First time cowboy mounted shooting [video] - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 16 Old 07-06-2014, 03:02 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: New England
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Hey love2lope! I went to a match a few weeks ago and found out that we need to do some more practicing... It was fun but my horse and I both need more exposure.
I'm finding that do be difficult because I don't have a pair of my own guns so I can't practice at home and I have to drive 45 minutes to a place that I can practice. I'm hoping to do some more but it's becoming obvious that it is an extremely expensive and time consuming sport so I may have to hold off until next year.
I hope you post some pictures/videos from your competition!
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post #12 of 16 Old 07-06-2014, 03:05 PM
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I am not here to promote anythingNo, that's not true, I am here to promote everything equestrian and everyone enjoying horses!
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post #13 of 16 Old 07-15-2014, 01:18 AM
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Originally Posted by laurapratt01 View Post
So I went for a "lesson" on Cowboy Mounted Shooting yesterday. This was our first time doing it but feel free to critique or give advice on what you see! I'm so excited to do more!
Since you asked, I will throw my belated two cents in...

Overall, you looked very good. First advice I would give is to follow the instructions you were given in the lesson. :)

The horse looked very good for a first-timer. There may be some potential there.

Take it slow. The first few shots caused the horse to speed up a bit. You want the horse to be going at _your_ speed, not his. I see a lot of new people get into trouble due to the "escalation factor." If the horse is at a trot and gets excited, he goes to the canter. At that point, you need to break back down to the trot, regain control and get the horse calm before taking the next shot. If the horse gets excited and you go the the canter, the next shot could cause the horse to get more excited and even more out of control.

While speed is eventually the point, remember that "smooth" is better. Doing it "right" and at an even, controlled pace is more important. You can always add "fast" later.

On the rundown, the horse seemed to be speeding up and you were pulling on the reins to keep him in check. I would suggest you work to slow down and try to do that rundown at a controlled trot while keeping a looser rein. That might be why he was starting to throw his head a little near the end.

Keep the shot behind you. I couldn't see all of the shots that well, but it seems you were doing this most of the time. Imagine straight ahead is 12 o'clock, directly to your side is 3 o'clock and straight back is 6 o'clock. You want to keep your shots at 3 o'clock or greater (i.e. 4-5 o'clock).

This serves two purposes. First, it keeps the noise and flash away from the horse's face. Less to scare him until he gets used to it. Second, having the noise behind the horse helps to move hie forward. You always want forward motion when shooting. I could be wrong, but I think that some of the horse's agitation at the first few shots may have been due to having a shot in front of 3 o'clock. Most riders have a tendency to shoot early, especially on the off-side shots where it is harder to keep the shot behind.

Again, looking very good for a first time out.

The only other thing I will mention is something that it may be too late for. Be careful the "next" time you try this on your horse.

Some horses do fairly well the first time. After they have a chance to "think it over" they decide that maybe it wasn't so fun after all. The next time you mount up and the see the balloons and guns, they remember. Then they give a little more attitude to try and get out of the work. This isn't true of all horses - but it does happen.

Also keep in mind that it takes a while to really train a horse for mounted shooting. Take your time and remember there are no shortcuts. Don't try to do too much to fast.

Hope this helps. Be safe.
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post #14 of 16 Old 07-19-2014, 05:15 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: New England
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Oh my word TD! I wish you had posted earlier! After going to a lesson and then going to a competition (just doing exhibition) I can see how everything that you pointed out is right.
The lesson went well but I was definitely shooting at 2 o'clock way too much. I had to really focus on shooting at 3 o'clock or greater but by the end of the lesson my horse was already getting frustrated by me shooting too close to his face.
I think that my lesson moved waaaayyy to fast. I got my horse off of the trailer for the lesson during a practice so there were gun blasts going off before I even had time to tack him up. Luckily he really didn't seem to mind but I had to rush to tack him up then my "instructor" barely showed me how to use the gun much less explained to me where I should be firing the gun in regards to the distance from my horse's face before having me go out and shoot the pattern. It seemed ok at first but my horse got balky after the 3rd pattern and then my lesson was over. Not exactly ending on a good note!
I stayed a bit after my lesson just to let my horse hang out around the gunfire of the other riders and the woman who owns the barn (and saw how my lesson ended) told me to go back in the arena with two riders on horses who were new to shooting. She was great. Basically she had a rider on a gunbroke horse in the front shooting while the 3 of us on horses who were new to gunfire rode behind. The horses were able to smell the smoke and hear the gunfire without being shot off of. We did that for a while and my horse seemed to calm down some. I felt a lot better after that.
Then a couple of weeks later I went to a completion. My horse was really good until I started shooting off of his back. We just barely made it through the 2nd stage then at the 3rd stage my horse was balking so much I had to re-holster my gun and I had all that I could do to get him to go forward. I ended up just schooling him through the pattern at a trot and not shooting. The 4th stage my horse wouldn't go in the arena. I had already decided that I was going to click through the first balloons and just shoot the rundown. I had to use a crop to get him moving forward. I just trotted him around a bit and then I clicked through the first five balloons and shot the rundown which he got a bit rushy with but he seemed fine. I got off him in the arena and loosened his cinch (the only thing I could think of right away to make him think that the arena was a good place?).

I'm glad you said something about slowing him down when he jets forward because both of the "instructors" made it sound like it was good to let him build up speed (when he spooked forward) as I was shooting the balloons even though in the back of my mind I was thinking I should be slow and steady at first until he's not spooky. Thank you for assuring me that those thoughts are correct.

Now my issue is whether or not I want to seriously pursue this sport. When I hooked up the trailer to take my horse to a local show the other day (for the first time after the match) he was galloping around his pasture like crazy when he saw the trailer which is very unlike him. And then he wouldn't load which is also very unlike him. I'm pretty sure he thought we were going shooting because that's were we went on his last 2 trailer rides. I got him loaded after 40 minutes and then when we were at the show he was great and loaded after without a problem.

By continuing to shoot off of him am I going to ruin a horse who is awesome at so many other things? I wish I could just practice at home some but I don't have guns or a holster of my own. Practices are held regularly but they are 45 minutes from my home and I have to haul on highways and risk getting stuck in some serious traffic (near boston). I feel like I may not have the time or evergy to do that. Also, my horse is 18 yo and he's not that fast. Do I want to push him? TD, Be honest with me and tell me what you think? Am I ruining my horse? Should I give up on the idea?
I'm so torn! I haven't been to a practice since the match. I'm giving my horse time to chill out. Just local shows and trail rides lately and I've had no more problems loading him.
Sorry for the insanely long post but your advice was excellent and I value your opinion!
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post #15 of 16 Old 07-19-2014, 05:28 PM
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Keep in mind that I was not there. It is easy to give advice based on an internet post. Someone who is there witnessing the situation may see something I can't.

Still, you should ALWAYS ride at your comfort and skill level. If you are uncomfortable with your horse speeding up on the rundown, let the instructor know and don't do it. If you get nervous the horse feels it and your nerves feed his.

I will send you a PM.
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post #16 of 16 Old 07-19-2014, 06:49 PM
Join Date: May 2014
Location: South Louisiana
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If he's freaking out due to the noise, can you get those cap guns that pop real loud? I know we used to have them as kids. I don't know if they sell them anymore, but it might help to desensitize him to that at home?
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