What sport do you know of that involves both horses AND guns?
Its called cowboy mounted shooting and it seems to be a fast-growing sport among equestrians, cowboys and cowgirls. In it, the rider of the horse carries two .45 caliber single action revolvers that are loaded with five rounds of blanks. They ride their horse through a course, as fast as they can, and shoot inflated balloons with their pistols. They are judged on their time and whether or not they succeed in shooting all 10 balloons on the course.
Theres a variety of levels, ranging from novice to professional, for both men and women, and different classes within each category.
Celia Boyd, of Mancos, has been involved in this sport since 2000, even though shes been riding since she was 5 years old. Ive been around horses almost all my life, said Boyd. And I wanted to do something else with them. A friend of mine got involved in this mounted shooting, so I did too. When she quit, I kept on doing it!
There is the CMSA, or the Cowboy Mounted Shooting Association, and there is the SASS, or the Single Action Shooting Society. They both host competitions, and Boyd has been part of many of them over the years. Because they say its part cowboy reenactment and part Western movie, their clothing is mostly Western in flavor some is old cowboy style and some is newer.
She recently won the 2012 CMSA (Cowboy Mounted Shooting Association) World Champion Senior Ladies 3 award in Amarillo, Texas. (You have to be at least 48 to be considered a senior, and you must win four times in your division to move up. She needs one more win to move up to a 4.)
Her accomplishments have been many varied over the years, ranging from overall champion to world champion in her division. Her winnings not only involve money, but great mementos, such as belt buckles and new saddles.
In a shooting competition, she said, there are different racing patterns for each day, unknown to the rider. So, you have to be ready and quick, she said. The placement of the balloons, the course that the horse runs and even the color of the balloons is all different for each pattern, but there are always 10 balloons in each pattern.There are two or more patterns per day for three days in each competition, she said.
In the Eliminator, which they have at each competition, for each category in her case, it was Senior Ladies 3 they pick the top 20 with the best time. Then, from them, they eliminate until they have the best 10. Boyd won 4th overall in that competition.
Its a great way to spend time with her horse, she said. And she also gets to travel to all the CMSA matches. Some are close, such as the Four Corners Regional Buffalo Stampede in Edgewood, N.M. or Pueblo, Colo. And some are as far away as Amarillo, Texas. They encourage kids and families to participate and watch, and its a friendly atmosphere.
Boyd lives near Mancos, and her grandparents homesteaded south of Cortez. Her husband, Steve, and her two grown children, Cole and Shaylie, are all involved with horses and rodeos. She also has a 5 year old granddaughter, named Shyanne. She and Steve raise Appaloosa and quarter horses, and the mare that Boyd rides in competitions, named Scarlett Peavy, is nine years old. Her son, Cole, won a SASS National Championship several years ago on a horse that she trained.
Horses need to be specially trained to be ridden in these competitions, said Boyd. They learn at an early age, from the time they are born, almost, to get used to the sound of gun shots. Then, she said, they learn to run and pay attention to the riders signals. Its not easy for the riders, either, Boyd said. There are times when I have to switch to another gun in order to complete the course!
Boyd continues to practice several days per week on her horse, trying to shave seconds off her time.
But mostly, its all about being around her horses.
You can learn more about the CMSA, and Boyds rides, at www.cowboymountedshooting.com.