Cowboys on horses firing John Wayne-style guns — that's the hot ticket on today's exhibition circuit.
Unfortunately for enthusiasts in Pictou, N.S., that kind of event is outlawed in their town, and the rules likely won't change in time for their annual exhibition in September.
Cowboy mounted shooting is a timed equestrian event that involves riders on horseback navigating a course and shooting at balloons with revolvers. Competitors fire black powder blanks that produce smoke, noise and flash.
Organizers of the Pictou-North Colchester Exhibition had hoped to introduce the event at the 125th annual exhibition Sept. 7-11, but discovered a local bylaw makes it illegal to discharge a firearm within town limits.
"I'm disappointed," said John Robinson, the manager of the Pictou North-Colchester Exhibition.
Robinson said he was hoping to bring in "something new" for people to see this year.
"They don't want to see the same old thing," Robinson said, adding that cowboy mounted shooting is "a crowd pleaser."
Scott Conrod, chief administrative officer for the Town of Pictou, said councillors are considering making an amendment to the bylaw, but it would have to make it through the public hearing process before it could be approved, and that likely wouldn't happen in time for this fall's exhibition.
Ken Jardine, president of the Highland Highwaymen Cowboy Mounted Shooters Club based in Little Bras d'Or, N.S., said it's a shame that the people of Pictou are going to miss out on the event this year, but he doesn't blame the town for the delay. "This law pre-dates our sport," he said.
"What you have is an administrative problem," Jardine said. "Their exhibition is two and a half months away and you need three months worth of meetings [to get an amendment passed,]" he said.
There's always next year, Jardine said. "We'll get there eventually."
'Such a thrill'
Jardine, who competes in Canada and the United States and also hosts Trigger Happy Tuesdays at his home ring in Cape Breton once a week, said the sport is gaining popularity in Nova Scotia with people of all ages.
He described a woman in her seventies who participated in a recent demonstration in Bridgewater, N.S.
"She was like a little kid, she was so thrilled."
Recently retired from the military, Jardine said at 55 he feels like a kid out there on the ring too.
"I come out and I let out a whoop, I can't help myself. It is such a thrill, it is such a rush."
Having flown in fighter jets and jumped out of helicopters with scuba diving gear on, he said he's no stranger to adventure "and this is right up there with all of that," he said.