The practice of horseback archery requires mutual trust between the rider and the horse. The horse must trust his rider not to be afraid when shooting and the rider must trust his horse because he must only focus his attention on the target. When shooting, he can not hold his reins and must at most reduce his leg actions to have a correct shot.
The goal of “work” is to create the horse / rider relationship that is essential for a shot in good conditions. The horse must be desensitized to the bow, arrows, etc … and must not be afraid of the sound of shooting. His pace must also be worked: the goal is to get a horse that does not accelerate when the reins are released and maintains its pace regardless of the external elements. This pace can be very slow or fast depending on the choice of the rider. However to have a fast horse, it is necessary at first to be able to have it slow. It is difficult to perceive if the speed is due to a rider’s wish or to a state of panic of the horse.
This information is of course only indicative and depends on the horse in question. Each horse is different and requires a different job that will take more or less time. It is important to evolve at the speed of the horse.
Work on foot
It is important to accustom the horse to archery next to him at first. This allows the horse to have the time it needs to discover the equipment, the noise it causes, etc … It also helps to limit the risk if the horse gets scared.
All exercises must be done calmly, as soon as the horse gets scared it must immediately slow down the movement and wait for calm to return, to be able to increase the movement again. The ideal is even to feel the moment when the horse will be afraid and slow down the current action or return to a simpler exercise to avoid this moment of panic. (The horse will progress day by day, it is necessary know how to be satisfied with not much).
At first, you have to make the horse discover the material: make him smell the bow, the arrows, giving him time to analyze them. The horse must equate a lesson in archery as a good time. We can for example stroke the horse everywhere on the body, between the ears with the bunch of arrows. The horse will appreciate this moment but he will get used to the sound of the arrows rubbing between them. Be careful not to hit the horse inadvertently with the equipment. This would make him lose trust in his rider and he could be afraid of the bow which would not facilitate the work.
Then, it is necessary to work the immobility of the horse in spite of the external elements. For this, the horse is immobile in the middle of a career and the rider turns around it by clapping hands, banging the arrows, etc … Obviously the exercise must be progressive: first you must keep the lanyard in hand and the loudness must be adapted to the fears of the horse.
Once these exercises are under control, you can start shooting next to the horse. Start by first pulling in the ground with very little string tension and observe the horse’s response to the noise caused by the stall. If he reacts, repeat the previous exercises until calm has returned. If he does not respond, you can repeat the exercise a few times. Once the exercise has been performed several times without the horse being afraid, you can move to a target shot again with very little tension. The noise caused by the target may scare the horse. Following the same principle as before, you have to go back to a shot on the ground if it gets scared and as soon as calm has returned, you can start again in the target. And if he is not afraid, you can gradually increase the tension of the bow.
These exercises must be done before close to all session. And you can always increase the exercises difficulties.