Some of you may remember Stella from a previous post. She is well on her way to becoming a great shooting horse but there is still work to be done. This is technically the second video I have done on her and I have decided to make her journey into a series. The "Making a Shooting Horse" series is going to be on going and will probably take over a year to complete. I am by now means an amazing horse trainer. I make my share of mistakes. However, I am always studying and learning from others. I truly believe that you can learn something from everyone you meet when it comes to training horses. Take what you like and leave the rest. What works for one person may not work for another. I offer to you just another way to train a horse for mounted shooting. So enjoy this episode and as always, feel free to ask questions in the comment section below.
This is Stella. I purchased her this past April. I hadn't intended on buying her (or any horse for that matter) but when the stars align and the details work themselves out, it's time to take the divine hint. I liked this horse form the beginning. Not only is she pretty (come on look at her!), but she is athletic, friendly, and pleasant to work with. Her biggest flaw is this: She lacks confidence.
Now, this horse is broke, almost anyone can ride her, but when the situation is brand new or there is a lot going on she really struggles. This has the potential to make mounted shooting at a high level very difficult. Now, keep in mind she has only been a shooting horse for 9 months and I've only had her for 4 of those months. I love shooting off this horse. I've even competed with her already and my intention is to have her as a back up shooting horse. But her lack of confidence needs to be attended to before we can start adding speed to the mounted shooting pattern.
So how do you give a horse confidence? To me that means getting them soft, being able to move their body parts, and taking them places to have some life experiences. This horse was given a great start in mounted shooting. Now my job is to give her that confidence so she can go from a great new shooting horse to a fantastic competitive shooting horse.
What does confidence have to do with mounted shooting? Well to the untrained eye, not much. You're not going to encounter a giant tire during the middle of a run. However, it's about having a well rounded horse that is responsive, confident, and trusts you. When you're hauling ass in the arena you need your horse's trust so they know you will guide them through the course. So actually, confidence has a lot to do with mounted shooting.
To help build Stella's confidence, I took her to my buddy Gerry Cox's place. He has a wonderful facility with all kinds of obstacles. So that's what we did. Stella had her own personal trail challenge day. Now, we had been to Gerry's before and it was a little rough for Stella. I wasn't expecting a huge change this time but I was expecting a 1% improvement. I got way more than that. Her execution wasn't perfect but it was so much better than I was anticipating. This was the first time she had seen most of these obstacles. At each one she was scared but she gave it a try anyway. Stella's heart and try really shown trough and I can't wait to see how she continues to grow. She walked away with a lot more confidence than when she walked in. A few months ago she would not have been able to do anything you will see in the video below. This was a very successful training session.
I've been taking lots of videos of her progress and I'll be sharing those periodically. Stella is something special and I think she is going to make one heck of a mounted shooting horse someday.
Have you ever had an amazing run only to miss the last balloon? Do you wonder why sometimes you just can't hit the balloons to save your life? In this week's post I'm giving you two insider tips on how to fix that problem. These tips address both the mental and physical side of target acquisition.
This past weekend was the Washington State Mounted Shooting Championships. My normal goal is to shoot clean. Clean is fast and fast is what wins. However, this weekend my goal was something different. I wanted to go faster and trust my horse. Copper and I have been practicing really hard and I knew I could do those things at home but in a competition setting everything is different.
You see, I have always been concerned with shooting clean. A miss to me is not acceptable and to be honest a little embarrassing. I have a reputation for not missing very much and I wanted to keep it. However, I'm never going to move up the ranks and win if I don't take some risks. So that's what I did this weekend. I decided to not care if I missed. I decided that going faster was more important. This change in mindset was difficult for me, but guess what? It worked! I had 4 misses the first day with no chance of winning. However, my raw times were A LOT faster then I normally run, and that is saying something! Having this weekend to push myself and my horse had made a huge difference in my confidence. Everything came together on day two of competition and I didn't miss a single balloon. It felt great and I'm still a little high off the adrenaline rush!
I also got to carry a flag in the grand entry and that always puts a big smile on my face!
Do you have a goal for this season? What is it? How are you going to achieve it? Feel free to share below. I love hearing from you!
This is an episode that we could have made an hour long. Getting your horse used to gunfire can be a long process. In this video we give you a very brief overview of one way to do this. Please keep in mind that most horses won't get through all the steps in this video in one session. Reward your horse when they try and be sure to quit on a high note. If your horse only gets comfortable with dry firing on the ground in the first training session that's just fine. Accept and reward your horse's effort. It is worth the time to do it right, trust me!
One thing that I have always struggled with is having to reload all the time. One solution to that problem is to go to a sporting goods store or even Wal-Mart and pick up an air soft or pellet gun that uses little CO2 tanks. Don't put any ammo or pellets in it and use that pistol to get your horse used to the gun fire. It's a nice option because you don't have to reload very often, it's light, it's cheap, and it makes a noise but it's not quite as loud as black powder.
If you want to see another way do expose your horses to gunfire with the help of other horses, check out this video by Stacy Westfall. As always if you have any questions please feel free to leave a comment.