When you pick up the September issue of Texas Highways magazine, enjoy Dave Shafer’s gorgeous black-and-white cover for “The Cowboy Issue,” which also features one of Montague County’s young cowgirls, Maddie Ferguson of Nocona.
While the new edition won’t be out for a week, the Ferguson clan got to see an early issue last week and were thrilled to see the teenager 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 in cross country, while serving as the Indian mascot. She also became an avid horse rider competing in rodeos and high school queens contests.
The photographer didn’t want Ferguson to be “all dolled up”
Ferguson says her photo shoot out west was really about being in the right place at the right time. Photographer Dave Shafer had visited the inn earlier in the spring to take photos of the community for the August issue of Texas Highways. She calls him back to the hotel balcony one evening with her parents. The next time they saw her was at Bowie’s rodeo where she was going to sink barrels.
“I was going to be in the slack, so I was warming up my horse. My dad was standing by a slide when Dave came over to talk to him. Dad came up to me and Dave asked if I was his daughter and if I might be interested in taking pictures and it went from there,” Ferguson explains.
As they were planning the shoot, he was told they were looking for a real cowgirl, he didn’t want her to be “all dolled up”.
“It made my life a lot easier. I wore what I did at the Bowie rodeo, which is what I could wear riding or working with my horses. It was the style and vibe he wanted,” Ferguson said.
She has competed in a few rodeo queen contests and added that she was much more comfortable in that situation than being in “queen makeup and attire” like when she competed in county rodeos of Clay and Chisholm Trail.
The photo shoot took place in a hay field at the family square near the Red River and the Spanish fort. Ferguson has lived in the countryside since graduating, spending time working with horses, ranch chores, and teaching riding lessons to children. She says it made her realize how important preserving the land is to her.
Ferguson: “I always wanted to be a barrel racer”
Ferguson didn’t get involved in horseback riding until she was a teenager, growing from her huge collection of Breyer horses to the real thing. Riding and competition became his passion, “I always wanted to be a barrel racer.”
Along with the photographs, Ferguson was interviewed for an editor’s note on cowgirls by Emily Roberts Stone.
“To be asked to represent this group of women was special, and I am honored to be considered in this group of cowgirls. In the article, I told the story of a little girl who met me , and she turned to her mom and said “that’s a real cowgirl” I ride every day, I work horses, but I never considered being part of this group I “I admired. It’s really cool. As a member of the younger generation, I was asked if I thought it was an endangered breed? I said no, “explains the cowgirl .
In the article, Ferguson says that lifestyle isn’t dying because there are “a ton of girls” in North Texas doing the same thing.
“All cowgirls, we are family and we support each other in so many ways,” the article states.
Ferguson hopes to get an equine certificate
While the magazine was exciting, the Fergusons were busy preparing their daughter for college last weekend. She will attend Tarleton State University in Stephenville to study animal science and earn an equine certificate.
“I’m so excited about going to college,” exclaims Ferguson. “I hope to be part of the base horse team. I also want to continue rodeoing away from college teams. Everything I learn, I can use on both sides.
For those who saw the first cover, shared by her proud mother on social media, Ferguson says the response has been positive.
“Everyone loves it and the feedback is good. My parents don’t think I’m excited, but it’s great, but I definitely don’t want to flaunt it,” Ferguson concludes.