CMSA World Championships

AQHA recognizes this year's top mounted shooters and horses.

By Larri Jo Starkey
The American Quarter Horse Journal
October 22, 2012

2012 Cowboy Mounted Shooting Champions

Tammy Billingsley and Gary Vickers captured the men's and women's AQHA trophies October 20 at the Cowboy Mounted Shooting Association World Championships. (Journal photo) For more Journal photos of the cowboy mounted shooting action, scroll to the slide show below.

Two new faces and one repeat winner showed up at the top of the leaderboard October 20 as the Cowboy Mounted Shooting Association World Championships came to an end in Amarillo.

AQHA recognizes top shooters in women’s, men’s and youth divisions.

For youth winner Nick Black of Boise, Idaho, it wasn’t just a repeat win, it was a repeat win with the same horse, Whos Lucky Whodini.

“He’s a pretty bay,” Nick said. “He’s been with me forever. I’ve had him since he was 4. He’s 14 now. Besides my shooting horse, he’s also my team roping horse and all-around horse that I use for fun.”

Nick says the AQHA trophy he won has special significance still.

“It’s one of those trophies to hang in my room and have my grandpa see and have pride in me,” he said. “I’m going to go home, keep practicing and come back next year and try to win again.”

Whos Lucky Whodini is a 1998 gelding by Sons Who and out of Lucky Reprint by Lucky T Devil. He was bred by Lynsi Hoyt of Eagle, Idaho.

For men’s champion Gary Vickers of Manchester, Tennessee, the win was an elusive goal.

“I’ve thrown this (title) away a couple of times, when you get in there and the pressure gets to you, but this is the one I’ve been wanting right here,” he said.

In addition to being the top man in the competition, Gary was the overall champion with Dun Its Desert Sun, a 2002 buckskin gelding by Genuine Dun It-Toothpick Question by Toothpick Jack. He was bred by Lisa Agnoli of Cabazon, California.

“I tell you what,” Gary said. “He’s a one of a kind. We just had a heck of a time. It was one train wreck right after another. I talked with a couple of good friends of mine, Darren Moore and Kenda Lenseigne, and they said you’re going to have to pull him out of the game and go back to zero and start all over again. So I did that and pulled him out, and since then, it’s all been great.”

The women’s division winner, Tammy Billingsley of Darby, Montana, had also found the top title difficult to earn.

“I’ve been doing this for about 10 years, and it seems like every year, something has happened where (the win) has eluded me,” she said. “This year, it finally happened.”

Tammy’s main mount, Jessie Can Twist, had almost as tough a time as she did getting to the championships in Amarillo.

“I had him going really well as a 6-year-old,” she said. “He was just starting to clock right where I’d hoped he would be, and then early last spring, right before the season started, about a week before nationals, he got hurt really really badly, and I didn’t know if he was going to be able to compete again.

“I left him off all last year, and the vet said if I could to leave him off the whole year so I did that and I brought him back this spring, and he’s just gotten better and better and I couldn’t be happier.”

Jessie Can Twist is a 2004 palomino gelding by Vodka Witha Twist-Can Play Baby by Rainbeau McBee. He was bred by Chris Cowling of Florence, Montana, and Tammy now owns his sire, Vodka Witha Twist.

“I raised (Jessie Can Twist) and trained him myself,” she said. “I brought him to this point, so it’s a rewarding experience. I do not own the (dam), but another mounted shooter in Idaho does own the mare, and so I know the whole family. The mare was a Sugar Bars mare and she had a lot of run in her, and my stallion is a great-grandson of Jessie James, so I was hoping for a little speed.”

She got it, as she and “Duke” proved through a week of competition in Amarillo, where she was not just the women's champion but also the reserve world champion. Next, she’s pointed toward the Pfizer Versatility Ranch Horse and AQHA Cowboy Mounted Shooting World Championships.