[The Sweet Life of Axel and Cody (and Booker)!] Cowboy Mounted Shooting Blog
axelnme
dougdougdoug
I decided to start a new blog just about Cowboy Mounted Shooting - you can follow that over here - http://www.alettertoelise.com

[The Sweet Life of Axel and Cody (and Booker)!] On the right track
axelnme
dougdougdoug
So far we've putzed around a bit with the mounted shooting business. Took a private lesson a couple years ago and exposed Booker to gunfire during that lesson. Then we worked with him on general desensitization with random things, then we worked with cap guns (mounted and unmounted), then .22 blanks (mounted and unmounted), then .380 (unmounted). Then I got pregnant, it was winter, and we got lazy.
Fast forward to this past weekend and we're signed up for a mounted shooting clinic with Chad Little (World champion mounted shooter FYI). We packed up the horse and way more supplies than we'd ever need in N's new trailer and went to our first clinic. We made it in one piece despite the mud and rain.
Artistic Booker by the trailer at the end of a day of shooting #nofilter
It was a 4 hour clinic in the morning and 4 hours in the afternoon so N rode first and I went second. The first group was an older crowd with less experience so they spent a lot of time just firing the pistols until the horses started getting used to it. Then they started working on patterns. Booker did really well. He had been exposed to gunfire before so he'd jump a bit but didn't freak out or anything. There were a couple horses that were not too happy about the situation and they didn't help keep him calm but he did really well anyway.
Borrow holsters for the day #cowboymountedshooting
After lunch I jumped on and warmed Booker up again and myself of course. The group I rode with was a younger crowd that had shot and/or gamed before so they were all pretty comfortable but had to borrow guns. So I got quite a few rounds in since I had my own guns. We did have to borrow a holster since mine aren't made yet. Booker was still doing really well, not even flinching when people shot. But he did start getting a little sticky and not wanting to move. So then I had to manage him and the gun at the same time. But can't really blame him, it was his first time doing much of anything this winter and we were asking him to work for up to 8 hours. We got some great tips from Chad and he thought Booker was going to be really good at this sport. My shots were pretty decent when I didn't have to micromanage the horse. But we did discover the action on my revolvers is really really stiff. So that's on the list to get worked on.
Riding and shooting #cowboymountedshooting
I think our biggest thing to work on is riding patterns and just getting smoother and handling the horse with one hand. Everything else seems like it'll come easily enough. More time in the saddle is #1. Holy cats does my butt hurt. Oh and I stuck to my "guns" and wore my helmet despite having picked up a western hat the day before at a tack sale. I'll stick to the helmet until we're at a competition and have to wear a western hat (though I think helmets are okay too). It had been forever since I'd ridden so it didn't seem like the time to ditch the helmet. In any case he rode really well and the time off seems to have taken away some of my fears so that was good.
Warming up.

[The Sweet Life of Axel and Cody (and Booker)!] Back in the Saddle ... again ... again
axelnme
dougdougdoug
Ran out to the barn a couple times last week actually. Once to remove Booker's blanket before it was 70F out. And then again to go for a ride later in the week. Unfortunately Booker's feet are getting long and he was feeling a bit off so we only worked on some corner circles and some leg yielding. I really need to get some cantering under my belt before the clinic in a couple weeks.

Speaking of, things are rolling in our new Cowboy Mounted Shooting hobby. We started desensitizing a couple years ago and then I went and got pregnant so now we're determined to get something going this year. We are signed up for a new shooter clinic at the end of this month and we plan to shoot in a Mother's day shoot in May. Hopefully some other shoots as well.

So right now I'm working with a local leathersmith to maybe make up a holster and hopefully get that sooner than later. And there's a tack sale at the end of the month. I'm probably being optimistic but it'd be great to find some chinks, a shirt, and a hat.

[The Sweet Life of Axel and Cody (and Booker)!] Get yer guns!
axelnme
dougdougdoug
Well Nancy got herself a truck and trailer! Which means we are mobile this year. We've already signed up for a new shooters clinic at the end of this month and we plan to do our first real shoot on Mother's day weekend. So that means we better get back to training!

[The Sweet Life of Axel and Cody (and Haji and Booker)!] Catch up ... again
axelnme
dougdougdoug
Just a quick catch up since I'm not doing a very good job keeping up to date. Maybe I can do better this year. Last year I wasn't riding since I was pregnant. Baby was born in August. My boys moved from my brother in law's to the big cattle pasture at the farm. Haji crossed the rainbow bridge before winter hit. We moved the boys to a farm outside of Canby where there's at least 10 other horses. A guy that buys hay from my father in law is watching them for the winter. They are actually getting fed flakes of hay so Axel isn't all puffed up like he usually is in the winter. Cody has written me off now that he's with "his kind." Hopefully I'll get a few rides in this summer.

I'm back to riding Booker, though lightly right now, we're lazy and it's winter, you know how that goes. I got a pair of colt 45s for Xmas so we'll be getting him back in shape with the guns sooner than later and hopefully hitting up a clinic and a shoot this year.

[The Sweet Life of Axel and Cody (and Haji and Booker)!] Rough Weekend
axelnme
dougdougdoug
Cody and Axel are doing well (save for Axel letting the cows chew his tail short). They spent the summer in the pasture with 3 cows and calves at the brother in law's place (same place as where they wintered). They are now in the big cattle pasture/wheat field with all the stock cows for a couple weeks enjoying the volunteer wheat. Then they will likely move to another location for winter, yet to be determined. There was one minor instance I was told of when they moved the horses with the bigger herd. The one bull mistook Axel for a nice stock cow and tried to show his affection, Axel did not appreciate it and ran through the fence. Doh. So there was some fence repair to be done but I don't blame Axel, that's for sure.


And in less happy news, Haji has crossed the rainbow bridge. The summer had not been kind to him and even while on pasture AND free choice hay, he still lost weight. :( We'll miss the old guy and I'm sad Daniel didn't get more of a chance to learn some horsemanship from a real expert that Haji was.

[The Sweet Life of Axel and Cody (and Haji and Booker)!] Forgive me
axelnme
dougdougdoug
I'm all pregnant and stuff and getting to the barn and to the farm just isn't happening all too often these days. Here's a photo post to catch up.

[The Sweet Life of Axel and Cody (and Haji and Booker)!] Still Slacking
axelnme
dougdougdoug
It's bee a very cold winter around here and we've had quite a bit of snow. We worked with Booker a little, not as much as we wanted since it was so cold. Mostly working on the things that the trainer suggested along with a little goofing around. Then at the beginning of March we sent Booker to the trainer for the month. She's going to work him several times a week and get him back into shape and work on the stopping issues and just getting him listening and using his body properly. Along with the training Nancy gets to ride a couple lessons as well so if the weather would cooperate that would be useful.



As far as my boys are concerned I haven't seen too much of them as we haven't been to the farm very often this winter with all the crazy weather. I know the brother and sister in law and sister in law's brother took the three out for a little bareback ride around the pasture a couple months ago. Sounds like they had a good time and the boys all behaved themselves. The most work they've done in ages! I've visited a few times to make sure everyone was still on all fours. The slow feed Cinch Chix net is doing it's job, Axel is looking good and not too fat and his swelling has gone down significantly. I'm guessing had we not put out hay without the net this year he wouldn't be swollen at all. Haji may have lost a bit of weight which unless we're force feeding him 24 hours a day that was to be expected with the cold weather despite him having a blanket on. Spring should be good to get some weight back on him. And though Axel still wants to eat everyone's feed, I think the three are getting along pretty well thanks to the small area they are in for the winter.

[The Sweet Life of Axel and Cody (and Haji and Booker)!] Let it snow!
axelnme
dougdougdoug
Went out at lunch for a visit. Brought Booker in the arena and free lunged him a bit and he rolled a bit. Nothing too crazy, no bucking or anything just a little head tossing. Usual soundness. Did a little ground work at liberty nothing too serious just walk, whoa, trot.



So I was doing really awesome and I was proud of myself. I got in the barn before it really started raining/snowing and while we were playing in the arena it really started up. First rain then turned to big fat snow flakes.



So I groomed and Booker was nice and dry and I put the blanket on and there's no straps. I wander around in circles trying to figure out what to do. Texted Nancy and then sent a FB message to the gal that sold us the blanket. Debate looking in her trailer and "borrowing" whatever I find but decided against it. Wasted some time measuring Booker for blanket size. The blanket doesn't have a size written on it and it is a tad big so I thought I'd measure him just in case, especially since we had no straps for the existing blanket. 74" BTW.



So I give in and bring Booker back outside. By the time I get back in the barn I get a reply from the gal that sold the blanket that the straps are on the floor of her trailer. Go figure. So I go back out to get Booker who is now wet wet wet. In fact he has a pool of water in the crease in his chubby back ;)



So I scrub him as dry as possible with one of the fleece blankets I brought, run him around the arena again in hopes he'll roll, and groom him again. No rolling of course. Gave him some treats. Brushed him again and fluffed him up and then just gave up and put the blanket on. So all my awesome timing was for naught. Anyways he's not soaking wet, just damp by the time I put on his blanket so he should be fine and will probably dry quickly under it.


All the horses with the exception of those in Booker's pasture have blankets on. It's not cold now but Booker doesn't have a super thick winter coat and if it keeps snowing like this, big wet flakes and rain, they'll be wet and then it's supposed to get super cold so I think the blanket is the right move. Just a little peace of mind.



I promised Booker I wouldn't be back to get him again today at least ;)

[The Sweet Life of Axel and Cody (and Haji and Booker)!] Working with Booker
axelnme
dougdougdoug
I'm not doing much better keeping up with Booker's updates either. We borrowed my dad's .38 and took Booker out to the pasture to try and shoot that a bit. We shot half loads and full loads and there didn't seem to be much difference between the two.



Booker did alright with them outside but we just shot from the ground. We've also shot the .22 a few more times in the arena from the ground and mounted. We figured we'd just keep up shooting a little each time so he doesn't forget. Not sure when we'll start working on the .38 in the arena or from his back. Every time we go out there we come up with new things we should work on with him if we actually remember or get our butts out there more than once a week. Ideally I'd make it out a couple times myself and Nancy would make it out a couple times a week but we'll see. So far that hasn't happened.


I did make it out on the Friday night when Jeff was in Canby and I rode for a while myself but I didn't want to get him too sweaty since I had forgotten the cooler. But it was nice to get back in the barn with no time constraints.


So our plans for the future are to have a trainer out to give us some lessons. We thought maybe we'd do lessons for a month or two and then maybe in the spring send Booker for a 30 day tune up with said trainer. She'd be able to ride him up to 4 times a week and we just haven't been able to put in that kind of time. Not sure our whole list of goals but we'd love to have him remain calm while being ridden, he's still gets a little anxious with a rider, guessing that's part of his gaming past. He needs to use his rear end more and bend bend bend. We think those things will help with his heel pain, just learning to carry himself better in general. As far as our goals as riders, well we have to learn to ride one handed a bit better (or at all in my case) and we just need someone to ride him and know him and then be better able to help us help him move better. We did try the old trick where we don't pick up the reins when he speeds up or gets nervous since sometimes the gaming horses think tight reins mean "go faster." We did discover that while having no rein contact Booker speeds up a bit, say when the gun is fired, but he doesn't do much more than that. It's just hard to get ourselves to not choke up on the reins when we get nervous. Practice practice practice!

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