3 Steps for Introducing a Horse to Mounted Shooting

This is a short video of Newt being introduced to mounted shooting. I have found that by hauling the horses to a shooting practice or show and simply having the horses near the sport it is possible to tell a lot about how they are going to react. This is a Friday night fun shoot before a Northern Ohio Outlaws show.

In ‘Step 1’ watch Newts ears. I could feel him flinch for the first shot but it was small enough that it is hard to see on the video. Also notice how he watches the other horses. Notice how after I pet him his ears stop flipping back and forth.

In ‘Step 2’ two seasoned horses flank Newt and those riders shoot to the left or right. This leaves my hands free to guide my new horse if he becomes upset. It also makes it possible for me to ride the same way I normally would. Once I pick up my gun I will subtly change how I ride. Having the seasoned horses is one more step in gathering information on how my horse will respond when I do shoot.

It should be noted that we are using blanks, there is no projectile. The black powder is enough to pop a balloon but also burns out after a short distance which is why this is a safe spectator sport.

Notice that we are firing at the ground and behind the saddle. If my new horse were to have a reaction, he would likely jump forward. If we were to shoot in front of the cinch a new horse would be more likely to shy left or right.

Newt was quiet so I moved onto ‘Step 3’ which was following an experienced horse and shooting from Newt myself. My primary goal is to focus on my horse and measure his reaction. Newt is very quiet for now and I was happy.


  1. Terri Axtell on March 25, 2015 at 1:38 pm

    I have been using earplugs on my horse for years for just trail riding, takes the edge off of the spookiness. He shook his head at first but got used to them very quickly…within a day. 🙂

  2. mixedprairie on March 24, 2015 at 2:55 pm

    this was great, thanks! I’d like to try this. I like your approach!

  3. Lori B. on March 24, 2015 at 11:38 am

    A very interesting video, and a great approach in my opinion.
    I would be keen to see videos on how you would start/prepare horses for other disciples as well. I find it unique and informative the way you think each thing through, instead of ‘starting with your goal’ which, of course, the way things Should be done…it would be a good thing for the horse world to have more of these step by step videos how there. I find it amazing that there are so many people who think “tie things to the horse, wait for the wreck, pick-up the pieces and see if you have a horse left’ is Training. If it wasn’t so sad, it would be funny.

  4. Wayside Artist on March 24, 2015 at 10:20 am

    Love Newt!

  5. Sandy B. on March 24, 2015 at 1:53 am

    Also, could you recommend a company that you like that designs holsters?

  6. Sandy B. on March 24, 2015 at 1:49 am

    Thank you for this blog!! This summer I plan on working with our horses on getting used to guns because we would like to start a local mounted shooting club in the near future. I hope you do more blogs on mounted shooting!!

  7. cannh624 on March 23, 2015 at 9:11 pm

    Popcorn probably gave him a heads up! 😀

  8. ferg05 on March 23, 2015 at 8:14 pm

    I too was interested to know if Newt was wearing hearing protection. I could not tell in the video.

  9. Lesia Lowe on March 23, 2015 at 5:01 pm

    I was under the impression that PoPcorn as your mounted shooting horse…. is he retired? or are you gonna have 2 now? … Newt did great 🙂

    • Lesia Lowe on March 23, 2015 at 5:26 pm

      forgot to ask…. do the horses wear any type of earplugs?

    • Stacy on March 23, 2015 at 9:41 pm

      Popcorn is hanging out with friends so Newt got a turn…and he (Newt) was the one stuck traveling with me.

      • Lesia Lowe on March 24, 2015 at 9:28 am

        oh ok…PoPcorn is missing out on all the cool stuff yall are doing….and I figured putting earplugs in a horses ears would make them shake their head….did it take him long to get use to them??

  10. marla2008 on March 23, 2015 at 4:50 pm

    I notice Newt is the only horse without a tie-down ? Why are all the horses wearing them ?

    • John Tucker on March 23, 2015 at 6:50 pm

      because some riders are lazy trainers and instead of fixing an issue they ignore it with a tool

    • Jennifer Stone on March 25, 2015 at 12:16 am

      Hope I’m not out of line answering this! The other horses do this at a much higher speed when competing. Kinda like contest horses – when competing or really working at speed, my horses wear tie-downs. It’s for better control at those speeds. They can’t get above the bit as easy when excited. When normal riding or just practicing at slower speeds, they don’t need them. Not all horses need tie-downs either. My mare’s momma didn’t (RIP) when I competed with her and she was an awesome contester (barrels, poles, etc). I hope that answered your question!! 🙂

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