Ready, Set, Warm Up
Mounted shooting can be hard on a horse. The intense sport demands tight turns, boomerang-style direction and lead changes, and nothing short of a flight to the finish line. Because of this, mounted shooting horses need a fair share of athleticism, agility and heart. Just like any athlete, your horse needs a complete warm up before shooting a stage not only to stretch his muscles, but also to focus his attention on you and get him in a competitive frame of mind.
Top mounted-shooting horse trainer and competitor Dan Byrd of Cave Creek, Arizona, stresses the importance of a proper warm up.
“Mounted shooting is just as mentally and physically demanding as barrel racing, roping, polo or any other sport,” he says. “You can’t expect your horse to go in the arena and perform if he hasn’t been prepared with a solid warm-up routine.”
About 30 minutes before shooting, Byrd warms up his horse using a variety of horsemanship maneuvers that supple the horse’s body and prepares him for the high-speed challenge ahead.
For more information on Byrd and his training program, see “Shoot For Precision” in the September 2008 issue of Western Horseman. You can also learn more at danbyrdhorses.com.