Cowboy Mounted Shooting claims to be the fastest growing equestrian sport in America. I tried my hand at it a few of years back, and I have to admit it was the most fun as I've ever had on horseback. I even won a couple of buckles in the senior men's one division. However, not every horse will take to gunfire, and some--like my mare--may reject it even after several years of competition.
Mounted Shooters ride a timed course of fire consisting of 10 balloons. It's like barrel racing with balloons in between the barrels, and you are shooting the balloons while riding at a gallop. Typically a course of fire pattern consists of 5 white balloons -- grouped together in one place or spread out over the entire arena -- and 5 red balloons placed in a straight row toward the finish line. Most courses have at least one barrel, but some have as many as three barrels to test horsemanship.
Riders shoot all 5 white balloons first. Then they holster their first gun while riding to the far end of the arena, draw a second gun, round a barrel, and shoot 5 red balloons in a straight line called 'the Rundown.' Riders shoot black powder blank cartridges from single-action Colt .45 or a similar reproduction, at balloons, and are scored on accuracy and time. Black powder blanks spray burning powder about 10 to 15 feet to break the balloons.
Cowboy Mounted Shooters outfit themselves and their horses in authentic late 1800s period clothing and tack.
Cowboy Mounted Shooting is an equestrian shooting sport that can be enjoyed by the whole family, and there is a skill level for everyone. There is a Men's Division, a Women's Division, a Junior Division, and a Senior's Division, with Classes 1-6 in each of those divisions. There is also a Wrangler Class for those 11 and under.
Below is a YouTube link to a video of Kasidy and me at the Festival of the West 2008