Tag Archives: whip

What is the differences between a lunge whip or stick & string (carrot stick)?

“Stacy, can you explain the differences between a lunge whip or stick & string (carrot stick)? Which do you recommend for starting horses? Do you have preferences for different lunging aids for different circumstances? Thanks.”-GillianWhat is the differences between a lunge whip and a carrot stick or stick & string?

I use both a lunge whip and a stick & string for different reasons as each has its own strengths and weaknesses.

Lunge whips are nice because they are light weight, inexpensive and long. Sometimes the length is nice when lunging a horse because I can reach further than I can with the stick and string. The disadvantage is that I cannot easily toss the string over the horses back while the horse is lunging, which is something I do to keep the horse from getting reactive to the string while in motion.

I also use a lunge whip as a tool to sack a horse out by tying a plastic bag to the end or to the point where the stiff part meets the flexible part. I like it for this because it is longer than the stick and string and because the shaft is flexible. The flexibility is good if I am rubbing between the horses legs and the horse decides to move because the shaft will bend. Two things I dislike about the lunge whip are that they often wear out quickly, with fiberglass sticking out of the end becoming a hazard, and the string is very lightweight and flimsy.

I prefer the stick & string (aka carrot stick) for several other reasons. The shaft is solid on the stick & string and the rope is  more dense and has some weight. There are some cheap brands out there now that have very lightweight rope which will change how they perform, buy the one with the heavier string. The heavy weight rope combined with the stiff shaft makes it possible to control the accuracy when using the tool. If the handler chooses to gently toss the rope over the horses back, neck or around the legs the rope will easily do this. I can also toss the string over the horses back, neck or rump while the horse is in motion. If you try this with a lunge whip the light weight string is easily blown and difficult to aim. The lightweight strings also tie themselves in knots…which means they are more likely to knot or bind up if tossed around a leg. To see an example of the string being tossed over the horse see Stacy’s Video Diary: Jac-Episode 15.

The heavier rope makes it more accurate to control and it can quickly shift gears from making a loud noise to being tossed gently over the horses body. To see an example of this watch Stacy’s Video Diary: Jac- Episode 20.

The stick & string is also better for tapping a horses legs or body because it doesn’t sting like a whip. This allows me to tap with rhythm and if necessary with increasing pressure without the tool becoming suddenly strong. This ‘dullness’ allows me more ‘range’ in the tapping where whips tend to move from tapping to stinging. I use this tapping when teaching the horse to back up, move the shoulders and move the hips.

In Stacy’s Video Diary: Jac-Episode 8 you will find examples of me using the stick & string for both tapping and rubbing. I like to rub my horses with the tool, scratching them with it like I would do with my fingers. The stick and string is better for this because the  lunge whip is too flexible. Rubbing with the tool is a great way to keep the horse from becoming overly reactive to it.

If I had to choose only one of these tools I would choose the stick & string for the reasons listed above and because they last much longer. Thankfully I don’t have to choose so I keep both around.

Here is a short video showing many of the wa


Posted by on December 10, 2014 in Members Question, Training, Video


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How much motivation does a horse need?

How much motivation does a horse need? foal ignored subtle cues

That depends on the horse.

I was sure Maggie was a bad mother. Maggie was gentle with Newt at first but by the time he was a month old Maggie was removing small clumps of hair with her ‘corrections’. By the time Newt was three months old he had scabs from her constant reminders to respect her space. I questioned Maggie’s motherly instincts…but after he was weaned the same treatment was continued by the other horses. If a dominant horse wanted to move Newt it often took repeated bites or kicks to move him. Newt wasn’t aggressive…he just didn’t seem to perceive pain at the same level as other horses. He would stand and take the kicks with a pleasant, slightly confused, look on his face. Motivating Newt was clearly going to be a challenge…as evidenced from birth. some horses ignore subtle cues

Just as each person, dog, cat and horse is unique in personality-they are also unique in their perception of pressure. Newt showed from birth that he was willing to handle more physical pressure than the average horse. Does that mean that his mother was mean? Or that she used as much pressure as was necessary? I think only Newt could accurately answer that question.

One horse may respond to the subtle squeeze of a riders leg, while another may choose to ignore it.

How do we know how much pressure is correct for each horse?

By asking each horse.

Because by learning to read their body language the horse will tell you whether a bit is too big or if he will happily ignore it, or if the hand was too quick, or if he needs the lesson repeated again because he isn’t clear.

A horse will tell you a lot if you know how to listen….or you could also ask their mother.

Mustang stallion displays his battle scars...scars he thought were worth fighting for.

Mustang stallion displays his battle scars…scars that, in his opinion,  were worth fighting for.


Posted by on March 11, 2014 in Thought provoking, Training


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Stacy’s Video Diary: Jac- Episode 25-Changing bits & 2nd stage of spinning a horse

Total training time 42 hours 50 minutes

Jac has had some time off because I took a ten day trip to visit family.

I chose to move Jac to a twisted wire bit. As with any bit it is as harsh as the hands that use it. I changed bits because Jac doesn’t have the basics down well enough to move to a shanked bit; yet Jac is at times overly confident and pushy especially when distracted by mares and other horses. By watching Jac’s mouth it is possible to see that Jac doesn’t regard the bit as ‘too much’.

bucket handle

Stacy’s bucket was missing the white handle part.

I know many people are concerned by the idea of using a twisted wire because it isn’t smooth. Bits are motivators, tools used to motivate the horse. The twisted wire I am using is the same diameter as the smooth snaffle I was using previously. I remember learning about bits and how the shape and the diameter are things that could change their intensity. At that time I lived in Maine and had to carry water for my horses and I carried it in a 5 gallon bucket that originally had a white plastic cover over the wire handle. Years ago the white plastic had broken off and I carried the bucket anyway. It did make a difference that the metal alone was more narrow and applied more pressure…but it didn’t make enough of a difference for me to change buckets. This could change from person to person as the bit required changes from horse to horse.

In the spin Jac is beginning to ‘hunt’ the steps. It is possible to see this demonstrated at 1:30 because he keeps going to the left without me needing to guide him as much as I did in Episode 24. The exercise from Episode 24 (at 6 minute mark) where I said, ‘right, right, right, right, right’ is starting to pay off. Notice at 3:20 how Jac walks forward and to the left because of what he is mentally thinking.

I continue to read Jac’s body language at 5:22 where I say, Jac is thinking.  “I tried! I can stop now.” Jac is allowed to make comments but I gently correct him.

10:09 – Again, I am not putting Jac’s head down, he is putting it down and I am leaving him alone about it. Jac is demonstrating that he is relaxed and wants to carry his head down. I will actually discourage this during the training of his lead changes and sliding stops.

10:45- notice that Jac took the wrong lead. I haven’t trained Jac to move his hip yet so Jac doesn’t always get the correct lead. Getting the correct leads will come as Jac learns to move both his hips and his shoulders separately.

11:48-Can you see how much Jac hunts the stop?

There are so many ideas packed into this episode that I didn’t even try to write them all down. I hope you enjoy.


Posted by on February 26, 2014 in Stacy's Video Diary: Jac, Training, Video


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Stacy’s Video Diary: Jac- Episode 23- Spurs, backing up, shoulder control and natural horsemanship

Training time 33 hours 40 minutes

I did end up taking Jac to the vet just to be on the safe side. I had given him time off and Jac was pretty much better so the vet couldn’t find anything. The vet told me to give him a couple more weeks off and then start slow. He thought that it had likely been some kind of soft tissue; maybe he landed funny. Whatever it was it was minor enough that the exam didn’t reveal anything. I am still glad I gave him time off, he is only two, better safe than sorry.

Two new ideas that I have introduced to Jac before this video are spurs and the back up. When Jac felt lazy before this I would use the end of my rein or a dressage whip to reinforce my requests. Even though I am now wearing spurs I will still use the end of the reins or dressage whip if he is resistant to going forward. The spurs are just an added step after the request.

Jac learning spiral out

Jac learning spiral out

The new concept I am introducing in this video to Jac is ‘spiral out’ or moving the shoulder. Controlling a horses shoulder is important for advancing steering and eventually for neck reining, spinning and lead changes.

At 7:40 I show an example of what I consider ‘natural horsemanship’ which is using something that the horse is already doing to set up for something I want to accomplish. In this case, Jac wanted to move towards horses in the pasture, so I asked him to move that direction; he wanted to go there-I asked him to go there-then he got a reward.


Posted by on February 12, 2014 in Stacy's Video Diary: Jac, Training, Video


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Stacy’s Video Diary: Jac- Episode 21-Riding colt outside; steering, rate and forward motion

For my training program Jac is right on track. In this video he has been in training with me for almost two months. In that two months I have worked him 27 hours and 15 minutes. It is possible to train a horse faster by working them longer during each session. With a two year old this is the pace I choose.nice weather

The bigger area encourages more forward motion which is good because Jac is on the lazy side. I am doing more clucking/kissing/bumping than I ultimately want to but I allow it at this stage of the training. Keeping them mentally quite, which looks like physically lazy, it is a version of sacking one out and it makes them less reactive which is easier to ride.

I am mostly working on his steering and forward motion. He is very relaxed because I am not picking at him. My hands are smooth and quiet and he reflects this in his smooth and quiet over all look. I am using a dressage whip also and I change where the whip is used (inside or outside) depending on what needs to be reinforced.

I’m still reading him; he has a lot of natural rate-all I have to do is stop pushing him forward and he wants to stop, he is telling me about himself. He has a natural jake-brake built in. Generally this is a good sign for one wanting to slide.

Twelve days ago he had his wolf teeth pulled and teeth floated. He responded well to the dentist; look how quiet he is being with his mouth.


Posted by on January 29, 2014 in Stacy's Video Diary: Jac, Training, Video


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Stacy’s Video Diary: Jac-Episode 18- Keeping Jac soft and willing during the first rides

Total training time 21 hours 30 minutesStacy Trotting Jac

My goal is to make the groundwork and the mounted work so similar that there is very little difference aside from carrying the weight of the rider.

This video begins with a review of the cues I will need when riding a very green colt; bending from the ground, bending while moving, voice cues, dressage whip means go forward and bend to stop.

Can you see how Jac is noticeably more relaxed about these exercises than the last time he was videoed?

In this video I do a demonstration of half-way mounting both at the stand still and moving. The biggest reason for this is that half mounted is an easier position to dismount from. I demonstrate how it looks when it all goes as hoped. Then I demonstrate how to do an emergency dismount from this position.

I like to mount and dismount from both sides, repetitively, to build confidence in the colts, you can see how Stacy loping Jacthis has worked with Jac.

I also show how I like to hold my reins, whip and saddle during the first rides and I explain why.

Can you see how the groundwork and the mounted work are so similar that there is very little difference aside from carrying the weight of the rider?


Posted by on January 8, 2014 in Stacy's Video Diary: Jac, Training, Video


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Stacy’s Video Diary: Jac-Episode 17- Colt starting: Ground (line) driving and dressage whip training

Total training time: 15 hours

In this episode I cover two colt starting subjects that are key in my program which lead to a smooth transition from ground work to riding.

Ground driving:Stacy Westfall colt starting line driving ground work

The training that I did in Episode 16 with the rope, flipping the stirrups, prepared Jac for successful ground driving. Keep in mind that the 24’ ropes I am using (made by Weaver Leather and in my product line), once attached to the bit, should be considered reins. I keep the bridle reins tied to the saddle horn so that Jac cannot lower his head and get a front leg over the lines. I also run the ropes through the stirrups to keep them from being stepped on.

If you haven’t done ground driving before I suggest that you practice with an older horse first.

Bend and move forward:Stacy Westfall colt starting

Watch that even though I am using the dressage whip Jac doesn’t seem irritated. He even stands without moving at one point for a full 45 seconds straight while I tap persistently.

This is happening because Jac is NOT scared. Instead, Jac knows that he has time to think. If I had tapped for 15 seconds and then HIT him hard to make him move….he would have moved but it wouldn’t have allowed Jac time to think. Because Jac knows he has time to think…he becomes more confident. Confident in his own decisions and confident in me because I didn’t force him.


Posted by on January 1, 2014 in Stacy's Video Diary: Jac, Training, Video


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