The ‘Bee­hive’

Horse & Rider - - Private Lesson -

For the first part of this ex­er­cise, en­list a group of four to eight horses to form the bee­hive that’ll of­fer con­fi­dence and sup­port to your horse. Then work with a sin­gle, ex­pe­ri­enced buddy horse. Use a loop (rop­ing) rein to avoid drop­ping a split rein when man­ag­ing your gun. Warm up your horse so he’s re­spon­sive and ready to work. Con­sider in­sert­ing equine earplugs to help muf­fle the sound. This process as­sumes you can safely han­dle a firearm one-handed. Use blank am­mu­ni­tion.


This en­tire process builds your horse’s con­fi­dence. Be­cause horses are herd an­i­mals, the hive of horses of­fers your mount com­fort as he be­comes de­sen­si­tized to the sound of gunfire. Be­gin with your part­ner in the shoot­ing po­si­tion (at the front and to one side of the hive) aboard her sea­soned mount, trav­el­ing at a walk. Po­si­tion your horse right next to hers. For safety, the hive horses must stay to the side away from the shoot­ing and be­hind the lead horse. Your rid­ing part­ner should shoot out to her right, at her 3 o'clock po­si­tion, to keep the gun away from her horse’s ears as well as far­ther from your horse’s head. Your part­ner should shoot me­thod­i­cally, pulling the trig­ger in a slow, rhyth­mic fash­ion rather than fir­ing off a bunch of shots in a row at once. Keep your body lan­guage calm and re­laxed and your reins soft to avoid jerk­ing your horse’s face if he star­tles through­out the process. If he jumps forward or speeds up, qui­etly set­tle him be­fore the next shot is fired. Re- peat this step un­til your horse is com­fort­able.


Next, your horse takes the shooter po­si­tion, with your buddy and the hive to your left. Ev­ery time you pre­pare to shoot, breathe out, re­lax your rein, and pull the trig­ger. If you’re anx­ious, tight, and for­get to breathe, your horse feeds off that neg­a­tiv­ity. It re­in­forces his in­stinct that “some­thing isn’t right here!” Re­peat to build your horse’s com­fort and con­fi­dence.


Change sides. New shoot­ing horses must hear the sound from both sides. By putting the gun in your off hand (left here) in­stead of cross­ing over your body, you can stay out at your 9 o'clock to keep the noise be­hind your horse rather than up by his ears. The process hinges on read­ing your horse. Ap­ply pres­sure (in­creas­ingly fre­quent

gunfire) to your horse’s thresh­old, and then back off. Try to push for more progress each time, but don’t go too far too fast, or you risk build­ing fear and anx­i­ety in your mount.


Move from the hive to a buddy pair­ing. Re­mem­ber to re­lax your hands and stay soft with your rein. Your rid­ing part­ner is on your right, and she should shoot out to her right, at her 3 o'clock po­si­tion, to keep the gun away from her horse’s ears as well as far­ther from your horse’s head, just as with the hive.


Switch po­si­tions with your part­ner and her horse. Shoot in the same me­thod­i­cal man­ner, in your 3 o'clock po­si­tion. Don't for­get that you’re also re­spon­si­ble for guid­ing your horse at a steady walk— not just shoot­ing your firearm. Your horse still needs his rider’s guid­ance.


Let your part­ner re­turn to the shooter role from your horse’s left side. She should shoot with her left hand rather than reach­ing across her body to keep the gunfire far­ther from your horse’s ears.


And now it’s your turn to shoot to the left, us­ing your left hand. Once your horse is de­sen­si­tized to the noise, you can shoot across your body, with your right hand, as you would in com­pe­ti­tion. (As­sum­ing you’re right-handed. Swap this if you’re left-handed.)


With time and pa­tience, your horse will be­come ac­cus­tomed to the noise. Build­ing this solid foun­da­tion sets you up for success and fun in the arena as a mounted shooter.



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