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Erin made me want to fight,cry and hug my kids…horses, cancer and life.

The best part of being in the ‘public eye’ is the amazing people I get to meet. Sometimes that is face to face but often it is over the internet. Take for example Erin, a woman who emailed me about horses…and cancer.

 

“Hey Stacy, you won’t know me from Adam, but I wanted to drop you a note as I feel a kindred connection to you. Like many folks I was first introduced to you through the freestyle video of you and Roxy. Actually, that might not be quite true. I know when I saw it I recognized your name even then, so I must’ve heard of you before. Anyway, I first saw the video around 2009, 3 years after my own dad died. It didn’t occur to me until I sat down to write this that our dads died within a few months of each other. I don’t know exactly how old you are but I was 24 when my dad died and you would have been young as well. So immediately I was struck with the sense of you being a kindred spirit. Fast forward a few years and after a bout with cancer in 2011 I finally decide to take my love of horses seriously (something I should have done long ago) and move in the direction of pitching my office job (why did I ever go that route in the first place). My instructor at the time was the first instructor I ever felt helped me become a better horseman. She was very influenced by Pat Parelli so of course I latched on to that. It immediately made sense to me. That relationship with a horse I’d been striving to achieve, all the pieces finally fell into place. A few months ago I circled back around to you and your blog. One of the posts I saw early on was the one where you talk about being tired of tip-toeing around your faith because you’re afraid of offending people. As a fellow believer who was also just starting to feel the same way I again felt the kindred connection. Ever since then I have been fascinated watching your progress with Jac. I come from the world of Morgan show horses, so the disciplines aren’t the same, but the principles are universal. After every video I see something new and immediately want to go out and try it myself. At first I did just that, but now I’m back in my battle with cancer. I have full peace whatever the outcome. I will either be reunited with my dad or I will be blessed with more time with my mom and sister. In the meantime I want you to know I LOVE reading your posts. They’re a bright spot in my quiet days and inspire me for what I hope to be able to do again if I can beat this disease. Your sister in Christ, Erin”

My response:

Wow, Erin, thank you for the email. Thank you for taking the time to write to me. Would you be comfortable with me sharing this as a blog sometime? If not, that is fine. I just think some people could be inspired by it.

I am glad you have peace either way. I will pray you have some more time here…we will have forever on the other side! I love Rich Mullens song, http://youtu.be/oh1Y-eIu99Q

Erins reply:

Thanks for replying. I’m not really sure why I wrote you, I just felt compelled. I didn’t necessarily expect a response, but I’m very glad to “meet” you. Hopefully one of these days I’ll be able to introduce myself in person. If not, I’ll catch you on the flipside :)

Oh Rich, one of the greatest modern lyricists in my opinion. His song “If I Stand” is one of my all-time favorites. I hadn’t heard this one before, I’ll have to let it sink in for a few days :)

I don’t mind at all if you share. If you want more quotables or want to follow my progress, a few friends started a blog for me with my original diagnosis in 2011. You can read or follow it here if you want. It’s mostly a way to keep friends updated so I don’t have to answer the same questions 50 times. One resolution I made this time though was to be more vocal about my spiritual perspective. Here are a few posts that people have seemed very affected by:

YOU MUST FOLLOW THE LINK AND READ THE POST…if you want the rest of this blog to make any sense. Have tissues ready.Pray for Erin

It begins: 2 years and 6 months ago I was given 2 years to live….” 

http://prayforerinbriggs.wordpress.com/2014/03/05/this-afternoon/

Then I read this blog before writing back to Erin:

http://prayforerinbriggs.wordpress.com/2014/04/09/perspective/

Erin,

 

I’m sitting here crying! Your blogs are amazing. It makes me marvel at your strength; I like to think I would react like that but doubt creeps in.

It is funny you say that ‘If I Stand’ is one of your all time favorites. It is my favorite Rich Mullens song. Although I felt lead to share the other with you. Really. Humanly I wanted to share ‘Stand’ because it is my favorite. I find strange peace in the other though. I have told my husband I want it played at my funeral but he doesn’t like to talk about that. I also want ‘further up and further in’ The Last Battle, C.S. Lewis on my headstone….I’m kinda detail oriented:)

Ride with Faith,

Stacy Westfall

 

If you have read to this point, I hope you were as touched by Erin’s story as I was. If you were, please go write her a note and share her blog posts. I made use of the donate button also:)

 

 
5 Comments

Posted by on May 4, 2014 in Inspiring, Life, Sunday, Video

 

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How many horses in a day do you typically train? How many hours per day do you usually devote to each horse?

“Hi Stacy. How many horses in a day do you typically train? How many hours per day do you usually devote to each horse? Flo B.”

Flo- Years ago my husband and I trained horses full time for a living. At that time we kept seventeen to twenty horses at our barn and had anywhere from one to three people that worked for us. Sometimes those people did maintenance, feeding and cleaning so that Jesse and I had more time to ride. At one point we had three young ladies working for us who fed, cleaned stalls and rode horses with us also.

We average an hour to an hour and a half per day when riding the horses. Sometimes it might be less if there is something especially good that happens and we want to reward them or if they are young but over the period of a year or two it still averages out.

Back when we trained full time at our peak Jesse and I rode ten a day but we had a girl who saddled, warmed them up and unsaddled.

Now I do more traveling and teaching at expos, etc. Traveling means that I can’t train regularly unless the horses can travel with me. I am currently riding two horses, Jac and Newt, and sometimes Popcorn…and the mini’s. Popcorn and the mini’s are more like a hobby, lol.

I still average around an hour to an hour and a half per day, per horse, five days per week. That is how it becomes possible to see that Roxy had over 1,000 hours of training when I rode her bareback and bridleless as a 5 year old. She entered training as a two year old and the show was at the end of her five year old year. That would be about 250 hours per year as a 2, 3, 4 and 5 year old.

The video below shows Jac with 120-125 hours of training….his hours are lower because he got sore in the summer and had time off

This video shows Roxy with about 1,000 hours of training.

 
5 Comments

Posted by on April 12, 2014 in Members Question, Training, Video

 

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A Horse’s View: Newt meets the Natives

Dear Louie,

I know we really haven’t talked much since the Quarter Horse Con-ger-us last October but I overheard our moms talking and I thought I should warn you.Newt tied

IF YOU COME TO VISIT  –  THE NATIVES ARE NOT FRIENDLY!

No one warned me and I had to find out the hard way.

You see, my mom left me tied after we went for a ride the other night. It is an annoying habit she has, I dig a hole to tell her it is wrong, but she is a slow learner.

I usually just dig but this time I decided to untie the knot. It took awhile but I did it.

I knew exactly what I wanted to do. There are these horses that come by and visit but I am always in my pen…except last week when my mom was riding me and they came running down the driveway. We didn’t have time to talk then though.Newt visits other horses

So when I untied myself I took off after them!

It was dark but I can see pretty good. I could smell them and it made it easier.

I was so excited! I ran right up to them and then BAM!

They kicked me!

Mom came and found me.

I just thought I should warn you.

Your bite your lip buddy,

Newt

If you liked this blog and want to know more about Newt and Louie check out the following blogs:

 
3 Comments

Posted by on March 14, 2014 in A Horse's View, Inspiring, Life

 

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How is Jac doing with the move to Texas?

Does Jac like Texas? It sure looks like it.

HIs first day was exciting. He was shocked when a group of horses came wandering down the road and stopped by to say, “Hi.” The way the stall barn is designed is GENIUS! Mike designed it and I will have to do more photos but basically the horse have large stalls that open into runs. The cool part is that the back wall of the stall completely opens into the run, or completely shuts them into a stall. Also the ‘run’ has an overhang. Photos of that later.

Jac visiting the roaming horses

Yesterday, I went to ride and Jac was out in his run sleeping in the sun. I put the halter on but he was just content to sleep. Eventually he consented to a ride…he was very relaxed. Jesse video taped it and I will post it in the future.

sleepy Jac

I still really enjoy the ‘horse wildlife preserve’ feeling around her. Will all 200 plus acres fenced it is neat to go ride and find horses. It is also just plain fun to see what horses with the freedom to roam do. Trying to sneak into the barn is always high on their list of activities…this still surprises Jac when they do get in, lol.

Below is a video of what we frequently find when we come home. It was just getting dark and we came around a corner in the drive and…well, hit rush hour traffic in the driveway!

 
11 Comments

Posted by on March 7, 2014 in Life, Video

 

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Do I give up my dream to train horses? Family or business? Hobby or dream?

“Stacy-Horses have been a passion of mine from as long as I can remember, but unfortunately I never had the opportunity to interact with them until a little less than a year ago.  A little less than a year ago I started working for an equestrian center just cleaning stalls on top of my full-time job that I work 2nd shift in.

I was fortunate enough to meet the trainer that comes to the barn to break out the horses there. He was nice enough to allow me to shadow him with shoeing and training and also to taught me how to ride, started me in barrels. With doing all of those things as you can imagine my passion grew much larger and it took up a lot more of my time. This is where I need your motherly advice.

I have a fiancé and a 3 year old daughter whom I wouldn’t trade anything in the world for, but she and I have not been seeing eye to eye with my passion. She thinks its just a hobby and it takes way to much of my time.

My ultimate goal is to be a great farrier and an even better trainer. With the full-time job, the part time job at the barn, and trying to learn to shoe, train, and become a better rider myself my time is very limited, and unfortunately my fiancé and my daughter have suffered. How do I keep an equal balance with everything going on? Do I quit cleaning stalls to apprentice more? Do I give up my dream all together to make others happy? Or I continue down the path I’m on? Or none of the above? I’m very confused. Also my fiancé is giving me an ultimatum because she just doesn’t get the passion people have for your line of work. Any advice given would be extremely helpful and appreciated. You are a great inspiration and icon. I hope to meet you some day soon. Take care.”

my response……

Choices, choices….life is full of choices and each one helps determine our path in life. I cannot tell you what to do but I can tell you what I have done and share a bit with you how I think.

It is exciting that you have now found the opportunity to express a passion you have had for such a long time. I love learning and when combined with passion….it can light a person on fire. I think I can feel your excitement coming through the computer!

Do keep in mind that in most things there is a ‘honeymoon’ period and you are still in that period with the horses. This feeling can also be magnified if you are unhappy with your current job as it will make this ‘new job’ look even more appealing…magnifying the honeymoon period and intensifying the feelings.

Stacy Westfall showing in western pleasure early in horse training career.

Stacy Westfall showing in western pleasure early in horse training career.

Your fiancé thinks this is just a hobby…and in a way, right now, she is probably correct. The IRS would agree with her. Some of the guidelines they have for business or hobby are;

• Does the time and effort put into the activity indicate an intention to make a profit?

• Does the taxpayer depend on income from the activity?

• Has the taxpayer changed methods of operation to improve profitability?

• Does the taxpayer or his/her advisors have the knowledge needed to carry on the activity as a successful business?

• Has the taxpayer made a profit in similar activities in the past?

• Does the activity make a profit in some years?

Most people in a start up phase will allow for great leeway in the name of learning.

Things will go faster and smoother, both financially and with your fiancé, if you take the time to write out a plan for how- and when- this is going to turn into a business.

I highly recommend that you check out the website for Dan Miller and 48 Days to the Work You Love.  Listen to the podcasts, read everything he has. It would be my guess that the faster path to income will be in the farrier work, depending on your area, so maybe start the business around that idea.

You state that your ultimate goal is to be a great farrier and an even better trainer. I believe that you were referring to your business goals here but I will challenge you to think bigger.

My fastest path to my ‘ultimate goal’ is to imagine lying on my death bed.

Stacy Westfall priority list as seen on Facebook; wife, mother, horsewoman.

Stacy Westfall priority list as seen on Facebook; wife, mother, horsewoman.

Instantly, life shifts into a different perspective. It is not an accident that my Facebook page says, “I am a wife, a mother, and a horsewoman.”…in that order.

I could be busier than I am in my business; I could do more expos, clinics and other appearances, but I don’t. Right now that is a choice I am making because my kids are 12, 14 and 15 years old. They won’t always live with me. I can see this stage of life and I know it will likely come to a close when they graduate from high school. I choose to make the most of the time I have with them even if it isn’t the best decision for growing my business.

I am not suggesting that this is an either/or choice. I am stubborn enough to think that people can have both family and business success…as long as they decide ahead of time what both of those look like.

There are many people out there with more wisdom on this subject, Dan Miller included, that can teach you about finding that balance.

Early on in our business our life wasn’t balanced but Jesse and I were on the same page. For the first two years out of college we worked full time jobs, had children, and trained on the side. By definition it was a hobby. Three years into our marriage we filed taxes on the new business and during the next four years Jesse worked a full time job AND rode horses…enough that it was a second full time job. I had our third child, was a full time mom and horse trainer, stall cleaner, lawn mower…you get the picture.

Jesse Westfall was Congress Reserve Champion the same day his youngest son was born.

Jesse Westfall was Congress Reserve Champion the same day his youngest son was born.

It took six years of hard work before the horses became our only business. During that time our income was below or just at the federal poverty line.

For me personally, I had to look directly at the situation and decide that if push came to shove and I had to choose- I choose family.

With that in mind, consider the words of Robert Frost;

The Road Not Taken

TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

     

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

        

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

       

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

 
18 Comments

Posted by on March 3, 2014 in Life, Members Question

 

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Just a bit further down the road….blankets, horses and traveling

With the crazy-late night we had before we left Ohio we haven’t been making the best time as we travel. On the flip side we have met some great people and are managing to catch up on our sleep (in the hotels…not while we drive).Jac blanket

Most of our horses were blanketed this winter in Ohio which is going to come in handy with this move to Texas. As we travel we need to take the ever changing temperatures into account as well as the idea that the horses are working a bit as we travel. Here you can see Jac is taking off a layer before loading up in the trailer.

Today as we travel we will be leaving while it is 30 degrees but within two hours of driving it will be 59 degrees and will be 69 degrees later than that. With five horses in the trailer the plan is to take blankets off and then regulate the temperature by keeping the trailer closed up at the beginning and then opening rear windows as needed. It is important to remember to leave some windows in the rear cracked because five horse breathing in the trailer does create a lot of condensation. Have you ever noticed in the cold weather that a car load of people in a vehicle makes the windows hard to keep defogged? Same idea but inside the horse trailer.Horse motels are very helpful on the road.

Signing off for now, I have to go load up horses. Jac is almost as excited about being ridden as I am about riding him…lol. He is so full of energy because I didn’t ride him the last few days in Ohio as we packed and he is very, very fit from being ridden in 20 degree weather at home. I hope he and Newt behaved last night in their side by side stalls. Maybe I will ride in the next few days?

 
15 Comments

Posted by on February 16, 2014 in Training

 

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So that’s where they come from…..

Build a minimini and girl

 
1 Comment

Posted by on February 9, 2014 in Life

 

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