Alex Winder has two big passions in life — horses and guns — and now she has been named as one of two Western U.S. representatives to the Cowboy Mounted Shooting Association. She has been invited to Tunica, Miss., at the end of this month to receive her title and ride with sponsor flags at the CMSA Jeffers National Championship.
Winder, the daughter of Moab City Police Chief Jim Winder and Shawn Winder, said the pairing of single-action pistols and her beloved American Paint horse Syd is a natural progression in her equestrian career.
“I’ve always been into horses and always been into rodeo ... and I always thought I wanted to be a big-time barrel racer,” Winder said. “From the time I was little I wanted to be a cowgirl, but I realized after getting into the rodeo competitions how catty a lot of the other rodeo girls were. Barrel racers can be kind of dramatic. I love barrel racing but CMSA is where I love being because I started shooting before I can even remember, and I shoot a single-action .45-caliber in competition.”
Winder added that the competitive nature of CMSA events has changed over time.
“In years past, some girls and women who ride for CMSA were getting upset that the events were turning more into a pageant than a competition, so they got together and decided to turn the direction toward a more equestrian-based event,” Winder said. “I’m lucky to be one of two that will represent the western states this year ... the event in Mississippi isn’t in my region, but that is where the announcement will take place.”
While competing, Winder uses primarily Cimmaron, Ruger or Colt .45-caliber single-action black powder pistols. With a dad who is well acquainted with firearms of all types, Winder said her father gave her direction early about using weapons safely.
“He is very conscientious about gun safety and proper use and care of them,” Winder said. “He taught me almost everything I know about guns.”
And when asked about the first weapon he ever put in her hands, Jim said it was one you would not normally associate with children.
“To be honest, it was an automatic rifle,” Jim Winder said. “It was out at the range and it was, I think, a SWAT tactical weapon we had access to. She loved it.”
While Jim’s upbringing was decidedly rural — his family founded Winder Farms in Salt Lake City in 1863 — he said he was never much of a rodeo guy. That didn’t stop his daughter from taking the reins in the sport, however, or the support she receives from the family.
“We knew she was interested in horses from a young age,” he said. “At first we thought it was a ‘pony-in-the-backyard’ phase, but as she grew into it we saw how serious she was. She was about six or seven at the time. She started with English riding lessons and it was difficult for her because the horses were not very high-drive. She wanted faster but kept riding often. When I saw that, I knew her heart was in it and we gave her the opportunities that you see her taking advantage of now.”
Winder is currently ranked in the CMSA standings and competes across the country representing the Mid-Mountain Region. Her next major competition will be at the Western U.S. Championship, held July 25 through 28 in Las Vegas, Nev.
For more information on CMSA, visit cmsaevents.com/home.