Just wanted to pass along a little recent progress I've had with my horse and thought it might help others. I started shooting around my horse with a .22 at about 40 yards while he ate. Fire a shot he would go the other way then come back. Kept that up until he remained steady then moved closer and repeated. I got within a few feet of him first day out but he has been around some gun fire. I kept this up several days until he stayed calm. After firing while he ate I got the lead out and held him close while firing. It seemed as if he was getting some discomfort from the noise so I found some great diy earplugs online. I bought 4 soft rubber balls marketed as cat toys at petco for 2 bucks. Used a large needle to thread a piece of nylon to make a loop to pull 'em out. They fit perfect and worked great. Seems keeping him moving while shooting gets best results. Also got to remember to shoot behind him gets a different response. Only real issue we had is at first he would act donkey and lock up rather than moving towards the noise. Then we walked backward shooting tword the rear. Didn't take long for him to figure out forwards was easier than backwards. I think a few more days an he will be ready to shoot from the saddle. Btw. Remember keep your horses ears clean when using earplugs or you will push debris further into the horses ear.
I'm new here, and not terribly good with technology yet, but can very much relate to your post. I usually start by getting them used to the sound of a bullwhip while on the ground, and later progress to sitting on their back.
Wow that's interesting.. thanks for sharing!
Best of luck shooting from horseback
That is an interesting way of doing things.
My horse is used to gunshot, anything from a .22 to a .45 handgun to a 30-.06 rifle. But that's because our shooting spot is near the pasture (facing away of course), not because I trained him to be okay with it.
At first he flipped out and ran around his pasture when we shot, now he just looks up at us, and continues whatever he is doing.
Of course, if I was planning on shooting from above him, it would be different as I would have to teach him to deal with it at close range. But the loud noises no longer bother him, and that's half the battle.
Sounds right. I only have one gelding who needs to be trained to gunfire, but the neighborhood fireworks has done a pretty good job of desensitizing him. The other 2 have been to CW Reenactments (before DH and I retired.) My 14yo mare is a Veteran, and my 6yo gelding is okay with them.
May I suggest that you prepare your horse for each shot by signaling? I like to use, "Ready, Aim," and say "Fire" as I pull the trigger.
Even my older CW R. horses, who would graze next to cannons going off, could tell the difference between black powder and the real thing, when we have had to shoot opposums or raccoons around the barn. They knew it sounded different and scooted off into the pasture, so I reminded them of their earlier training, when they would hear an "officer" signal to the men.
Mine are all used to gunfire, between bird hunting (we hunt a preserve that borders our property), deer hunting in our woods behind the pastures (and getting our shotguns sighted in) they don't really even pay attention to it. The only one who even lifts their head from eating is my Hanoverian mare and she's just a prissy diva all around.
I have been thinking about doing some mounted shooting, seems like a lot of fun. I have the perfect horse for it but I have never fired a colt so I have some learning to do. I do shoot clays with my 20 gauge off my old sorrel mare though :)
Thanks for sharing the info! My husband is getting ready to start his mare for mounted shooting and they are all good ideas!
It also helps to surround your horse with others who are used to the gunfire, and he is the ONLY green one there. Even if he gets overwhelmed, and you can dismount and hold him, he'll figure out it's okay bc the others aren't phased by it. This is how the US Cavalry broke their gunfire-green horses in, and it works every time. =D
I found that single action revolvers give him bit of a warning from the cocking of the hammer sound. I also make sure he sees the fire arm.
You will like shooting colt! Very easy to transition from rifle shooting. I've shot lots and lots of firearms. I've never been a big fan of hand guns but after borrowing two single actions from a friend for Dustys gun training I've found I enjoy it. Thinking of getting a ruger vaquero in .45 colt.
I'm really proud of how far this horse has come. Few months ago he spooked at EVERYTHING! This is my first attempt at gun training a horse. Do y'all recommend earplugs? Seemed obvious to me to protect his hearing...
When we started CW stuff, some Cavalry people would use earplugs and camomile tea. It never really worked. It's the exposure to the noise AND keeping your horse away from any other horses that panic that will train him to be afraid of it. The first post tells you how to start, by walking away from him and shooting a .22, instead of starting with, like a .38, and shooting while he eats, bc this rewards him for sticking it through the noise. IMO, this is where CA thoroughly understands that "heart attacks are free, so give you horse (a lot of them.)" Make a plan, and practice it.
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