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My Saddle And My Guns

My Saddle And My Guns

When did you start shooting?

Like many women in shooting sports, I was introduced to firearms by my dad as a little girl. He taught me the rules of safety first and foremost, followed by the core fundamentals of marksmanship. Due to my dad being an avid collector of rifles and shotguns, I grew up shooting mainly long guns. Growing up my dad would take me hunting. We primarily hunted deer and dove. When I was thirteen he gave me my first shotgun and we began shooting skeet. I have always enjoyed shooting guns of any size and kind. I never learned how to shoot a pistol until I was in college and was introduced to USPSA. I instantly fell in love with the sport.

What do you like about USPSA?

I began shooting USPSA in 2009. The minute I started my first practice, I knew that I was addicted. I love all of the different aspects of shooting USPSA; the complexities of the different shooting positions, moving targets, and activation sequences. I believe that USPSA has made me into a better shooter and competitor. I love the rush that I get when the RO (range officer) says “Shooter Ready, Stand by….. Beep!” Then it’s off to the races, although a long course of fire may take less than twenty seconds to complete, time slows down, it’s just me, the sights and the target. Even though it may look frantic and confusing there is a peace while shooting. It is that peace in chaos that I have come to love. Aside from my love of the sport, I feel I have a debt to USPSA, because I met my husband at a local match in Levelland, TX. Within the last year and a half my husband and I have devoted ourselves to being more competitive in the sport, in turn we have found ourselves at more major matches and club matches which has been the spawn of new friendships and memories.

What do you want to accomplish as a competitive shooter?

My dream as a competitive shooter is quite large; one day I would love to be a sponsored grand master that is capable of being proficient in multiple divisions of USPSA. A dream that has come true is being able to compete throughout the year with my husband. As for my horses, I want to continue to grow my horsemanship skills, as well as continue to develop my roping and cutting skills. While we are dreaming, it has always been in the back of my mind to meld shooting sports and horsemanship into one and try mounted shooting. Another lifelong dream come true, is being able to use my horses in therapy to help others.

How important is for you to protect the second amendment?

Being a passionate firearms enthusiast, the second amendment and the rights that it grants me are of utmost importance to me. I believe whole heartedly that just as we have a right to freedom of speech, that we also have the right to bear arms. The right to own and possess firearms can look different for everybody, whether it be for sport, pleasure or personal protection, I believe that willing and able Americans should exercise their second amendment right.

Five Horses, Five Personalitites

There are many things I enjoy doing, but one of my passions is riding horses. My love for horses began at the age of four, in the mountains of Colorado. We were on a family vacation when I rode my first horse. Cochise was an old brown appaloosa that first taught me to ride. After a few years of riding horses in the mountains during our family vacations my parents realized my love of horses and put me in riding lessons. For several years I took riding lessons and would beg for my own horse, but I had to choose when I was 12 years old between softball and riding. I chose softball because I could always have horses later and you can only play fast pitch for a short amount of time. My love for horses never faded, but only grew stronger. When I was a junior in high school, I began riding Handsome, a dark brown and white paint, for my coach’s daughter, she had become very sick and could not ride. I rode handsome for about a year when my parents surprised me by buying him for me. I was ecstatic that I finally had my own horse. I spent many hours at the barn, grooming him, loving on him and riding until I had to be home. Handsome was a gift from God that I am forever grateful for.

I currently own five horses. Aside from Handsome, Willow was my second horse and I got her when I was a sophomore in college from a ranch in the mountains outside of Creede, Colorado. Although it took some time for Willow to adapt to the plains of west Texas she has since become as robust as a native flat land horse. Willow is an eighteen year old bay Arabian that at the age of thirteen gave me my first colt, Amyrah. Amyrah is a full blooded Arabian and is also bay, but has a white right hind foot. Amyrah is a spunky but loving mare who enjoys being around people. She isn’t very tall but has a big personality. My fourth horse is Crescent who is a half Arabian half Quarter horse that I also got from the mountains outside of Creede, Colorado. Horses like people, all have different personality traits. One of Crescents personality quirks is that she has jealousy issues whenever I give attention to other horses.

Recently I have had the opportunity to have a horse that is teaching me to rope, his name is Ocho. He is currently eight years old and is a bay quarter horse. He is tall and slender, yet fit and agile. One of Ocho’s quirks is that he has some difficulties with being tied up and saddled, but once you are able to get on him he is calm and confident. Ocho is great with cows and sets me up to rope every time, he is also very patient with me when I make a mistake.

I ride in the Western discipline and I enjoy riding for pleasure, roping, cutting, pinning and many different aspects of riding. Another reason why I love horses is that they are powerful, but yet graceful. When you are able to communicate with these magnificent animals and work together to accomplish goals it is a beautiful partnership.

Equine Therapy

Horses are flat out some of the most amazing creatures. One astonishing thing about horses is that they can read people better than we can. They are prey animals, so their instincts are to interpret other animal’s intent for their survival. Their natural instinct to survive makes them beneficial for counseling, even better than dogs. EAGALA is an organization that uses horses in psychotherapy. This model is all based on ground work, there is no riding involved. The horses are used as a partner in counseling, with the mental health professional and the equine specialist. I just became a certified EAGLA Professional for both the Equine Specialist and the Mental Health Specialist.

The mental health specialist has to be under a licensing board, which is responsible for the client’s emotional safety and the process of counseling. The equine specialist is to focus on the horses and their safety as well as physical safety of the clients. The horses are extremely beneficial partners in the counseling process because of their ability to read others and the situation. In addition to the horses attention to detail they also have the ability to mirror people, provide content for metaphors, and take the focus off the clients. There have been many children and teenagers that I have brought out to my horses when they were having a difficult time. After spending time with the horses they would be more open and willing to see a different perspective that they never had seen before. I have seen many people’s lives change after spending time with my horses. They are not just remarkable companions, but are great partners in helping others.

Somewhere in the midst of my family and friends, shooting and my many interests I managed to find time to complete my Master’s in Counseling. I will be soon start my journey as a counselor and will be specializing in Animal Assisted Therapy and I will also begin my journey to be certified as a Play Therapist.

Meghan Smiley

Category: Life Beyond The Gun