Bang! What would your horse do at the sound of a gunshot, or a car backfiring? If your answer is, “Have a heart attack” then read on, because there’s a sure fix to that as well as methods for retraining a spooky horse.
You can find it all in Better Than Bombproof: New Ways to Make Your Horse a Solid Citizen and Keep You Safe, by Sgt. Rick Pelicano. Better Than Bombproof is 170 pages of lessons, color photos and illustrations, and it’s offered on HorseBooksEtc. for $29.95.
Sgt. Pelicano is a 20-year veteran of the Maryland National Park Police, and in this book he shares the methods he uses to help train his fellow officers and their horses. It’s a no-nonsense, shoot-from-the-hip kind of book (no pun intended, Sergeant) that offers up sensible advice in logical steps.
Whether you have a spooky horse who needs some desensitization, have aspirations of riding in a parade with your horse or just want to be prepared for anything on the trail, this book is for you.
Which brings us back to the sound of a gunshot. If you wanted to desensitize your horse to that sound, Sgt. Pelicano explains how, step-by-step, in chapter 5, “‘Compound’” Bombproofing Situations.”
By “Compound” he means the rider does one thing as the horse does something else entirely, such as being horseback while retrieving something being handed to you from a car; carrying a baton or flag (as in a parade); or firing a gun, which you may want to do for reasons that include gun sports (such as Cowboy Mounted Shooting), hunting or self-defense.
I’ve often wondered how to best desensitize a horse to the sound of a gun, and after reading this section, I feel very confident that it’s easily done, even the final exercise, which is to jump a small cross-rail while discharging a pistol as the horse is in flight mode.
“Since he is airborne, he will be virtually unable to react adversely,” Sgt. Pelicano writes.
I’ll let you know how it goes!