Horses and shooting keep her moving

Courtesy photo

IT takes a special horse, with a special rider, to complete the Cowboy Mounted Shooting Association course in seconds. Celia Boyd earns world champion status in Amarillo, Texas.

By Jeanne Archambeault
Mancos Times Editor

What sport do you know of that involves both horses and guns?

It’s 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.

There’s 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 she’s been riding since she was 5 years old.

“I’ve 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!”

Sanctioned bodies of the sport are the Cowboy Mounted Shooting Association and the Single Action Shooting Society. They both host competitions and Boyd has been apart of many of them over the years.

They say it’s part cowboy reenactment and part western movie, their clothing is mostly western in flavor — some is old cowboy style and some is newer.

Boyd recently won the 2012 CMSA World Champion Senior Ladies 3 award in Amarillo, Texas. One must be at least 48 to be considered a “senior” and must win four times in the division to move up. Boyd needs one more win to move up to division 4.

Her accomplishments have been varied over the years, ranging from overall champion to world champion in her division. Boyd’s winnings not only involve money, but great mementos, such as belt buckles and new saddles.

In a shooting competition, she says, there are different racing patterns for each day that are unknown to the rider.

“So, you have to be ready and quick,” Boyd 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 a 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, contestants are eliminated until they have the best 10. Boyd won fourth overall in that competition.

Perhaps most important, about the sport, it’s a great way to spend time with her horse. Boyd gets to travel to all the CMSA matches. Some are close, such as the Four Corners Regional Buffalo Stampede in Edgewood, N.M., or a trip to Pueblo. Some competitions are as far away as Amarillo.

Boyd lives near Mancos and her grandparents reside south of Cortez. Her husband, Steve, and her two grown children, Cole and Shaylie, are all involved with horses and rodeos. Boyd 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 9 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 ride in these competitions.

“They learn at an early age, from the time they are born, almost, to get used to the sound of gun shots,” Boyd said.

Boyd says they learn to run and pay attention to the riders’ signals. It’s not easy for the riders, either, Boyd explains.

“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, it’s all about being around her horses.

You can learn more about the CMSA, and Boyd’s rides, at

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