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Mini horses find their purpose in life.

“What happened to your minis? I know you took them from Ohio to Texas,

but you haven’t mentioned them since.”-Robin B

Thanks for reminding me! I have been working on a video that tells the story of the minis…but I kept forgetting to finish it. The minis learned a lot while they were with us including how to drive single and as a team…and we loved every minute of it.

Training horses is my passion and what I love even more is finding them great homes and purpose in life and the minis found theirs.

Check out the video:

 
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Posted by on September 29, 2014 in Inspiring, Members Question, Video

 

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Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to ride horses in the rain…

I’m not much of a dancer…at least not yet. But this quote really isn’t about dancing now is it?dance in the rain

Dancing just happens to be one of those things in life that people just don’t do without joy…at least not well or for long. And dancing puts a romantic image in our mind of someone who is so lost in what they are doing that they can even dance through the storm.

But I’m not a dancer.

So I suggest replacing the word ‘dance’ with ‘ride’.

Really, this makes the whole quote just work better for me.

Yep, a new twist on an old saying.

*                 *                    *

What word would you put in there?

It started raining and Popcorn and I kept on riding!

It started raining and Popcorn and I kept on riding!

 
9 Comments

Posted by on September 28, 2014 in Life

 

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Stacy Westfall is Living My Dream Life

Full article found at HorseChannel.com

Full article found at HorseChannel.com

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?

 

 

 

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

 

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With all my faults and failures…how have I been so blessed?

Turning forty is notorious for causing folks to reflect about their lives. I suppose everyone deals with it in their own way, but I went for a trail ride. People told me Happy Birthday but the horses treated me the same as usual…so I know everything is going to be just fine.

I thought that today’s blog would simply say: I have been blessed, but as I typed the words it just didn’t seem to be enough.

I am not denying that I feel blessed, I feel it so strongly at times that my over whelming desire is to cry and point out that I am not worthy. I am especially prone to this when I hear of someone else struggling; a baby dies, someone has cancer, a car crash takes a life. It makes me weak to think about these things. But it also liberates me.

Why not live now? Why not try now? What if this is the only time I do have?

Some people may be inspired by that thought, but if viewed from another angle, I could argue that it is just a realistic statement.

I have frequently said that, when someone tells me they have been inspired by me, I consider it the highest complement they could give me…but it also humbles me. Sometimes it downright scares me. Because I am just me. And I am far from perfect. But I have been blessed.

 

With all my faults and failures…how have I been so blessed? quote Stacy Westfall

 

 
27 Comments

Posted by on September 26, 2014 in Inspiring, Life, quote, Thought provoking

 

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Stacy Westfall Visits New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program

A beautiful photo on Facebook was my introduction to New Vocations and the racehorses they serve. I also experienced another moment, after visiting their website, where I turned to my husband and said, “It’s a good thing we sold the house or I would be asking for a barn full of them!” Instead, I have become an avid follower of the New Vocations website at HorseAdoption.com: Warning-this can become addictive! They update the photos and videos regularly as well as posting new horses frequently. I also decided to follow them on Facebook, which brings all those awesome updates directly to my phone.

This week I was able to meet the horses and humans that make up this wonderful organization and to learn more about the program. New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program a 501 (c) 3 charity was founded in 1992 to offer retiring racehorses, both Thoroughbred and Standardbred, a safe-haven, rehabilitation, and continued education through placement in experienced, caring homes. The Mission of New Vocations is to stand in the gap for retired racehorses providing a safety-net through rehabilitation, education, & placement in qualified, caring homes.

New Vocations has worked hard to educate both those inside the racing industry as well as the general public. It was interesting to learn about how the horses arrive at New Vocations as well as the process used to rehab, retrain and rehome them. This short interview with Anna Ford does a great job summarizing what I learned about New Vocations on my first visit and holds a little surprise at the end…

 

 

 
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Posted by on September 25, 2014 in Life, Video

 

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What is ‘feel’ and can you teach it? Jac Review Week

Here are three questions I received about the Jac series; Can you see how they are related?

“On episode 6 you talk about when he let you know you were “boring” and it was time to step up the training… What are some signs they give us to let us know they are ready for more?- Stephanie D

“How do you know how much pressure to apply and when to back off “on a good note”?”-Ellen M

“Hi Stacy! Love the video diaries! I had a quick question regarding episode 10. I was working with my colt tonight, and we never quite made it to the point where he was trotting forward. He got to point where he would speed up a bit, but not fully into a trot. Overall, he can be a little lazy. So my question to you…with this lesson, are you supposed to go until he understands he needs to go into a full trot? At what point would you quit? Or move on to something else. I think I was losing his interest.”-Morgan

The thing that these questions all have in common are that these people are all asking about how to ‘read a horse’ or, if phrased another way, ‘how to have Can you teach a horse rider to have feel or do they have to be born with it?better ‘feel’.

“Feel” is that almost mythical word that is frequently used to describe people who are great with horses. Have you heard that word used before?

Many people say that feel is something people either have or don’t have but I don’t agree.  I do agree that ‘feel’ comes more naturally to some and that others may achieve a higher degree but largely I believe that feel can be improved. If feel can be improved, then it can be taught and if it can be taught than it can be learned. This is true in other areas of life as well. Michael Jordan made it clear that when he was young he practiced the fundamentals of basketball over and over, but it didn’t end there. He was well known for practicing the fundamentals his entire career. Was he born with a ‘feel’ for basketball? Without a doubt. Did he learn even more ‘feel’ over the years? For sure. How? Check out Michael’s following quotes:

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

“I’ve always believed that if you put in the work, the results will come.”

“I’m not out there sweating for three hours every day just to find out what it feels like to sweat.”

Now go back and read those quotes again and apply the principals to teaching yourself to read your horse better and to increase your level of ‘feel’. Will you make mistakes? Yes. Will it be hard work? Yes. Will you look back 2 years, 5 years and 10 years later and say, “If I had that horse to train again…I could do it so much better.” Yes. I know because I have done all of these things. Is it worth it? For me the answer is yes…what is it for you?

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Now I am going to give the physical answer for each of these questions.

“On episode 6 you talk about when he let you know you were “boring” and it was time to step up the training… What are some signs they give us to let us know they are ready for more?- Stephanie D

Jac was a great example of a horse that was ready for challenges. Early episodes show him displaying tons of ‘attitude’, head swirling, pushy, and trying to take control. The biggest thing missing from Jac was fear. I am not saying that Jac should have been fearful but I am saying his body language displayed anything but fear. Even when Jac appeared to be running away from me in episode 3…dragging me out of the screen, he never had an attitude of fear. He was simply leaving the classroom! He wanted to call the shots.

The most general way to answer this is, when they horse is trying to take control of the situation or is ignoring you then they are telling you they could move faster. You will notice them looking away from you, finding other things more interesting, missing your subtle cues, offended by your corrections, etc.

Notice the subtle difference between ’taking control of the situation’ though. When a horse lacks training they will likely make mistakes. When they make mistakes and are corrected or redirected they tell on themselves by the way they respond…much like children. If the horse is corrected or redirected and they have an attitude…then you can be pretty sure they are ready for harder lessons. If the horse responds in fear then most of the time it is a sign that the lesson is either moving too fast or the horse hasn’t made the connection yet.

“How do you know how much pressure to apply and when to back off “on a good note”?”-Ellen M

As this question doesn’t apply directly to one of the episodes I am going to give a general idea. I often describe horse training as playing the game of ‘hotter-colder’…did you ever play that game as a kid? If not, here is how it goes; The leader picks an object in the room and as the other person, the player, moves around the room the leader says ‘hotter’ if the player gets closer to the correct object or ‘colder’ if the player heads away. The player will experiment by moving a few directions and then quickly figures out the direction that is correct.

Training a horse is similar. If the rider has clear goals then they ‘release’ or back off when the horse is headed in the correct direction. The difficulty for many people who are first training horses is that  the horse often ‘thinks’ or has a very subtle  thought in the ‘right’ direction…and new learners miss this opportunity to reward. It is lack of experience that causes this mistake. Riding with someone who has experience can greatly improve your timing for reward.

“Hi Stacy! Love the video diaries! I had a quick question regarding episode 10. I was working with my colt tonight, and we never quite made it to the point where he was trotting forward. He got to point where he would speed up a bit, but not fully into a trot. Overall, he can be a little lazy. So my question to you…with this lesson, are you supposed to go until he understands he needs to go into a full trot? At what point would you quit? Or move on to something else. I think I was losing his interest.”-Morgan

This exercise is a great example of rewarding a horse who is ‘headed’ in the right direction but isn’t quite there yet. Yes, rewarding if your horse ‘speeds up a bit’ was the correct thing to do. His slight speed up was a physical sign that mentally he was thinking in the correct direction. If your horse had been experimenting with stopping or slowing down then that would have been a bad time to stop the exercise.

Many exercises, this one included, work well if the slightest try is rewarded because the horse will actually think about the lesson over night. I often refer to the lesson as ‘planting a seed’ because it paints a better picture of the idea that time will also help things grow. I have done this lesson with horses and rewarded them for only walking faster for two or three days in a row, then on day four I asked more and they were ready to trot.

Another thing to keep in mind is that many times doing lessons with similar answers will help the horse improve quicker. For example, if I tell you to trot the horse forward and then back the horse up it is easier for the horse to become confused. Forward and backward are two different answers. However, if you work on trot forward leading lesson, lunge lessons with inside turns, and kiss means lope lessons all week long the message is consistent; forward, forward, forward.

 
 

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Battling bot flies in horses…did you know they can infect humans?

The bot flies are here…again. I ran into my first bot fly eggs this spring in Texas, which I found unusual because I am accustom to seeing them in late summer in Ohio and Maine. In some warmer states, such as Florida, it is possible for bot flies to live year round…I will chalk that up to one down side to a lack of winter.

Bot flies are amazingly good at laying their eggs, each female will lay 150-500 eggs. While riding the other day I noticed my friends horse was covered with bot eggs. She allowed me to video the eggs before she removed them. In the video you will notice that the bot fly lays the eggs in all the places where a horse will frequently scratch, rub, or swat flies away from.  The eggs hatch when heat, moisture and carbon dioxide are present. I found this gross fact (below) and can’t decide if I should try it or not…

Researchers have witnessed this phenomenon using a microscope. “If you breathe on them, they immediately hatch,” says Jack Campbell, PhD, veterinary entomologist at University of Nebraska’s West Central Research and Extension Center. “I’ve had them in a petri dish, getting ready to photograph them, and if you happen to breathe on them, you can see the egg opening up as they come out the end of it.” click here for full article

The unfortunate horse will ingest the eggs, which will hatch in the mouth. The larva spend the winter months in the stomach and then pass through the manure. The adults emerge, lay more eggs and the cycle repeats.

It is important to remove the eggs as soon as possible to reduce the chance of the horse ingesting them but do keep a few things in mind.

  • First, as another friend pointed out “It makes no sense to scrap the eggs off in an area where your horse eats like the stall or as you are hand grazing them…”
  • This same friend also pointed out the fact that there have been cases of humans becoming infected…YUCK! I didn’t want to believe her but a quick google search showed me this article complete with a photo of a horse bot fly larva in a human eye. So remember…wash your hands and don’t rub your eyes!

There are many tools available for removing the bot eggs. I don’t suggest your finger nail after reading the above mentioned fact… My favorite tool, so far it the bot fly knife. My second favorite is the grooming block. What is your favorite tool?

Deworming is also important, ivermectin and moxidectin are both effective although ivermectin is more effective.

This link will take you to the most complete article I found on bots.

 
16 Comments

Posted by on September 23, 2014 in Video

 

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