Well, we had one of those occasions happen to our family just recently. We had attended the Cowboy Mounted Shooting (CMSA) event on their final shoot of the season. Matt was not able to ride and shoot this year as he lost his horse this spring. But he attended with the Civil Air Patrol running balloons. CAP has done this for the mounted shooters for several years now. It is a good money making project for the Cadets as the mounted shooters offer a generous gift for their services, and it is also good PR for the Cadet Program giving them exposure for what the Civil Air Patrol does. Anyway, Matt has loved the cowboy mounted shooter events, no matter which part of it he is participating.
My husband was there this year to camp and help with the cadets. I just came to watch, as I absolutely love the sport. There is always an award ceremony on the last day when the shooters have finished up with their 3 day competition. Matt attended the award ceremony this year with two of the other Cadets from Civil Air Patrol. His Dad and I usually like to attend this ceremony as well, but this year we were tearing down his camp, so we were unable to attend.
I didn’t think it a bit odd when someone from the shooter’s group came over looking for Matt to tell him to be sure to be there. Matt had already headed over for the ceremony, as he knew this is usually when the shooters thank the Civil Air Patrol for their help and since Matt participates in both groups, he has always been the one to be there to represent CAP.
My husband and I went about tearing down camp, but I kept feeling like I really wanted to just wander over to the ceremony and forget about tearing down until later. However, I didn’t want to leave my husband working there alone; he was well into getting things put away and I didn’t think I could talk him into putting it off.
It wasn't long before Matt and the other two cadets returned to our camp and I could see right away Matt was pretty emotional. He didn’t say anything; but simply held out to me a framed, 8 x 10 photograph as he fought back tears. It wouldn’t do to let other cadets see the Cadet Commander in tears, I’m sure; but when I looked down at the picture, my heart leaped in raw, unexpected emotion all my own and I knew what had taken place. It was a beautiful photo of Matt on his horse at last year’s CMSA event. A local photographer* had taken the photo, and when Matt lost his horse this spring, the shooters decided to present him with this framed photo, along with some pretty nice words that I know he will remember for a lifetime.
|Matt and Lady - CMSA 2009|
Tom Davenport - Prairie Photography
It shouldn’t have surprised us, I guess. I don’t think I have ever met a nicer group of people. I have watched on the side-lines as they have lent Matt chaps, pistols and rifles until he could get his own. They have offered tips and encouragement over the years as he learned; and they sent a beautiful card of sympathy when Matt lost his Lady. Some of them even helped Matt find another horse without his knowledge, until one day he received a phone call about Skeeter!! This group has literally taken Matt under their wing to help and encourage him. But I don’t think it is just Matthew they treat this way, this is simply the kind of people they are. The Cowboy Mounted Shooters dress in period costume and represent the way life used to be when cowboys ruled the range. I like to think that these people represent more than the cowboy lifestyle, they represent values and consideration for man and beast at its finest...kinda like it used to be. This group has shown me that some things never change. Deep in their core, they are the best of the best. And I stand simply amazed. I know when Matt looks at that photo, far into his future, he will not only remember a precious and beloved horse, he will also remember a wonderful group of people that he came to count as friends.
Mounted shooting is a fantastic sport and it is something I could write about in a whole other blog, but you can find more about it at their website: http://www.northwestmountedshooters.com/
*And to check out some awesome photographs of our local mounted shooting events, check out the amazing photography of Tom Davenport – Prairie Photography at: http://prairiephoto.biz/
PS...Lest you think me one mean mama, I have permission from Matt to post this. I guess he's man enough, strong enough to acknowledge tears over that which he loves. :-)