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.