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"Always saddle your own horse."

That was the motto of Connie Reeves, a legendary cowgirl who died in Texas yesterday at the age of 101 after being thrown off her favorite horse. Connie taught horseback riding at Waldamar Camp for Girls for over 70 years, finally retiring at the age of 96. Along with riding techniques, Connie also taught the girls self reliance and independence. She taught over 30,000 girls to ride throughout her life. And her life was a doozy (I love using that word..it just makes me grin).

Connie Reeves was the oldest living member of the Cowgirl Hall of Fame when she died. She had ridden horses for virtually every year of those 101 years, having been placed on horseback before she could walk, and riding right up until her final fall, about two weeks before her death. She got her first horse when she was five years old. Her last horse, the one she was thrown from before her death, was named Dr. Pepper. She lived her motto and saddled her own horse right up until the end.

Reeve's life wasn't all about horses, however. When she was younger she dreamed of becoming a lawyer, and attended the University of Texas Law school for three years. She would have become one of the first and youngest female lawyers in the United States at the time, but the Great Depression ended that dream. She became a high school teacher and horseback riding teacher after being forced to leave law school. Connie also wrote a book about her life with her rodeo rider/rancher husband, the late Jack Reeves entitled "I married a cowboy."

When Connie was asked to what she attributed her long life she said she stayed busy, focused on the positive, and spent time with young people. "I also have good genes. Staying independent is important to me. I always saddle my own horse, and I love life too much to grow old."


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