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The Tail of Two Mounted Shooters

A story by: Kristine Huber-Day
An American sits proudly atop my head, my hair is braided down to the side, I tried to do the association proud. My horse was meticulously groomed, her mane is braided tight and her tail is gleaming in the arena lights. My saddle is cinched down tight as I hold my reins with an iron fist. For a moment I let go, I reach down to my left side and grasp one .45 single-action revolver. I lift it up and check…the hammer falls on an empty cylinder, there are five black powder blank rounds loaded. It goes back into my holster and I grab my second pistol, checking it in the same manner. Back to the first, double-checking it, then pulling and holstering it two more times in rapid repetition…I’m good, I can do this, I will be fast. The cowboy before me completes his round…12.9, a new fast time. It’s ok, I have the horsepower, I can do this, I can beat him!
Reaching up, I readjust my hat to sit square and firm on my head, tuck my shirt down into my rig one last time, and ride into the arena. The announcer charts my accolades as we prance into the arena, I hear half his words, I am humbled by my own past achievements…I know that today won’t be the same. I’m too nervous, the crowd is too big, this arena scares me, my nerves are pinging, but we’re going to give it all we have.
My horse feels this underneath me, and she responds by lifting her knees even higher as she comes in sideways through the gate. It’s going to be a wild ride on my red dragon.
Once we are in the arena, a calm envelopes both of us, and we walk smoothly from left to right. I keep an eye on the timer line, waiting for my signal to engage the course. Behind me, I hear the echo of the bulls, in the distance I hear my family and friends cheering me on, and somehow, I know we are ready. We get the green light.
I draw my first pistol, lock eyes on my first target, and we make our move. She picks up a left lead and we launch forward. Hammer, trigger, bang, pop! Hammer, trigger, bang pop! Five times in rapid succession, we are doing amazing! Put away my first gun, draw the second; smooth as butter, my second gun is in my hand, hammer cocked. Trigger, bang, pop! Hammer, trigger, bang, pop! Eight of my ten targets are down, only two more to go. Hammer, trigger, bang…I missed. I missed my ninth target. Let it go, hit your tenth. Let it go, hit the next one! Hammer, trigger, bang, pop! Yes! But will it be enough for the round, for the average? In this event, in the rodeo? We walk out of the arena, with my hand on her neck, letting her know she did a great job, and I am excited.
My miss may have cost me the round, but the run won over my world. My mare gave it her all and I gave it everything I had. All around me I hear everything, yet nothing. The crowd, my people, my horse, my heartbeat, the announcer. My fellow competitors are congratulating and consoling me as I exit the arena. It’s all dull; dull in the shadow of my excitement for the rodeo. In this moment, it doesn’t matter, I don’t even know what our time was. I don’t recognize the miss. All I know is that I am surrounded by the best people I have ever met, my extended family, and I never knew how badly I needed.
PAFRA is a world all its own, it is the epitome of rodeo family. Each year it is a family reunion, a competition that I look forward to for the next 365 days. Long lost friends, old rivals, new family to be met each year, it’s a blessing to be looked forward to with longing. The location may change, events may vary, the competitors may rotate; but in the end, we all come back to the same core values and foundation. We are family…we are PAFRA.

A story by: Heather Badley
PAFRA 2022 was a dream come true for us! It was an amazing experience we made some really good friends and we can’t wait for 2023. It’s a privilege to be a part of such an amazing organization that has so much room for growth. With us being mounted shooters, it was a somewhat rare opportunity to be able to participate in our sport in a televised rodeo performance setting. Many other mounted shooting competitions during rodeos especially televised are invite only and not accessible to most competitors. We really loved the atmosphere and that we were welcome as a family. Our son talks about the rodeo college, the events and his face painted “dragon” daily, he can’t wait to go back. Thank you to all who make this opportunity possible!

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