Life in Florida.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Cowboys in Florida, Cowboys in Europe.

**Note: I have edited this based on the comment left by Jennifer - I don't usually bother editing anything, but I suppose in my original post I projected my disgust with one person onto a whole group of people. Not cool. So, here you go....**

So, I work with this 30-something woman - we'll call her Tina, but that's not her name - who thinks she knows everything. Tina has bleached blond hair (with 2-inch long dark roots that seem to never change), caked-on foundation make-up that is perpetually shiny, and bright reddish orangeish lipstick. She's really let herself go and has probably gained 50 pounds since I started working with her 3 years ago. However, she never bought new clothes for her new size, so for months she was coming in wearing shirts that she was literally busting the seams on. Her shirts were looking like sausage casing.

So, I know you think I'm just being mean, but on top of all of this outward ugliness, she has the personality to match. Not only is she frequently bitchy for no apparent reason, but she also: knows more about everything than anyone else, is cooler than everyone else, and will talk over you just so that you can't argue. Additionally, she deals out all of her bullshit with a full-on, thick as molasses and not as pleasant Kentucky accent. YUCK.

The public that she deals with has called her a "pitbull". I think that's a compliment, because what they really meant is something far nastier.

So, the other day, I'm in the break room and she walks up to me and says, "I heard you ride horses." Okay, many of my coworkers have seen me leave the building in breeches and half chaps going off to my hunter/jumper lesson, so they've taken on a kind of fascination with how I spend my free time - it's a sport they've never been close to. I have the same interest in skydiving, scuba diving, deep sea fishing, etc. So, I think that Tina might actually be interested - I start going through describing what the Hunt Seat Equitation discipline is and what Jumpers are. Hunters and Jumpers look something like this:

Stadium Jumping at the Olympic Games:

Hunter Seat Equitation:

The difference between these two disciplines:

  1. Show Jumping (demonstrated by the Stadium Jumping photo above) is a course of larger jumps where the rider's form is not judged. The horse and rider who clears the course of jumps in the fastest time and without knocking any rails down, or having the horse refuse a jump, wins.
  2. Hunter Seat Equitation - time is not a factor. Riders and horses are judged on the rider's form and how well the horse "goes", meaning how well he listens and how smoothly he does all the things asked of him. Hunters are judged in classes "on the flat" (no jumps: walk, trot, canter) and "over fences".

I explained to Tina that I have always ridden Hunters, but I am trying to train for jumpers as well. I wasn't bragging, or saying that I was any good at it. I simply said that I'd ridden for 12 years, took 10 years off, and now I've started again. It was at this point that I paused for her to reply...

She proceeded to go off about how she had ridden for years in Tennessee doing some kind of discipline where she had to gallop out and shoot at something and that the people she rode with thought that she did it so well, that they wanted to send her to Europe for training, but her mom said 'no'. For clarification's sake: she was trying her best to brag about this equestrian sport that I'd never even heard of.

An extensive internet search revealed a sport called "Cowboy Mounted Shooting". Um. Okay. Although I admit that it looks somewhat fun, I guess I just don't get it - why are they shooting balloons???

Yeah, you gallop a horse (typically a Quarterhorse, as they can turn on a dime) around a course and shoot balloons with blanks. I also found this photo, just to prove that Floridians dig this hokey shit, too. Here is
Denny Chapman, "entertainment horse trainer" (or whatever):

Now, for one thing, this is a COWBOY sport - so why in the hell would you go train for it in EUROPE? That's a blatant lie. Secondly, I think anyone with good aim and a little balance can do this sport. I have ridden Western on vacation a few times, and it is EASY. That's why it was developed - for pack horses and transportation. So, my verdict is that no one really offered to send Tina to Europe for training in Cowboy Mounted Shooting. Verdict #2: I hate this crap. I mean, I can understand the historical preservation of the Wild West aspect here, but there is something fully cheesey about this that I just can't put my finger on.



Jennifer said...

A bit harsh, don't you think? I think a horse that can handle the sound of gunfire is pretty cool and calm. The horses are also expected to make some pretty sharp turns.
Europe or not, I don't know... But I certainly wouldn't go running off saying that "hunters have class and mounted shooters don't". I've seen some cowboys that can outride my hiney anyday... and I wouldn't ever challenge them on a ride.

Anonymous said...

X] They do mounted shooting in Europe. I met a few German's this year and they told me about groups who did such things. Just for clarification, not that it matters since this was like... two years ago. lol.

Denny Chapman's Wild West Entertainment said...

I saw you made reference to me in your blog. I'd be glad to provide information about the sport of mounted shooting and can be contacted through my website at I am a sponsored mounted shooting competitor and clinician, and train horses for the sport at our ranch in Ocala FL. I've been involved in the sport for over a decade, and am also contracted to do color commentary for the CMSA World Championships in Amarillo TX. The photo you used of me was taken during a specialty act I performed during a polo tournament in Lexington KY a few years ago and does not represent mounted shooting as a sport. At one point during the act, which begins as Roman Riding, I ask my horse to lay down and shoot a rifle with blanks over him, cavalry style - as in the photo. Mounted Shooting is a timed event held in a rodeo-style arena, often with a spectator audience. We shoot 10 balloon targets with specially loaded black powder blanks that will burst a balloon out to 15 feet or so. The burning embers of powder shoot out in a small pattern before dissapating at about 20 feet. Our horses must be desensitised to gunfire, maneuver as a working cow horse (patterns require correct leads, roll-backs, rating at a gallop, etc). 5 targets are shot with one gun, the other 5 with a second gun. I also compete in mounted rifle competition, which requires the last 5 targets to be shot with two hands, guiding the horse with your seat and legs. I have trained in multiple riding disciplines during my career as a professional horseman, and mounted shooting is by far the most fun I've had on horseback. Thanks for bringing attention to our sport! BTW, here's another link for info:

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