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Hey Stacy, I was wondering, is 21 too old to teach some of the stuff in your videos?

“Hey Stacy, I was wondering, is 21 too old to teach some of the stuff in your videos? As I have a 21 year-old I’d love to do more work with. Thanks.” -Lydia S.

One of my refrigerator magnets.

One of my refrigerator magnets.

I was asked this question years ago by a young girl around the age of 13. She owned a  20+ year old horse. I told her that how much she accomplish would depend on her persistence and consistency and some on her horses willingness. She watched my demos at the expo and before it was over she bought my Bridleless riding DVD.

Several months later I received an email from her.  She sent me a link to a video where she was riding her horse bridleless! The horse was clearly a 4H type horse so her pattern looked more like a horsemanship pattern and her ‘rollbacks’ were simple pivots…but it was AWESOME! One young persistent girl and one older horse. I wish I still had that video link but all of this happened back in 2006 and the computer it was on died. I didn’t have anything backed up so it took all the info with it 😦

I can’t say exactly how far the stuff will take you…but I will tell you that it IS VERY POSSIBLE!

 
8 Comments

Posted by on May 8, 2015 in Members Question, Training

 

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Success story: Teaching a horse to lie (lay) down

“Stacy, A while back you posted a video about laying your horse down… I followed it and today is day 5 and he has been down about 5 times now! Thank you for such a cool way to approach the lay down!” -Alisha P.

success story

Alisha watched Stacy’s video and taught her horse to lay down on cue!

I love finding success stories like this one posted on my Facebook page! It is inspiring for people to read that the techniques shown worked on someone else’s horse. Watching a video or reading tips online can be intimidating but reading about someone having success make it a bit less so. Here are some of the comments and questions that Alisha has received about here experience:

Alisha P. could you share that link for me. Please thank you

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&cd=2…

Kyla J…. Hope that link works… If not just YouTube Stacy westfall laying horse down. Such a cool way of teaching a horse to lay down!

thank you.. I have a candiate i want to teach…

Alisha P. how easy was this to teach?? I have a crazy smart apply guy… Would like to try this.. how well did Nelson bring his feet together.

He went down on day 4… First day I just put him on the fence to teach the concept…. Day two expected him to build on day 1. Day 3 started asking for him to walk his back feet up in the middle of the pen off the fence. Day 4 would ask him to hold the position and go further. Sometimes when he would make a mistake he would quickly correct himself and start to buckle in his front end like he was thinking down. When he did go down it was his idea and he was really quite. I have done it 4 times since then and each time he goes down faster and faster. Nelsyn has a really good foundation and was ready for this next step. I found it to be great way to teach the lay down and can’t wait to try it on another horse! Good luck and have fun teaching your horse… Let me know how it goes!

This conversation is happening right now on the ‘Posts to Page’ section of my Facebook account. If you want to ask Alisha a question jump on there and ask her…she hasn’t had any warning but she has been trying to answer people. If you have a question for me feel free to post it in the comments here. I have also embedded the video Alisha used below as well.

 
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Posted by on May 4, 2015 in Members Question, Video

 

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Are horses usually easy or hard to get started in mounted shooting?

Western Horse and Gun CoverI took up mounted shooting as my hobby and like most hobbies, I wish I had more time to dedicate to it. The sport is a combination of speed, control and finesse which are also traits that I look for in my reining horses. In the past two blog posts I have shown videos of Newt as he was introduced to mounted shooting (I will include them below also). Newt was pretty quiet about the shooting but that wasn’t the case with Popcorn, my main shooting partner.

When I took Popcorn to the mounted shooting shows (Step #1 in both videos) he was very reactive. He didn’t do anything dangerous but he would flinch each time a gun went off….all day long. He would start with a worried look too. The look would go away but the flinching stayed. I stayed persistent for several months and although Popcorn never did anything wrong he also didn’t relax. I considered giving up on him and even gave him the winter completely off. In the spring I was at an expo and talked with a pro who said that if I really wanted to do it I should keep trying. She advised me that she had seen horses eventually relax and become top competitors. Popcorn will be with me forever so I figured I would keep playing around with it. I am glad I did. After taking my time with him for two years we eventually moved from Level 1 to Level 4 (there are 6 levels) together while bringing home several belt buckles as well as being the Midwest Regional Express Cowgirl in 2013.

Not all horses are as easy as Newt was in these videos but many are. I wish I had thought to make videos of Popcorn and his journey but I didn’t. I do have a video of one of our runs once we got going. Mounted shooting clubs offer numerous divisions and levels making it a great sport to get started in to both improve your horsemanship and make some new friends along the way. I have enjoyed it as a hobby…maybe you will too.

P.S.- Tomorrow I participate in a Mounted Shooting Clinic with the MSA at the Road to the Horse!

 
1 Comment

Posted by on March 25, 2015 in Training, Video

 

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Weight gain: horses that are easy keepers.

Popcorn is an easy keeper because he loves to eat. If his exercise and diet is managed well he is fine...but he does LOVE to eat.

Popcorn is an easy keeper because he loves to eat. If his exercise and diet is managed well he is fine…but he does LOVE to eat.

Do you have a horse that is an ‘easy keeper’?

An easy keeper would be defined as a horse that seems to gain weight when exposed to air or when they look at food.

Horses that gain weight easily usually fall into one of two categories: underworked/overfed or medical issue.

Popcorn here just loves to eat. He gains weight if I don’t watch that his intake doesn’t exceed his workload. If he isn’t being worked hard I will change the type of hay he is eating to something lower calorie and I feed a ration balancing feed that is low calorie while providing all of his vitamins and minerals. This often means that he is also turned out in the ‘diet’ pasture where he is with buddies that have the same issue.

If diet and exercise aren’t enough then I tend to suspect that the horse may have some medical issues that need to be addressed. It is possible for horses to have weight gain due to thyroid problems, Cushing’s Disease, or Metabolic Syndrome also known as insulin resistance. With proper diagnosis and treatment with a vet these horses can also achieve an ideal weight.

Have you ever had an easy keeper or a horse with a medical issue that caused weight gain? How did you handle it?

 
18 Comments

Posted by on November 1, 2014 in Life

 

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On the road…again…living with change and horses on the road

Stacy Westfall Horse Trailer with horses #Tekonsha

Stacy and Jesse Westfall, the kids and the horses on the road

Change is hard because it means taking on something new.

We have lived in at least eight different places over the last six months. I am aware that ‘at least’ may seem like a strange statement…but I have had some difficulty in counting. This mainly stems from the question of how to identify a place we have lived vs a place we have passed through. For instance, I am currently parked at a horse show in Jackson, Ohio. The photo here is from a few hours ago. Everything the five of us…plus our horses…have used to live for the last six months is in this rig pictured here or in our mini van. Does that mean we are ‘living’ here?

The change we signed up for was giving up a permanent base of operation a.k.a. our home. The new part has been learning how to live on the road. We knew it wouldn’t be easy because change never is.

We also knew that we would be the most tempted to jump back to the ‘safety’ of a familiar lifestyle during the first few months of change. As we passed the six month mark last week I can say that this new ‘normal’ of living on the road…with horses and three kids, is starting to get comfortable!

Comfortable! Yep, we are getting pretty good at moving around and none of us regret what we are doing. In fact, now that we have made it through the early phase of learning this new lifestyle we are actually MORE excited than we were in the beginning.

CS Lewis bird

I don’t know what the future holds…but who among us really does? I am spending time with my family and my horses, seeing many new places and meeting new people.

Nope, change isn’t easy but it can be rewarding.

 

 

 

P.S.-I’m thinking about having a map added to our website where I can drop a pin everyday so you can see where we are and where we have been…what do you think?

 
55 Comments

Posted by on August 21, 2014 in Life, quote

 

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Bridling questions: accepting the bit, head tossing while bridling, ignoring the handler; Jac review week brought to you by Weaver Leather

I have received many questions involving bridling a horse. I could answer each one of these questions individually, and I still may at some point, but I have chosen to present them all here in an attempt to illustrate the power of having an entire program.

Horses put things in their mouths all the time...but sometimes not when we ask.

Horses put things in their mouths all the time…but sometimes not when we ask.

Each of these questions has an unique answer such as; drop the head, wiggle your fingers in the horses mouth, or earn the horses respect in other areas. But each one of these problems must also be viewed as part of a ‘whole picture’. For example, several people referred to how ‘easy it looked bridling Jac in Episode 13. If you go back and watch Episode 13, at six minutes in you will see the very first time that I ever stuck my fingers into Jac’s mouth. If you continue watching you will also see the first time that I put the bit in his mouth. And it goes well…but…

Would it have gone as well if I had tried to stick my fingers into Jac’s mouth back in Episode 2, at one minute in? I don’t think so. I predict that he would have hit me in the head with his head as he was trying to move me around AND I would have been at risk of him pushing over the top of me with his shoulder. The pawing would have been a problem also as attempting to bridle him would have put me in his range.Keep in mind when I say this that Jac was not specifically being aggressive but he was ignorant and pushy. Unfortunately if his head hits my head out of ignorance or aggression… it still would have hurt.

Watch just the first two minutes to get an idea;

As you rewatch episode 2, keep in mind that Episode 1 and 2 were both filmed the same day. That means that Jac had already been out and running around for 20 minutes…and yet you can see him tossing his head and pawing the ground after over 20 minutes. Yet in Episode 13, Jac has only been out for six minutes and look at how well he is standing. Why?

Because….MENTALLY Jac is not the same horse he was in the earlier episodes. I can give you physical exercises to do with your horse, but if you don’t view the training process as a whole picture experience then each individual technique will be limited in its effectiveness.

Now watch at least the first ten minutes of Episode 13. If you are crunched for time you can even start by watching from minute 6-10 to get an idea of what I am discussing.

Now for the questions and answers…and I’m going to be asking questions also!

  • “Stacy, Thanks , like the idea of using the soft rope for teaching to except the bit, think this was episode 13. Silly me never thought about the bit bumping the teeth . Cause I wouldn’t like that if I was a horse. lol Do you know anymore ways to help with bridles. Please let us know.  Thanks love all your videos they help me tremendous.- Pam M”

Tip: keep trying to improve your ability to see things from the horses point of view. One thing that works well for me is to try to think of at least three ways to do the same thing. For example; using my fingers in the mouth, using a rope in the mouth, using a bit in the mouth. Are there any other things you have ever taught a horse to put in their mouth? I have also taught several to enjoy having a water hose, with gently running water, put in their mouth. It could be used for flushing their mouths out…but I was just being silly. The more I try to open my thinking the easier it becomes for me to think like a horse. My question for you would be, “What other bridling issues do you see and what are three ways of solving each of these issues?”

  • ‘Hi Stacy, you made it look so easy bridling Jac. I have a 6 yr. old Rocky I’m restarting who’s never had a bit before (bitless). I am thinking of using a comfort snaffle instead of a traditional snaffle on him. What are your thoughts and is there any tips you can give me on easing this transition.  He also has forgotten how to gait.  Help!- Lindy B’

Tip: Keep in mind that all horses will be trying to spit the bit out. Give a child gum and they swallow it until they learn otherwise:) The horse will get ‘quiet’ in his mouth faster if you give him another job to do, as I demonstrated in Episode 13 right after bridling. Also, if you think the bit should be a problem…it will be. Horses can read YOUR body and emotions better than most people think. If you are tense and worried about the bit causing issues your horse will tend to react more. To relieve this tension try having the horse carry the bit while you do your normal routine. Try doing your groundwork while he wears it (without reins) and you can even possibly ride him in your ‘bitless’ set up while he carries the bit, unused, in his mouth. This prolonged step of doing nothing but carrying the bit may allow you to relax about it also. Gaiting is often ‘lost’ when collection is ‘lost’…which is also why naturally ‘collected’ horses gait…naturally. If your horse is being lazy, try the collection exercises found here.

  • “Hi Stacy, I basically have the same question as Lindy, you did make it look really easy to bridle Jac, I might be buying a horse that is un mouthed & i could really use some tips ? 🙂 Thanks!-Mikayla G”

Tip: I have trained ALL the horses I have ever ridden to carry a bit. I even trained a horse that had no tongue to be ridden in a bit (he had run head-on into a barn and bitten his own tongue off) without issue. Start by following the Jac series and continue learning! Head tossing during bridling:

  • “Stacy, I learned a lot from the episode on keeping your colt soft and willing to work . Since I have two youngsters that will be starting on saddle it will be helpful to teach them to use the bit.  I especially like the idea about working them from both sides…. There is one question I have though when I go to put on a halter or bridle my horse keep tossing his head when I get close to his ears…. what would you recommend to do for that?-Marilyn S”

Tip: Go back and do all the groundwork you have seen in the Jac series. During this time also spend time using the stick and string to rub up and down the neck, eventually touching the ears. I sometimes use the string part to go around their ears. Most horses will shake their heads at first but will also realize that the string is still there or comes right back. I also attach plastic bags to the stick and rub them all over their body including over their ears. Also watch Episode 14 and how I was rubbing Jac from above while mounted on Popcorn. Make rubbing enjoyable by scratching also. Make it a new part of normal, everyday life.

  • “How did you get Jac to accept the bridle when most colts hate their ears messed with? What kind of steps did you take to make it easier for him?-Kathy H”

Tip: I find that most colts don’t have issues with their ears unless they have been taught to by people. I do find that people often expect ears to be a problem and then they become a problem. One example of this would be when I visited Jesse (my husband) at a ranch where he was working in Oklahoma. None of the horses, about 20 of them, had ever had their ears clipped. They were handled just enough to get the tack on for riding, no special time spent on groundwork but no issues caused either. I clipped every single one of them in the same day by myself. I rubbed them all over, introduced clippers and shut them off when the horse stood still (before they even moved) and repeated. I might have shut the clippers off 20 or more times on each horse to ‘remove pressure’ and reward…and I was able to clip all ears. I didn’t expect a problem and no one had created one before me…so there was no problem.

  • “Stacy. I have bridling issues.  He hates having it put over his ears.  Constantly touch his ears with no problem.  Just hates the bridle Darlene  J”.

Tip: Ah! Perfect example of both questions above. This horse has come to the conclusion, somehow, that the bridle is a part of the ear problem. You need some creative thinking; what is different? Some possible answers are; the bridle is tight and the amount of pressure applied during bridling is different than during haltering or normal handling, the bit or some other part of the bridle is poking him at the same time that you are trying to go over the ear (touch his ear and poke him in the eye enough times and he will stop letting you touch his ear, lol) or…someone backed off and allowed him to say ‘no’ but only during bridling. There are more possibilities. Repeat the exercises in Episode 13. If he is fine with the pretend ‘rope bridle’ then, for fun, put the actual bridle on and then pretend to ‘bridle’ with the rope after the horse is already wearing the bit…does he respond differently to the ‘rope bridle’ going over his ears when an actual bit is in his mouth? Keep exploring from different angles. Horse ignoring rider during bridling:

  • “Stacy, In episode 13 Jac accepts the bit quietly. As a teacher I have some very small riders with bigger horses. Even though for me I can reach and get the horses to quietly accept the bit and even with teaching the horse to lower their head for bridling, the young riders are having a difficult time quietly bridling. We practice and practice, but I would love some advice on making a consistent change for them!  The horses tend to elevate in to giraffe mode and clench their jaw unless I am present.-Heidi H”

Tip: Get dummer horses. LOL. Just kidding! Your horses have gotten smart to who can hold them accountable and who cannot. Now the kids have to become smarter than the horses. Generally at this point, if the horses are truly good for you 100% of the time, then the kids need to learn how to make the same thing happen. Have you pretended to be the same height as the kids? Have you taught the horses to be bridled by you…while you sit in a chair? Try leaving a rope halter on under the bridle for awhile if they kids need a predictable way to be able to drop the horses heads down. Outsmart the horses!

  • “Stacy, When I’m bridling my horse he won’t open his mouth to take the bit. It’s not like he is refusing by throwing his head in the air or backing away. His head is low, eyes half shut and I can press on his mouth, tongue and gums but he doesn’t budge for a few minutes. Then once it’s in, he’s fine. Doesn’t act like it bothers him. Any suggestions on getting him to open up?-Renae P”

Tip: this is similar to the horses above…only the lazy version! Now you get to become more creative. You have tried pressing on his tongue…now maybe you need to try scratching it, or rolling it, or pretending it is a new toy. Can you stick your fingers in from both sides and touch them in the middle where the bit would go? How many fingers can you fit (no getting bit here) three? Four? Three from each side? Remember the point…which is to remove your fingers when he opens his mouth. If you get three or more fingers in each side and he is still asleep…you could pretend you were playing the piano…pick your favorite song! I hope you found these tips and the over all theories helpful. Remember that they all need to fit into the overall plan. A horse that is sleeping while being bridled often has this ‘issue’ in other areas. Make a change there and see if it helps to carry over. A horse that is reactive about his ears is usually reactive in other places…whole horse, whole program.

 

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$30,000 stall cleaning tip

Cleaning stalls is a never ending job. If your horse stays in…your going to have to muck stuff out.

stall cleaning techniques vary by bedding material used

stall cleaning techniques vary by bedding material used

How you clean will also depend on what you bed with. Sawdust, straw, shavings, newspaper, pellets? Each one has its own pros and cons. Location and availability will also play a part.

I try to keep my horses outside as much as possible but there are times that they end up in stalls. Over the years we have bedded with almost everything out there.

Cleaning a stall that has been bedded in straw vs one bedded in shavings is the same in one respect; we are removing all soiled bedding, but it does differ in technique. Metal pitch forks excel in straw and flop in shavings.

One thing that stays the same is that I like to make sure to rotate the bedding as much as possible. Many horses have one area that is dirtier than the rest and I start by removing that. Then I pick through the bedding that can be saved. If I am adding new bedding, I first pull the leftover bedding into the area that is normally bad because it is likely to be on the way out of the stall tomorrow. And the cycle continues.

When I attended the University of Findlay I returned home and joked that my tuition had largely been spent on teaching me how to clean stalls. During the equine class they really did do a ‘stall cleaning demo’ complete with the technique shown here to the right which involves moving all clean bedding into the middle. This technique works well on shavings, especially with the horses that tend to mix the manure in, making it difficult to separate. Just to be sure we mastered the school had us clean four stalls a day and yes, we even were tested and graded on it!

What do you bed with? Why?  Do you have a cleaning technique that makes stall cleaning easier? A special tool?

 

 
30 Comments

Posted by on July 21, 2014 in Life

 

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