Tag Archives: refuse

If your horse is willing to say ‘NO’ somewhere it should be a red flag.

When I was young I belonged to a contesting club. We ran all kinds of speed events including barrel racing, pole bending and more. It was common, back then, for horses to refuse to go into the show pen. Maybe even more interesting…it was not only common, it was also accepted.

red flagOver all the years that I have trained horses, I have noticed that horses often go through many of the stages that children do when learning. With a human child we understand that there is a stage where ‘no’ is their favorite word. We also understand that as teenagers develop they will often push and test authority as they develop a stronger sense of who they are.

I think horses go through many of these stages too.

The biggest difference that I see is that we adults would not trust a defiant and testy child with things of high value. Yet, through a lack of knowledge or ability to recognize the issue many adults climb onto horses who are defiant and testy….trusting them with our lives.

No person, or horse, or dog is perfect but we should be aware that a willingness to defiantly say ‘NO’ should be considered a red flag.

What does the red flag point to? It could be many things; immaturity, lack of understanding, a questioning of authority, soreness or more. The first step in figuring out what is going on is to acknowledge the red flag.



Posted by on May 15, 2015 in Life


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When your horse refuses to lead do you switch to driving him forward?

does your horse truly lead?

If your horse is willing to say ‘NO’ somewhere it should be a red flag.

You can’t out pull a horse. This seems like an obvious statement but there is a good chance, if you stop and think about it, you have probably tried to at some point during your interaction with horses.

Ponies are practically famous for having moments when they say ‘no’ and refuse to go forward. Is this a coincidence or is this because their ‘trainers’ tend to be small children who don’t fully understand the ideas of pressure and release?

Can you picture a time where you have seen a human trying to out pull a horse? Maybe the person was trying to lead the horse from one surface to another, for example from gravel to black top. Or maybe they were trying to lead the horse from outdoors into a building. When I was a kid I had a mare that refused to walk into a big old barn with a wooden floor that housed cattle beneath it. Or maybe you have seen someone trying to out pull a horse when loading into a trailer.

One popular answer to this issue is to stop trying to lead the horse forward and ‘drive’ the horse forward instead. It is a popular choice for good reason. It is a great training tool and should be used by everyone. But does this mean we must give up on leading also?

Leading is closely related to tying. If you find your horse having moments where he says ‘No’ during leading and you must switch to driving you should be a little concerned that this refusal will eventually pop up in the area of tying.


Posted by on March 21, 2015 in Thought provoking, Training


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In response to ‘The first horse I refused to train.’ by Stacy Westfall

As I am writing this over 173,000 people have read, and commented on my blog titled: ‘The first horse I refused to train.’

Stacy's boys at the time

Stacy’s oldest boys at the time

Remember that this was very early on, over a decade ago,….I wasn’t famous…and I DID need the money. That is what made the decision so hard. As well as so memorable.

This was also right around the time that it was dawning on me that training horses without training the owners was….pointless. Again, remember this was years ago. I do think there is a point in hiring a trainer. But that is another blog.

This was also the time period where I started figuring out all people weren’t telling me the whole truth. I stopped accepting horses that were dropped off by friends, etc. The owner had to demonstrate what could be done with the horse.

2013 Basket ball Hall of Fame

Stacy’s boys now with Nene and Aunt

For example; One person just wanted 30 days of training to teach the horse to spin. They told me the horse was already broke to ride and had a solid foundation. I like to teach the spin and I can have a pretty cute spin in 30 days. I accepted the horse.

When they arrived I reminded them they needed to ride the horse for me, as they said it was already broke. They said they didn’t have time…

………I said I would start from the beginning then. Or they could show me.

Then they ‘fessed-up’ that he sometimes rears….I’m not making this up.

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In later years, when I could afford to, there were actually problem horses that I bought, purchased myself, to help out an owner who didn’t know how to get out and had a horse that they couldn’t afford to train. Back then I was too broke. Which is also why I didn’t own Roxy… but again, that is another blog.

I would have worked with the horse if the owner and I could have agreed…but we couldn’t get past that first step.

Stacy's youngest at the time.

Stacy’s youngest at the time.

I did feel bad for the horse. I do feel bad for the horse. I believe in educating horses to give them a future. I also felt for the son. I had three small children at the time…so the risk he was taking with his child was especially painful.

I was at a horse show during a fair where someone said, “Yeah, it’s been a good year. We haven’t even had the ambulance here once all week.” They were serious…

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“By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.” ~ Confucius



Posted by on December 17, 2013 in Life, quote, Training


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