A familiar face in the Western performance horse industry, hat company owner Lavonna “Shorty” Koger, was selected for the National Cowgirl Museum’s Hall of Fame.
The Fort Worth, Texas-based Museum announced Tuesday, Nov. 17, that Koger, owner of Shorty’s Caboy Hattery, is one of five new inductees into the Hall of Fame. She will be joined in the Class of 2021 by artist Pop Chalee, champion roper Lari Dee Guy, Olympic equestrian Kathryn Kusner and country music superstar Miranda Lambert.
“I’m honored and humbled, bunches,” Koger said Tuesday when reached by phone. “I’m actually still in shock, to be honest with you.”
Though she wasn’t born into a horse show or rodeo family, Koger entered the sport in her teens and early 20s as a barrel racer and bull rider. She sold clothes and shaped hats on the side, and then entered the apparel business as an owner in the 1980s when she bought Shorty’s Caboy Hattery.
Over the years Shorty’s Caboy Hattery, which her siblings helped her start, changed from a hat renovation business to a custom hattery. Its hats are made of pure beaver fur or a beaver fur blend.
It is now a fixture at major Western performance horse events, a community of people Koger says is the best part of the business.
“They’re not just my customers, they’re my friends now and you know, I love the horse people. I love all the disciplines,” she said. “So, I mean it just don’t’ get any better than that.
She credits the people in the industry with supporting something that’s dear to her heart, Rein In Cancer, a charity started as a way to honor of Koger’s late sister, Shirley Bowman, who had died after a battle with cancer.
The nonprofit has raised more than $1 million since its founding, and since its founding has provided assistance ranging from funding a nutritional clinic in Shirley’s name to now providing direct care to cancer patients in the horse industry.
Several horse organizations or shows hosted benefits over the years for Rein In Cancer.
“That’s how I built my Rein In Cancer, was the horse people donating money to the functions that we had,” said Koger, who is a cancer surviver. “So, the horse people are pretty amazing.”
Koger isn’t sure how she’s going to celebrate, but she hopes her surviving siblings, Ivan and Vonda, are able to go to Fort Worth for the induction ceremony and luncheon on April 27 in Dickies Arena.
She’s grateful for all of their help, as well as guidance from God.
“Without God in your life I wouldn’t be where I’m at today, so I’m thankful that I have Him and all the many, many friends I’ve made, and my family,” she said. “It’s just overwhelming actually.”