they’re about as real as a man can get. Westerners are quirky individualists who have a strong sense of regional identity, plus a unique quality I can only define as the Yee-Haw Spirit.
Yeehaw or Yee-haw: an interjection expressing joy or exuberance that is stereotypically associated with Cowboys … —Wikipedia
That wild cry, often shouted from the back of a bucking horse, defines what makes cowboys different from other men. They’re wild and free, they live life to the fullest, and they seem to need a daily dose of adrenaline to stay sane.
Today’s cowboys are often third- and fourth-generation Westerners who come from pioneer stock. Cattle ranching started here in the mid- to late-nineteenth century, and many of the huge spreads here in Wyoming have been passed down through the generations. It’s likely that a cowboy’s grandparents or great-grandparents left their settled, ordinary lives back East and braved unimaginable danger and difficulty on the path to an unknown future. Some came for the riches of the gold rush, some came for the promise of land ownership. Others were simply drawn by the promise of adventure.
It took something beyond courage to make that move; it took a spirit of reckless adventure and a willingness to take risks. Like ranching, it required an unfailing conviction that no matter how rocky the trail, how heavy the load, or how dismal the weather, things would work out somehow. It’s the spirit that drives a man to rush into danger. NASCAR drivers have it; fighter pilots have it; and cowboys have it in spades.
Yeehaw (interjection): Cowboy/cowgirl talk for “Yeah Baby!” —Merriam Webster website
Lots of women are attracted to risk-taking men, including me. It doesn’t make a lot of sense. Most attraction between the sexes is based on survival of the fittest, but loving men who endanger their own lives on a daily basis is hardly a sound Darwinian strategy.
Maybe we believe men who take risks in their daily lives will be willing to take risks with their hearts. Or maybe we’re just drawn to people who represent the Yee-haw Spirit, living life to the fullest and catching adventure wherever they can—in a fast car, in a faster plane, or on the back of a bucking bull in a red dirt arena.
I live with the Yee-haw Spirit every day, since I’m married to a fighter pilot who’s always ready for trouble. Do you know anyone who has the Yee-haw Spirit and lives for adventure?
COWBOY TOUGH BY JOANNE KENENDY – IN STORES FEBRUARY 2013
She’s hardly a cowgirl…
Cat Crendall left a successful advertising job in New York to teach art workshops in the wild west. The Boyd Ranch is hardly her dream destination, but if the outing’s a success, the company will send her to more exotic locations.
But once a cowboy…
Mack Boyd was in the middle of the best bronc-riding season of his life when his mother asked for help with an artists’ retreat at the ranch. Mack might be able to ride a wild stallion to a standstill but he can’t say no to his family.
Cat and Mack are complete opposites…but when the ranch is threatened financially, can they set aside their differences and work together?
Joanne Kennedy’s lifelong fascination with Wyoming’s unique blend of past and present inspires her to write contemporary Western romances with traditional ranch settings. In 2010 she was nominated for a RITA award for One Fine Cowboy. At various times, Joanne has dabbled in horse training, chicken farming, and bridezilla wrangling at a department store wedding registry. Her fascination with literature led to careers in bookselling and writing. She lives with two dogs and a retired fighter pilot in Cheyenne, Wyoming. For more information, please visit http://joannekennedybooks.com and on Facebook.