Last summer was my first summer doing mounted shooting so I am a level one! I became addicted to this sport after just one shoot out. I am asking advice on what is the best way to get my horse back into shape after having a couple months off this winter. I want to start getting him back into shape so he will be ready to go for the summer shoot outs!
Any advice would be much appreciated!
There are many "right" answers to this question. A lot depends on your horse. Some need more work than others to get back into the swing of things, regardless of discipline.
I am involved in mounted shooting and have some personal opinions on the topic. I believe that frequent riding is key. The more you ride, the better you get and the better "team" you and your horse become.
Riding isn't "walk a circle in the arena for 20 minutes." Riding is riding with a purpose. It should also involve some wet saddle blankets.
For mounted shooting, there are many things to practice. You can practice rating speed when coming into a turn. You can practice navigating different courses. You can practice holstering and drawing the second gun. All this can be done (and should be practiced) without firing a single round.
Some top competitors also advocate a lot of dry firing exercises. That is running a practice course with an unloaded gun and "shooting" the targets.
Mounted shooting exercises shouldn't be the only things you do. I am a big believer of mixing things up. Work on general horsemanship skills. Do some trail rides. Trailer to different barns/trails/etc. to expose your horse to different environments. Don't ride the same trail the same way - ride it the opposite direction, go left where you usually go right. Mix it up and expose your horse to as many different things as possible.
As the season starts, look for CMS clinics and practices. Bring your horse. Ride in the event wherever possible. If you are at a practice and things are not going so well, know when to quit. Better to end on any kind of good note than to push it and sour the horse to the game.
I hope some of these ideas are helpful.