Mounted shooting

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Mounted shooting

This is a discussion on Mounted shooting within the Western Riding forums, part of the Riding Horses category
  • Training a horse for mounted shooting
  • Mounting issue (she shoots off when you get on) horse

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    02-04-2012, 06:13 PM
Mounted shooting

I have a Barrel Horse and I really want to do mounted shooting but I don't know if he would make a good mounted shooting horse. What's your oppinions?
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    02-04-2012, 07:51 PM
It depends, I don't know much about mounted shooting, but am interested in getting into it, so have looked up a little information. I would say if your horse doesn't have any issues in barrels and isn't a hot head, it will be a lot easier to train her to shoot a gun off of her.

I have a coming 4 year old buckskin filly who has close to 100 rides on her in two years, I've shot a handgun off her with blanks and she didn't take it horribly, but did flinch during each shot at the stand still, and didn't react at all when I did it while loping a pattern. I have no idea what the proper way to train one is, lol. I'm still at the stage where I'm borrowing the gun to use it and have only worked with her three different times with it.
    02-04-2012, 10:23 PM
My boyfriend insists on training our JUMPER for hunting, while nothing phases this horse I'm still skeptical of the idea. He suggested that using fire crackers or fireworks close by him to get him used to that kind of noise, anyone think this may be a little extreme?
    02-05-2012, 11:13 AM
Green Broke
Yeah that is a little extreme. You start out with like a small pellet gun on the ground shooting away, move up to a slightly louder gun once your horse is comfortable on the ground then the saddle.
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    02-05-2012, 11:41 PM
I wouldn't do a fire cracker because not only does it make a noise, it also smokes and sparks a bit, which would make me think it is more scary than a pellet gun. I forgot I did an air pellet gun off of my mare first. We had to do that for an extreme cowboy race, lol.
    02-06-2012, 02:51 AM
Green Broke
Buy a starter pistol with blanks, start off shooting that in the pasture out away from them till they ignore it then have someoen shoot it outside the roundpen while you lunge them, then ride them, then ride up to the person at a walk while they are slowly shooting on the ground. Then take the gun from them and shoot off the back. You will actually have more troubles with the popping balloons close by than the gunfire. Order some earplugs for the horse also. They should have ear protection too.
    02-07-2012, 01:08 PM
We've done Civil War reenacting in the past, which involves shooting off horseback. Typically would grain the horse in the pasture & shoot blanks while she ate, starting maybe 50 feet away and moving closer over a period of days. In my experience, horses are either cut out for that sort of thing or not. We've had several that were pretty easy to train; my 17 yo gelding (owned for 13 yrs) is pretty sure he's going to die anytime he sees a gun.....after a year of gentle, consistent exposure we gave up on him ever being a Cavalry mount, lol. My husband's old mare, on the other hand, had never been around guns until we got her and within 3-4 months she was safe to shoot off of and would participate in mounted charges (LOTS of guns going off) and even tolerate cannon fire.
    02-14-2012, 10:18 AM
Go to the CMSA and SASS websites to look for clubs nearby. There are mounted shooting clubs all over the country. Just about all of them hold clinics for new shooters/new horses. Many are also likely to have trainers that know about training a horse to guns.

The starter pistol idea mentioned is a good one. I have heard people having good success with this type of method. However, you could also cause a problem if you move things along too fast. I have used a "group" method which tends to deliver fairly quick results while avoiding the possibility of "ruining" a horse by moving too fast. You need to have a good feel for training horses to do this method well.

I have attended and/or ran clinics and seen dozens of horses introduced to mounted shooting. There have only been one or two horses which didn't work out (and one of those was fixed by sending him out for professional training in mounted shooting). If a horse is not overly spooky or hot-headed, they can probably handle mounted shooting.

I would also recommend against fireworks. Not for the smoke or flash... a blank pistol also has that. A starter pistol or blank ammo is more controlled (and safe) while a firecracker is not.

Again, try to find a club somewhere near you. They can at least help you get started and provide some hands-on training advice.
    02-29-2012, 06:17 PM
This is something I would really like to do too with my quarter horse. When I first got him he had never heard a gun go off. But we live in the country where everyone shoots off guns for fun. For the first week we had him he would spook real bad when a gun would shoot from 1/4 mile away. After a month or so of constantly hearing this our neighbor across the street could shoot his 50 cal and Vini won't bat an eye. Is it recommended to only fire a handgun from your horse, of can you also use a rifle?
    02-29-2012, 07:03 PM
Originally Posted by bnayc    
Is it recommended to only fire a handgun from your horse, of can you also use a rifle?
In the sport of mounted shooting we use single action revolvers (pistols) with specially designed blank ammo. It makes a specific sound and is designed to be as safe as you can get.

There are also rifle and even shotgun matches in the sport. Again, they both use pistol caliber blanks designed for mounted shooting. Rifle is considered to be an "advanced" aspect of mounted shooting. Riders are strongly urged to gain a level of proficiency with handguns before attempting rifle. On the "rundown" you will typically shoot rifle with two hands. That means the reins usually are dropped. Lots of fun, but harder than it looks.

Blanks provide NO recoil. If you try to shoot a .50 cal rifle off horseback - especially if you are not experienced in shooting from horseback - someone will likely get hurt. I am sure it is possible to shoot a 50 cal from the saddle, but I wouldn't call it advisable. I would strongly suggest against shooting ANY kind of live ammo from horseback. A small shift in the horse could cause you to shoot high. A bullet can travel well over a mile and kill someone. A mounted shooting blank is designed to pop a ballon at no more than 20 ft.

As I mentioned above, the best place for more information to do this SAFELY is to find a local club thought the SASS or CMSA websites. Mounted shooters are a very friendly bunch of people and will go out of their way to help new folks get into the game.

If anyone is having trouble finding a local club, feel free to PM me or post here. I know many shooters and trainers and will be glad to help you find one near you.

Mounted shooting can be the most fun you ever had in the saddle. It, like any other horse activity, can alsobe vey dangerous. At the very least, you can "ruin" a horse to this game by starting out wrong. At worst, you can shoot yourself, your horse or someone else.

The first rule of mounted shooting is "safety." The second and third rules are also "safety." Many others have made mistakes so we don't have to. Find a club and let them help you get up and running.

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