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Trail riding in Ohio at Mohican State Park…bareback!

May in Ohio is a beautiful time to trail ride and one of my favorite places to go is Mohican State Park. Spring flowers and ferns are still sneaking up and because the leaves are not fully out yet it is possible to see further than you can in full summer. This day it was almost 85 degrees out but under the cover of the trees we stayed nice and cool.

One of my favorite parts of this ride are the multiple water crossings. The horses love to drink and play in the water before we head back up and down the many hills. This trip was also special because a good friend joined us and took her mare out for her first trail ride. I do have to admit that my pants were very wet and not very clean by the time I got done…and my inner legs were a bit sore…but I plan on doing it again as soon as possible!

 
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Posted by on May 11, 2015 in Life, Video

 

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Will us (fans) ever see you doing another bridleless/bareback routine?

“Will us (fans) ever see you doing another bridleless/bareback routine??…. I remember seeing a video someone posted on youtube (you/Roxy/Maggie) … Templeton Thompson was singing your song…… but then Roxy died and then Vaquero and I guess Maggie is retired…. so I was wondering if you have given up on that dream… or have you even thought about at all?”-Lesia Lowe

I am a big believer that when the time is right, things will happen. My job is to be prepared. I don’t know if another bareback/bridleless routine will happen again or not. As you saw in the video with Roxy and Maggie (below) I was experimenting with this as a possibility. I wasn’t sure if I could ever get it to a show level…but Maggie never recovered from a suspensory injury that she sustained running in the pasture and we turned her into a broodmare. Did you realize that Maggie is Newt’s mom?

I work my horses and give them opportunities but they get to make choices too. Maybe it will happen, maybe it won’t. I don’t lose sleep over it but I don’t sit on the couch thinking it will ‘just happen’ either. I work and then let the chips fall where they may…thats the mystery of life. I’m starting Newt’s two year old half sister right now (another Maggie baby) and I have plans to ride more of Roxy’s granddaughters.

I don’t know where life will lead…two years ago if you told me I would be living full time in a motor home I would have laughed at you…but I did leave the door open 🙂

 
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Posted by on May 7, 2015 in Inspiring, Members Question

 

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My five year old daughter IS deaf, I know that you are not deaf Stacy Westfall, but it caught my attention.

“Hi Stacy,   I love your work and often try to implement your methods. Recently, I read that people spread the rumour that you are

Cell phone image sent to Stacy on Facebook

Cell phone image sent to Stacy on Facebook

deaf. I know that you are not deaf, but it caught my attention because my five year old daughter IS deaf. She has a profound sensorineural loss in both ears. She uses cochlear implants. I have been teaching her to ride on her lease pony since April.

She has seen your videos and she thinks you are amazing. She said she wants to BE you! Her favourite is the 2011 video with “My Heart Will Go On”. Her mouth visibly dropped open when you had your arms up with that cloak and THAT SPIN! Even my non-horsey parents were impressed.

My daughter, Lily, said she wants to learn to ride like you, I ride western myself and have promised her that her next pony we will try (she currently is learning english, I do both myself). I teach her at the moment due to difficulties as we can’t find a trainer up to teaching a deaf child. Since April she has gotten rising and sitting trot, she is cantering, steering for herself on and off the long rein, and she has even jumped 60cm (on a miniature!).

If you are ever in England, it would make her ecstatically happy to meet you.” Toni and Lily (and the boys).

Toni, thank you so much for writing to me. It sounds like you have an amazing daughter. I had never considered the difficulty of finding an instructor for a deaf child. I love a challenge so it would intrigue me to figure out the best way to achieve it. The great news is that many, many people learn by watching. My husband is one of those people. When we were first married we would go to horse shows and he would watch the practice and warm up arenas figuring out what worked and what didn’t work for horse training. I don’t know that he would have done that at five years old but when she is ready it is a great way to learn.

I think I should be considered an expert on rumors; how they start, spread and grow. I was just recently made aware of the newest form of the rumor…somehow Roxy (a mare) has become a wild stallion! I guess I should be happy though, as this new rumor gives me 6 months to have trained her vs the old rumor where I only had three weeks. In reality I had Roxy from the time she was 2 years old until you see the ‘Live Like You Were Dyin’ video when she was five years old. I had around one-thousand hours of training with just her during that time.

No one can exactly pin point how the rumor started. The best explanation I have heard reported to me is that, if you watch the video, I am moving my hands around a lot while I am standing in the in-gate while the announcer was reading the intro. Someone watching assumed I was using sign language…and the rumor was born.

Stacy Westfall, the deaf mute rumor has taken another twist...now Roxy (a mare) is being called a wild stallion

Stacy Westfall, the deaf mute rumor has taken another twist…now Roxy (a mare) is being called a wild stallion

 

 
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Posted by on August 26, 2014 in Life, Members Question, Video

 

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Two-seater horse? Two-seater saddle! The double seat western saddle.

What was your first thought when you saw this saddle? When I first saw it I thought ‘better have a long backed horse’!long backed horse

A quick google search reveals that this is considered a ‘double seat western saddle’. As a kid, I rode double behind my mom a lot. We rode on a bareback pad. I tried riding behind a saddle but it really wasn’t fun… but we didn’t have one of these saddles either!

Now I am left to wonder if this saddle would have been a good answer or if bareback pad was the best.

Has anyone ever used one of these? I would love to know how you liked it and how well it fit the horse.

 
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Posted by on August 19, 2014 in Life

 

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How do I deal with a horse that has learned to bolt through my hands on the lounge line? Jac Review Week

“Stacy-How do I deal with a horse that has learned to bolt through my hands on the lounge line?”-Stephanie P.

Horses that pull away from the handler generally come in two categories;

  1. They don’t know any better and are impulsively just leaving
  2. They have learned they can get away with it

A horse that doesn’t know any better can quickly become a horse who learns to get away with it –  if they have a chance to practice.

The good news is that the ‘fix’ or answer to the problem is the same in both cases. Lets first look at the horse that doesn’t know any better. Jac in Episodes 2 and Episode 3 was a great example of this.

Jac didn’t know how to properly respond to the pressure on the rope and without the proper handling he could have quickly figured out the big secret; he is bigger and stronger than me. I say this is a ‘secret’ because horses really are bigger, but with proper training the horse doesn’t need to view us this way.

Whether you are training a green horse, like Jac, or working with an older ‘problem’ horse the key is to get the horse to ‘mentally’ connect with you. They are bigger and stronger, that is a fact. Instead of looking at how to physically over come this, it is important to look at how to mentally get the horse on your team.

The beauty of the Jac series is that you can watch multiple episodes to see how I achieved this connection.  There were physical things that I did. For example when Jac applied pressure by trying to leave in Episode 3, even pulling me out of the camera, I didn’t release until he slightly turned back to me. I was beginning to teach Jac the idea of disengaging his hip even if it doesn’t look like the traditional ‘tap on his hip’ method which I did later in Episode 8. I was confident in my ability to correctly time my release of pressure even when Jac was pulling on me. If you are less confident of this then I would recommend being inside a round pen. For a less experienced handler it is often easier to properly time the release of pressure when the horse stops pulling because he has reached the wall.

The key is getting the horse to view turning and facing you as a reward. Re-watch Episode 2-5 and specifically look for how I slightly annoyed Jac with gentle taps and released when he moves the direction I want. If I had applied large amounts of pressure I would have physically caused a bigger reaction and mentally I may have offended Jac.

Mentally they need to see that you are the leader and that you have something to offer. Most of the time, unless the horse is acting from pure fear, horses that will drag people tend have strong personalities. They require strong leaders who have a plan and who also have their interest in mind. A common mistake I see with these horses is a handler who becomes frustrated and then becomes the strong leader the horse needs. On the surface this works fine but often this becomes a game with the horse. Once the handler isn’t frustrated they slip back into being less of a leader and the horse slowly begins to take the role again…until the rider eventually ends up frustrated enough to step up again. These horses are often the toughest to work with not because they have a chronic problem but rather because they have become experts at manipulating people.

You will not be able to out pull a horse but if you can get him to mentally engage with you, you will not have to. Another great example of continuing to build this mental connection can be found in Episode 14 where I show the beginning of what is considered ‘liberty’ work or working without any attachment to the horse. Learning to control a horses movements when you have only body language to communicate is often eye opening for the human. Once you have learned how to read the horses body language and control the horses direction, speed and focus at liberty it will change the way you view your horse…and how your horse views you.

 

 

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Stacy’s Video Diary: Jac- Episode 40- Freezing Jac’s semen for the future

Each horse is an individual and each one, like each person, has their own path. Deciding to collect and freeze semen from Jac is a process I have never been a part of before. When Greg (he owns Jac) and I were discussing the possibility there were many reasons to consider freezing;

  1. something could happen to Jac; unexpected death like Roxy
  2. the decision could be made to sell Jac; Jac’s older brother was sold and is overseas and  showing VERY well
  3. Jac could end up being gelded; then he could be turned out with more horses

Greg checked around and found the experts at Select Breeders Services Southwest Aubrey, Texas.

When we took Jac over to SBS everyone was great. Debbie McPherson and Sharon Miggans gave me a tour and answered all the questions I had for them. I was shown where Jac would stay, was questioned about his feeding and was also able to choose his exercise while he stayed there. They also showed me where the frozen semen is stored and explained the process from collection all the way to shipping to the mare owner.

One of my questions was ‘how long can the semen stay frozen for and still be used?’ The answer is that if it is stored properly…nearly unlimited time. I probably should have spent more time on their FAQ page as the answers to most of my questions can be fount there.

After my tour Debbie and Sharon introduced me to Patrick Rollins and the three surprised me by offering to go ahead and collect Jac!

I had accepted the idea that I was just going to drop Jac off and wouldn’t be able to see any of the process. To say that I was excited would be an understatement! The technology is amazing. The initial numbers with Jac looked good and since the video was made they have continued to collect and test. Select Breeders has now determined the best extender to freeze Jac’s semen in and they have collected enough to breed approximately 18 mares, someday in the future.

Jac stayed in Aubrey, Texas while we returned to Ohio. It was a bit strange leaving Jac but after completing our tour I was completely comfortable knowing he was in great hands.

 

 
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Posted by on July 9, 2014 in Stacy's Video Diary: Jac, Video

 

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Stacy’s Video Diary: Jac Episode 39- Horse’s mouth irritated by plant material; foxtail, etc.

Jac ran into another physical issue; he ate some form of plant that caused sores in his mouth. The first suspect was foxtail, which is a grass that can get baled into hay.

The vet biopsied the sores and confirmed that the sores were caused by plant material although they were unable to determine if it was foxtail or one of several other plants that can cause the same issue.

Getting all of the small particles out of a horses mouth is not easy. Some could be removed by the vet but others had embedded like little splinters. The vet removed some of the embedded plant material. He also recommended washing his mouth out daily for awhile and we switched the hay.

The healing had to run its course and I ended up losing about a month of training time while allowing Jac’s mouth to heal. I have been planning on showing Jac at some of the bigger shows at the end of the year but a set back like this could change the plan.

I already know that I am unwilling to add extra pressure to Jac for him to ‘catch up’ in his training. I will still allow Jac to set the pace of the training and things will either come easy for him or they will not and I will scratch from the shows.

Issues and decisions like this one are part of the process I was hoping to show by following Jac. The training, just like life, always has its ups and downs.

 

 
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Posted by on June 25, 2014 in Stacy's Video Diary: Jac, Training, Video

 

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