CHEYENNE (AP) - Wide-eyed and a bit weary, five German women bought cowboy boots and hats Saturday morning in downtown Cheyenne.
The group attracted more attention than most customers as they were surrounded by a Tangram Film camera crew. The five women were selected from 1,000 who applied to be in a five-part documentary series called "Cowgirls." The show will air on a French-German cultural channel.
For the next three weeks, the women, ages 22 to 61, will learn to be cowgirls at the Colorado Cattle Company in New Raymer, Colo., about 100 miles southeast of Cheyenne.
"It's always been a dream to go work on a ranch," said Nikola Mai, a 22-year-old police officer. "I think the next three weeks will be amazing."
They have limited riding experience, but in 21 days they are expected to compete in roping against other cowgirls at a nearby ranch.
"This is a big, huge dream for them," producer Dagmar Biller said. "Now, we're going to see if it's what they thought it would be."
But before they can learn to be cowgirls, they have to dress the part. Clutching her soft brown leather boots to her chest, Petra Rathfelder said, "I'm really proud of this."
Up to now, the only Western thing she's owned has been a Calgary rodeo T-shirt, which was a gift from a friend. While Germans are intrigued by the Western lifestyle, Rathfelder said there's no place to try it out.
She said she knows of no working ranches, and horseback riding is limited to trail rides. Rathfelder, 32, found information about the show on the Internet, and, being an adventurous person, had to apply.
"I told them, 'I can cook really strong coffee over a campfire so you have to take me,"' she said, laughing.
The group needed that strong coffee Saturday morning, after arriving at the ranch at 3 a.m. There were repeated delays and difficulties on the flight from Germany.
Cattle Company owner Penny Persson welcomed them and then informed them that cowgirls don't get to sleep in. "We're trying to get them cowboyed up," Persson said.
Each woman had a pair of leather gloves and a rope waiting for them. Rathfelder, who said she is most excited "to get a rope around a cow," tried the rope out right away.
"I tried to rope my roommates," she said.
As the women selected boots and hats at The Wrangler, a Western store, Persson offered hard advice. "Promise me if you get blisters and your feet are bleeding, you won't whine," Persson said to one when she saw her choice of boots.
"They are your feet, just tell me you'll walk through the pain."
Persson said she was contacted by director Ziri Rideaux, who had been looking all over the West for a place to shoot the documentary.
Rideaux loved the ranch, part of the Pawnee National Grasslands, Persson said. Biller said the women chosen have limited horse experience, so that viewers could see them improve. They also had to be able to express themselves.
"They had to be willing to open up," Biller said. "Otherwise, it could get a little boring watching five women who didn't want to talk."
Mai said the team already seemed to have "good vibrations."
"I was worried someone would be really worried about their nails or their makeup," Rathfelder said. "But no one is like that so far."
While reality shows are popular in Germany, Biller said the women weren't chosen in hopes of having personality clashes.
"It's not about humiliating people or making fun of people," she said. "We want to see them succeed, not fail."