My Other Life: Cowgirl

<p>When she's not in the salon or teaching compute classes, nail technician Tricia McMaster can often be found astride her horse participating in cowboy mounted shooting competitions.</p>Periodically, nail technician Tricia McMaster assumes the role of her alter ego, Prairie Rose Henderson, a real life 19th-century bronc rider and relay racer who was renowned for her outrageous attire. A nail technician at Granite Valley Hair & Nails in Sun City West, Ariz., McMaster is also the Cowgirl Limited National Champion of Cowboy Mounted Shooting. The sport of cowboy mounted shooting has been around since 1991, says McMaster, who estimates there are 400-500 participants nationwide. Competitors shoot .45 caliber, single-action revolvers – just like cowboys used – while wearing 1880 period-authentic costumes. But instead of shooting bullets, the mounted riders fire a load of black powder and cleaning medium that can pop balloons at up to 20 feet.

“You run a course of action carrying two guns, each loaded with five rounds. I keep one of my saddle and one on my person,” explains McMaster. “We ride and simultaneously shoot balloons – first randomly, then in sequence. In between halves, we change guns while doing a sort of barrel racing. Of course, the whole thing is timed.”

McMaster and her husband own two horses that had to be specially trained not to react to gun shots. “We made earplugs for our horses out of kitty play balls,” says McMaster, who has been riding since she was three. “It’s an addiction,” she says.

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