A Cowgirl among us
By Patrick Shannahan

As published in American Border Collie Magazine...

The best aspect of trailing for me is meeting some of the greatest people in the sport.  Many have become good friends; a few have become great friends.  Today, I write about one of my favorite people and closest friends, Evie Kimberly.

Those of you, who have traveled and trailed in the west, might have had the opportunity to experience a meeting with Evie.  Retired, and still very active, Evie has traveled much of the west with her talented dogs. She usually can be found camping in her trailer, surrounded by her dogs and talking with friends, which are abundant when ever Evie is near

This past month, I learned of a great accomplishment that Evie had been awarded.  She was being inducted to the Cowgirl Hall of Fame. Many of Evie’s pictures, newspaper articles and rodeo programs have been cataloged in the National Cowgirl Museum in Ft. Worth, TX This is a great honor for Evie, and speaks well of her life before she decided to give up the horses and begin a life with Border Collies.

Evie grew up in Ohio, being raised mostly by her grandparents.  She was your typical young girl, hoping one day to own a horse.  At 19, she had saved enough to buy her first horse, a gelding costing a $150.  She quickly learned to ride, and the course was set for the next few decades.

Evie joined a rodeo circuit that performed in the East, going from town to town.  She was one of a small elite group called “Rowland’s All Girl Rodeo” and was a Bronc rider that put on exhibitions during the rodeo.  The promoter of the rodeo worked the crowd and the marketing for each event. In typical fashion of the times, he embellished Evie’s life with a few added details.  First he noted her beauty and published that she was a former beauty queen.  Next, he realized it would sound better if she was from a Western state, rather than Ohio, and re-named her Tex.  She was known on the trial circuit as Tex Van Cleave.

 Evie tried to ride bulls only twice, she quickly learned that they were much too rough for her.  She continued on the circuit until it disbanded in Louisiana.  She then continued to work and do exhibitions at Rodeo’s for the next ten years.  It was in a rodeo in Florida that Evie met her husband, a rodeo competitor, Bob Kimberly.

Evie and Bob moved back to Ohio and Evie started working and riding horses on the side.  She work for Dale Wilkerson, a famous horse trainer, until she went out on her own in 1957. Working her own horses, and training others, she quickly became a popular horse figure in the Midwest.  In one newspaper article I read, Evie thought that she had trained between 650-700 horses in her early life in Ohio.    A personal story she told me was that of a young stallion that she trained and competed with.  He was very promising, and she was able to sell him for  $25,000 in 1959.  That was a huge amount of money in that time period, and she was able to build a new house with that money from her sale.

One of her biggest accomplishments in horse training and competition came on a horse named “Whale’s Mark”.  In 1959, they were awarded All Around Champion Quarter Horse of Ohio, competiting in Halter, Reining, Barrel Racing and Western Pleasure classes.  In 1960, they were awarded an AQHA Championship as well.

Evie was also one of the early promoters of the Paint horse.  She was very active with her Paint horses in New Mexico, had many champions in that breed as well. In 1975, Evie had the Reserve National Champion Paint Cutting Horse. While in New Mexico, she purchased and ran a successful western store in Silver City, a place she still resides.

On the sheepdog circuit, Evie was known for her sharp wit and her steady determination.  No one doubted her efforts, and her skills as a handler grow as she gains experience.  One of Evie’s greatest thrills was to have a good run with her own dogs.  She has placed in many trials, and won a few as well.  But Evie can see the good in most all her runs when her dogs are trying hard for her.   

In her life with Border Collies, Evie has been blessed as well.  She has had some wonderful dogs, including her first dog. Flash.  Currently, she has a nice group of dogs, which includes Smoke and Amiga, as well as retired Dunn and Meg.  Evie is a great competitor in our dog world, reminding us of the importance of the great efforts that each dog makes to please us.

One of the best aspects of our sport is meeting some of the great individuals who participate in Border Collies.  Evie Kimberly is one handler that has added a great deal to those who have been fortunate to meet her.  Congratulations Evie, we are all very proud of you and your accomplishment.