RSS

Tag Archives: I

Who needs insurance for their horse?

Who needs insurance for their horse? This is the question that I asked and insurance agent. What do you think he said?

I was expecting him to say “everyone” but to my surprise he didn’t.  His answer was, “If you can’t write a check to replace the horse, then you should consider insurance.”

Hum, this sounded a lot like the training I had received about insurance when I took Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace class. And it was fairly similar to advice I have given over the years.

I have never, personally, insured a horse…but I have recommended that other people do. Why the difference?

The last person I helped walk through this decision was a lady who had been saving up to buy a really nice reining horse for several years. She purchased a horse that was ready to show for about $20,000. What she had purchased was a sane, sound and ready to show horse that had several years of training with a professional. She had also purchased a friendly, kind horse that was a joy to be around. Insurance would not be able to help her through the pain of losing her horse but it would give her the ability to purchase one trained to the same level again.

The most valuable horse I have personally owned was my stallion, Vaquero. I purchased him when he was three and he died at the age of six. I had considered insuring him but I chose not to. My reasoning was that I could not walk out and buy another one that was trained to his same level. If something were to happen to Vaquero then I knew I would be starting from scratch with another horse and would be investing years in training. Essentially, I could have insured him for his ‘raw’ value, the untrained value, but either way I was going to be putting in the time again.

I had no idea that I would lose Vaquero so young. He died in 2012 and I just now –almost -have a horse trained to that level again. Although I didn’t have insurance I did have the ‘next’ horse already standing in the barn, Newt. Insurance would have paid me for my time but nothing can help me know if the horse I am investing my time in will ever reach bridleless competition level.

Do I regret not having Vaquero insured? Yes…and no. The money would have helped pay for the vet bills that I ran up trying to save him and it would have given me the opportunity to possibly purchase another young prospect. But, there was one moment where I was very happy NOT to have insurance.

THE FOLLOWING is not a reason to skip insuring…but I do wish I had been more emotionally prepared.

When things were looking really bad for Vaquero and we were at the vets they have to try to tell you how bad it is. One of the ways they tell you is they will say, “Insurance company guidelines will allow…” and this makes sense. You don’t want vets declaring horses beyond saving…if they really aren’t. But when the vets told me that, had Vaquero been insured, the insurance company would have approved euthanizing…I remember feeling conflicted. There was a moment where I was glad that he wasn’t insured because I WANTED the feeling of loss and I didn’t want a feeling of gain. I didn’t want to wonder why I made the choice.

In hindsight this was a very emotional reaction at a very emotional time, but I am still thankful that I experienced it. I know I made the choice I would have made either way. Maybe in the future I will have an insured horse and will have to make the same decision again. I really hope I’m NEVER in that situation again though. Maybe it will benefit someone who reads this though. From my experience when the vets say it is this bad…it is bad.

The majority of horses that I have had in training over the years have not been insured. Do you have your horses insured? If so, what are they insured against?

*               *                 *

Vaquero after his second trip to the vet, just before his last trip to the vet.

Vaquero six months earlier.

For the rest of Vaquero’s blogs:

 
15 Comments

Posted by on December 16, 2014 in Life, Thought provoking, Video

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

How can I get my horse to stand still while mounting? Stacy’s Video Diary Review

“Hello, I was just wondering, how can I get a horse to stand while I’m trying to mount? There’s this horse who is being newly trained and he hates to stand still for you while you’re trying to mount, although once you’re on he’s fine. Help?! Thanks.”-Ann M.

When I was growing up, if a horse didn’t stand still for mounting there was very little that I could do about it. Someone might offer to stand at the horses head and hold him still…but otherwise, I had no cue for the horse to stand still.

The last ten words of the sentence above is both the problem and the solution. The problem is that people often have no effective ‘cue’ for telling the horse to stand still. Hoping they stand is not a cue. The solution is to train the horse to stand still using a cue that you can also reinforce.

I teach my horse that when I bend his head around toward the stirrup, I will keep holding his head bent until he stops moving his feet. When his feet stop moving, l release his head. The release is the reward and horses figure out that if they want to have their head released their feet should stop moving. They figure this out quickly which means that it is an easy concept for them and it is very effective.

Check out the following episodes from the Stacy’s Video Diary: Jac series. They show and explain how I teach the ‘stand still’ cue.

This first short video explains the concept and shows both examples of what I expect in the beginning of training as well as in the end. The full video showing how I train horses to have a ‘parking brake’ is below this video, Episode 16.

In the video below I demonstrate and explain the bending to stand still exercise at about one minute into the video and again just before seven minutes in the video. This way you can see Jac, the horse, bending when he is ‘fresh’ and again after he has been worked.

 

 
 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

With all my faults and failures…how have I been so blessed?

Turning forty is notorious for causing folks to reflect about their lives. I suppose everyone deals with it in their own way, but I went for a trail ride. People told me Happy Birthday but the horses treated me the same as usual…so I know everything is going to be just fine.

I thought that today’s blog would simply say: I have been blessed, but as I typed the words it just didn’t seem to be enough.

I am not denying that I feel blessed, I feel it so strongly at times that my over whelming desire is to cry and point out that I am not worthy. I am especially prone to this when I hear of someone else struggling; a baby dies, someone has cancer, a car crash takes a life. It makes me weak to think about these things. But it also liberates me.

Why not live now? Why not try now? What if this is the only time I do have?

Some people may be inspired by that thought, but if viewed from another angle, I could argue that it is just a realistic statement.

I have frequently said that, when someone tells me they have been inspired by me, I consider it the highest complement they could give me…but it also humbles me. Sometimes it downright scares me. Because I am just me. And I am far from perfect. But I have been blessed.

 

With all my faults and failures…how have I been so blessed? quote Stacy Westfall

 

 
28 Comments

Posted by on September 26, 2014 in Inspiring, Life, quote, Thought provoking

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

“You all laugh because I am different. I laugh because you are all the same.”

When I saw this quote I thought about photographing a mini with horses. Although that would have worked, I felt lead to have the photograph include people. You all laugh because I am different. I laugh because you are all the same.

Many times it is uncomfortable to feel ‘different’ when in reality we are all unique…like it or not.

Sometimes being ‘different’ is a choice….like driving a mini to school to pick up your child in the car-line.

Other times being different is not wearing the ‘right’ clothes or saying the ‘right’ things when you are with people.

                                                            *

The more that I looked at the quote the more I realized that two words in it were problematic; ‘different’ and ‘laugh’.

In car line this day people were laughing…but it was good laughter, they were enjoying the differences.

Other times laughter is hurtful, aimed to make people feel unworthy.

                                                            *

I almost threw the whole photo and quote out by the time I was done analyzing it. Then I thought…why not explain my issues with it and enjoy reading your responses:)

 
44 Comments

Posted by on April 15, 2014 in quote

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Star Wars: Horse Wars-Mini Yoda and Darth Vader

Luke, I am your father!Yoda mini

 
6 Comments

Posted by on January 27, 2014 in Life

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Should I breed my mare: Things to consider before breeding your mare.

Newt foal cost

1-Commitment Are you breeding to sell or for your personal enjoyment? Many people own a mare that they love and would like to raise one foal out of. This decision is usually made more from an emotional level than from a selling stand point.

I personally made this decision with my mare when I was 17 years old. I loved her and wanted one foal out of her. I had no intention of selling and was willing to make a lifetime commitment. As much as that is possible anyway. In my youthful ignorance I never considered financial difficulties, unseen health problems or death.

Because I made the decision from an emotional level and was not well informed I bred a horse that would not have had much resale value. In hindsight, it is in the horses best interest if he is considered ‘valuable’ to a larger group of people than only me…that way if something happens to me he has more of a future.

A horse will be dependent on a human for the rest of his life.

2-Marketability-Some people breed with the intention of selling. All people should consider what would happen if the horse needed to be sold. Even people with the intention of keeping the horse forever should consider the fact that the future may surprise them. Job loss, financial difficultly, unforeseen health problems, job change, divorce, drug use and death affect many people, and horses, each year.

What will happen if you die? Try to imagine where the horse you create will or could end up. The larger number of people the horse would appeal to the safer the horses future will be.

3-Danger– Breeding has risks. That includes the breeding and the foaling process. There is a risk of a rectal tear during artificial insemination which leads to death. Older mares that have never been breed have a higher risk of uterine artery rupture. Delivering a foal that is not positioned correctly can be dangerous or deadly. Retained placentas can be deadly. Maiden mares are often confused by the process. My roommate from college nearly lost her mare to a uterine torsion which she caught early (colic type symptoms). The mare had to have emergency surgery to prevent death. Shortly after this surgery, similar to colic surgery, she went into labor and gave birth (c-sections are risky). The foal then required intensive care and medications that have had long term negative effects. And lots of money.

We nearly lost one of our mares during foaling just due to confusion on her part. She refused to lay down and was repeatedly beginning to deliver,  pushing the feet clear and between contractions the foal would slip back inside. Three of us, with foaling experience, were unable to help her until she finally laid down. She quickly delivered but the damage had been done.

In six hours it became evident that she had damaged all the nerves to her hind end causing the inability to pass manure or urine. Not good.

We were informed this could be permanent damage. We were advised that if it was permanent that the mare would require daily removal of the manure by hand; literally reaching inside to clean her out.

Thankfully she responded to IV drugs administered at Ohio State University.

4-Cost-If you have read this far you can do the math and see that often the stud fee is the cheap part. Artificial Newt cost 4 yr oldinsemination, sexually transmitted disease and infection from live cover, cost of ownership and potential problems all need to be factored in beyond just the stud fee. Increasing the horses value also involves training as they get older which is also costly whether it costs you in time or cash.

Information is power. Planning can also be prevention. Please use this article as a starting point and continue to gather information before making this decision.

As for me, I have bred and foaled out ten mares that we personally owned. Of that ten we still own five, one died as a weanling and we sold four. Three of the four we sold are in their forever homes…as much as that is possible. One has been trained and is currently for sale. We haven’t bred any mares in the last three year.

If we choose to breed again we will do so because we think we can improve the equine industry with the resulting foal.

But what if you really, really want one of those cute foals! Have no fear, there is still another answer. Adopt.

Check out somewhere like The Last Chance Corral. Victoria and the staff can show you how you can have the emotional experience of both raising and SAVING the life of one of those cute little foals.

 
35 Comments

Posted by on January 11, 2014 in Life, Video

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Should I sell my horse?

Breaking Up is Hard to Do….an article I wrote as published in Americas Horse magazine.

By Stacy Westfall

There’s no doubt that some of the happiest moments of horse ownership come when you take delivery of that new horse.  It’s kind of like infatuation —easy to see all the great things about the new partner, and any negatives or possible problems are easily overlooked.  Expectations are high and as far as potential success goes, the sky’s the limit.  You figure you and your new horse will be riding together years in the future, still enjoying a fruitful and fulfilling relationship.

The other end of that spectrum is coming to the conclusion that it might be time to part ways with your horse.  This can happen after years together, or soon after a new purchase.  Either way, the realization is unsettling — and usually for the very reason that the initial expectations were so high.

When someone asks my advice about selling a horse, I like to stick to some general points.  The final decision is a difficult one each individual needs to make on their own.  There are three things I tell them to consider: safety, enjoyment, and purpose.

Safety

When you feel unsafe around your horse, or if your instructor or some other professional is warning you about your safety, take it seriously.  No amount of loyalty to your horse is worth getting hurt.strike

Behaviors that threaten your safety include biting, kicking, rearing, bucking and striking.  If you can’t control your horse, even if someone else can, the horse is still dangerous to you.  You do have options if you consider your horse a safety threat.

Sending your horse to a professional trainer is one possibility.  The downside of this is twofold. #1 a good professional trainer can be expensive.  If you don’t have the money to see the training through, it’s time to consider selling.  #2-can you maintain what the trainer has done?  Some horses become wise and know the difference between the trainer and the owner. If you can’t maintain it, the training will not benefit you.

If you have the ability, time and inclination to train these behaviors out of your horse, it’s time to get to work fixing the situation.  Be realistic.  Are you really capable of addressing the dangerous behaviors in your horse?  Are you willing to commit to the time necessary (a minimum of four times per week) to correct the behavior?  Are you willing to be consistent over time (fixing your horse could take weeks, months or more)?  Are you willing to postpone your goals?  For instance, you may have had a goal to do some trail riding or enter a show this summer, and if you switch gears to fix bad behavior, that goal might not be possible.

If you hesitate in answering any of these questions, it’s time to consider selling. The area of safety is a serious one. This is one area where it is reasonable to expect your horse to change but if you don’t have the time or resources to facilitate this change-sell.

Enjoyment

If you’re like me, the reason you spend time with horses is that horses bring you joy.  Why do something so expensive and time-consuming if you don’t absolutely love it?  So ask yourself if you’re still enjoying your horse.  Do you look forward to riding or do you avoid or dread heading out to the barn?  Have you noticed that you are riding less often, and when you do it’s for shorter periods of time?  Does thinking of your horse make you smile, or do you wince?

If any of this sounds like you, it’s time to ask yourself why the joy is gone.  Two things can strongly impact your enjoyment with your horse — personality conflicts and energy level.  Look for your enjoyment issues here.

Horses, like people, have distinct personalities.  Some are affectionate and seem to enjoy your attention.  Others are more stand-offish and businesslike.  If you want your horse to LIKE you, to run to you from the pasture and nudge you for a snack, don’t get your hopes up if your horse is of the second type.

I once trained a horse that was successful in the reining pen, but the horse and the owner didn’t ‘click’.  The owner had always had horses that were curious, friendly and loved treats and interactions. Her gelding however, would never eat a treat — not an apple or carrot or any of the expensive horse cookies.  And he was stand-offish. He did his job and then wanted to be left alone.  She always felt something was missing and in the end she chose to sell.  In doing so she was able to find him a home where he was enjoyed for who he was.

Likewise, if what’s most important to you is the way you and your horse perform, no matter how cute and attentive it is, if it doesn’t live up to your expectations in the arena, you’re going to have a hard time really enjoying it. Is it fair to try to change him? Consider your horse’s strengths and weaknesses before trying to change him too much.Improve

Mismatched energy levels can also lead to lack of enjoyment.  A forward, excitable horse is going to be a challenge for someone to enjoy whose idea of a nice ride is a meandering walk along a trail.  Rather than relaxing, they’re likely to be constantly pulling the horse back, wishing it would just chill out and walk.  On the other hand, a lazy walker that resents moving to a trot can be frustrating to ride when your aim is to lope a pattern.

You get the picture.  Like with certain people, you move at the same speed or you don’t, you like the same things or you don’t.  If you suspect that the lack of enjoyment you’re feeling with your horse is a personality or energy issue, it’s time to consider selling.  Those characteristics are innate, and won’t be easily changed in either of you.  Not surprisingly, if you are constantly trying to change your horse, for example trying to make a lazy horse become a get-up-and-go horse, your horse is probably not enjoying the relationship much either.

Purpose

What do you want to do with your horse?  Your current horse may have been the perfect match when you first got it.  It’s possible, however, that your goals and skills have evolved since then.  The key question is, is your horse suited to you and what you want to do NOW?

Let’s say you started out content to ride trails.  The horse you have is perfectly capable of that.  But now you’ve decided you would like to try to compete in endurance rides.  Your horse, while able to pick its way over rocks, cross creeks and step over logs, may not be up to the demanding pace required to be a successful endurance competitor.  Consider how important it is to you to achieve that next goal.  If your horse is holding you back, you’re going to begin to resent it.  Trying to change your horse into something he is not can also make him resentful. Instead, consider selling your horse to someone who can appreciate him for who he is, the way you did when your goals were different.

Scrapper and Popcorn in pasture

Older show horses can be great starter horses

That retired show horse with some arthritis in his hocks may have been a great choice for your eight-year-old daughter to learn to ride on. Now that she is twelve and has decided to take jumping lessons things have changed. Pushing a horse to do something it’s not suited to is a recipe for disaster.  Consider selling such a horse to someone who can use it to its abilities.

While it’s rarely easy to end a relationship, sometimes it’s the best thing to do. Many horse owners hang onto their horses based on the idea that they are the only ones in the world who will take care of them. There are many responsible horse owners out there, and for one of them, your horse could be that special once-in-a-lifetime partner.

 
28 Comments

Posted by on December 9, 2013 in Thought provoking

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,