When you pick up the September issue of Texas Highways magazine, enjoy Dave Shafer’s beautiful black-and-white cover of “The Cowboy Issue,” which also includes one of Montague County’s young cowgirls, Maddie Ferguson of Nocona.
While the new edition won’t be released for another week, the Ferguson clan was able to see an advanced issue last week and was thrilled to see the teen on the cover.
Maddie is the 18-year-old daughter of Bob and Kristal Ferguson, who own and operate the Red River Station Inn in Nocona. A 2021 graduate of Nocona High School, Maddie was active nationwide and served as an Indian pet. She has also become an avid knight who competes in roller and queen contests during high school.
The photographer didn’t want Ferguson to be “all wrapped up”
Ferguson claims his western photo shoot was just a matter of being in the right place at the right time. Photographer Dave Shafer had been to the inn before spring to take community photos of the August issue of Texas Highways. She remembers him on the hotel balcony one evening with his parents. The next time they saw him was at Bowie’s rodeo where he was going to throw barrels.
“I was going to be ready, so I warmed up the horse. My dad was by a canal when Dave came to talk to him. Dad came to pick me up and Dave asked me if I was his daughter and if I might be interested in taking some pictures and he left, ”says Ferguson.
When they planned to shoot, she was told they were looking for a real cowgirl, who didn’t want her “all wrapped up”.
“It simply came to our notice then. I wore what I did with Bowie’s roller, which is what I could spend riding or working with my horses. That was the style and atmosphere I wanted, ”said Ferguson.
She has competed in a number of rodeo queen contests and added that she was much more comfortable in this situation than being completely in “makeup and queen attire” like when she competed in the Clay County and Chisholm Trail rodeos.
The photo shoot took place in a hay field at the family site near the Red River and the Spanish fort. Ferguson has lived in the country since he graduated, spending time working with horses, ranch chores, and teaching horse lessons to children. She says it has made her realize the importance of preserving the land for her.
Ferguson: “I’ve always wanted to be a barrel runner”
Ferguson did not get involved on horseback until she was a teenager who went from her massive Breyer horse collection to reality. Driving and competing have become his passion: “I’ve always wanted to be a barrel runner.”
Along with the photographs, Ferguson was interviewed by Emily Roberts Stone for a note from the editor about cowgirls.
“I was asked to represent that group of women was special, and I feel honored to be considered in this group of cows. In the article I told the story of a girl who met me and addressed her mother and said that “she is a real cowgirl”. I do horses every day, I work on horseback, but I’ve never considered being part of this group I’ve watched. It’s pretty cute. As someone of the younger generation, I was asked if I thought it was a dying race? I said no, ”explains the cowgirl.
In the article, Ferguson says this lifestyle doesn’t die, as there are “a lot of girls” in North Texas who do the same.
“All cowgirls are a family and we support each other in many ways,” the article states.
Ferguson hopes to get the equine certificate
While the magazine was exciting, the Fergusons were preparing their daughter to leave for college this past weekend. He will attend Tarleton State University in Stephenville to study animal science and obtain an equine certificate.
“I’m very excited to go to college,” Ferguson exclaims. “I hope to be part of the stock market team. I also want to continue rodeo off the college teams. Everything I learn I can use for both parties.
For those who have seen the cover advanced, shared by her proud mother on social media, Ferguson says the response has been positive.
“Everyone loves it and the comments have been good. My parents don’t think I’m excited, but it’s amazing, but I certainly don’t want to show it off, ”concludes Ferguson.