Women of the West - Emily Allen

Emily AllenMoving effortlessly between ranch work and office work, this multi-talented cowgirl is on a mission to promote the traditional cowboy in today's tech-savvy world.

Photography by Christian Murdock


Emily AllenGROWING UP ON A SOUTHERN COLORADO RANCH, Emily Allen is comfortable slipping on a pair of boots and sliding into the saddle for a day of work. But these days, this business-minded cowgirl is just as apt to be seated behind a computer screen, promoting cowboys and ranching values through her advertising and Web site design company, Broken Spear Designs. It's just one way Allen gives back to the Western lifestyle, a culture that she credits for helping her overcome a childhood car accident that was expected to leave her paralyzed.

IN SECOND GRADE, I would play hooky so I could go with my dad to the sale barn when he was buying cattle. But he always made sure I learned from it-he'd teach me how to figure numbers or keep track of what cattle we were bringing.

MY DAD LIKES TO BRAND the old-fashioned way. Instead of running the cows into corrals after we've gathered them up, everyone stays horseback except for the ground crew.

OUR FAMILY has really supported each other in this culture. Now the grandkids come to help wean or ship, and they earn $1 for helping. It's really cool to see them grow up like we did.

WHEN I WAS ABOUT 15, I went hunting with my dad. I kept missing, so he told me to rest the gun over the hood of the pickup. I leaned over and the scope was looking straight at the antelope, but the barrel was kind of pointed down. I shot the hood and I thought he was going to kill me. But he just laughed until tears were running down his face.

MY MOM IS THE IDEAL rancher's wife. She's the type that's up early, fixes breakfast and is then out helping dad feed and saddle. She's taught me a lot about enjoying the ranching lifestyle and doing what you need to do to make it work.

THEY SAID I would never regain movement. Without my faith and trust in God, I wouldn't have been able to handle this. Over time, He continued to heal me. I've regained movement on my right side, and my left side continues to improve.

I WENT TO REHAB for several years, but the thing that truly helped the most was just riding.

I HAD TO CHANGE how I ride. There are a lot of things that are tricky, like turning a horse around when you need to use your left leg. But it's like anything in life-you learn how to get things done when it isn't easy.

NOBODY WOULD KNOW anything is wrong when I'm horseback. I can zip around where I need to go or sort a pair off, and no one has a clue. And when I come in for lunch on a scooter, everyone is just so easy. People in the cowboy lifestyle are so easy.

WITH DAD BEING self-employed, we realized as we were growing up how beneficial it was to be driven. At a young age, I knew what hard work was. In the agricultural world there are ups and downs, but looking back, it taught me how to handle different times in my own business.

I LOVE THE FACT that I can enjoy the ranching life, but then come in, get in the office and go to work. There's so much good about both worlds. If I were just on the ranch, I'd miss a lot of opportunities to meet people. I've gotten to go a lot of places and meet so many neat people in the business world.

WORKING A COW, loping a horse or just soaking up the sun are things that make me thankful to be a cowgirl.

I OFTEN TAKE PICTURES during brandings, which I then use for ads. It helps bring attention to ranches and people here that wouldn't normally be on the cover of a magazine.

I DON'T EVER THINK I work for myself. I feel like John Wayne in the movie McLintock, when he says he works for everyone who steps into a butcher shop and orders a steak. In that sense, nobody really works for themselves.

IT'S EXCITING to be able to give people a boost in the technical world, so they can be a part of what's working in this day and age. Cowboys are sometimes not technical-minded, so it can be interesting getting information from them over the Internet.

WORKING IS NOT just something I do for a paycheck. It's about embracing my ranching lifestyle as I step into the technical world; enjoying my life and appreciating what God has brought me through.