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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.

 
4 Comments

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

 

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How do you teach a horse to lay down so a person in a wheel chair can get in the saddle?

“How do you teach a horse to lay down so a person in a wheel chair can get in the saddle? The reason I am asking is because the end of August 2014 my boyfriend came down with west nile virus. As of the end of April 2015 he is still in a wheel chair and he wants to be able to ride again. Thanks for your time”, Angie E.

This question got me thinking in several ways. First, let me say I am sorry that both of you are going through this. Years ago a good friend’s husband nearly died from West Nile and has struggled ever since so I have an idea of the challenges you are going through. My heart and prayers go out to you both. I love that he wants to ride again. Setting goals is important for everyone because it keeps us looking forward.

Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 9.42.42 PM

Michael Richardson gives amazing demos and trains from his wheel chair.

My second thought is that I am not sure if teaching a horse to lie down to mount is the best option for people in a wheelchair to mount. If it was a great method then therapeutic programs would teach horses to lie down. My guess is that there are several reasons why it isn’t the best choice.

  1. Awkward -I have taught horses to lie down and I have mounted while they are down. It is more awkward than I would have guessed from watching it. If you see a horse with a saddle on while lying down you will notice that the saddle is facing sideways.
  2. Difficulty -A horse standing up is a big motion. It is similar in a way to riding a horse going over a small jump as quickly raise their front end upward followed quickly by the hind end.
  3. Challenge- An unbalanced rider would make standing up more of a challenge for the horse

If I do mount my horse while he is down I prefer to do so bareback. This makes it easier for both of us because it solves most of the issues listed above but makes it a less appealing method in a therapeutic setting.

I would suggest finding a local therapy barn to become accustom to riding again. Just as learning to be in the wheel chair has been a learning curve, learning to ride again will also be a new learning curve. The people I have met that are involved in therapy have been extremely caring and will be in the best position to be able to help you guys with this transition, including the discussion about his ability to mount from a horse that is lying down.

 
15 Comments

Posted by on April 30, 2015 in Members Question, Thought provoking

 

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Asking my horse, Newt, to lie down while I’m riding him.

Here is another video where you get to watch Newt think. It should remind you of watching Newt learn how to stand on the box. The more things I teach a horse the more I can learn about how they think and process what I am doing. Can you see the consistency in Newt’s thought patterns?

I forgot to mention that I was cueing him by tapping his belly with the lead rope. If you watch for it you can see it. If your curious about how that works you can read my previous blog about teaching a horse to lie down.  When you watch the video of Jac learning to lie down, can you see the similarities to watching Newt learn how to step up on the box? Can you see how allowing them time to think gives them the opportunity to participate in the training by making choices?

Below is a copy of Newt’s previous diary entry from March 21, 2014

I also made an interesting discovery this week.

My mom has been riding me on a very loose rein…she even took the bridle off once.

That made it really easy to play in the dirt. I like digging in dirt with my nose.

Newt bow

Well, I had my head down to push dirt and a thought occurred to me.

I don’t have thoughts often…so I decided to go with it.

You see, mom has been teaching me to lay down sometimes.

I like it.

It is easy.

She doesn’t have me do it while we are riding.

She should.

It would be easier.

So I decided to lay down.

This is a bit embarrassing to admit…I got stuck half-way down.

It happened like this; mom asked me to move my hip, I did and I put my head down too, I had the idea to lay down, I buckled my legs and went down on my knees…and then mom started kicking me.

I guess she didn’t want me to lay down…but I couldn’t get up either (I fell over once trying and with her on me I didn’t want to do that)…so I just knelt there. She got off and got me up.

Newt 1st lay down

I wasn’t sure if she was happy I had the idea…or not.

Later, at the end of the ride she showed me a cue to lay down. I was so excited! She must have liked my earlier idea.

The next few days I tried laying down but I guess I’m only supposed to do it when she asks me to.

Newt, the horse, signature

 
6 Comments

Posted by on February 2, 2015 in A Horse's View, Video

 

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My horse, Newt, learning to balance on a box.

This is a video of Newt, my horse, trying to find his balance standing on a wooden box. Newt had previously been trained to cross over a wooden bridge, so when he first saw this box…he walked straight over it. For each of the seven days prior to this I spent a few minutes a day asking Newt to step onto the box. His first response was to want to walk directly over it. To change this, I asked him to step one front foot up and then immediately asked him back off the box. This resulted in Newt slowing down instead of trying to walk straight over it.

Next I asked for two front feet up and then asked him to back off the box. During this phase Newt figured out how far forward he could step until he found the front edge of the box. He even tried to step directly over it in a very wide straddle! If he tried to step to far I would ask him to back up. He did step off the front and even lost his balance and slipped off the front without harm.

Now that he knows where the front edge of the box is, and understands that I don’t want him stepping off the front, he is now stepping forward with his hind feet. What I love about this video is that you can see how s-l-o-w Newt thinks. Many people would have asked him to do something during the long period while he was standing there. I like taking my time. It is funny to watch him mentally process this nice and slow.

It surprised me that Newt lost his balance so many times when he picked his last hind foot up off the ground. He seemed to think that he should counter balance by sticking that last leg out instead of adjusting his head. Another interesting observation to make about how Newt thinks. I love watching horses learn.

I have a bunch of this footage but I couldn’t decide how to best use it. I have one version that is 25 minutes long but that seemed too long. How much of Newt’s box footage would you like to see? How many more times do you think Newt had to practice before he found his balance?

 
27 Comments

Posted by on January 8, 2015 in A Horse's View, Thought provoking, Training, Video

 

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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

 
10 Comments

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

 

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Do you start your training sessions with lunging your horse?

“Hi Stacy! Question for you. Do you start your training sessions with lunging? I lunge my horse every time I ride and also any horse I’m going to ride. Lately I have been talking with other friends who think lunging is not necessary and one who says it makes her horse more naughty and hot. Just wondering what you think about it. Thanks:)” -Melissa T.

What is the purpose of lunging a horse? Is it to physically wear him out? Is it to change his mental state of mind? Is it to teach him a new concept? Lunging has been used with all of these goals in mind at some point…the question is ‘why are you lunging your horse?’I don't always lunge, but I do always evaluate how the horse is behaving on the ground.
Early on in a horses training I use lunging, or groundwork, as a big part of my training. My goal is to begin to change his state of mind, which is a new concept to the horse at that time. Part of this often involves physical exertion because we often work the body to influence the mind. If you go back and watch the early episodes of Stacy’s Video Diary you can see a huge change in the horse’s behavior in a few days. This is because I am doing more than just running the horse around me…I am using a variety of groundwork cues to train him.
As the training progressed and the horses mental state of mind was changed, I began riding more and I gradually reduced the amount of groundwork.
Many people use lunging in an attempt to wear the horse out. If the horse’s mind is not engaged but instead they are only asked to physically exert themselves this should be considered an attempt to wear the horse out. The problem with this is that the horses get more and more fit, requiring longer and longer lunging times. Engaging the mind is far more effective than only trying to wear out the body.
If lunging is making the horse more naughty or hot I would evaluate what methods are being used. This is most common if the horse thinks the only point is to run wildly around the human. If instead of lunging the handler instead uses groundwork to engage the mind then the horse should respond more favorably. If not, then the pair should look at taking some lessons.
I don’t always lunge…but I do always evaluate how they are behaving on the ground. With a horse I know this ‘evaluation’ may take place as I lead them to the area where I groom and saddle and then out to mount up. If I know the horse I can evaluate their mental state in this short amount of time, much like you can evaluate a friends state of mind during a short ‘hello.’ If I detect that they are feeling fresh or seem distracted then I may choose to do some groundwork.
To decide if you should lunge you should be able to identify your purpose for lunging. You may lunge a horse that is new to you for an evaluation, or a horse you know because you detected his behavior was a bit odd, or yet another horse because you would like to improve your communication on the ground.
 
12 Comments

Posted by on December 18, 2014 in Members Question, Training

 

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