She's a cowgirl – a little one – but a cowgirl through and through.

She's a cowgirl – a little one – but a cowgirl through and through.

Tom and Stephanie Howard of Carthage have two children, Tyler, 9, and Kassidy, 6. They say it would be accurate, if not an understatement, to describe their kids as “spirited.” Both enjoy the family's lifestyle of riding horses, but for Kassidy, it's her passion.

“It's fun,” she said with a shrug from on top of her horse, Jessie. “(I like it) because it can go fast. I do it when I'm barrel racing.”

Every Wednesday and about every other weekend, the family can be found competing at Lucky J Arena. Kassidy can be spotted in the Pee Wee division with her pink helmet. Before racing, her mom rubber-bands her little boots to the stirrups.

“She is my strong-willed child,” Stephanie said with a big exhale. “I do get nervous, but she always sticks to her saddle somehow.”

Kassidy has ridden horses since she was two when her mom placed her in front of her on the saddle on their farm south of Carthage. When the girl was almost four she got her own horse, and his name was Champ.

“She would take naps on her horse,” Stephanie said. “Since she's been around them so much she has no fear of them – which isn't always a good thing. She's been bucked off, reared on and she doesn't care – which isn't always a good thing.”
As Kassidy smiles big, her front top and bottom teeth are missing. (She enjoys sticking her tongue between that smile.) The bottom ones were lost by natural causes, but the top … not so much.

“We are waiting impatiently for those to come back in,” Stephanie said. “She wrecked her scooter and knocked them out.”

For Christmas this year, almost everything Kassidy got was for her horse. Leaning down and pointing to her horse's hoofs, she made her way up.

“I got bell boots, leg wraps, a breast collar, bridal and a saddle pad,” she said, also noting they were all pink.

This first grader at Mark Twain Elementary School says she wants to be a barrel racer and a veterinarian when she grows up.