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Judging the Road to the Horse

Judging any event is a big job. The success of events falls largely on the shoulders of the judges. The way that a competition is judged results in the winner. Future competitors, and spectators, watch what was rewarded and what was not and then decide if they will support the event. This is true not only in the horse world but in any judged competition.

At the Road to the Horse the judges have a big job. The judges must look at each horse in each round pen as an individual and watch each clinician as they train the horse. The judge then must evaluate how difficult the horse is naturally and then they need to determine if the competitor used the best approach possible for that horse.

This year’s competition is even a bit more difficult because each of the competitors is starting two horses. When I first heard this I wasn’t sure what the point was but after watching today I think I can see it. Starting the first colt was interesting to watch…but watching how each clinician modified their technique to better fit the second horse was even more interesting. Especially because this all happened back to back.

Exhausting for the competitors…and the judges. Very interesting to watch!

P.S.- Sorry for the confusion. After this post people thought that I was one of the judges. I can see how it looked that way. This was a photo of me visiting with the judges but I was not/am not one of the judges. Maybe the lack of sleep played a part in my lack of catching this sooner!

Back row L-R: Cody Lambert, Dr. Jim Heird, Sam Rose, Mike Kevil. Front row: Jack Brainard & Stacy Westfall

Back row L-R: Cody Lambert, Dr. Jim Heird, Sam Rose, Mike Kevil. Front row: Jack Brainard & Stacy Westfall



Posted by on March 27, 2015 in Video


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Wild Card Competitors at The Road to the Horse

wild cardsA year of working….a short time to show what you have done…an announcement of the winner and then straight into the round pen to compete for $100,000.00!

That is what will happen to one of this years ‘Wild Card’ competitors at the Road to the Horse.

I had the chance to visit with several of the competitors yesterday and learn more about the process. I knew that last years Wild Card, Jim Anderson, not only won the Wild Card but also turned around and won the Road to the Horse. As impressive as that sounded to read (I wasn’t there to see it either) imagine what it must have been like to live it. Both emotionally and physically this would be a challenge. They have to come in prepared with the horse they have been training for the last year and a plan on how best to show him, then they also must be prepared to step straight into the second part of the competition. Imagine the planning that has gone into packing and preparing without knowing for sure if they will be moving on.

This years competitors are: Trevor CarterJames CoolerDan KeenMary KitzmillerBobby KnightSean Patrick. Check out their websites and their Facebook pages. They have been documenting the training of their Wild Card horses as well as much more.

BREAKING NEWS: Road to the Horse 2015 is thrilled to be joining the RFD-TV line up! Don’t miss the action starting April 1st, 2015 @ 9:00pm ET/8:00pm CT. (DirectTV 345/ Dish 231)




Posted by on March 26, 2015 in Video


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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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Video: 1988 Bridleless Grand Prix Dressage

After seeing this video from 1988 I had to know more. The video is of Andrew Sałacki, a Polish rider, demonstrating Grand Prix dressage on his mare without a bridle. His ride led to numerous demonstrations around the world for more than three years including performing for the Queen.

I translated the following from this website (that I cannot read) and learned the following:

As reported by the service well known and respected in the equestrian environment not only Polish, 58-year-old Andrew Sałacki is one of the greatest riders in the history of Polish dressage.
In his credits include 12 Polish Championship medals in dressage as well as participation in the World Cup Final struggle in this competition.
Undeniably the maturing permanently in the memory of his demonstration rides were GP class Font mares during the “Horse of the Year show,” which took place at London’s famous Wembley Stadium in 1988.
Polish rider sensation show was the fact that the whole program of the competition he performed GP Fonts walking in deprived bridle.
This has led to so much recognition that Andrew Sałacki was invited to present his show in front of Queen Elizabeth II.
No less impressive looks Sałackiego Andrew coaching achievements. Levada successful club players with sufficient Zakrzow are the showcase. In the years 2000 – 2004 he was the coach of the National Team FEI dressage. He also worked as a training consultant in its crown discipline of dressage (formerly practiced equestrian vaulting and eventing) in Germany and the USA.

How interesting! I wondered what inspired him to do this in 1988? Did he ever try again with another horse? Either way it is a video worth watching.


Posted by on March 8, 2015 in Video


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Stacy Westfall is Living My Dream Life

Full article found at

Full article found at

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?





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


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Is it be best to start with your beginner videos even with an older horse?

“Stacy. I have a 9 yr old Qtr mare that I have just purchased she is broke and quiet but has no training she is stubborn about some things like loping. My question is would it be best to start with your beginner videos even though she’s 9? She’s mostly been backyard rode by kids. Thank you.”Michelangelo quote

I always go back to the beginning. Even when my ‘finished’ horses take a break over the winter I go back and practice the basics. It doesn’t hurt to ground drive an older, broke horse….so why not?

The other fun thing is that by going back you can look for weak areas in the training AND you can take the ‘basics’ to a higher level. The only real difference between basic groundwork and liberty work on the ground is that someone has taken the time to MASTER the basics with their horse.

Yep, do it all, and the next time around see if you can do it even better. Then repeat.


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Posted by on August 12, 2014 in Members Question, Training


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If someone is going down the wrong road, he doesn’t need motivation to speed him up. What he needs is education to turn him around.

If someone is going down the wrong road, he doesn't need motivation to speed him up. What he needs is education to turn him around.

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Posted by on May 6, 2014 in quote


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