Denise Collura mounts her caramel-colored horse, checks the ammo in her single-action revolver and awaits further instructions at the starting line.
“You can start with any color,” said Joe Mugnai, 51, of Farmingdale. “You choose your color and you stick with that color.”
Collura didn’t hesitate.
“I’m going for white,” said the 31-year-old Bellmore woman.
She was among the dozens of riders and spectators on Saturday who visited Hallockville Museum Farm in Riverhead for a cowboy mounted shooting event set up by the Island Long Riders, a local affiliate of the Cowboy Sports Association.
“We do events all year round, but out here has become an annual thing,” said Mugnai, president of the Island Long Riders.
One by one the 12 equestrians participating in the cowboy mounted shooting event raced against the clock in a series of four stages where they had to shoot an arrangement of 10 balloons with a single-action revolver loaded with blanks.
“You actually have to pop that hammer before each shot,” said Mugnai, explaining some of the difficulties of the event.
Collura’s horse, Liam, was one of the few that was spooked by the gunshots. After her second shot, the horse darted to the opposite side of the course and refused to finish the race.
“This is really a thinking rider’s game,” said Mungai. “You can’t put your horse on autopilot.”
Each course had five red and five white balloons set up in specific patterns and any deviation from the prescribed course resulted in a 10-second penalty.
Mary Mumbai, 48, of Farmingdale, and her horse, Logan, won the event with a total time of 111.21 seconds. Her best time was 18.4 seconds.
All of the riders at the event were from Long Island and pre-registered with the Cowboy Sports Association.
“Any horse activity on Long Island is important,” said Danielle Amberecht, 28, of Merrick, who participated in the event with her horse, Vegas Strip Tease. “There’s a humongous horse community on Long Island and there aren’t enough events like this.”
This is the second year the Hallockville Museum Farm held a cowboy mounted shooting event, but it won’t be their last, according to Herb Strobel, executive director of Hallockville Museum Farm.
“There never were a lot of cowboys here, but there is a rural and agricultural heritage that we try to promote,” said Strobel.
Blue jeans, cowboy hats, plaid shirts and big brass belt buckles were the popular garments at the day’s event.
“Everyone I can make it to, I go to,” said Amberecht. “It’s the most fun that I’ve ever had on a horse.”