As birthdays are a great time for reflecting…here goes.Stacy Westfall and her mother Sherri riding Scrapper.

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 her trotting in towards me, which resulted in me jumping out of the way. I could see that this more closely resembled Spanish bull fighting that lunging so I quit.

Insist on yourself. Never imitate.This reflective moment is going somewhere, really, it is.

As today is my birthday I am receiving many well wishing messages through texts, Facebook, cards and for those I would first like to say thank you. Thank you for thinking of me and for taking the time to write, text, call or mail things.

Many of you also congratulated me on my achievements or on chasing my dreams or other versions of this. Would it surprise you to know that if I did my ‘time travel thinking’ and went back to the same age where I remember my mom at my current age (drink some coffee and re-read that sentence)…I didn’t see any of this coming?

None. Of. It.

I didn’t even have the ability to dream this big, so can I claim to have chased my dream?

There are many, many times when I watch one of my freestyles and it is like watching a movie. It still doesn’t seem real.

One thing I have noticed that has consistently worked for me is following my heart a.k.a. that still small voice that speaks to my soul.  The one that often leads me down paths that are not common.

I wish I could claim I always followed it or even slowed down long enough to think about it but I don’t. I still make mistakes and face the consequences but I hope I am learning the lessons quicker now.

Horses are amazing. From the time I was a child I wished I was one. When difficulty comes and I respond I often ask myself what kind of horse I would be at that moment; defiant, confused, willing…am I the horse I would want to ride?

Horses learn much faster than humans do. If I sit here and compare my ‘training’ to my horses training level I would observe this. I have been prepared by my Master and I have been to some schooling shows. Some went well and others not-so-well. I feel simultaneously strengthened and dependent on my lessons.

I am almost ready for the real tests to come.