Great insight and an effective teaching style have made Stacy Westfall one of the most popular and sought-after clinicians in the horse industry. Her famous bareback & bridleless championship ride, seen by millions on the Internet, led to an appearance on the Ellen Degeneres.  In addition to her accomplishments within the reining arena, Stacy Westfall is the only woman to win the Road to the Horse colt starting competition. In 2012 Stacy was also inducted into the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame in Fort Worth, Texas. With her husband, Jesse, she presents clinics at venues worldwide to inspire and teach people how to build better relationships with their horses.

Horses Training: understanding the end goal improves the process

I love starting colts. They tend to be open minded like small children who are eager to learn and they don’t have preconceived ideas about what is wanted from them.  To make things even more exciting the progress is easy to measure; one day they have never been saddled, the next day they have…never been ridden, now they have been. Finishing a horse is a much slower process. The changes are so small that they are hard to measure. Training a horse to respond consistently to a subtle shift or slight hand movement is often such a refined process that watching the training happen is like watching paint dry. Gone are the large leaps in training replaced by nearly undetectable changes. Sometimes to the uneducated eye it even appears that nothing is changing, but it is. Just ask the marketplace, the value of a well trained horse is often five to twenty five times the value of an untrained or poorly trained one. This is why it is so valuable to have a well trained lesson horse around. The fastest way to improve a rider is to have them ride a horse that is responsive and well trained. This not only gives the rider confidence but allows them to ‘feel’ the end result of good training. Having this experience greatly increases the likelihood that in the future this rider will pass this ‘feel’ on to another horse. Contrast this with the idea of a rider who has never ridden a well trained horse. Do you think they will improve each horse they ride? Are they as likely to reward...

Horse went from docile, friendly and loving to angry, afraid and dangerous.

“Stacy, I know this is a long shot. I train horses in Canada. I have a clients horse who went to a different trainer initially. When the horse left the owners possession it was docile, friendly and loving. He has returned home angry, afraid and dangerous. He was simple to catch and came when called and now upon attempting to catch him the horse will kick out and bite. I’m trying to work him through this for my client and would love any input or advice as this is beginning to look hopeless to break him of the kicking and biting. Any tips or advice would be greatly appreciated.” Thank you, Noel M. Yikes. Sounds like something went wrong somewhere. More information would make my answer more accurate but I will still attempt to offer some thoughts. It sounds like you are eventually able to catch him. If that is true then my first recommendation is to have him examined to see if there is something physically wrong. The list of possibilities in this area is large so having a vet is a great idea. I have seen a mare with raging uterine infections that went undetected which caused her to be angry and kick a lot. The list of possible physical issues is long and broad and include things that could have happened accidentally or with abuse. Upon initially reading this question the first thought is ‘what happened over there’? This can cause us to immediately leap to the idea of abuse. Has the owner asked questions? Was she visiting during the time the horse was in training? Do...

Almost ready for the tests to come.

As birthdays are a great time for reflecting…here goes. I’m 41 years old today. It is strange to think about it because I can very clearly remember my own mother at this same age. I can remember driving from Ohio to Maine to surprise her for her 40th birthday. I find it completely fascinating that I can look at that time period from my memory back then as well as from my current age and knowledge level. I often do this ‘time travel thinking’ when I am thinking about horses and horse training. I love the ability to remember the mistakes I made by reviewing my memories. At the time I didn’t even know I was making a mistake but I do remember what I was doing and why, as well as the results. An example of this would be the first time I tried to teach a horse to lunge. I had read an article about lunging in a magazine and I headed to the pasture to try it out. It sounded pretty achievable. We had no arena so I went to the flattest part of our pasture. I tried doing what I remembered and I sent my horse out and around me. The first half of the circle went ok but then my horse turned and walked back to me. I stepped out of the way, sent her past, and tried again. Half a circle later she came in again, I stepped out of the way again, and we repeated. I never achieved any more than that. I did try making her go faster, which resulted in...


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