Shooting around the horse ?

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JimB
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Shooting around the horse ?

Post by JimB » Sun Apr 05, 2009 10:15 am

What's the best way to train your horse to except gunfire ?
JimB
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lightonthebay
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Re: Shooting around the horse ?

Post by lightonthebay » Sun Apr 05, 2009 10:56 am

Gradually! With very light noise at first (.22 rimfire from a distance) on up to larger noisier gunfire. My horses attend all my huge fourth of july parties where we fire a cannon, .50 BMG, fireworks and dynamite. They have actually learned to enjoy it. They get excited and charge away only to return a few moments later to experience the thrill again.

JimB
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Re: Shooting around the horse ?

Post by JimB » Sun Apr 05, 2009 3:56 pm

I surely would like to see horses that "enjoys" fireworks and cannon fire ! But that's a little extreem for my needs. :lol: And I did intend to introduce the gun gradually. With our dogs, we often introduce gun fire using birds and prey drive as the diversion . Horses don't have prey drive, but do have a high "food drive",...so does anyone fire shots before or durring feeding ?
JimB
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lightonthebay
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Re: Shooting around the horse ?

Post by lightonthebay » Sun Apr 05, 2009 5:37 pm

JimB wrote:I surely would like to see horses that "enjoys" fireworks and cannon fire ! But that's a little extreem for my needs. :lol: And I did intend to introduce the gun gradually. With our dogs, we often introduce gun fire using birds and prey drive as the diversion . Horses don't have prey drive, but do have a high "food drive",...so does anyone fire shots before or durring feeding ?

Jim, I do have video tape of my horses having a ball with the fourth of July festivities so, unless you come here for our fourth of july celebration that would be the best I could do to help you witness the event. It is a bit extreme for training (it's just convenient for me) but if you can train for the worst of scenarios the lesser scenarios become easy. My horses are also in the same pasture where I shoot my claybirds.

You are correct that a distraction would benefit your training in this case. However, a distraction isn't absolutely necessary if you are willing to spend more time gradually desensitizing them to gunfire. Just begin firing at a distance that is acceptable to your horse and gradually decrease the distance. This training will take many hours! Don't count your traning by days because many people think if they spend 2 minutes a day for thirty days training their critter that they have actually trained for thirty days when in reality they have trained for only one hour total.

I used to be in a wild west show where gunfire on horse back was a frequent and continuing event. I was very young and imortal then so I would often ride a horse at a full gallop while I would shoot off their backs with a .45 colt (loaded with loud blanks). They would not (could not) buck very well at a full gallop so I was relativaley safe from a bucking related injury. Many of those horses had never been exposed to gunfire before. I guess that would be an example of using their flight instinct to distract them from their fighting instinct. That; however, is an extreme example of what you were refering to regarding an answer to the lack of a horse's prey drive in the search of another distraction. Nonetheless, it worked.

I suppose food will also tend to distract them from the fear but I would avoid that distraction for final training because they need to accept the gunfire as a non-threatening noise no matter what the circumstances. On that note; the closer you are to firing near them the more you must be extremely cautious not to fire close to their ears. You may have seen some Hollywood buffoons firing directly over or even between their ears. That would be painful to us and I am sure it is even more painful to the highly sensitive ears of the horse. It is not something you should expect your horse to get used to because it does real damage and causes real pain.

I am guessing the reason you want to train your horse to gunfire is for hunting or trialing purpose where you would not shoot off their back? In such a case firing a shotgun after you have dismounted near the horse would be considerably easier and you could easily avoid shooting next to your horse's ear. What ever you do make sure you train them often. Repetition is your friend but like any other animal don't burn them out with training. They need time to absorb the lesson after you end it on a "good note".

I also would train your horse to hobble and picket well! You might want to check with any local mounted cowboy action shooters for "one on one" help with your project.

Good luck

Jim
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JimB
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Re: Shooting around the horse ?

Post by JimB » Sun Apr 05, 2009 6:38 pm

lightonthebay
first let me say that I hope you don't think I was doubting you or making fun of you,....and I really do wish I could see your horses ! And I do know that anybody can shoot a gun off a horse,...ONCE ! :lol: I don't intend to do that, just shoot around the horse while dismounted is fine with me.

I have several horses here and in general they all are used (more or less) to dogs being trained , worked and hunted. I do have one TWH trial horse that is pretty much "bomb proof" , but we have a new TWH that was a trail riding guy, but we intend to use him in trials as well. Hence, we need to make him used to gun fire. The quarter horses are used to gun fire from afar, while in pasture, but I wouldn't want to fire off a round too close to them (yet). I was just wondering how most people set about the training. Thanks so much for your replies.
JimB
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lightonthebay
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Re: Shooting around the horse ?

Post by lightonthebay » Sun Apr 05, 2009 6:50 pm

OOps! Deleted double post!
Last edited by lightonthebay on Sun Apr 05, 2009 6:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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lightonthebay
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Re: Shooting around the horse ?

Post by lightonthebay » Sun Apr 05, 2009 6:50 pm

JimB wrote:lightonthebay
first let me say that I hope you don't think I was doubting you or making fun of you,....and I really do wish I could see your horses ! And I do know that anybody can shoot a gun off a horse,...ONCE ! :lol: I don't intend to do that, just shoot around the horse while dismounted is fine with me.

I have several horses here and in general they all are used (more or less) to dogs being trained , worked and hunted. I do have one TWH trial horse that is pretty much "bomb proof" , but we have a new TWH that was a trail riding guy, but we intend to use him in trials as well. Hence, we need to make him used to gun fire. The quarter horses are used to gun fire from afar, while in pasture, but I wouldn't want to fire off a round too close to them (yet). I was just wondering how most people set about the training. Thanks so much for your replies.
Thanks Jim, I am not that sensitive and I think it is good to doubt information submited on these forums! Go slow -- It will work.

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High Roll-N-Angel
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Re: Shooting around the horse ?

Post by High Roll-N-Angel » Mon Apr 06, 2009 8:14 pm

We have a firing range right next to the horse pasture. It has worked great for desensitizing the horses to gun fire.

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Re: Shooting around the horse ?

Post by tenbearsviz » Tue Apr 07, 2009 5:44 am

Jimb, I just went through the process of training my new horse to accept gun shot. This horse had never been exposed to pistol fire until I purchased him. First time I fired in front of him.... High Hooo Silver!! He soon figured out that a dog on point meant his life was over and he needed to escape.... using two or four legs to get away... he didn't care.

I started by leading him around shooting round after round. It worked... if I was leading him. Riding behind a dog was different. I needed to get him into the context of the shot.

My solution. I first trained him to pony. Then I ponied him in countless AKC JH braces as I judged off my bulletproof horse. Sooner or later he figured out that life wasn't over and he was the only jug head being a jerk. He was truly trained by a horse. Sooner or later I switched horses and ponied the bullet proof one as I rode the HIT... (horse in training). The trainee was reassured by the presence of the calm energy of the trainer. I mixed in the offering of peppermint treats for standing calm during shotgun fire as a bonus.

Last weekend when the Space Shuttle flew over and the double sonic boom hit, I about came out of my socks. The horse didn't flinch.

What I learned.. It is the context as much as the sound that my horse needed training in. When he had the chance to think about the shot, he worked himself into a frenzy. Peer preasure from his pasture mate taught him he was a goof ball all by himself. Dogs on point no longer mean death to horse. They mean calm rest and a peppermint.

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Re: Shooting around the horse ?

Post by RayGubernat » Tue Apr 07, 2009 12:51 pm

I bought a horse that was unused to gunfire and dogs. I took him to a bunch of trials and we rode every brace, well back in the gallery. He soon realized that there was really nothing to this noise thing and then I started getting closer and closer to the action. He is an inquisitive sucker and he actually would take a step or two closer, just to see what was going on. His curiosity overshadowed his uncertainty of the situation.

Within a relatively short time, I was able to train off him, following a dog and dismounting, flushing and shooting while he just stood there...watching.

I have not yet been able to get him to stop turning his head to mark flight. :lol: Occasionally that does however come in handy because if I lose sight of the bird, I can look at Rudy and know which way the bird flew, more often than not, before I cut the dog loose again.

Now if I can just get him desensitized to a 4 wheeler crawling up his butt, I would be thrilled. That is something he really do not like and he makes his displeasure VERY apparent.

RayG

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Birdman250
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Re: Shooting around the horse ?

Post by Birdman250 » Thu Apr 09, 2009 1:46 pm

Ray I had a horse that hated 4-wheelers awhile back..I worked him in the round pen for about an hour every other day and then brought the 4-wheeler inside to let him know that its not going to hurt him..The round pen ususually take a lot of their energy away and let them know that everything inside the pen was safe to comfront. I did that for 3 weeks and now the horse can be around 4-wheelers w/o any problem. Shooting around my horses were done the same way..Never had any problems after they became acquainted..Good luck w/ yours...
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Tejas
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Re: Shooting around the horse ?

Post by Tejas » Thu Apr 09, 2009 3:54 pm

Does he stop to flush also? :D He might be better trained than some dogs I have seen, occasionally one of mine.

RayGubernat wrote:I bought a horse that was unused to gunfire and dogs. I took him to a bunch of trials and we rode every brace, well back in the gallery. He soon realized that there was really nothing to this noise thing and then I started getting closer and closer to the action. He is an inquisitive sucker and he actually would take a step or two closer, just to see what was going on. His curiosity overshadowed his uncertainty of the situation.

Within a relatively short time, I was able to train off him, following a dog and dismounting, flushing and shooting while he just stood there...watching.

I have not yet been able to get him to stop turning his head to mark flight. :lol: Occasionally that does however come in handy because if I lose sight of the bird, I can look at Rudy and know which way the bird flew, more often than not, before I cut the dog loose again.

Now if I can just get him desensitized to a 4 wheeler crawling up his butt, I would be thrilled. That is something he really do not like and he makes his displeasure VERY apparent.

RayG

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Re: Shooting around the horse ?

Post by RayGubernat » Thu Apr 09, 2009 6:50 pm

[quote="Tejas"]Does he stop to flush also? :D He might be better trained than some dogs I have seen, occasionally one of mine.


quote]

No he does not. However my other horse has backed on occasion. No lie!! My first horse spent about 8 months with a pro dog trainer, when I first got him, because I really had no place to keep him. He learned all sorts of stuff. I bought a plantation horse and when I took him home from the pro's place, I had a bonafide dog horse. He did everything you could ask of a horse and made it look easy. He was, and still is so good he almost makes me look like I know what I was doing. One of the best moves I ever made in this sport and I didn't even plan it. Go figure.

I was riding at my training club one day and not really paying much attention. Blackie stopped so short that I almost went up over his head. I grabbed his neck up about his ears and hung on. As I was getting myself back into the saddle, I was just about to get on his case when I saw a handler off to my left in the woods, off his horse, flushing a bird. The horse was riveted on the dog...ears forward, neck arched and feet planted in a parked out postition. He was backing, sure as shootin'. I just sat back and watched the show. I had to laugh at myself that day.

RayG

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