Category Archives: Performance horse

Performance horse

Complete list of Jobs that involve horses (almost)

“I am in love with horses and your blogs. Unfortunately I live in the city with no access to horses. I am sixteen and curious if you could give me a few possible jobs that involve horses, outside of vet and farrier.” Thanks Paula S.

I remember when I was a kid the only jobs I could think of that involved horses were vet, farrier and jockey. For some reason I over looked some jobs that were right in front of me, for example, magazine writer. I read a horse magazine but didn’t really think about all the job opportunities that were offered inside of that: writer, photographer, editor, etc.

The list will be really, really long when you really think about it. So long in fact that the shorter way to find the answer may be to start with some of your other strengths and then see how they could intersect with horses. If you love long car trips, you could be a horse hauler. If you love kids, you could specialize in beginners camps. If you like braiding hair or grooming, you could become a groom on the hunter circuit. If you have a background in something like music ask yourself how that could intersect with horses.

Full time job grooming horses

This website has jobs listed for grooms.











I can start a list here and then people can add comments with more job ideas. I will try to remember to update the list:

  1. Barn Manager
  2. Horse Trainer
  3. Stable Hand
  4. VetTech
  5. Farrier
  6. Therapeutic Riding Instructor
  7. Horse Sitter
  8. Horse motel owner
  9. Assistant Trainer
  10. Riding Instructor-many levels, basic to Olympic
  11. Clinician
  12. Groom
  13. Stall Cleaner
  14. College Professor
  15. Stunt Rider or Double
  16. Circus Performer
  17. Web Designer
  18. Social Media
  19. Graphic Designer
  20. Mounted Police
  21. Writer
  22. Horse Artist
  23. Horse photographer
  24. Show photographer
  25. Magazine photographer
  26. Movie producer
  27. Screen writer
  28. Professional Rider
  29. Horse Show Manager
  30. Judge-many levels from Open show to breed specific
  31. Ring Steward
  32. Course Designer-trail, jumping, etc
  33. Jump Designer
  34. Mounted Guide-work for someone or own your own
  35. Design Horse Communities
  36. Dude Ranch Hand-work your way up to manager
  37. Dude Ranch Manager-work your way up to owner
  38. Dude Ranch Owner
  39. Horse Camp Owner
  40. Horse Camp Counselor
  41. Carriage Driver-weddings, events, downtown
  42. Rodeo Crew
  43. Rodeo Promotor
  44. Rodeo Clown
  45. Rodeo Pick Up Rider
  46. Jockey
  47. Racehorse Trainer
  48. Horse Expo Manager
  49. Exercise Rider
  50. Outrider at track
  51. Breeder
  52. Breeding Manager
  53. Broodmare Manger
  54. Stallion Manager
  55. Foaling Attendant
  56. Breeding Technician
  57. Massage Therapist
  58. Rehabilitation
  59. Equine Dentist
  60. Nutrition Specialist
  61. Feed Store Owner
  62. Feed Sales Rep
  63. Custom Leather Work
  64. Silver smith
  65. Inventor
  66. Clothing designer
  67. Gun smith (mounted shooting)
  68. Saddle maker
  69. Bit maker
  70. Announcer
  71. Auctioneer

What can you add to this list?




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What time of day is the best for training horses?

Most of the time we choose to train our horses as our schedule allows, first thing on a Saturday morning, just after school on a weekday or in the hour before dinner on a summer night.

Others schedule to ride with their coaches once or twice a week, maybe 1:00 on Wednesdays or Tuesday and Thursdays at 4 pm. and they hope to do most of their training under supervised rides. But when is the best time to train?When is the best time to train a horse; Night time training

Answer: When the opportunity presents itself.

As much as we would like to make the ‘best’ training times fit into our schedules, it is often the worst times that offer the most opportunity.

Take this photo for example. This was taken close to midnight after a very long day at the Congress…but it happened to be the best time for training. I say that it was the best ‘time’ because it is the time that Newt, my horse, told me he needed to be trained. Earlier that day we had ridden in the arena but I noticed when I left the arena and walked down this alley, Newt was excited by the activity. What you cannot see in the photo is that to our left (the right side of the photo) there are horses being ridden..and their feet are at Newts eye level. It is a strange angle to view horses from…at least that is what Newt said!

When Newt got excited I chose to turn him back and ride up and down the alley until he calmed down. I even took him up into the arena for a little work. He ended up walking back to the stalls fine…but it left a lingering question in my mind. Did Newt really get over it?

So here I am, four hours later, double checking. I knew I wouldn’t sleep well without knowing the answer and I was hauling out of the show the next morning and would lose the opportunity to be in the same situation again. So I saddled up, just before midnight, to do some final training.

Turns out everything was fine. Newt walked quietly and the entire ride took only a few minutes…but if it had taken all night I would have been find with that too. The best time to train a horse is when the opportunity presents itself and I’m not one to skip that opportunity.


Posted by on October 21, 2014 in Performance horse, Thought provoking, Training


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Have you known of any horses fracturing their pelvis?

“Hi Stacy just curious as to your thoughts on this…. I traded a nice Gucci mare for her 1st foal which was born may 2013…I would visit her every week and at the 4 week old mark I noticed her right hind was hurt..she would walk on it but hold it up at the trot & canter…I told the barn owner and had to keep asking and he finally had a vet out…vet palpatated her and she was sore and had a slight temp so she thought growth plate infection and prescribed antibiotics & stall rest. I continued my weekly visits and kept asking barn owner how she was doing and when would she be off stall rest (I had no vet report to go by) he said she’s about 85% that the vet was out again which later on I found out was a lie 😦 my filly’s name is Paris and they weaned her at 4.5 months and I immediately picked her up. I had my vet Dr. J come look her over to check for worms & physical exam. He noticed her right knee with a bump and watched her go and wanted to xray it…he did….2 knee fractures!!!! So he consulted a surgeon and no surgery was required just stall rest…. That ended up being 16 weeks after several xray checks on the healing progress. I told Dr. J about the back leg as it was still weird but due to the knee it got pushed aside as we though it wasn’t anything to worry about. Well after all this time & money the knee healed fine but the hind end was still funky…I had exam & chiro done a few times with no results. Finally I had an opportunity to take her to the equine hospital and she had stifle X-rays which were clean then we did hip X-rays and results were she fractured her pelvis at around 1-2 months of age! The surgeon could tell by the break & healing it’s done the approx time frame. I had Paris boarding at a facility and decided to take her home to lay her to rest. Vet said she may be pasture sound but said most cases as they get bigger & heavier they become painful and often get put down 😦 have u known any horses fracturing their pelvis? Does the barn owner have any responsiblity to help with the expenses I’ve endured since picking her up? This is so sad” 😦 -SRW

This is a very sad story. I know many breeders and although the majority of times things go well, I have seen many odd ball cases over the years.

I know of one other foal, at about the same age as yours, that came in from the pasture one night lame. The owner called the vet when he noticed the foal was lame…and that foal also had a broken pelvis. The vet recommended euthanasia and the shocked owner agreed. There were no outward marks on the foal, no evidence (mud, scrapes, etc) showing any impact or fall. How the injury happened remains a mystery.

Lean With Me recovered from a pelvic fracture, winning a World title!

Lean With Me recovered from a pelvic fracture, winning a World title!

I have read the amazing story of an older horse, Lean With Me, who fractured his pelvis at the age of three. He was a show horse before the injury and, miraculously, he returned to showing AFTER his fracture…winning a World title. To read Lean With Me’s full story, click here.

Regarding the knee, I also knew a filly, just months old, that somehow chipped her knee. The location of the chip near the joint made it too risky to do surgery. The vet recommend letting her grow and looking at her again when the joint was bigger. If the chip was still floating then the vet would remove it. The chip did not remain floating but instead it calcified to the knee. This caused much of the knee joints to fuse also.

I took the mare to her follow up appointment. The vets did a lameness exam and reported that she had a limited range of motion, but that she didn’t appear to be in any pain. They gave me the OK to ride her as long as she remained comfortable. Before leaving the office they wanted to also do x-rays. Upon reading the x-rays the vets exclaimed, “If I had seen these x-rays first I would have said this horse was crippled and would be completely unsound.” She went on to win many events and has never been lame.

The story of your filly is a sad one. It is tempting to say that the barn owner should have known, or the first vet, or the second vet but generally things aren’t that clear. I am sure that if you had believed that something was major that you would have had the vet out directly. The first vet saw an elevated temp and soreness and likely went with a diagnosis that was either more common, more fitting or quite possibly also true. The second vet also had to make the decision to treat the most pressing issue, the knee.

Medically treating horses is always difficult because they cannot talk. The mare I described above with the knee issue would have been proclaimed a cripple by her x-rays…yet she is sound and happy. It sounds like your filly was a trooper and the emotional pain and financial costs are both depressing but try to remember that you did the best you could each step of the way and I’m sure Paris appreciated it.



Posted by on October 17, 2014 in Members Question, Performance horse, Training


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12 hours at a horse show with Stacy Westfall and Newt

I asked the question: “What behind the scenes info would you like to know about living, showing attending, or generally being at the Quarter Horse Congress?” This short video will answer many of these questions. Below are the answers to three specific questions that were asked:

“It would be great to see a day in the life of Newt at Congress! When does he get out the stall? What’s the warm up pen like? How do you burn off energy from being couped up all day – and translate that into a good performance?” Morgan S.

I think the video shows you the process of the day leading up to showing. We don’t always ride late at night, sometimes we ride during the day in the covered pen. I chose to show the two extremes in the video; the craziest 12 hours and the easiest day. The short clip at the end shows a ‘down day’ when Newt gets out to play. Sometimes we ‘trail ride’ around the grounds. Other times he plays on the lunge line. Once we leave Congress he will get pasture playtime again.

“How do you schedule your time effectively to perform, see friends perform and cheer, & see other events without being dead dog tired every day.” Bridgette F.

Hmmm, I have never considered being anything but dead-dog-tired at Congress…is that possible?!? The day I made the video we (humans) had been up for 44 hours with only 5 hours of sleep in that time period. I will spend weeks trying to catch up on sleep…but we were having fun and visiting with friends! The horses get a lot more rest then we do 🙂

“One of these days I would like to make it to Congress…I’ve been told to go watch first. Do you have to qualify to show there? How do you know if you are good enough to show there?” Dawn N.

You do not have to qualify for most of the classes. In general, I also recommend coming to watch first. It is a pretty tough show because they offer pretty good awards, etc. If you don’t get a chance to come then consider either watching live or buying a video of the class/classes that you would compete in. Then you could compare your riding/showing with what you see on the video to make your decision. Or you can just come and show. Many people have it on their ‘bucket list’ and they consider the experience worth the trip.


Posted by on October 9, 2014 in A Horse's View, Life, Performance horse, Training, Video


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How are reining horses scored when they show?

“Stacy, I’ve been watching the live feed from Congress, can you tell us a bit about the scoring… I’ve also been watching a bit and I’d think one rider wasn’t as good as someone who had received 203.5 and they got 209. They didn’t look as smooth and leaning forward more??? How do they score?” Jennifer W.

The scoring system in reining is one of the things I like best about it…but it won’t be easy to cover completely here. I’m not sure what two runs you saw but one of the easiest explanations could be that the horse that looked smoother may have had penalty points. That could explain one ride looking generally smoother and yet, if they missed going past a marker or the horse slipped out of lead for just one stride the penalty points would have drastically changed the score.

A very basic way to look at the way the reining is judged is that each maneuver, lets say 4 spins to the right, gets a score and also could have penalties. In the example of the spin a horse could do a good spin and get a +1/2 but if they don’t stop where they are supposed to they could get a penalty -1/2.Screen Shot 2014-10-06 at 2.07.09 AM

The National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) has a great DVD that shows examples of horses and their scores. I also found this page that has some of the NRHA’s ‘Inside Reining’ videos on it which will help further explain the judging.

The paragraph that explains the general idea of reining, inside the NRHA rulebook is called A. General and I have listed it below:


To rein a horse is not only to guide him, but also to control his every movement. The best reined horse should be willingly guided or controlled with little or no apparent re- sistance and dictated to completely. Any movement on his own must be considered a lack of control. All deviations from the exact written pattern must be considered a lack of/or temporary loss of control and therefore a fault that must be marked down according to severity of deviation. After deducting all faults, set here within, against execution of the pattern and the horse’s overall performance, credit should be given for smoothness, finesse, attitude, quickness and authority of performing various maneuvers, while using controlled speed which raises the difficulty level and makes him more exciting and pleasing to watch to an audience.

Like I said before, this post can’t really do the subject justice. I do love the paragraph above and quote it frequently. I will keep a look out for a link that explains it well. The NRHA may have a shorter version out online that I haven’t seen.

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Posted by on October 6, 2014 in Members Question, Performance horse


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Watch Live: All American Quarter Horse Congress 2014

It’s Congress time again!Screen Shot 2014-10-03 at 1.38.34 PM

Congress (short for All American Quarter Horse Congress) is a horse show takes place in Columbus, Ohio and last almost the entire month of October. The show is the largest single breed horse show in the WORLD! This is also the show where the famous ‘Live Like You Were Dyin’ video was filmed.

During the month almost every class you can image a Quarter Horse competing in will be featured. Right now reining and cutting classes are showing, but barrel racing, roping, ranch pleasure, working hunter, halter, hunter hack, western pleasure, and mounted shooting will all take place during the month…plus more.

If your near Columbus the shopping here is also amazing. On Saturday, October 11th I will be hanging out in the Stagecoach West booth and later that night will be speaking at the beginning of the Weaver Leather Freestyle Reining

Newt has been doing some short video clips that are posted over on Facebook. What behind the scenes info would you like to know about living, showing attending, or generally being at the Congress? Maybe Newt can answer some of your questions…

Watch Congress Live

Click this photo to follow a link to view the live feed from the Congress.


1 Comment

Posted by on October 3, 2014 in Performance horse


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Stages of training: How fast or slow should I go when teaching a horse? Jac Review week

“Stacy, my name is Keith I have been starting young horses for 25 years most of them have been cutting horses getting them ready for trainers this is the third time that I try to teach spinning on a young horse and it is beginning to happen I am very excited . So excited that I need someone to tell me how fast or slow should I go. I know that I should wait on the horse and let the horse tell me but I am too excited I need someone to talk to. Please help. I only take in two horses per month I am a truck driver during the day and I ride horses at night that’s why I am so excited about this. Cutting hasn’t been very big in south Louisiana so I have been studying your episodes with Jac for the last six months. I am always willing to learn more about horses so thank you for the episodes of Jac. It has given me something else to learn about and I surely enjoy reining.”

Keith- I am very glad that you have enjoyed the Jac series and that you have found it helpful. The shortest answer is; If you want the horse to be solid then allow the horse time to practice the footwork before you speed things up. Now for the long answer:)

Spinning is an advanced form of steering. Keep that in mind. Even if you don’t need your horse to be a ‘reiner’ you could still work on this foundation to improve the steering on any horse.stages of training a horse

When I am training a horse there are stages of training. In the first stage of training I am often trying to physically show the horse what I want. For steering this starts all the way back during groundwork when I am first picking up on the rein and releasing when the horse turns his head in that direction. The physical pressure is causing the horse to search for the release. I explain and demonstrate this in Episode 24 at minute 2:38.

A little later in episode 24, at minute 5:50,  you can see the first time that I physically show Jac how to start the spin. It takes me physically shaping Jac from around 5:50 to about 7:19 before his body finds the shape I want to fully reward for. I consider this to still be part of the first stage.

  1. Physically showing the horse
  2. allowing the horse to make mistakes and find rewards
  3. Horse mentally chooses

The second stage of training is shown in Episode 25 at minute 1:30. In this video you can clearly see that Jac is no longer in stage 1, instead you can see that Jac is physically and mentally engaging in this. Can you see the difference? From minute 4 to 6:20 is a great example of what this middle stage looks like. I spend most of my time in this stage. I will also return to this stage when I am progressing the horse. Jac is a great example of a horse that is allowing me to physically handle him while he is mentally trying to figure out what is wanted.

The most common mistake in this stage is that people rush the horse. People feel the potential but they incorrectly assume that kicking or pulling harder will make things happen faster. Physically the horse will throw itself around faster…but mentally the horse needs time to choose. Also, physically the horse is better off in the long run if they can practice the steps slow before adding speed.

A great place to see horses that have been rushed in this stage is often at an auction. It is common to see a horse that doesn’t have a solid foundation in the spin being asked to go fast and look flashy as they ride the horse through the pen. Not all auctions are like this but because the ring sizes are often small and the spin is an impressive move I have seen many horses demonstrating poor training in that situation.

A horse that is rushed in the first two stages will have difficulty reaching the third stage which is where the horse mentally chooses to perform the maneuver. How can you tell if you are rushing or if you are moving at a comfortable pace for the horse?

One good indicator is when you can add speed by bumping your leg but using LESS rein. If you have to use more rein then the horse isn’t staying in the spin on his own. They are ready to add speed when they stay in it on their own. Go back and watch the different clips of Jac between episode 24 and episode 31 and look specifically for how much, or how little, I am helping him with my hand vs my leg. Also pay attention to the total training hours. Jac had around 40 hours of training at Episode 24 and was over 120 hours by Episode 31.

In Episode 31 at 6 minutes you can see Jac has reached the third stage of training in the spin. Jac is mentally choosing the spin. I may still use my leg or some rein but it is clear that Jac is not being held in the spin by me…he is choosing it.

Keep in mind that these stages of training exist in all areas with your horse. It is the difference between having a horse that drags you around on a lunge line or one that lunges around you with no line at all. It is also the difference between a horse that rides around with a bridle or without. All of the stages are important.


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