Post by Dan Chmelar on Dec 12, 2004 17:15:48 GMT -5
Hello. I am most likely going to be able to be able to go mounted several times this coming season. The horse I will be taking has not been broke to gunfire and other sounds and sights of reenactments yet. I hope to be able to take him out by spring muster. What are some methods you have used to break horses to being fired off of with pistols, carbines, having sabers around them, ect.
Thanks Daniel Chmelar
Dan Chmelar -ONV -WIG -Ol' Sipley Mess -Horse Hair Mess
Post by Jerry Todd on Dec 13, 2004 12:40:27 GMT -5
A long time reenactor told me once he bought a horse that was a reenacting veteran. Gun fire, music, flags, hoop skirts, cannon fire, the works-nothing phased this animal; then he drew his sabre for the first time while on the horse . He woke up on a gurney headed to a hospital with some broken stuff and some dislocated stuff.
Before you take a horse anywhere, you should sack out the horse over time with EVERYTHING you're gonna use around him and put on him. You, your hat, sabre, carbine, flags, tack, blankets, etc etc etc. That is let him inspect it, touch him with it, run it over him and on him, lay it on him, until it's no big deal.
In the case of guns, do the above, while holding him and assuring him, have someone else take it some 50 yards away and fire a cap. They walk toward the horse firing a cap evry 5-10 yards while you reassure the horse, until they are right up to him and he's allowed to touch the gun and sniff it.
Do that again only firing cartridges this time.
Then reverse. Take the horse to the gun as it's fired, first just caps, then cartridges, finishing both with his touching the gun.
If the horse is coming along well, have the gun approach while you're on the horse, then walk the horse to the gun as it's fired.
Finally, if the horse and you are doing well, fire caps from his back, then cartridges.
Then, the next day, mix it up. cap, catridges, on the ground, moving, standing, off his back. Take a break and do it again in a few hours.
The key to all this is patience. The entire time you have to play it by ear based on how the horse is responding to all of it. Don't be afraid to start over from scratch.
Don't forget the really scary stuff, like fifes, drums, hoops skirts, tent flys, the sound of the sabre being drawn/returned, and other stuff a reenacting horse has to deal with. Gun fire's only a part of it.
Hello: I would heartly agree with everything Jerry has but on paper, with the exception that I think the 50 yards is too far off. The additional thing would be to do this with a trained cavalry horse next to him, when he see that it is not bothered with the noise, he will be more inclined to be at ease. A good thing would be to get him in a drill formation to see how he reacts to the close quarters. A bitter and kicker is not suitable for a mount. The new team of horse and rider is best placed in the second rank at number 2 or 3 with very reliable and calm horses in front and beside him. Wayne Gregory Stafford, VA
I agree with Jerry. I use a similar meathod with good results for many years. Personally, I don't think 50 yards out is a bad place to start. Better to be to far out and work in, than be to close and have a bad experience that will take twice the work to overcome. Always let the horse touch, smell and look at any new item. Anything a horse has not experience before is basically viewed by the horse as some horse eating monster - simple instinct. Also, keep you sessions short and end with positive experience. I have mixed feelings on having horse that is sound to gunfire, etc. along side the animal being trained. My personal preference is not too. My feeling is that it is one less distraction. Just my two cents worth
Post by Jerry Todd on May 23, 2005 10:55:08 GMT -5
The latest Camp Chase Gazorch had an article on aquiring a horse for reenacting.
There was one item that I found interesting in regards to gunfire.
The author suggested that when you're looking at this animal for the first time you take your pistol along, convince the owner to sit the horse - IN THE BARN - and fire the pistol!!!
Besides the downright stupidity and outright danger involved, it's best to assume that no horse you're examining to buy has been aclimated to gunfire or anything else in reenacting.
Basing your decision to purchase an otherwise fine and trainable mount on whether or not he bucks his owner through the roof when a gun goes off is about as dumb as any owner that would go along with such a scheme.
Last Edit: May 23, 2005 11:51:32 GMT -5 by Jerry Todd
Post by Whirlygigger on May 25, 2005 5:29:34 GMT -5
I think this is a great thread and I appreciate seeing how it is beng banted back and forth to good results.
Jerry's "sacking out" post shows that too-far may be better than too-close & Wayne's idea of using another season'd mount as part of the calming effect strikes another good cord.
Now to Dave's comment about the Camp Chase Gazette I'd like to say that a gathering of articles by a group of authors is akin to the performances created by a group of musicians.... these guys are speciallists - like horse people on various rungs of development.
Sometimes all of the pros show up and make pretty music for the benefit of us all, but things do slip by on occasion when the editor (an CCG expert on horses perhaps?) in this case, isn't around to catch it. Bad news after the cat is out of the bag.
Benjamin Franklin once said, "Well done is better than well said"... The Camp Case Gazette, because of it's format, is perhaps the closest thing we have to our community's professional journal. Since we are a part of this community, I think that it would be a good thing to consider gathering our forum thoughts on training horses for mounted re-enacting service and come out with 'a newer CCG version' to the one Jerry mentioned elsewhere in this thread.
That being said, I think Dave would agree that it wouldn't benefit any of us to throw the baby out with the bath water. Let's improve the drain system.
Post by Dave Myrick on May 25, 2005 18:19:16 GMT -5
Walt, Its been tried. The CCG doesn't want to be improved. I don't agree with your musician analogy either. When one publishes anything and purports how to do it, the person/persons/group or organization doing the publishing has the responsibility to ensure that the statements are factual and not going to risk serious injury. If injury is a possibility the disclaimer should be made indicating as much. In this case with the CCG, it is obvious the writer has no concept of how either equines or humans react to sudden loud nioses. Also neglected are the obvious risks of fire. The onus of responsibility is not on the writer in this case, it is on the CCG editorial staff. Dave
For those of you reading this post, be advised, Sgt Todd's method is the best method of breaking horses to gunfire. The CCG "method" can/will result in serious injury to the rider and or horse, even if it has been broken to gunfire.
Post by cwhorsesoldier1973 on Nov 8, 2005 4:28:04 GMT -5
One method that I have found that works well is to feed the "green" mount with seasoned horses, then fire a cap at a distance of 20-30 yards. Watch the "green" mount's response. Usually it is just a throwing up of the head to see what is transpiring. The mount usually takes notice to the other horses' carefree munching and will continue to eat. Fire one cap at a time each time the horse returns to eating. This usually gets the mount to the point where it would rather eat than waste time looking for the noise. Then insert 5-10 grains of powder using the same technique. Continue this until you get to your desired load. I can usually break a "green" mount for gunfire successfully in 1-3 days.
I think it's better to have someone with the horse. It the "response" if taking flight, you have no control and you've just taught him running from loud noises is ok. Imagine how that will go when you have him in hand and fire the gun.
Training should be in a controlled environment.
BTW: What I listed earlier isn't new, it's right out of the manuals.
Last Edit: Nov 8, 2005 8:51:02 GMT -5 by Jerry Todd
I agree with Jerry. We start with the horse in a halter with the rider on the ground, holding a cotton lead rope (preferably wearing gloves in case the horse pulls away suddenly.) We put the horses between experienced gun horses that will not react to gunfire, start shooting from a distance and then move in closer.
The most important thing is, if the horse reacts to gunfire, the handler should NOT REACT in any way. He should neither try to soothe the horse, nor reprimand him. No matter what he does, just ignore his antics, while trying to stay with him without pulling on him. No talking and certainly no yelling. If the horse pulls back the handler should move back with the horse, so that the horse is not incited to pull harder on the lead rope and therefore possible rear up or flip over backwards. Once the horse stops he should be quietly led back into line.
Only when the horse's feet stay planted, should the handler praise the horse! (The best praise is to talk encouragingly while stroking--not patting--the horse's neck.) Some horses can be more easily trained if they are given a small treat if they stand still. It all depends on the horse. Usually horses that are highly food oriented benefit from this approach, while horses that are more socially oriented respond better to praise (likely such a horse will not be interested in food anyway.)
One the horse is standing well, the rider can mount and repeat the same set of exercises with firing getting closer and closer. If the horse has trouble standing still, quietly circle him a few times and then bring him back into line. Every so often during the exercises, take a break and walk the horse on a loose rein to let him relax. (No fast work since this will tend to excite the horse. As an old horseman once said, "An excited horse is no more caaple of learning than an excited child!")
Before actually firing off the horse, we have the another rider on a well broke gun horse ride alongside the new horse and fire. If you ride alongside a safe fence (no wire!) you can keep the new horse between the fence and the other horse and keep him from moving sideways. This is done first at a halt, then at a walk, and finally at a trot or canter. This may take several sessions depending on the horse. Some horses that are calm at a halt or walk can get very excited by speed. Such horses must be given extra work at the halt and walk before firing at faster speeds is attempted.
When you first fire off the horse I recommend firing at a 90 degree angle to the horse, or even better, slightly towards the horse's hindquarters--that way if the horse spooks or picks up speed he will tend to move forwards. If you fire too close to his head he will have a tendency to slow down, stop or even rear. If you are moving it is very important to maintain forward momentum and not let the horse get "stopped up."
I started my horse by simply making it part of the farm routine. When he first came out to the farm I went into his pasture with him while my husband fired a few round off in the back field. I was only there to reassure him if he wanted it, but ultimately it was his decision. As the first shots were fired he jumped and looked back to me, but as I showed no interest he didn't overreact. From there on it was just another sound of the farm. No matter how close it got or how bizarre (an unexpected aerosol can in the trash burning can) he doesn't find it to be a threat. It may get his interest, but not much of a reaction.
After the sound of gunfire was no longer an issue, I focused on training him to see that a gun was a tool for protection. Any critters or problems were taken care of with the gun. If there is ever anything amiss out in the field at night, he'll come squealing in from the pasture and within minutes I'll be out with that gun and a spotlight. My faithful steed hiding behind my back until the problem is fixed.
I introduce everything to him and make a point of not acting any different. If you're worried, then something is wrong.
Each animal is different though. Still, I see this as a crucial time to bond with your horse. Trust each other and know his faults. We all know how quickly they can find ours and use them against us. The more comfortable you are, the more receptive your partner will be to something that he hasn't encountered before.
Keep in mind all this might be a moot point, I have yet to take him to a practice or event. ;D