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Did my horse step on my foot on purpose?

“Yesterday my horse stepped on my foot! No LOL; it hurt.
Afterward, I decided maybe my horse was being disrespectful??? She knows where she’s putting her feet. If she had a foal, would she step on it? She was squirmy when I put the saddle on, (I can’t remember her stepping on me before this.) and she stepped on my foot with her hind foot as I tried to steady her. I’m not sure if I might have turned her head slightly with the reins… but if I did, is it her job to know where her feet are? I wonder if my feet were mud puddles if she would have missed. The weather was finally looking nice, and she did not have her mind on me, but was looking out at the pasture.
Maybe I’m being stupid… but any comments on this? Was this a show of disrespect?”

Do they take aim or is it an accident when they step on us?

Do they take aim or is it an accident when they step on us?

You make an interesting argument here. Your point about knowing where her feet would be if a mud puddle or a foal were involved were dead on correct. Pretty much everyone who has ridden for long knows that a horse can go to great lengths to avoid touching their foot to an object or mud puddle if they are committed to NOT stepping there.

I think your issue, her stepping on your foot, was YOUR issue, not hers. She clearly doesn’t have the same concern for your foot as she does a mud puddle. Sad thought but…

My guess is that you are probably accurate when you say that she was distracted and didn’t have her mind on you and was looking out in the pasture. She should have some responsibility for paying attention to you and you should have some responsibility for paying attention to her. It sounds like you became aware that she was distracted…was that before or after she stepped on you? Part of your job is to notice the distraction and either correct her for it or realize that you need to be aware that the distraction could lead to ignoring you to some degree, which puts you at risk.

Most of the horses I have seen step on people were distracted and not paying attention to the person near them. Thankfully I cannot remember the last time that I was stepped on by a horse because I am very aware. Around my more well trained horses I expect them to watch me but I am always watching them to know where they are at mentally. When I am around younger horses I take even more of the responsibility upon myself to use self defense and stay aware.

Can a horse ‘take aim’ and step on you? I’m sure it is possible. I have seen them take aim and step on other things; tarps, dogs, and more…but I really hope my horse isn’t aiming for me!

 
17 Comments

Posted by on April 29, 2015 in Members Question, Training

 

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Newt conquers standing on the box…but what motivates my horse?

When I set up the video camera on day seven of teaching Newt to stand on the box I didn’t know exactly what I would do with the footage. I did know that I was spending a lot of time laughing at my horse…and I was really enjoying watching him learn. As I stood there watching Newt, it reminded me of watching my children when they were young and were playing on the playground. What age does a child start climbing to explore their surrounding? How many mistakes do they make while they learn about gravity, their body and their surroundings? And how do we respond as parents?

That last question is a biggie. All parents should protect their children. Some parents protect too much, restricting anything that can be perceived as dangerous…even if the real risk is low. Other parents allow so much freedom that their kids appear to run wild. It is obvious that there is a wide view out there as to what children should be allowed, encouraged or restricted from doing.

I believe that a horse can learn responsibility and that they learn it in a very similar way as children. It is our responsibility to challenge them but to also set them up for success. I show my horse the answer several times and then allow him to find the answer…then repeat. Mistakes are allowed but the risk is reduced because I do the training in small steps. Last year Newt crossed a man-made ‘bridge’ at home similar to one that would be found in a trail class. Now he is learning to carefully place his feet as he stands on this small box. Maybe next week we will be walking the ridge of a canyon…

I didn’t intend to use the audio from this video when I was filming it but many of you asked to see more of Newt and the bridge. This video is from day ten and is the first day that Newt stands on the box. I left the original audio where I am talking to my husband, Jesse, and Newt. Yep, I talk with my horses when no one is watching.

If you watch nothing else, watch from the four minute mark until the end. What was captured on film in that minute and a half was a total accident…but is hysterically funny!

If you would like to see some of day seven: click here. 

If you would like to know WHY I am teaching Newt this: click here.

 
19 Comments

Posted by on January 10, 2015 in Thought provoking, Training, Video

 

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What’s the purpose behind getting a horse to stand on a box? Is it for bringing out his balance or something else?

“This is new to me – I might be a little like Newt 😉… what’s the purpose behind getting him to stand on the box? Is it for bringing out his balance or something else?”-Christina

I consider this type of training to be moderate to advanced groundwork. Most people see the need for basic groundwork which involves basic leading and lunging but few see the true potential that moderate and advanced groundwork has to offer.

Horses have an amazing capacity for learning and I believe that they benefit from mental exercise every bit as much as they do from physical exercise. While it is true that we are always working with both the physical and the mental horse it is also true that most exercises lean toward being more of one or the other.

It is pretty clear that this box is a mental challenge. There is some physical challenge too but the things that are being tested and strengthen the most is the ability for the two of us to communicate. Newt is allowed to ask questions and to make mistakes. I am required to give him guidance and cues in a way that he continues to progress without becoming scared or having a attitude.

Lets look at it from another angle: There are people who will make the box exercise ‘all about the box’. In their mind, success and failure will depend on the success of the box. Often times these individuals will go to any lengths to ‘conquer’ the box…including destroying the relationship, as long as the horse gets on the box. (P.S.- You can replace the word ‘box’ with any end goal and find half of what is wrong with horse training)

Maybe it will help Newt’s balance or maybe it is just a silly trick…but I do know this; although it may LOOK like the exercise is all about the box, it is really about communication. I still want Newt to get on the box but ‘getting’ there, the journey or the process, is as important – or more important- than the end result.

Day 7: Attempt 48

 
10 Comments

Posted by on January 9, 2015 in Thought provoking, Training

 

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A Horse’s View: Newt and the box trick

 

Dear Diary…I can’t even explain this new ‘thing’ I am learning to do. I’m just going to put some pictures in here so I can try to remember it all. Newt, the horse, signatureStacy's horse Newt 2 Stacy's horse Newt 3 Stacy's horse Newt 4 Stacy's horse Newt 5 Stacy's horse Newt 6

 
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Posted by on December 21, 2014 in A Horse's View, Life

 

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I want my horse to put all four feet on a pedestal…but she keeps stepping off…any advice?

“Stacy, my horse, Dixie, has learned and mastered placing two front feet on a small box. Now, I think she could master all four feet on a pedestal. Any advice on how to teach her to do this? And how big the box should be? She’s a 12 yr old QH BTW. I think if I ask her to move forward in order to get her back feet up she will just step off the box. Thanks!”-Christine C.

teaching a horse to stand on a box or  pedestal

The smaller the box or pedestal, the more challenging it will be.

I love teaching horses ‘tricks’ because it gets both the horse and the human thinking outside the box…so to speak. I believe this is because ‘tricks’ are usually nontraditional training, so the humans tend to bring fewer bad habits into the process.

The problem you described with your horse stepping off the front of the box is common. One of the reasons for this common response is that we often teach horses to walk across objects; walk over the pole, walk over the tarp, walk over the bridge…so the horse just figures “walk over the pedestal.” Makes sense if you look at it that way.

To change this with your mare you need to teach her not to expect to walk off the pedestal. One way to do this would be to alway back her off. This way she will learn that her front feet go up on…but they never go all the way over. If you have been allowing her to walk off the other side then this will take awhile to become a habit, but once it does it will make it much easier to keep her on the box.

As for how big the box or pedestal should be, that is up to you. The smaller the pedestal the more challenging it will be. You might start with a larger, easier, box and then progress to smaller sizes as she gets more confident. It is possible for horses to stand on very small pedestals but it is more physically demanding and takes more practice learning to balance. If you do choose to go with a very small box or pedestal you might want to consider putting a small ‘lip’ on the front of the box. This doesn’t have to be very thick, just a slim board a half inch to an inch in height will work. This way your horse can ‘find’ the front of the box by bumping her front feet into the lip which will leave more room for her hind end. This isn’t necessary on a four foot by four foot box, but if the pedestal becomes two feet by two feet your horse will need to have all four feet properly placed for success.

 
4 Comments

Posted by on December 11, 2014 in Members Question, Training

 

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Dreams on wheels…thank you Fleetwood!

After selling our house and deciding to travel for a year the choice to live in a RV of some sort seemed logical…the question was living quarter horse trailer? Fifth wheel? Motor home?

We had owned a living quarter horse trailer years ago when the kids were small but for this adventure, a year on the road, we knew we needed something a bit bigger. Our boys are now at ages 13, 14 and 16 plus two adults….we knew we needed room.

Little did I know when I wrote the blog, pros and cons of buying an RV, that the CFO of Fleetwood would be reading it…and oh, by the way, he shows his horses in team penning and follows me on Facebook!

Lance reached out and offered to give me advice or at least things to consider when looking at motor homes. I love learning so I made the call.

I have been blessed in many ways while doing what I love and this time Fleetwood has been my blessing. After several phone calls Fleetwood decided they wanted to support our adventure.

Right now as I write this I am in a 42 foot American Revolution…my temporary MH (motor home) while Fleetwood is building…yes, building…my Fleetwood Discovery. I’m not telling all the details right now but WAIT ‘TILL YOU SEE IT!

Watch for us and our modern day wagon train coming down a road near you!

 

 
10 Comments

Posted by on October 2, 2014 in Video

 

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Stacy Westfall is Living My Dream Life

Full article found at HorseChannel.com

Full article found at HorseChannel.com

An article popped up unexpectedly on my Facebook page titled, Stacy Westfall is Living My Dream Lifeand played a part in inspiring yesterdays blog.

It is always strange to read an article that was written about me without my prior knowledge. It is another way to see how other people perceive you as well as what common desires people share.

Leslie, the writer, happens to daydream about full time living on the road with her horse. Not everyone would agree, in fact there are days that I even question it. But even if you don’t share that same dream there are still lessons that can be learned from the idea.

When I have my doubts, which I am planning on sharing more of with you in the future, I have a way that I deal with it. I ask myself a question: How hard would it be to go back? or another way to look at it would be: How hard would this be to undo?

If I decided tomorrow that I didn’t want to live full time on the road, I am confident that I could buy another house in Mount Gilead, Ohio. The transition to go back would be easier than the transition to leave…which is probably why fewer people do it.

But if you can turn it around, view it another way, it is liberating.

What dream are you not pursuing because the transition into the dream would be hard…even though the transition back would actually, now that you think about it, be easy?

 

 

 

 
8 Comments

Posted by on September 27, 2014 in Inspiring, Life, Thought provoking

 

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