By Brenda Young
Carrying the torch of family tradition, Connie Sue Foust Mather recently learned she is the first female inductee into the Liberty Hill Cowboy Hall of Fame. The presentation of her award is set for Saturday, May 10 during the Liberty Hill Pro Rodeo.
Connie Sue’s father, Elroy Foust, was the first recipient of the same award when the ceremony began in 2012. He continues to enjoy horses and ranching at the tender age of 89, and she credits her father and brother, Gary Neal Foust, who passed away several years ago, as her best teachers.
“My daddy was my main teacher. He has been a rancher here all his life, and he took me to my first horse show when I was about five years old. I’ve been doing it ever since,” she said. “I’m so blessed to still have him here. He taught me how to train my first horse, from scratch, and he’s taught me everything I know.”
After graduating from Liberty Hill High School, she took classes at Tarleton State University and Concordia University in Austin. Prior to college graduation, she and former husband James Mather — another Cowboy Hall of Fame inductee this year — welcomed their first child, and she dedicated herself to the art of training horses and raising their four children, as each one continued the family’s strong dedication to the rodeo way of life.
“I’ve roped, run barrels, put on play days and team ropings,” Ms. Mather said. “Some horses are easy to train, to break, and some are outlaws. I’ve always loved barrel racing, because that’s what I did before I had my four kids. After they were born, my life was pretty busy, so I taught them how to ride and took them to rodeos all their life; it’s a family tradition.”
Now with grandchildren, Ms. Mather no longer competes, but she stays busy riding and training horses for herself and her grandchildren. “One of my granddaughters won her first belt buckle two summers ago, at the age of five,” she proudly announced.
“I’ve been all over, in my old days. I’ve won belt buckles and my kids have won saddles and buckles. I grew up with and love that kind of life. I went with my dad every day while he looked out for his cows, and I continued that until my first daughter was born,” she said. “My weekends were spent taking them to rodeos, so it’s the only life I’ve known. I’ve met so many friends from attending rodeos, and we’ve been very blessed to have met all these people.”
In 1995, Ms. Mather went to work for Callahan’s General Store until the store closed in 2005, and it was during this time she found her claim to fame as an extra in the TV movie “Two for Texas” released in 1998 starring Kris Kristofferson and Irene Bedard.
“In 1997, I tried for the part as a stuntwoman for actress Irene Bedard. I got the part because she (Bedard) didn’t know how to ride. It was an accomplishment I love because now I can show my grandkids the movie,” she said. “They paid well, too. I had my own dressing room, director’s chair and got to sit with Kris Kristofferson. It was so exciting, and my kids got to come down there and watch me shoot the scenes.”
According to Ms. Mather, shooting her part of the movie was no easy task. The scene consisted of leading two horses behind her while sitting sideways and jumping back into the saddle as her horse loped down the side of a hill.
During one of the six scenes it took to film, a D-ring broke off her horse’s saddle causing her to fall off, and another horse stepped on her ankle, resulting in her walking with crutches for a short time afterward.
“My ankle swelled, but nothing broke, so I finished the scene. It was a lot of work, but I loved it, and it was a very exciting time for me,” she said.
Asked why she never left Liberty Hill to continue working as a stuntwoman, Ms. Mather took no time to answer.
“I just didn’t want to leave Liberty Hill. All my kids are here,” she said.