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If your horse is willing to say ‘NO’ somewhere it should be a red flag.

When I was young I belonged to a contesting club. We ran all kinds of speed events including barrel racing, pole bending and more. It was common, back then, for horses to refuse to go into the show pen. Maybe even more interesting…it was not only common, it was also accepted.

red flagOver all the years that I have trained horses, I have noticed that horses often go through many of the stages that children do when learning. With a human child we understand that there is a stage where ‘no’ is their favorite word. We also understand that as teenagers develop they will often push and test authority as they develop a stronger sense of who they are.

I think horses go through many of these stages too.

The biggest difference that I see is that we adults would not trust a defiant and testy child with things of high value. Yet, through a lack of knowledge or ability to recognize the issue many adults climb onto horses who are defiant and testy….trusting them with our lives.

No person, or horse, or dog is perfect but we should be aware that a willingness to defiantly say ‘NO’ should be considered a red flag.

What does the red flag point to? It could be many things; immaturity, lack of understanding, a questioning of authority, soreness or more. The first step in figuring out what is going on is to acknowledge the red flag.

 

 
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Posted by on May 15, 2015 in Life

 

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Stolen Saddles: What would you do? Where do they go?

“Hi Stacy. I know this is a long shot. But I was hoping that you would share this picture on your Facebook and help to get these saddles returned home.”-Kendra H

I received this email late last night asking for help in recovering stolen saddles…and it got me thinking. How often does this happen? Where do these saddles end up? After reading the post I was even more interested because these particular saddles are trophy saddles which should make them even easier to identify…and I would guess more difficult to hide. Have you ever had tack stolen before? Were you at home? At a show? Traveling? Looking back at the incident was there something you could have done to prevent it? What would you recommend others do? I wondered if a website existed for reporting these crimes. It looks like several have been started but my search didn’t reveal any that have been regularly maintained. I wonder if this is because a different method worked better, maybe Craigslist or the police?

Have you seen these stolen saddles?

Have you seen these stolen saddles?

 
8 Comments

Posted by on May 13, 2015 in Members Question

 

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What tests and paperwork did you need when crossing state borders with horses?

“Hi Stacy! Since you have travelled all over the US, I feel like you’d be the best person to ask this:

I’m potentially moving out of state within the next couple of years and when I move my horses, I know that they’ll need to have Coggins testing done (some states require 1 year negative result). Where there other tests that you did with the horses? What is the process like when you cross the state borders? What kind of paperwork is needed and what were some of the pre-planning things you did (horse motels, etc) to ensure a smooth travel across the country? Thank you for your time! “Jess F.

a sample of horse papers needed for travel with horses

Proof of my horses health from around the country: health papers & Coggins tests.

Generally the two documents that are needed are a current Coggins test and current health papers. “Current” is actually defined by each state. In general it is considered current within a year but there are states that are exceptions, for example, one state requires the coggins to be within 6 months AND within the current year. Quirky.

But that is where your vet comes in.

When the vet writes the ‘health paper’ they will do a physical exam of the horse and get the address of where you are headed. They will call the state you are going to and double check that states requirements. The other great thing about this is that the vets are aware of any current health ‘issues’ that may be happening in certain areas. If there has been a recent outbreak of a disease some states may not allow you to travel to them. An example of this would be someone who wanted to travel from Texas to Kentucky during a time that Texas was having an outbreak in the area. Even if the horse that wishes to travel is not at a farm that is directly affected it is possible for the health paper to be denied. Inconvenient but understandable.

Some states, such as Florida and California, have inspection areas where they will check your paperwork. On our trip from Texas to Alabama the highway took us into Florida. Although we were not traveling ‘to’ Florida as our final destination they still checked our paperwork. Kentucky is a state where it is fairly common to be randomly pulled over and asked for your paperwork. Other states will do their inspections at events.

Sometimes I wonder what I should do with all of the paperwork I have accumulated. If I bound all my horsey travel papers together I could have a book. I am looking forward to the day when Global Vet Link or a similar service is wide spread but for now I will continue to carry my many colored pages. I’m glad you asked this question…it gave me another use for all these documents!

P.S.- Here is a link to a blog I did about finding horse motels too.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on May 12, 2015 in Video

 

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Trail riding in Ohio at Mohican State Park…bareback!

May in Ohio is a beautiful time to trail ride and one of my favorite places to go is Mohican State Park. Spring flowers and ferns are still sneaking up and because the leaves are not fully out yet it is possible to see further than you can in full summer. This day it was almost 85 degrees out but under the cover of the trees we stayed nice and cool.

One of my favorite parts of this ride are the multiple water crossings. The horses love to drink and play in the water before we head back up and down the many hills. This trip was also special because a good friend joined us and took her mare out for her first trail ride. I do have to admit that my pants were very wet and not very clean by the time I got done…and my inner legs were a bit sore…but I plan on doing it again as soon as possible!

 
5 Comments

Posted by on May 11, 2015 in Life, Video

 

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Hey Stacy, I was wondering, is 21 too old to teach some of the stuff in your videos?

“Hey Stacy, I was wondering, is 21 too old to teach some of the stuff in your videos? As I have a 21 year-old I’d love to do more work with. Thanks.” -Lydia S.

One of my refrigerator magnets.

One of my refrigerator magnets.

I was asked this question years ago by a young girl around the age of 13. She owned a  20+ year old horse. I told her that how much she accomplish would depend on her persistence and consistency and some on her horses willingness. She watched my demos at the expo and before it was over she bought my Bridleless riding DVD.

Several months later I received an email from her.  She sent me a link to a video where she was riding her horse bridleless! The horse was clearly a 4H type horse so her pattern looked more like a horsemanship pattern and her ‘rollbacks’ were simple pivots…but it was AWESOME! One young persistent girl and one older horse. I wish I still had that video link but all of this happened back in 2006 and the computer it was on died. I didn’t have anything backed up so it took all the info with it :(

I can’t say exactly how far the stuff will take you…but I will tell you that it IS VERY POSSIBLE!

 
8 Comments

Posted by on May 8, 2015 in Members Question, Training

 

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Will us (fans) ever see you doing another bridleless/bareback routine?

“Will us (fans) ever see you doing another bridleless/bareback routine??…. I remember seeing a video someone posted on youtube (you/Roxy/Maggie) … Templeton Thompson was singing your song…… but then Roxy died and then Vaquero and I guess Maggie is retired…. so I was wondering if you have given up on that dream… or have you even thought about at all?”-Lesia Lowe

I am a big believer that when the time is right, things will happen. My job is to be prepared. I don’t know if another bareback/bridleless routine will happen again or not. As you saw in the video with Roxy and Maggie (below) I was experimenting with this as a possibility. I wasn’t sure if I could ever get it to a show level…but Maggie never recovered from a suspensory injury that she sustained running in the pasture and we turned her into a broodmare. Did you realize that Maggie is Newt’s mom?

I work my horses and give them opportunities but they get to make choices too. Maybe it will happen, maybe it won’t. I don’t lose sleep over it but I don’t sit on the couch thinking it will ‘just happen’ either. I work and then let the chips fall where they may…thats the mystery of life. I’m starting Newt’s two year old half sister right now (another Maggie baby) and I have plans to ride more of Roxy’s granddaughters.

I don’t know where life will lead…two years ago if you told me I would be living full time in a motor home I would have laughed at you…but I did leave the door open :)

 
4 Comments

Posted by on May 7, 2015 in Inspiring, Members Question

 

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Stacy Westfall’s first time riding bridleless on Newt

Yippy! Newt is giving bridleless riding a try!

This is a video of the first time I took the bridle off Newt and rode him around. Newt is six years old in this video and I started his under saddle training as a two year old.  I had been practicing the cue system during his entire training. For several months before this I had also been tying the reins up and focusing on riding with only my body, leg and voice cues. I chose to ride with a neck rope (one of my reins removed from my bridle) because Newt liked the familiar feeling of the neck rein cues and was more relaxed and confident.

Please realize that many, many hours of training have happened prior to this and you should not try riding bridleless unless you are confident that you have a clear communication system with your horse that doesn’t rely on the bridle in case of an emergency. The prior sentence is not meant to be reversed to imply that the bridle should be your emergency system…but the reality is that for many people the bridle is their strongest form of communication with their horse in an emergency.

If I sound a bit concerned it is because I know that other videos of me riding bridleless have inspired many people to give it a try. Many have had success but there have been a few that have been injured because they (either horse or rider or both) were not properly prepared. Just last year I met a trainer who said one of his youth girls broke her leg while trying to imitate my ride.

Clear communication through consistent training is the key…I’m just saying don’t just pull the bridle off and hope for the best as it isn’t fair to either you or your horse :-)

This was videoed in February 2015 while we were in California. You may also find it interesting that I have only ridden him bridleless a handful of times between then and now as I am still continuing to advance his ‘in the bridle’ training.

 
8 Comments

Posted by on May 6, 2015 in Thought provoking, Training, Video

 

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