Western Shooting Horse Magazine, December 2009

Turbo Charged Turben
Frank Turben leaves a lasting impression on the CMSA and goes Extreme in a new career.

For Frank Turben, the more things change, the more they stay the same. He still gets up ridiculously early in the morning, getting to work way before most people have opened their eyes. He still operates from his home in the Arizona desert (Frank will never give up either of those things he admits he's been spoiled over the years). And the computer is still his primary tool and companion, just as much as a cowboy relies on his horse.
But it's been a year since Frank took a huge step and left the Cowboy Mounted Shooting Association (CMSA). Since then, he's found new opportunities and challenges and fun. So we thought we'd give an update on a man who has meant so much to mounted shooting. 

A Quick Backtrack
But first especially for folks new to the sport we should replay Frank's work with CMSA.
Turben discovered mounted shooting via a 1996 newspaper article. He went to watch a shoot and decided he liked it. His first competitive match came at End of Trail in 1997.
Pretty soon, Frank joined the team.
"[CMSA founder] Jim Rodgers brought me on board for my computer skills back in '97," he remembers. ''And then my main emphasis became CMSA and Cowboy Mounted Shooting. And that got to be all I did, except for a few commercial websites on the side. They needed a website, they needed a points system, they needed a database. So I used my computer skills to develop a program for CMSA."
All of that was crucial to the development of the sport. Just ask Jim Rodgers: "Frank Turben was key to CMSA's success. He handled all the day to day operations keeping track of points, memberships, and keeping track of the details." The two traveled across the country, spreading the gospel of mounted shooting and growing the membership.
But Frank was more than a mere numbers cruncher or computer geek. The man knew and knows his way around a horse. He took home the CMSA Reserve World Championship in '97 and '98. In '98 and '99 he won the Reserve National title. And while he gave up active competition about five years ago ("I just didn't have the time, since I was running the matches"), he still rides as much as possible.
For all of his efforts as commissioner and board member, Frank (along with Jim Rodgers) was in the first class enshrined in the CMSA Hall of Fame.
Pretty good resume, eh?

A New Era

But by the end of 2008, changes were afoot with CMSA. Headquarters was moving to Tennessee, and Turben (firmly planted in Arizona) began considering other options.

Over the years, he's had his own company, creating and maintaining commercial websites (which included CMSA), and he continued that. But that didn't require much time.

Enter the Extreme Cowboy Association (EXCA). At the end of 2008, legendary cowboy Craig Cameron was busy starting a new sport that entailed riding through various courses of different lengths, terrain and obstacles. It put a premium on not only a great horse but also on outstanding horsemanship.

The Cameron name and reputation was enough to attract competitors and members. But there was a need for someone who could help develop member databases, a person who could create a points and score-keeping system, someone with experience in running the day to day operations of an equestrian organization. The right guy' had to have a lot of computer experience and be able to deliver a great website.

Sounds like the same sort of thing that Frank Turben had done with CMSA, doesn't it?

So on the surface, it looks like Frank was doing the same thing, just with a different group. But it's not that simple. While CMSA entries are based on the rider, EXCA's are based on both man (or woman) and beast and several competitors ride more than one horse in a match.

Turben says that required a different approach. "Tracking the horse is a real challenge. Say, when I buy a horse I may call him Buck. And you buy him from me and call him Brownie. So we had to develop a system for tracking the horses."
New tracking system? Check.

So how successful have the initial efforts at growing the new sport been? Try this on size: EXCA as of late September, when this article was being written already had about 1,100 members. And Turben says the trend is up: "We're growing about as fast as CMSA was just before I left."

The 2009 EXCA schedule included 70 events in 22 states from Maine to Hawaii, culminating in the World Championship in Topeka, Kansas, in mid December. Not bad for a first year.

It's all happened so fast and so well that Frank Turben is kind of surprised. "One of the challenges we face is to just keep things going like this," he says.

But that kind of challenge and that kind of success is nothing new to Frank Turben, The more things change ....

By Mark Boardman
Western Shooting Horse Magazine

Western Shooting Horse Magazine

Cowboy Mounted Shooting Association - History Of An American Sport

• Board member since 1994.
• CMSA Founder. Board Chairman.
• Level 6 rider.

What event or factor has had the greatest impact on mounted shooting?
“Frank Turben was key to CMSA’s success.  He handled all the day-to-day operations—keeping track of points, memberships, and the details.  Frank and I were a good team because we were complete opposites.  I’m an idea man, a promoter.  He had the follow through on the day-to-day.”

Cowboy Mounted Shooting Association



  • * 2001-Frank Turben: Arizona
    - CMSA Commissioner and Board Director
    - 97, 98 CMSA Reserve World Champion Cowboy
    - 98, 99 CMSA Reserve National Champion Cowboy
    - 96 ACMSA Founding President
    - Multi-champion Cowboy

Extreme Cowboy Association Hall of Fame Recipients

Frank Turben
Craig Cameron Enterprises welcomed Frank D. Turben to their ever expanding business activities in 2008. Turben is known for his scholarly record and for the ambitious nature of the projects he initiates. Turben has been instrumental in establishing action plans for Extreme Cowboy Challenge and Extreme Cowboy Association. In coordination with the Craig Cameron team, he further serves to maintain and strengthen the necessary instruments for accurate judge’s race result recording and publication. Turben continues to deliver passion and professionalism equal to Extreme Cowboy Association standards. Thank you Frank.

Cowboy Mounted Shooting Association
The History of Cowboy Mounted Shooting - by Jim Rodgers CMSA #1

Hard work along with new programs paid off for Cowboy Mounted Shooting in the years of 1996 and 1997. CMSA affiliated clubs were beginning to spring up across the United States. Frank Turben also joined the CMSA Board in 1997. His attention to detail and his excellent computer skills provided a foundation for the organizational advancements that have accomplished by CMSA in the past 18 months.

Junior CMSA Spotlight

Kelsie Kicks Up Her Heels

 CMSA Member with Special Needs excels due to Riding Horses

By Amy Gardner

CMSA Rundown; April/May 2007 

You never know what someone’s life is like, until you have walked in their shoes…or boots. Even then, each of us truly marches to the beat of our own drummer. But, in a spectacular story of inspiration and beating the odds, 18-year old cowgirl Kelsie Coalter, challenged by Down’s Syndrome, bravely presses through life’s experiences, trailblazing her own path to victory in the CMSA.

Despite functioning on an elementary school level, Kelsie’s climb through her disability spurs on everyone who learns of this amazing equestrian, to cheer her on—in person or in prayer. Through a heartfelt account of Kelsie’s courage in working through her challenges, this special teen was thrilled to recently represent CMSA at the World Championships in Las Vegas.

As Kelsie’s father, Joe Coalter put it, "talking about her disability is a positive thing, and so is her involvement in riding." Although Joe, 48, grew up with horses, he and his wife Bobbie hadn’t been around horses for 25 years. That is, until learning that their only child (then age 10) would benefit from riding a horse. 

While researching Kelsie’s diagnosis, the family from Lodi, Ohio (45 minutes south of Cleveland) discovered that horseback riding would directly improve Kelsie’s impaired stomach muscles (people with Down’s Syndrome typically have problems with stomach muscles which don’t fully support the torso.) Further, Joe explained that horseback riding involves stomach muscle management; strengthening muscles around the main stomach area (the hip  flexor, lower abdomen and obliques.) With this knowledge, the Coalters immediately put Kelsie on a saddle, and ever since, her developments on the horse, (and in her high school and special education classes) have been dramatic.  

"Oh, the riding has helped Kelsie’s posture in the saddle, and also how she sits in a chair at school," Joe animatedly explained, adding, "What it’s also done emotionally…is immeasurable," he whispered, choking up.

 Shortly after observing Kelsie’s improvements, the family talked about getting a horse of their own. So, as Joe laughingly explained, "I went to bed one night and didn’t own a horse, and the next day I owned 2!" (One was a gift, for which Joe and Bobbie are eternally grateful, and emotionally appreciative.)  

In fact, emotions are part of the ride…for Kelsie’s family, and for anyone in her presence witnessing her stellar strides through winding challenges in daily life and in the arena.  Joe clearly remembers the first year he competed as a cowboy mounted shooter. It was with the 1st Ohio CMSA Club in Miamitown, Ohio during the summer of 2003. Fellow shooters encouraged him to let Kelsie ride too. 

"So I did," he said, "and I don’t know how long I cried after that," a misty-eyed Joe shared.  Reminiscing, he recalled being taken aback when, unexpectedly over the loud speaker, the announcer requested that volunteers come forward and assist Kelsie in the arena. A dozen people immediately responded to the call to help "sidewalk" her (walk alongside Kelsie on a horse.) Heartened by the outpouring from CMSA members who didn’t even know them, Joe and Bobbie still vividly remember that moment. 

Soaked in emotion, Joe recalled yet another event when Kelsie’s joy overcame him with tears. As the CMSA course ended and Kelsie was coming down the rundown, and nearing the finish line, the crowd stood and cheered her on. At that point, Joe lost it.  

"I’m 6 feet and 250 pounds, but I’m bawlin’ at this point," Joe declared. "I guess what I’m saying is…how do you describe the caring from these great people?" 

Joe, a business manager for a pharmaceutical company, also recalls how supportive his wife was about his growing interest in cowboy mounted shooting. And then, a year later, Bobbie asked him, "Well, do you think I could do this?" To him, it was a tremendous step to have Bobbie on his riding team. 

"We’ve been married 27 years now," Joe relayed, "and I’m still madly in love with that woman." Bobbie, who works full time for the Department of Defense, is thoroughly enjoying cowboy mounted shooting. She learned to ride and shoot a gun at the same time, and loves the pre-1890 period dress worn by mounted shooters.  

But, even with both husband and wife in CMSA, something was missing—family unity.   

So, in 2004, Joe carefully composed a letter to Bobby Ruwe, President of the 1st Ohio CMSA Club, explaining, We’d like to join CMSA as a family, but how would we classify Kelsie’s abilities?" he wrote. Bobby then forwarded the letter to Frank Turben; President of CMSA, who immediately issued an astonishing response arriving in the Coalter’s mailbox that read, "Kelsie will ride Wrangler," and her card; #3374 was on its way, Joe relayed excitedly. (Although Wranglers are typically under the age of twelve, this classification of young equestrians enables them to ride the same courses as adults, but without discharging firearms.) Kelsie was the first person offered such an exception due to her life challenges.  

Joe was floored. "Frank is the President of a huge national organization, and we’re in Ohio; where he doesn’t know us from boo," Joe declared, "but he cares…immensely!"  

Also amazing is the fact that while the sport is getting bigger, it’s still grounded in a family-friendly atmosphere. Kelsie was able to join two CMSA clubs in the Buckeye state; the 1st Ohio CMSA Club, and a newer club closer to home, called the Northern Ohio Outlaws. 

Many of Kelsie’s greatest joys in life are centered around her horse. When she hits the arena, her enthusiasm flies along with the dirt. "You can see the pride in her face," beamed Joe. He also found it remarkable to receive such a grand welcome from the CMSA "family," encouraging the Coalters to attend cowboy church and potluck suppers, and even offering riding tips while bonding over campfires.  

"Tell me another sport where my family can participate together…where you have a wanna-be cowboy, a city girl and a special-needs teenager," Joe rationalized, "and no-one cares about all that!" he exclaimed. 

An especially poignant moment for Kelsie and her parents came a year ago in April 2006 when the teen was riding in a CMSA event in Columbus, Ohio. Joe had gotten word that the celebrated wild mustang "Nevada Joe" (adopted in 2002 by the Federal Bureau of Land Management in a Wild Horse Project,) would be appearing at the same location as Kelsie’s CMSA ride that day. Trying to calm his own excitement about introducing Kelsie to this famous horse, Joe was keenly aware that Nevada Joe was the Ambassador of the North American Handicapped Riding Association (NAHRA,) traveling across the country to educate people about therapeutic riding. 

While it was a big treat to see Nevada Joe up close and personal and meet his owners Diane and Ernie Purcelli,  the biggest thrill came later. Diane had asked Kelsie to ride Nevada Joe in her NAHRA clinic, and Kelsie meanwhile developed a special bond with Nevada Joe.  

 Then, in a stunning development, Diane bestowed Kelsie with an incredible honor, inviting  her to join cowboys and cowgirls from around the world at the CMSA World Championships in Las Vegas. She asked Kelsie to lead over a dozen NAHRA riders in opening the CMSA Championship. 

"And when Kelsie kicked it off, everyone at CMSA just erupted because she’s part of their family," relayed her proud dad. The heartwarming spotlight featured a shootout CMSA-style with therapeutic riding, and each participant got the chance to ride Nevada Joe.  

Kelsie returned home from Las Vegas with several prizes, including a special World Championship jacket  embroidered with her name and CMSA nickname, "The Petticoat Kid." Also, Kelsie’s teachers have recommended her for an Ohio achievement award, attributed in part to her involvement with CMSA. 

So what’s the next big goal for this special teenager? Her dad, whose passion for cowboy mounted shooting resulted in his recent election as President of the Northern Ohio Outlaws, was quick to answer. "One of our greatest hopes is that someday, Kelsie will enter the arena all by herself," Joe said. "I believe that through the grace of God and our CMSA family, it may be possible." 

"Oh, the riding has helped Kelsie’s posture in the saddle, and also how she sits in a chair at school. What it’s also done emotionally is...immeasurable.” —Joe Coalter