Not every trail boss owns a boot collection numbering 20 pairs. But Kristin Jaworski has been driving the herd of longhorn steer through Fort Worth’s Stockyards National Historic District for 10 years and doesn’t let dust, manure, or stereotypes overshadow her feminine side.
“Regardless of my job, I’m very much a girl,” laughs the dainty, 35-year-old blonde, whose shiny pink nails contrast against her worn chaps and spurs. “I like my nails done, and I like my hair done.”
Trail boss of the Cowtown (a.k.a. Ft. Worth) Herd and in charge of 18 longhorns, 15 to 20 cowhands, and 12 horses, Jaworski leads the cattle drives twice daily. A ritual that pays tribute to the city’s role in the Old West, the drives honor the original drovers, who led hundreds of thousands of cattle along the Chisholm Trail, through Fort Worth, and to market. Her position requires livestock skills with experience in marketing, education, and tourism. Jaworski grew up on a ranch in Flagstaff, Ariz., and studied marketing at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas. She was also involved in Future Farmers of America and 4H throughout school, raising mules and participating in rodeo.
“The perception is that the steers just walk themselves down the street,” says Jaworski of the 6,000 spectators who regularly watch the herd navigate the city’s streets. “I love that perception, because it means we’re doing something right. But the reality is, if we’re not paying attention, they will run all through the Stockyards.”
But that’s nothing compared to managing the personnel, most of whom are male. She’s been called everything from “Boss Lady” to “Den Mother” and worse.
“They like to call me a lot of things, sometimes they’re not all positive,” she says. “It’s difficult. I would be lying to you if I told you otherwise.”
Still, Jaworski says she wouldn’t want it any other way: “I never wanted to be a rancher. I never wanted to live out in the middle of nowhere and raise cattle. Here, I’m able to bring the Western lifestyle and culture to the middle of the city. And that’s unusual.” —Kate Silver