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One step closer…

Well, it’s official…we just bought a 3 horse bumper pull horse trailer to pull behind our NEW and AMAZING motorhome.

Photos and video on their way… I really need to get my iPhone fixed…

 
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Posted by on November 22, 2014 in Life

 

My strange but wonderful winter horseback memory.

Growing up in Maine I expected snow and even looked forward to it. When the snow was almost belly deep to our pony my brother and I would lead her up to our house and climb on her bareback…and basically bridleless. She did have a halter on but we unsnapped the lead rope to let her run back to the barn…with us riding her!

She followed the same path we had lead her on which made a 90 degree turn following the corner of our house. Our goal was to jump off into the snow as she made that turn…then we would catch her back and the barn, lead her back, and do it again. Yep, I had a strange childhood:)

Do you live in an area that experiences winter? Do you enjoy it?

How does it change your routine with your horse?
If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.

 
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Posted by on November 21, 2014 in Life

 

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Goal setting…even if you’re not sure how to measure the results.

A little over a year ago I set a goal for myself to blog every day for one year. That was a measurable goal. I also set the goal of having the #1 Horse Blog on the internet. Here is the interesting thing.

I had no idea how to measure if I had reached that goal. I’m not a tech person, I don’t know web analytics and I’d never seen a award given for the ‘best horse blog.’

But I’m not a stranger to setting goals that are difficult to measure. Sure, I can set out to ride my horse five days a week, that is a very measurable goal but often I want more. I want to have a good ‘relationship’ with my horse. How do I measure that? Should I give him a survey at the end of the year? If we have one bad day does it erase three good ones? In the end I have to accept that some goals are easier to measure than others.

This week I was surprised, and thrilled, to see the photo below pop up on my Facebook page. I know that HorseClicks isn’t trying to say that I’m the #1 Horse Blogger out there…but the post was still exciting for me to see. Maybe I did reach that goal. Maybe I didn’t. Maybe I will never know. But I’m still glad I set it because it helped point me in the direction I wanted to go.

Stacy Westfall #1 Horse Blogger?

Setting goals doesn’t always require knowing the end result.

 

 

 
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Posted by on November 20, 2014 in Life

 

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Jac Review: My horse walks circles around me while I am saddling, what should I do?

“Hi Stacy! I have a 17 year old mare that we bought last year. She is the sweetest mare I have ever known, however, she is a pain in the rear to saddle.
When we first bought her, her owners told us she was cinchy and showed us how they saddled her. They explained that after she had two foals, they tried to saddle her tied up and she flipped and went over backwards.
Her problem is that she can’t/won’t hold still. I have just been letting her walk around in circles around me. She used to seem a little tense, but I have done it enough times to notice that she isn’t scared or nervous at all, but it does seem unwise to me to tie her up and have the same thing happen again (I didn’t actually witness that).
So now I have a horse that takes forever to saddle because she can’ hold still. And I know I have reinforced this habit, I just don’t know how to break it. Help!”
Thanks,
Michaela

There are several things that could be going on here. My best guess is that prior to having her two foals, your mares saddle training probably had ‘holes’ in it. I have had broodmares that were unridden for two or three years that were fine when they were saddled up again. I did lunge them and review groundwork for 20-30 minutes before throwing the saddle on, but flipping over backward should be considered an extreme reaction.

If the mare had any spots that had been skipped or things that had been overlooked, then time off, plus quick saddling, it could have resulted in the huge reaction. I would also guess that someone was ignoring the mares body language during this disastrous saddling as there were likely signs that were either missed or ignored. I agree with you that you should not tie her up. I am going to guess that she was tied during the flipping over which is also an indication that she was likely lacking in that area of training also.

With your description it seems like moving around is a habit. I have seen horses that were not taught to stand still…so they move. Until the mare is trained to stand she is likely to wander especially as she has been allowed to in the past.

If you go back and watch the Jac series you will find places that this mare is lacking. If you only watch the video where I am saddling Jac you will not see all of the parts that went into teaching him to stand still. Go back and watch the prior episodes and look specifically for places where I have him standing still. I don’t always point this out but you can see it if you are looking. For example, when I am teaching him to stand facing me while I whip around him with the stick and string…I am teaching him to stand still under pressure. When I am bouncing the ball around him and off his sides, I am also teaching him to stand still.

Go back and watch the first time that I bridle Jac in Episode 13. That episode talks about emotional and physical cycles which is also key in getting a horse to stand still. Even the later exercise of teaching a horse a ‘parking brake’ to stand still for mounting is still reinforcing the idea of a horse being trained to stand still.

I would suggest restarting this mare. Go back through all of the steps that were shown in the Jac series. If the mare is solid in her training then this shouldn’t take long but as you find the ‘holes’ in her training, celebrate that you are on your way to having a solid broke horse that stands still for saddling.

P.S.- I have a long standing disclaimer that you should always evaluate and look for physical symptoms of pain. You indicated that it appears to be more of a habit and I answered the question from that angle. I always recommend consulting vets, chiropractors, dentists, etc as horses often display pain or discomfort by showing signs ‘resistance’ in training. Always keep looking for pain as a possible source of the problem even while you are working on the training aspect.

*     *     *

The episode below is where I explain how to use physical and emotional cycles. They could also be considered physical work and physical rest cycles. This cycle is important because the hard work makes the standing still seem easy and desirable in comparison…which is why the horses begin to choose to stand still.

This episode is where I saddle Jac for the first time. Look closely at my body language, his body language and the use of work/rest cycles.

 

 

 
 

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I love horse people…

Maybe it’s because I’m crazy…or because they are crazy…or because we are all crazy (for horses)…but I love horse people. I’m sitting here warming my feet after enjoying time with 65 people crazy enough to brave 13 degree weather for tonights “Up Close and Personal Clinic” at Cowboy Perseverance Ranch. Slated to run from 6pm-8pm it really went until 10:30 pm!

As an added bonus the lady who contacted me on Facebook, Dawn Spoltman from WickedPony Designs had the hand-painted glass she made me hand-delivered.  Did I mention I love horse people?

Roxy glass

Enjoying apple cider in my hand painted glass from Dawn Spoltman at WickedPony Designs. The photo doesn’t do it justice!

 

 

 
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Posted by on November 18, 2014 in Life

 

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Breaking habits, pursuing dreams, wasting time…

“Hello there. I am a 23 year old male living in England, currently trying to find my place in life. I squandered a few years of my life living on benefits and not aspiring to do anything. I got incredibly fat, I had no dreams, no goals and spent every last penny I had just for the sake of spending it.

In January of this year I started to try and improve my life and myself as a whole. I still struggle with confidence but I joined a gym, began walking and started trying to save my money with one end goal in mind…to work with horses in some capacity or another, quite likely as a riding instructor after training for it. I’ve never interacted with them but have always loved them from afar, I can’t afford my own and haven’t had any lessons yet as I’m still too heavy. I was 19 stone (266 lbs) in January and I’m now 14.11 (197 lbs) as of my last weigh in.

Things had been going tremendously well…but then a certain reality hit me, and that’s how hard it is to find vacancies in the industry even if you’re well qualified. I had it in my mind to do courses in the care of horses, riding etc in 2015 but now I’ve been hit with the realization of this. I can still get free tutiton for regular A Level courses at college until I’m over 25 (currently 24) so I would have other options should I pass them. My heart wants to train for a career with horses but my brain is telling me to get those A Levels I never got and if I still have the drive for it then persue the dream, without a student loan hanging over my head. (For the A Levels, not the equine courses)

I feel incredibly lost and I feel like the very aspiration that got me to start turning my life around is slipping away. What am I supposed to do? I want to have a stable future but I know I’ll regret not even trying to live my dream as I get older. What should I do? Persue my dream now or do it in my late 30′s aftet improving my education, having wasted so much time?

I fear going into a tailspin and this right back to where I started.”-Daniel A.

Daniel- The first paragraph shows someone who has thought hard about what they have chosen to do and were not scared to look directly at the issues. The second paragraph shows someone who is willing to work and make changes…and that is impressive. Not easy to do…but that’s why it is impressive. I will try to address some of the questions you had for me. Everything comes to those who hustle while they wait. Thomas Edison

I’m not sure how hard it is to find vacancies if you are well qualified. It is becoming ‘well qualified’ that is difficult and time consuming. You might dream of teaching but you will likely start by shoveling manure, paying for lessons and outworking everyone else around you. This phase could last for ten years or more while you work to become well qualified…the difficult part is remembering that every job you do is an opportunity. An opportunity to show someone how reliable, dedicated, driven, passionate, and hard working you are all while building your skill set. There are often opportunities all around us if we are able to see them.

My kids just showed me this quote by Thomas Edison, “Everything comes to those who hustle while they wait.” I think it applies to most areas of life. You are still young and have many opportunities ahead. Maybe you could begin to look at your prior choices as learning experiences, things you did that you will choose not to do again…which could mean that it wasn’t really wasted time. I’m sure you will encounter difficulties again, we all do, just keep learning and moving forward.

If it were me, I would try for both; aim for the A Level courses that have free tuition and find a way to begin getting experience with horses. If you can’t ride yet I bet someone would let you sit and watch lessons. But don’t stop there. Go watch horse shows, look up equine events you can travel to and take this time to see what areas inside the horse industry appeal to you. Shadow people in as many areas of the equine industry as you can. Spend a day with an Equine Massage Therapist or any other profession that interests you.

I recently wrote a blog listing many of the possible careers with horses, check it out, it may surprise you how much variety there is inside the industry. Who knows, maybe you can make those A Level classes AND the horses combine to become everything you are dreaming of.

 
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Posted by on November 17, 2014 in Inspiring, Life, Members Question

 

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My horse is literally laying down on the job, how should I deter this?

“My horse and I have been doing well in training he’s green and young but listens well and learns quickly. But his new thing is he likes to roll while I’m riding him or lunging with a saddle. He is obviously trying to get me and the saddle off his back. What is the best way to deter him of this behavior? He is literally laying down on the job.”-Starr GJesse Westfall and Lucy

Some young horses do have a desire to roll with the saddle especially if they get a little sweaty. The ‘fix’ is to ask them to do something that won’t allow them to roll such as trot. Keeping him moving and redirecting his focus should clear this up. The other thing that is nice about this approach is that you can think about asking him to trot and rewarding him for trotting which is a positive approach. If you focus on punishment to stop him then the approach feels more negative even if you are essentially doing the same correction.

My husband’s mare, Lucy, was relaxed and comfortable around him. She wasn’t scared of the pad or the saddle at all…but when she would begin to sweat she wanted to roll. She was even a bit upset when she wasn’t allowed to roll which was clear because she would swirl her head in protest when he would keep her moving. Jesse simply stayed persistent during the early ground work and first rides and eventually Lucy gave up trying to roll.

Horses are funny and I enjoy their unique responses. Although you do need to deter this for now, just think how easy it will be to teach him to lie down in the future!

 
4 Comments

Posted by on November 16, 2014 in Jesse Westfall, Members Question, Training

 

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