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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

 

 
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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)

 

 

 
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Posted by on March 26, 2015 in 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

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

 

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Stacy’s Video Diary: Jac- Episode 42 NRHA Futurity

I visited the NRHA Futurity to do some follow up videos with Jac. The National Reining Horse Association Futurity is one of the premier events the association hosts with a total purse and prizes totaling nearly $2.3 Million to exhibitors. The horses have to be nominated when they are born and then additional payments are made during the horses two and three year old years. I knew the payments had been made for Jac and that there was a chance he would be showing here.

I was initially a little disappointed when I talked with Jac’s new owner, Patrice St-Onge, and learned that Jac didn’t come to the show but that quickly changed. I respect Patrice for the decisions he has been making with Jac.

The first big decision he made was to geld Jac. We always knew that this was a possibility which is why we collected semen from Jac as shown in Episode 40. Pat felt that it was in Jac’s best interest to be be gelded. Sometimes a stallion will lack focus and the rider will need to repeat the lesson over and over because the horse is distracted. When I was going to college one of the main vets would say over and over, “A good stud makes a great gelding.” One of the points he was trying to make was that the horses often improve when gelded.

The other decision was to not bring Jac to the futurity. We all knew that Jac had missed training time and Patrice decided that rather that push Jac hard to get ready for this show he would save him for the future. I am very excited that Jac is with someone who is making decisions with Jac’s best interest in mind.

 
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Posted by on December 3, 2014 in Life, Stacy's Video Diary: Jac

 

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Picking and using a pony horse as a training tool: Stacy’s Video Diary Review

Here are four questions I received about Episode 14.

  • “What traits do you look for in the horse you are going to use for a “pony horse” in the round pen?”-Shawn J
  • “What traits do you look for in the horse you are going to use for a pony horse and do you pony them on trails to expose them to more things?”-Melissa P
  • “What should you look for in a pony horse?”- Rindy A
  • “What if you don’t have a pony horse to use?”-Tammy C

In this episode I use Popcorn to pony Jac.  To ‘pony’ a horse means to lead that horse while riding another horse. A pony horse can be a valuable tool. Ponying a horse has many benefits. During colt starting some of the advantages are that I can get a horse, like Jac, comfortable with movements above his head and gain further control of his body. There have also been times where I have ponied a rider during the first ride. Jac was a bit jumpy and unsure and I was able to work through it before mounting up.  Ponying is also useful in many other situations. If a horse has been taught to pony then it can be used for rehab after an injury, increasing fitness, exercising two horses at a time, exposing to new situations,  preparing the horse for the rider being above and more.

Teaching a horse to pony involves getting the horse to listen and respect both you and the horse you are riding. When first leading a horse from another horse, it is common for the horse being lead to be unsure of the situation. The horse being lead often has one of two reactions; timid, concerned about being kicked by the pony horse or pushy, challenging the pony horse. It is the riders job to teach the horse to lead respectfully.

I will only pony from horses that are well trained, that I can ride one handed and maneuver easily. It is important that the horse being ridden will listen to me especially if the other horse gets worked up. The ability to control the pony horses’ hips and shoulders determines the safety of all involved. It is extremely important that I am able to control the horse I am riding so I can prevent him from kicking or biting the horse I am leading.  Popcorn is an excellent pony horse because he will allow me to control his body and he is not intimidated by other horses.

Popcorn also has experience and he understands his job. For example, Popcorn knows how to angle his body so that when a horse shoulders into him it doesn’t throw him off balance. In the beginning I had tho help him find this position but now I don’t have to tell him to be prepared, he knows.

Newt is and example of a horse who is still learning to pony. Newt is already trained well enough, I can completely control his body. I am teaching him how to pony by leading horses that have already been ponied by Popcorn. This means that Newt is gaining experience but he hasn’t encountered a really tough case. A tough case would be a horse that was pushing into Newt or a horse that was refusing to come forward. By ponying horses that are easy Newt has gained an understanding and then I begin to pony horses that are a greener or are pushy. I can help Newt because I can control his body but it is nice when they have lots of experience like Popcorn. I will gradually lead more challenging horses and Newt will learn how to be prepared.

If you have watched the whole Jac series you should notice that I like to use lots of steps in my training process. Having said all of this, it is possible to train without a pony horse. There have been times where I didn’t have a good pony horse available. During those times I try to figure out how I can achieve the same end result. For example, if I sit high on a fence I can get above the horses head. Or I can spend more time swinging something that would go higher than his head like the stick n string with bags on it. Having a pony horse isn’t required but it often makes my job easier.

Below are several episodes where I used ponying as a tool.

This video shows ponying a colt and it’s the first time I pony Jac from Popcorn.

This video shows using a quiet horse in a situation where the other horse is likely to react. This video shows Newt ponying Jac.

This video shows Popcorn ponying Al, an of the track Thoroughbred, on the trail for the first time.

 

 
 

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What time of day is the best for training horses?

Most of the time we choose to train our horses as our schedule allows, first thing on a Saturday morning, just after school on a weekday or in the hour before dinner on a summer night.

Others schedule to ride with their coaches once or twice a week, maybe 1:00 on Wednesdays or Tuesday and Thursdays at 4 pm. and they hope to do most of their training under supervised rides. But when is the best time to train?When is the best time to train a horse; Night time training

Answer: When the opportunity presents itself.

As much as we would like to make the ‘best’ training times fit into our schedules, it is often the worst times that offer the most opportunity.

Take this photo for example. This was taken close to midnight after a very long day at the Congress…but it happened to be the best time for training. I say that it was the best ‘time’ because it is the time that Newt, my horse, told me he needed to be trained. Earlier that day we had ridden in the arena but I noticed when I left the arena and walked down this alley, Newt was excited by the activity. What you cannot see in the photo is that to our left (the right side of the photo) there are horses being ridden..and their feet are at Newts eye level. It is a strange angle to view horses from…at least that is what Newt said!

When Newt got excited I chose to turn him back and ride up and down the alley until he calmed down. I even took him up into the arena for a little work. He ended up walking back to the stalls fine…but it left a lingering question in my mind. Did Newt really get over it?

So here I am, four hours later, double checking. I knew I wouldn’t sleep well without knowing the answer and I was hauling out of the show the next morning and would lose the opportunity to be in the same situation again. So I saddled up, just before midnight, to do some final training.

Turns out everything was fine. Newt walked quietly and the entire ride took only a few minutes…but if it had taken all night I would have been find with that too. The best time to train a horse is when the opportunity presents itself and I’m not one to skip that opportunity.

 
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Posted by on October 21, 2014 in Performance horse, Thought provoking, Training

 

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Top Ten Ways to Get Rid of Your Farrier

Top Ten Ways to Get Rid of Your Farrier

  1. Have your horse shod once a year, then complain to everyone you know ‘the shoes just fell off!’
  2. Do not handle your horses feet at all. Especially the young ones.
  3. Make sure your horses are loose in the pasture when the farrier arrives. The larger the pasture, the better.
  4. Read horse magazines so that you can instruct your farrier on the latest shoeing techniques.
  5. Fill the shoeing area with as many obstructions as possible. Dogs and children count extra.
  6. Be sure and feed the other horses while the farrier is working.
  7. Lead the horses through mud before bringing them to be trimmed or shod.
  8. Don’t clean your stalls and don’t use fly spray.
  9. Complain about the bill shortly after pointing out and discussing the huge price of your new truck, daughter’s horse, boat, etc.
  10. Always wait until the last minute to schedule your appointments, insist that the farrier come right away. Then, avoid paying the bill as long as possible.

How many of these are you guilty of? Have any you could add?

How many of these are you guilty of?

How many of these are you guilty of?

 
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Posted by on September 18, 2014 in Life, Thought provoking

 

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