Hello, greenhorn here

Hemlock

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I'm interested in taking up horseback riding expressly for big-game (deer, moose, elk) hunting in Lower-48 America be it by a guide/outfitter or by a DIY hunt. I'm age 57. I see a good horse or even a mule as a great 4-leg-drive vehicle for the sport. Many hunting lands prohibit motorized vehicles while pack/saddle animals are permitted in the field. A horse or mule can get into boonies places no truck or ATV dares tread.

Who here has hunted in North America via horseback or mule back before?

My experience riding animals is limited: pony rides at zoo, a couple rides as a passenger on the horse owned by a next-door neighbor at age 5 and 6, camel and elephant rides at an amusement park. No formal riding or horsemanship training of any kind.

I want to master enough horseback riding skills and have just enough riding experience to go hunting without getting saddle sore and such. Some booked clients show up to hunting guides as in the elk mountains of the west, get on a horse for few hours and the hunt is ruined because they are feeling totally miserable. Their bodies weren't broken into the horse-riding experience.

I don't want to own a horse or horse tack and saddle. I would only ride borrowed, hunting-guide-provided or rented horses, trailer and tack. I feel I would need a rifle scabbard that does NOT go under one's leg as the shown in the picture here hanging off the saddle horn. Having a long gun between the leg and the saddle fender can be uncomfortable. I would probably hunt with a Savage Model 99 lever-action rifle on horse or mule back. A lever job is just a natural for American horsemanship. All the old-fashioned cowboys had lever guns for the saddle. I figure that western riding is best for American big-game hunting.

I live in SW Oklahoma. Where is the best place to start in my neck of the prairie to get entry-level equestrian training and riding experience as a non-horse-owner? I feel riding a horse or mule on a hunt would be a romantic and charming old-fashioned adventure as well as a practical form of transportation in the field. Kinda like the warmth of having a nice trained dog in a dove or pheasant field.

horse gun.jpg
 

Lollykay

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1. This is a UK based forum so I’m not sure how many of us are from the U.S. or how many of those have hunted on horseback.

A good friend of mine deer hunted with her horse and it took a LOT of schooling to get the horse used to having a rifle shot off its back, then pulling the dead deer back on a toboggan-Type device behind it. She was also a life-long trail rider so had the riding knowledge and the knowledge to school the horse for hunting.

2. You cannot just take a few months of riding lessons and expect to get on a horse, in the wilderness, with a rifle, with full intent of shooting something and expect to stay in the saddle:). Reality is NOT what is portrayed on TV:)

3. Your best bet is to google “hunt on horseback outfitters”. Even if nothing comes up regarding hunting on horseback, they should know of an outfit that uses horses as that is not uncommon in the western states.

I came up with this place in Wyoming for example. https://www.horsebackadv.com/hunting-2-2/

Good luck in your endeavor:)
 
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Hemlock

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Thanks, Lolly. I should seek a North American based horse forum. In America, hunting guides and outfitters don't TRAIN clients in horsemanship any more than they teach them how to shoot a gun. Their job is to get clients harvested game for their big money. Hunting clients either have to be trained by friends or family members who are into that sort of thing or take lessons at some equestrian school. Besides, I might want to someday take a rented horse or mule out more locally to hunt deer. Renting a horse here is like renting a car. Avis, Enterprise or Hertz doesn't teach me how to drive an automobile whenever I rent a Chevy van or Ford Crown Victoria from them any more than a horse-rental business would teach me basic horsemanship when I rent a paint stallion. UNLESS that horse-rental agency also offers horseback riding lessons.

There doesn't seem to be many US-based horse forums and much riding interest here these days. Horsemanship has largely become a lost art in my culture due to the popularity of ATV's for hunting. Yankees worship gasoline (petrol). Horsemanship is reserved mostly for rodeo cowboys, Hollywood pictures, TV, the well-to-do or those raised on ranches and farms in America. British and Hispanic culture still largely embraces the horse. I don't know about the rest of continental Europe outside of Spain. I did not see a single horse in Germany while stationed there with the American army in the 1990's. Plenty of sheep loose there in the Bavarian region, though. In Canada, horses are a symbol of the Mounties.
 
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Jessey

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Hi, welcome to NR.

I think you’re going to have to do a bit of legwork to find the right lesson barn to learn the type of skills you’re after. Perhaps go into a local feed merchant or contact a local farrier and explain what you are after, they will deal with hundreds of places locally and know which are likely to offer what you want. I expect a trail barn will be where you’d start basic riding skills. But you will probably have to find a course with a specialist to teach you about packing and balancing loads etc. at a later date and you’ll probably have to travel to get it.

I’m English but have spent a fair bit of time up in the Pryor’s in Montana/Wyoming on horseback. You most definitely don’t want to get out into the wilderness with no other transport and lacking riding skills or ability. My ex came with me one trip and his once per week riding at home left him suffering terribly after a few days, he could barely sit down or walk. Realistically you need to ride regularly as part of your everyday life to really enjoy that sort of riding which doesn’t sound like what you want to do, so perhaps it isn’t for you. I’d go have a few lessons, you’ll soon see how much more is required than being a kid passenger on a horse.

Your outfitter (I would definitely use one for your first few trips) should be able to advise you on the best scabbard, it may depend a bit on what they’re horses are used to.
 
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Hemlock

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It sounds then like a horse isn't merely a vehicle one should occasionally use once in a blue moon. It sounds like horseback riding is a perishable skill, like playing a musical instrument, that can get rusty if not practiced regularly. Once one masters riding a bicycle, on the other hand, after some nasty spills, one never forgets for life. I gather besides riding inexperience, people can become saddle sore because saddle and other tack doesn't fit correctly. Horse tack should fit humans as well as the horse from what I gather so far. Clothing selection and clothing fitting may have something to do with riding all day long for comfort, or lack thereof, too. Having ridden motorcycles years ago, I understand how the weather and clothing choices can greatly affect riding comfort. Not freezing to death on a motorcycle is something of an art if not rocket science.

Also, please remember, money, or lack thereof, as well as time, is a limiting factor for many of us.
 
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Skib

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I have not been on hunting trips nor ridden in winter in USA. But we were told that the trail ride horses we rode in USA national Parks and elsewhere in summer, are trucked elsewhere and used for hunting in winter. Most of the trail rides we went on took complete beginners.

But when my OH decided he wanted to join me and not wait in the car parking lot, I saw to it that he had a few lesson riding (English) in UK before we left for USA.

The advice for hunting trips which I have already posted on NR was for riders (including men) to wear women's tights under their jeans to prevent rubbing.
Most places we rode had trail rides for beginers and for more advanced riders and of various lengths. I knew from UK that I dont like to ride for more than 2 hours so we never went longer rides. I also had some lessons in Western riding in the UK before leaving.

I agree that finding places on the internet may be hard. Our trips were now some time ago but we found local tourist offices often in the town hall were places to ask for details.
 

Jessey

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It sounds then like a horse isn't merely a vehicle one should occasionally use once in a blue moon. It sounds like horseback riding is a perishable skill, like playing a musical instrument, that can get rusty if not practiced regularly. Once one masters riding a bicycle, on the other hand, after some nasty spills, one never forgets for life. I gather besides riding inexperience, people can become saddle sore because saddle and other tack doesn't fit correctly. Horse tack should fit humans as well as the horse from what I gather so far. Clothing selection and clothing fitting may have something to do with riding all day long for comfort, or lack thereof, too. Having ridden motorcycles years ago, I understand how the weather and clothing choices can greatly affect riding comfort. Not freezing to death on a motorcycle is something of an art if not rocket science.

Also, please remember, money, or lack thereof, as well as time, is a limiting factor for many of us.
It’s not unlike riding a bike, if you don’t ride regularly you don’t forget just get a bit rusty, but your muscles do forget. Riding uses muscles very differently to most other exercise so you can get sore very quickly if you aren’t riding fit. Much like riding a bike you may well remember how and manage an hours ride but if you tried to do 8 hours in the saddle for several consecutive days without practice you would be sore.
Tack not suiting the rider can definitely be an issue, but it’s less of one if you are used to riding, those parts in contact definitely toughen up slowly over time.
 
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Hemlock

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The advice for hunting trips which I have already posted on NR was for riders (including men) to wear women's tights under their jeans to prevent rubbing.

Aren't there specialized such garments marketed to men who ride?
 

Hemlock

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Some more thoughts ...... American men and boys largely have little interest in horses these days. Before the advent of motor transportation, the male sex literally lived and died in the saddle. For males in the US, horses are largely limited to farmers, cowboys, law enforcement, the US Forest Service, Hollywood, sheep ranchers, outfitters and guide services and the Amish. Less than 6% of the American population sport hunts. Deer hunting is mostly likely in a blind or stand close to where the pickup truck was parked. ATV's can be used to haul shot big game out of the woods on private property. BLM/public lands largely prohibit motorized vehicles in the hunting fields. May motorized vehicles ever be used in British deer hunting to recover dead animals from the field?

In America, hunting and horsemanship traditions both are on the verge of extinction. Hunting and horses both have become prohibitively expensive for many people.
 

Jessey

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Often yes vehicles are used, but highland ponies still do the traditional work in Scotland on some estates. Similar to the US it depends where you are.
 

carthorse

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A lot fewer men and boys ride here too, though looking at hunting and high end competing makes you wonder where they come from - maybe it's just they're more competitive? From what I see of the States I wouldn't say horsemanship was on the verge f extinction, maybe it's just the circles you move in aren't horsey ones so you don't have the contact.

Horses are expensive full stop, The standard reply if someone asks how much it costs to keep a horse is everything you have and your soul too!
 
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Jessey

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True, I know plenty of people who ride and keep horses in the US, and plenty of men who hunt in the US; some of them on horseback. Like so many things you don't always notice it until you get involved with it. I think hunting on horseback is less popular everywhere because vehicles are easier and require far less dedication and upkeep than horses!
 
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Skib

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Hunting and horses both have become prohibitively expensive for many people.
This is the major thing in the UK too. If your parents keep horses that is fine. But riding lessons even at an inner city centre cost money and time. Children need ferrying to lessons by parents. My richer grand daughter rides and now also helps at a yard in the uni holidays only.
I could not have afforded to ride while our children were financially dependent on us. But other sports can cost money too. I have one grand daughter who rows (sculls).
 

carthorse

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This is the major thing in the UK too. If your parents keep horses that is fine. But riding lessons even at an inner city centre cost money and time. Children need ferrying to lessons by parents. My richer grand daughter rides and now also helps at a yard in the uni holidays only.
I could not have afforded to ride while our children were financially dependent on us. But other sports can cost money too. I have one grand daughter who rows (sculls).

I really don't think riding is that exclusive, I know many parents who aren't horsey but take their kids for lessons, many mums who ride. They aren't on massive incomes but they economise elsewhere and organise their time to fit it in. Often where there's a will there's a way, finances and time can be managed if wanted to badly enough.
 

Doodle92

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I started work at 14 in order to pay for my riding lessons. Parents not horsey and had no money. If I wanted to ride then I had to fund it myself, and get myself there as we didn’t have a car at that point.
 
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carthorse

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I started work at 14 in order to pay for my riding lessons. Parents not horsey and had no money. If I wanted to ride then I had to fund it myself, and get myself there as we didn’t have a car at that point.

Exactly Doodle92, there are plenty of people who make it happen - probably far more than are born into horsey families and have it all handed to them.
 

Doodle92

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I think I appreciate it more. I worked for a rich family for 10 years. Horses at home, large amount of grazing, arena, XC jumps, stables and grooms. (Along with the tennis court and swimming pool). They came down to yard, got on horse and rode then handed it back. Horses were kept fit for them and all preparations and after care for competitions done for them. I don’t think they actually realised what they had, the horses, while appreciated, were things that allowed them to go fast and go to shows. They had the money to replace them if they went wrong.
 
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Hemlock

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Often yes vehicles are used, but highland ponies still do the traditional work in Scotland on some estates. Similar to the US it depends where you are.

Vehicles are prohibited on most public lands for hunting or game recovery in America. It's up to private landowners if they allow vehicles provided one has permission to hunt their properties. Having to drag big game out from the field or woods by hand as opposed to the allowed use of a conveyance is a disincentive for many in America to hunt. Neither hunting nor horses (or perhaps even mules) are a feasible proposition for many here because of prohibitive costs and a myriad of regulations that get in the way. There is also a lot of aversion to horses by American males and a lot of aversion to sport hunting to many here in general. A lot of these anti-hunters will gladly consume domestic meats, domestic fowl and fish. One young American male coworker once told me that horses were only good for dog food. A boy in school once said he hated horses. Sport hunting and recreational horsemanship both in America are becoming increasingly exclusive and/or limited to rural people.
 
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