Horses - Behavior Issues, Breaking and Training/gun breaking a horse

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Question
I have a 4 year old mare, and she is really shy. I've been wanting to get her used to guns so that i could shoot a rifle like a 30-30 or .243 from the saddle while I'm hunting but i have no idea where to start. One of my dad's friends said to use fire-crackers and work my way up, but I wasn't sure. I'd greatly appreciate it if you could help me. Thanks.

Answer
I would not use firecrackers.

I would instead begin with a lower caliber gun, maybe even a BB gun, or something small, but that would still have a sound and recoil to some degree.  Firecrackers have a different sound, and smoke too for that matter.

I would also do this from ground at first.  Make sure your handling of this mare is such that you inspire confidence in yourself in her eyes.  No babying, or bouncing around, but calm steady movements and actions at all times.

The use of gun, to me, is better because it gives more of a visual of the thing, whereas firecrackers or such, will be smaller and harder for her to focus on, and more of a surprise.  And too, if she can't actually see something you are carrying in your hands but it is something thrown out on ground, more of a shock, and could translate to her reacting to breaking sticks at some point.

You will also need to begin carrying scabbard without gun of course, so that the feel and movement of this is nothing to worry about for her.  The more matter of fact you are, the better she will be.

That said.  It may well be that she does not adjust well to it?  Earplugs might help, or nothing might.  Except another horse.

Again, the calmer the surroundings, the more matter of fact you are in your handling of this horse, the better you will be in getting this done.  

Horses - Behavior Issues, Breaking and Training

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Melanie Rowley

Expertise

Questions relating to first time, or inexperienced horse owners. Other questions as needed. Questions on American Saddlebreds. Old fashioned training advice, riding advice for beginners, and general care questions. Behavior problems, with emphasis on thinking through aspects of problems that might not seem an issue at first.

Experience

About to turn 55. My father was a Saddlebred trainer, and I grew up around horses. I have also worked as a Master Saddlebred Show Horse Groom, working with Dale Pugh, Art Simmons, Sonny Sutton, and others. I also have worked with Quarter Horses, and Thoroughbreds on a mare and foal operation in Alabama. I have owned for years, and currently have two teenaged geldings. I also for many years have taught riding lessons, to adults and children, working with beginners just learning, and older adults who have lost their confidence, or wanted to get "back in the saddle." I was lucky to be around many of the best horsemen in MO, and AL and learn from them, and strive always to think through a situation and work to keep riders and horses safe. Those also include the many talented grooms, and farriers I met along the way.

Education/Credentials
Some college. General studies towards a nursing degree, which derailed due to divorce. Horse skills learned through over 50 years of watching, learning, doing and absorbing as I grew.

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