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Train Your Own Horse with Stacy Westfall

Stacy Westfall teaches people how to understand, enjoy and successfully train their own horses. In her podcast, she shares all of her knowledge in her area of expertise: horses. She offers insights into issues that riders face in their own minds as well as the way they are viewing the challenges and goals they have with horses. She shares tips on becoming a better rider as well as a better leader for your horse. Discover how you can understand things from your horses point of view so that you can enjoy the learning process with your horse. When you are able to understand what your horse is experiencing mentally and physically the process of learning new things becomes more enjoyable. Your goals may be showing, trail riding or simply enjoying life with horses-all of which Stacy enjoys herself. She shares her own struggles and successes to allow listeners to understand that everyone experiences ups and downs. Through her podcast, website, YouTube channel and social media Stacy answers questions about: Fear, when to sell a horse, goal setting, safety, ground work, trailer loading, lead changes, reining, spins, stops, western dressage, ranch riding, when to get help, lessons, clinics and improving your safety, success and enjoyment of horses.

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Experiencing A ‘Bad’ Riding Lesson

Episode 59: Stacy and Ginny discuss the power of using curiosity to overcome challenges. Stacy tells about here experience with a 'bad' riding lesson.  Ginny discusses getting bucked off a horse she trusted and having to decide if she should sell the horse.  Stacy & Ginny discuss the power of the rider's mind to make different choices and how that can impact our riding, relationship and enjoyment of our horses.


1 Jan 2020

Rank #1

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Why lunging horses? Benefits and warnings.

Ep 72: Question: You referenced lunging in your podcast and videos. I was hoping you could talk more about it. Perhaps elaborate on how you go about it and what you're looking for and feeling for from the horse? Answer includes: Why lunge at all? Where it comes in useful. How to use it to teach rhythm. Why lunging has a bad reputation. Why people struggle to learn to lunge (or avoid it). How the line should feel in your hand…and more.


1 Apr 2020

Rank #2

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Q&A: Changing Horse’s Habits, Sell or Keep, Hobble Training and Riding Bareback

I tackle four different listener questions today. If you would like to ask a question or have a topic you would like me to expand on please hit the orange tab on the side and leave a voicemail. You just might end up in one of my future podcasts. Fun facts about today’s listener questions include two come from France, two of the listeners have the same name, and one is 12 years old. The first thing I talk about is whether it’s possible to delete a bad habit. I talk about how layers of training apply, understanding the horses nature, and how important it is to understand why a horse is doing something.  Then we move on to a question about whether it’s a good idea to keep a needy fearful mare. I share the questions that this listener really needs to ask herself to find the answer that suits her lifestyle. Then we move on to hobble training. I talk about the pros, cons, safety, and alternatives. The last question is from a young listener who just wants tips and advice on riding bareback. I share my childhood experience and then my more advanced experience with riding Can Can Lena. This episode closes out this season, and I’ll be talking about tools on the next episode.  Show Notes: [00:43] Sophie from France is trying to help a friend who has no control of her horse and falls off of the saddle regularly. She wants to know if it's possible to delete a bad habit that's in the horses mind.  [01:41] Adding layers to the horse's training applies here, but there are also a couple of other angles.  [01:52] What is in the horses nature? Not all horses tend to lean towards a certain behavior. A horse that bucks in the pasture would have more of a natural tendency to buck. [03:03] The example I like to use often is a horse that will rear when you see it playing is a little easier to get that horse to rear when you're doing groundwork and liberty work because it kind of already has a habit of liking to do that. [03:40] Does a horse buck because it's in his nature or is it because he's scared? [03:51] A lot of horses will exhibit undesirable behavior because of fear. If a horse doesn't understand something, it may use an undesirable behavior as an escape route. [04:31] If a horse is doing something out of fear, that leaves you more room for correcting it or adding layers on top of it. [05:10] Living a life without fear is so much more enjoyable for the horse. [05:32] You can also ask if this is Grandma's rules, but this typically means that the horse will behave one way with one person and in a different way with another person. [09:11] The way you label the behavior will change how you behave with the horse. [10:03] Recognize who the horse is at their core. Their core doesn't change.  [10:41] You might be able to train this horse and never see it again. It really comes down to the root cause.  [10:50] A listener adopted a very needy mare who is fearful and buddy sour. Her emotions are so high, the listener can't get the horse to respond to her. The listener is afraid the horses ground behavior will translate to the saddle, and she wants to trail ride the horse.  [11:42] Will the horse get over this with training? Should she send it back? [12:16] This really comes down to the listener's personal situation. You need to get clear about what you want and if this horse fits with what you want.  [13:28] Does this look like a fun project for you? [14:39] Are you interested in finding out why this horse thinks this way? Do you want to solve the puzzle of this horse who has high emotions? [15:13] There are a lot of variables how things could turn out with this horse. Write down the way things could play out and see if most are negative or positive.  [17:07] There is a piece of the horse telling you about her nature. There's a lot we can do to modify their nature especially if the horse is lacking training.  [17:23] If your not excited about being the person who puts in hundreds of hours without knowing if it will work or not, then you won't have fun doing it.  [18:01] Think in the zone of the rider's mind and don't let there be any shame if it's not for you. [19:25] Everything can improve with training. You need to decide how high a priority trail riding is. [20:45] Clair from France has a question regarding hobble training. She's getting a new colt this fall and wants to hobble train him along with her 5 year old.  [21:24] Hobbling can be a good skill or a train wreck.  [22:02] Horses fight with hobbles, because they are scary. [22:33] You can teach horses to lead from each leg. Teach a horse to give to pressure, then when you go to hobble training it's already done for you.  [24:17] If a horse gets tangled up in something, they will give to that pressure instead of fighting against it.  [26:07] Hobble trained horses don't struggle if they get tangled in something.  [26:50] It can also be a disaster if not prepared correctly.  [31:51] Ground tying a horse a teaching them the mental aspect of staying put is another option.  [32:06] Make sure the horse understands giving pressure to each leg.  [32:41] Consider why you want to do it and the nature of the horse. Make it a great experience. [33:06] We have another question from a 12-year-old Claire in Texas. She rides bareback a lot and wants tips on balancing and bareback in general. [33:26] I grew up riding bareback. I have slid down the horses neck and landed in front of her face when the horse has stopped to eat grass.  [34:22] In 2004, I started riding Can Can Lina bareback. She went back to start small in a short amount of time and build up. [35:03] I would ride like normal and then cool her down by pulling the saddle off and riding bareback. [36:47] Riding bareback feels different for the horse, and they might ask questions.  Links and Resources: Episode 31: Listener Question: Untraining a Horse or Adding Layers? Stacy Westfall 2003 NRHA Futurity Freestyle Bridleless Reining Have you ever wondered what a live version of this podcast would be like?I’m hosting some live, online video calls that are like a live version of this podcast. I teach on a subject, answer questions and for those who are brave, I’ll turn your video on live too and you can join me for a conversation! If you want to learn more about this you can visit https://stacywestfall.com/live/ for more information!


23 Oct 2019

Rank #3

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Riders experience four stages of competency

There are four stages of competency when riding your horse. I first read about these on an article in Dressage Today. The first stage is unconscious incompetence. The second stage is conscious incompetence. The third stage is conscious competence. The fourth  stage is unconscious competence. I talk about what these stages mean to riders and the stage that people often get stuck in. I also talk about how there is no shame in having to relearn habits, and I share a passage from a readers email and talk about getting the right teacher. Show Notes [01:09] I found an article on Dressage Today about the four stages of competence. [01:21] The first one is unconscious incompetence or you don't know what you don't know. [01:29] The second stage is conscious incompetence. This is the stage for you become aware of things you don't know. [01:37] The third stage is conscious competence. This is where if you focus and try hard you can be confident and able to perform whatever you are trying to do. [01:53] The fourth stage is unconscious competence. This is where you have to work less, because things are happening at an unconscious level. [02:05] A good example of these stages is when you are teaching someone how to drive. [03:03] When applied to riding unconscious incompetence is kind of that dreaming stage. [03:33] Even though riders in the dreaming stage don't have a lot of knowledge, they have a lot of excitement. [04:03] If someone falls off a horse for the first time in the unconscious incompetence stage, they quickly realize that something can happen. [04:57] Once you enter conscious incompetence, you can start learning and becoming more aware. [05:18] An example of this is you've been dreaming of getting a horse, you get a horse, the horse is getting pushy, and you start looking for more help. [06:00] The conscious competence comes around when you're focused and thinking about what you are doing. [06:33] Unconsciously competent looks kind of magical to people, but it just comes from hard work and good practice. [07:14] It's important to recognize that these stages exist. [07:35] People often feel stuck right in the middle when they are working between conscious competence and conscious incompetence. [08:17] If you study and put in the time, you can get to the unconscious competence stage. [09:33] A lead change is an example where a high degree of awareness is needed for a long time. [12:06] My muscle memory is unconsciously competent for a certain set of things that I've trained my body to do. I had to be conscious of my right hand when taking dressage lessons because it was on autopilot. [15:42] When switching disciplines there's a challenge that comes along with it. [16:09] When you have to break old habits don't start condemning yourself. Don't start beating yourself up mentally, because it's not needed. It's not helpful. It will hold you back instead of moving you forward. [16:57] An email from a reader who is going to take up riding. She needs to find a riding instructor that is the right fit for her so she can be open. Links and Resources: Dressage Today Learning Strategies for the Dressage Rider


19 Dec 2018

Rank #4

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Responsibility and the stages of learning riders experience with horses

Episode 3: The topic of responsibility is going to be a two-part series. In this first part, I'm going to talk about the stages that riders actually go through when they are learning with horses. The three stages riders go through are the dreaming stage, the learning stage, and the balanced stage. Learn how to understand which stage you are in and how to work towards balance. Show Notes [01:07] The first stage that riders jump into is the dreaming stage. I call this my Disney moments. This is the stage that most people enter horses through. Whether it was cowboy movies or the Black Stallion books. [02:00] At some point, people transition into the learning stage. [02:17] The learning stage kicks off a lot of thoughts about how things function. I call this the nuts and bolts. [02:35] The third and final stage is the balanced stage. This is where someone believes in both of the stages. [03:22] Learning more doesn't mean you have to give up dreaming, and dreaming is not less than learning. It's beautiful when balance happens. [03:54] In the dreaming stage, you think everything works, and you give all of the responsibility to the horse. [04:29] In the learning stage, you can get too bogged down in the nuts and the bolts. [05:39] Thankfully, I found my way to a more balanced phase. [06:09] I don't criticize anyone who is dreaming, and I don't criticize anyone who is learning, but I love it when they can join me in the balanced stage. [06:56] You can still experience the magic of horses while learning the dynamics of how things work. [07:50] People who become horse trainers are often in that learner phase. They often move closer and closer to robotic training. [09:34] If you're a professional with horses, you can write your own rules. [09:48] Take a minute and reflect on the stages and see if you are in predominantly one stage or the other. Are you spending more time in one stage or the other? Have you found balance? Do you switch back and forth fairly frequently? Is there an area where you are stuck?


17 Dec 2018

Rank #5

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Episode 11: Q & A: Evaluating Horse, Confidence & Desire, Limiting Beliefs

In this Q & A episode, I am going to cover evaluating a new horse, overcoming loss of confidence and desire, and how to overcome the limiting belief that horses hate being ridden. Show Notes [01:13] Question one is from Leann in Canada. She asks my perspective about acquiring a new horse and how to best assess which phase the horse is in and what needs to be done to bring the horse to a new level of understanding? [01:58] I keep two things in mind at all times when evaluating a horse. Number one is who are they, and number two is what training level are they at? [02:21] Looking at who a horse is at its core is how it interacts with other horses and with the herd. Patterns will also develop. [04:15] It's almost easier to get a naturally timid horse to follow a strong leader because that horse actually needs a strong leader. [05:31] There is a way that the horses are at their core. [05:46] Training can accentuate or mask certain habits. [07:01] I'm always evaluating who the horses are and what their training level is. [09:20] I'm constantly training and then testing. During early training, the horse may not know the answer to my test or pop quizzes. The test is to find out what the horse knows. [10:05] When I get to the horse's mind and the horse's body series, I'm going to talk about what grade school, high school, and college-level mean for the horse. [10:53] Because I train my horses from start to finish, I have all of the levels very clearly in my mind. [12:24] In the series on Stacy's Video Diary, you see Jac go from kindergarten to high school but not into college. [13:42] The second question is from a 62-year-old woman who lost her Mare. She also lost her will to ride. She bought a new horse, but she has lost so much of her confidence and riding ability. She wants to show her new horse. How can she get her confidence back? [15:10] I had a similar experience of losing a horse. Confidence, ability, and desire are the three things that stand out to me when I listen to your question. [15:38] In 2012, I lost my horse, Vaquero. It really affected me, and I didn't do much for the next two years. [17:03] One of the reasons I had trouble moving on was because I was stuck on some of the things that I didn't accomplish with Vaquero. [18:06] It felt like I was living between two worlds. [18:51] Confidence is the state of feeling certain. Your world can be shaken with the loss of a horse. [19:28] I also began to drag my feet, because I knew how much time it would take to create my next masterpiece of a horse. [20:03] You need to reflect on what feeling certain means to you and how you can become more certain. [20:41] For me, I needed to separate the desires I had for Vaquero with the next horse to come. [21:48] Is your desire for you to be seen with a one-in-a-million horse or is it a desire for you to accomplish something with this horse? [22:40] Get clear on what your desire is. [23:14] If you're going to acquire the ability to do something, it's going to take practice and riding is a physical sport. [24:46] Ability is tied to confidence and a feeling of being certain. Journaling could be helpful. Give yourself permission to miss your mare and move on. [25:37] Our final question is from France. Sophie believes that horses hate being ridden. She loves her mare and wants her to be happy. Because she believes the mare doesn't enjoy being ridden, she doesn't take pleasure in riding the horse. [27:12] Everyone draws their own lines about what they believe. You have drawn your line between mounted and unmounted. [28:15] I would challenge you to move your line backward and see how you came across this line between riding and not riding. [28:58] Would you accept if your horse wasn't happy standing for the farrier? Find what you are willing to do that the horse may not be happy with. [29:50] Take a piece of paper and write down everything horses could possibly hate about being ridden. Break it down into very specific things. [31:22] Challenge your belief by exposing yourself to people with different beliefs and looking at your own life. [32:27] Do you believe discomfort can be for your benefit? If I believe discomfort is good for my own body, I can naturally transfer that over to my horse and say that some discomfort is good for them. [34:16] Explore other words that might be triggering you like the difference between confidence and insecurities or learning versus ignorance. Other examples are board versus stimulated and mature versus immature. [35:59] Use treats and rewards. [38:01] Some horses enjoy work more than others the same way some people enjoy work more than others. [38:53] Horses have temperament differences. Take all the evidence of everything your horse hates and look on the internet and find evidence that contradicts each of these pieces of evidence. [40:38] Keep in mind that you become who you hang out with. [41:37] My job with my horses is to keep them healthy, safe, and equip them for the world they live in. [42:59] Thanks for all of the comments and feedback. I listen to and read them all. Links and Resources: Stacy's Video Diary: Jac-Episode 1-First Day-Part 1-Evaluating Jac Stacy's Video Diary: Jac-Episode 2-First Day-Part 2-Evaluating Jac Stacy's Video Diary: Jac- Episode 3-Second Day, Part 1- Jac Evaluates Stacy


30 Jan 2019

Rank #6

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5 Tips for Motivated Riding

Episode 60: Stacy shares what is going on in her barn with her horses. She shares how she is using the techniques and ideas that she has been teaching in the podcast...in her own barn. Stacy starts by answering a listener's question about motivation: "Hi, Stacy. My name is Andrea. And my question is, how do you just get motivated? To get out there with your horse when you feel like you're all alone and you just really don't have that encouragement. From others. I don't really know a lot of horsey people. How do you just get motivated just to get out there and be with your horse? Do your ground training refresher course and just get on the back of your horse? How do you just get motivated just to do that?" Stacy shares five actionable tips for staying motivated.


8 Jan 2020

Rank #7

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Whoa! Teaching Your Horse to Stop.

It’s important to be able to stop safely when riding. Having your horse understand different cues for stop can make riding more safe and make the rider more confident. In this episode, I explain the three cues I use for stopping my horse and the magic that it creates when the horse understands all three. The first point that I make applies to many other things that you will do with your horse. I have three cues to stop my horse, and I teach all three cues to be 100% strong. The three cues I use when stopping my horse are reins, legs, and voice. You've probably seen some of these being used and maybe even all three being used at the same time. It would be very common to see someone pull on the reins say whoa and open or release their legs. If you've been riding for years and doing a combination of these things at the same time, it's really difficult to break the habit and do it individually. It's very helpful if your horse will stop 100% of the time off of each one of the cues.  This is how I was able to train my horses to ride bridleless. I still had stopping power without the reins. If you're used to using all three cues at the same time, your horse might only make 1/3 of a stop on each cue. By teaching my horse to be 100% strong on each cue, I will have 300% stopping power. Show Notes: [04:29] When I first start with the horses I teach stopping with the reins. Reins are so helpful when working on connection and collection and all of the advanced things.  [06:27] I teach the horse to stop from rein pressure when ground driving. There's a lot you can teach in ground driving.  [11:40] Improving the backup is directly tied to improving the stop. [12:10] Now you can teach the horse to step back with leg pressure.  [14:04] Have the slack gently taken out of the reins. Swing your legs forward so the ball of your foot almost taps on the horses shoulders. Keep waving until the step back happens.  [17:16] If the horse is showing no awareness of your movement, then you can add a little more pressure until the horse shows recognition. [17:55] The really important thing is to give the horse time to think. What you don't need to do is throw the horse into the wrong answer.  [22:36] It's so rewarding to watch a rider stay consistent until the horse figures it out.  [22:55] The voice cue is the one that can't reinforce itself. Say whoa deep and low. [25:34] This is the third cue taught, because your going to have to use the other two to reinforce it.  [26:05] Teach the horse that woah means back three steps.  [28:47] You can do this exercise outside of a show season.  [29:12] A few mistakes people make include not using the reins enough. Try to value all three cues equally.  [30:44] I call this a leg cue instead of a seat cue, I want the rider to think about their legs.  [32:57] The most common mistake people make with the voice cue is over using it. [34:32] When the horse understand statues it becomes educated at a higher level and able to think at a higher level. [35:55] A lot of really hot horses think that the legs are only a gas pedal. When they start to learn that legs can mean different things, it really opens up the horses mind.  [37:12] If your horse doesn't go forward, don't use the legs as a backup cue. [40:57] Leg waving uses the energy coming from the horse. It can cue the horse to a different speed.  Links and Resources: Developing an independent seat: colt starting, reining, western dressage Episode 39: The Two Most Basic Cues When Riding a Horse Episode 41: True Forward Motion in a Horse Stacy's Video Diary: Jac Stacy Westfall Championship Bareback & Bridleless Freestyle Reining with Roxy Equithrive Use the code STACY for 10% off and Free Shipping Have you ever wondered what a live version of this podcast would be like?I’m hosting some live, online video calls that are like a live version of this podcast. I teach on a subject, answer questions and for those who are brave, I’ll turn your video on live too and you can join me for a conversation! If you want to learn more about this you can visit https://stacywestfall.com/live/ for more information!


25 Sep 2019

Rank #8

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Training HOT Horses

Hot horses are those high energy horses who want to run fast and don’t always do what you want. In this episode, I go back to my teeter totter example to explain the spectrum of hot horses. Picture a +10 on one side and a -10 on the other. A hot horse will run the spectrum on the plus side. I also talk about the difference between a hot horse with high energy and a horse that could be nervous or confused because of lack of training. I explore the pros and cons of hot horses and how they can be better trained. The horse's body is a reflection of their mind, and I answer a couple of listener questions about hot horses and give some examples that might be helpful. In today’s On Call with Dr. Monty we talk about the number one killer of horses, and Dr. Monty shares a wonderful program that can help save horses and give owners peace of mind.  Show Notes: [05:04] My horse Popcorn is more of a natural +7. He puts his head down in the pasture and runs as hard and fast as he can. At his core, he is a very hot horse.  [06:55] Pros of hot horses include them being athletic and easy to motivate. They are also very sensitive. They tend to think quick. They are quick on their feet and mentally in thinking.  [07:47] Cons include thinking quick, being sensitive, being athletic, and trying too hard. All of the things that are the pros are also the cons with hot horses.  [08:09] Hot isn't good or bad, but it's definitely more useful in certain situations and less useful in other situations.  [09:01] It's okay to recognize certain traits. If you just want a horse to walk down the trail, you probably don't want a hot horse.  [09:34] Be aware of the patterns that you use when you ride. These include the physical pattern that you ride in and the habits you have while you ride. [10:01] Add groundwork, because it's a great place to teach emotional control. This teaches the horse how to behave correctly under pressure, and it helps convince you that the horse will behave correctly.  [11:02] Hot horses often get rewarded for being hot.  [16:06] A listener question about a horse that needs to let go and relax.  [17:47] The horse gets faster on a loose rein. This might mean that he is a little bit lost. If the horse is lost, use more encouragement to give him guidance. He needs a hug. [19:01] The percentage of groundwork isn't as important as the quality of the groundwork and what you are releasing on. [20:43] You could be working on some thoughts that the horse thinks are a good idea, but they're not. [21:50] I have a test to make sure horses understand the difference between whip and stand still that I use before I mount up.  [22:42] It all boils down to where he finds release. [23:16] A listener question about a 16 year old gelding who doesn't want to walk after a canter or trot.  [24:47] There are signs on both sides of the teeter totter. This is a good sign that your horse is closer to zero. He is going back and forth between the two sides.  [26:07] When he goes up, he may not know how to go down. This could be a training issue. [26:45] You need to use your legs more with a hot horse. [27:10] Avoid spicy exercises with a hot horse. Add more base or boring stuff. Repetitive exercises can slow a horses mind down.  [29:11] Make sure downward transitions are like a hug. Close all of your aids or hands and legs. Applying pressure doesn't always mean move. Applying pressure to slow down is great to do in groundwork.  [32:22] These horses also contract their strides. Working on turns like the four leaf clover pattern can help. [34:27] Keep thinking hug, soften, release.  [34:40] It matters where you release these horses.  [36:57] Use less leg on a cold horse and more leg on a hot horse. [38:21] With hot horses you have a lot of forward motion to work with, and they are asking for the training. [39:31] Colic is such a scary thing. It's the number one cause of death in horses. You shouldn't be scared about colic, but you should be ready. [40:01] Out of every colic that Dr. Monty sees, 8 out of 10 just need medication and a veterinary examination. When you see signs of not wanting to eat, laying down, or trying to roll consider colic as a possible cause and get in touch with your veterinarian.  [40:39] About 1 1/2 out of 10 may need additional management and fluids and pain medication. Your veterinarian or veterinary hospital can help with that.  [41:05] The last category is the 1/2 horse out of 10 or the 5 out of 100 that have a life threatening condition and need surgery. They could have a twist or displacement or something going on that could kill the horse if it doesn't have surgery.  [41:35] At Tennessee Equine Hospital, they have a loyalty program where if they help with wellness and basic care, and you pay $50 a year, they will pay for your horses colic surgery, if needed.  [43:00] They have a greater than 80-85% success rate with their colic surgeries.   [43:39] They started the Promise Program, because one year they had to euthanize close to 60 horses that had owners who didn't or couldn't pay for the surgery.  Links and Resources: Equithrive Use the code STACY for 10% off Tennessee Equine Hospital Tennessee Equine Hospital Facebook Smart Start: Building a Strong Foundation for Your Horse Stacy Westfall 2003 NRHA Futurity Freestyle Bridleless Reining Stacy Westfall - 2011 Congress Freestyle Reining Bridleless - Can Can Vaquero Stacy's Video Diary: Jac-Episode 1-First Day-Part 1-Evaluating Jac Teach your horse to stand still: trail and arena Episode 3: The Trail to the World Show Stacy Westfall: Emotional control of your horse (3 of 10) Have you ever wondered what a live version of this podcast would be like?I’m hosting some live, online video calls that are like a live version of this podcast. I teach on a subject, answer questions and for those who are brave, I’ll turn your video on live too and you can join me for a conversation! If you want to learn more about this you can visit https://stacywestfall.com/live/ for more information!


4 Sep 2019

Rank #9

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Finding Work/Life Balance with Stacy Westfall and Ginny Telego

I am live today with Ginny Telego recording from the Loko Bean in Loudonville, Ohio. Today is a milestone, because this is episode 50, so I thought I'd do something different and share our special conversation with you. We are both very busy, so we kick off the show talking about something everyone struggles with. Work life balance. In fact, I don’t even see balance as something that’s possible. Life has seasons. We may have balance for a moment, but it’s more about adapting and moving from one season to the next. We talk about what balance really is and if it’s even possible to find. We talk about how it applies to horse training, writing in nice journals, and if it’s possible to balance life, work, family, and business. We also talk about what you do when life throws you off balance like recently when Ginny’s house burnt down. We talk about adapting, grieving, and fear of failure. We really just take you on a conversation with two busy horse professionals who are trying to live their best lives. 

1hr 12mins

30 Oct 2019

Rank #10

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The Two Most Basic Cues When Riding a Horse

It's a bold statement to say there are two simple cues that fix most issues. When I say most issues I mean things like bucking, rearing, head tossing, and a lot of the issues that we experienced under saddle. You might wonder how it’s possible that two simple cues can fix most of those issues? In this episode, I explain the first two cues that I teach a horse when I'm riding them under a saddle. I’ll talk about these cues in three different phases and from the horses point of view and the rider’s point of view. These two important elementary cues are bend and forward motion. These two cues are the cornerstone of safety when teaching your horse to ride under saddle. I also answer a listener question and discuss equine dentistry with Dr. Monty.  Show Notes: [03:21] Bend and forward motion are the two elementary cues.  [04:12] These cues don't go away when the horse makes it to high school. They are just masked by the other cues. When we get to college with the horse we have a more advanced level of communication. [06:02] I think maybe these cues are underused because people start with their horse in high school. It also feels like less control if you go down to one rein. [07:38] Horses are very straight when they buck and rear and exhibit problems. This elementary school exercise helps to get the horses engaged right off the bat. [09:06] The bare minimum with training Popcorn was to get him to bend around and trot. These were my safe baselines.  [10:49] When I start coaching a rider to let go more, and they have fear, they are lacking the understanding of less is more. [11:04] Bend is your friend. I say this over and over at clinics. [11:40] For safety, foundation exercises are your friend. [12:09] Think about what it would take to be able to bend the horse a little bit more. [12:45] The horse is more comfortable when it's not as restricted. If a rider is using all four aides, that puts a lot of pressure on the horse. [14:50] The clarity of simplifying makes it much easier on the horse. [15:18] Early exercises are the foundations of the horses training. You can understand the horse's feedback better if you reduce everything down to the most simple cues that you can give. [16:49] Stacy shares a listener question about trail riding with a gelding that complains or bucks when they go into a lope. The listener usually rides through it. Does this need to be fixed? [18:47] When a pattern develops, it's time to get ahead of it. Try to address it proactively.  [20:20] Walk, trot, then work in a circle with some bend. Trot a little faster and ease up. This can address the complaints at a lower level.  [24:01] Once your horse realizes that loping is easier than trotting fast, he'll want to lope.  Equine Dentistry with Dr. Monty: [26:59] Horses in the wild with good teeth do better. It's part of natural selection. [27:56] Domesticated horses aren't bred for good teeth. Domesticated horses have a lot of dental issues. [28:32] Horses teeth continue to grow longer. If they are aligned, the length will be ground off. Bad behavior can be a sign of dental problems.  [30:29] Dr. Monty and a lot of other vets do dentistry.  [31:29] Make corrections in phases. Don't be aggressive. Also get a reference. Check the horses teeth at least annually but twice a year is better.  Links and Resources: Episode 6: The horse’s path of learning is NOT the same as the rider Equithrive Tennessee Equine Hospital Have you ever wondered what a live version of this podcast would be like?I’m hosting some live, online video calls that are like a live version of this podcast. I teach on a subject, answer questions and for those who are brave, I’ll turn your video on live too and you can join me for a conversation! If you want to learn more about this you can visit https://stacywestfall.com/live/ for more information!


14 Aug 2019

Rank #11

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Rewarding Physical and Mental Changes in Your Horse

Timing is everything when it comes to horse training. I don't want to put any pressure on you, but you need really good timing.  Your timing may never be perfect, but it can always be improved. In a future episode, I will also talk about how in the beginning, your timing is everything and then once the horse picks up more responsibility your timing is less important. This is such a great topic, because the contradictions can be almost mind-blowing, yet the subtleties are so important to learn.   This episode is all about the importance of timing. I talk about how to improve your timing and common mistakes I see in timing. Then is my segment with Dr. Monty we discuss electrolytes and cooling down your horse. You don't want to miss this, because Dr. Monty gives me a cooling tip that I've never heard before.  Show Notes: [02:18] Physical timing is the first thing that people are able to see and identify. Later on people develop the ability to reward mental timing. [03:50] Your horse will reveal to you the spots where you have the weakest understanding. [04:37] A listener question about timing. He has trouble loading into the trailer.  [06:26] The horses fear is often a lack of understanding. The horse needs to be desensitized to the stimulus that causes the fear. He also needs to be sensitized to the halter. [08:43] The goal is to see an emotional balance across the board. [10:16] Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't means that there are holes in the training.  [14:26] Pulling the horse on the trailer is never a good idea.  [16:57] When your horse sees the trailer his brain doesn't want to go on to it, so his feet don't move. Finding the answers can get very layered. [18:28] You can hear all aspects of the four square model in trailer loading. The riders mind, the rider's body, the horse's mind, and the horse's body.  [18:47] There's a difference between physical timing and mental timing. Physical timing is a great place to start. [20:12] The horse can't squeeze between your body and the trailer if you're standing with your shoulder against the trailer. [21:45] Without the clarity of a goal, people can be unclear. [23:28] The lead line is in your left hand. The moves you make can be like a chess game. Put a light pressure on the lead rope. [25:00] Watch your horse as you take the slack out. [29:52] Look at his eyes. If he looks asleep, he's ready for another question. [31:04] Patience is an underused tool.  [32:27] Timing is tied to what he is thinking.  [35:15] Pick up the slack again. Are his eyes wide?  [38:08] Raise your right hand. What did your horse say? Pay attention to the little details. [44:02] Groundwork is all done with timing. [45:16] I love liberty work. Part of our job is to teach horses to speak human. A horses reaction to pressure in a healthy way can keep them safe.  [48:03] When you start to see what is happening, it gets fun, because you can see the problem ahead and be proactive.  [49:05] A question about a young horse and directing his attention to a different spot.  [54:15] Engaging a horse in the conversation takes away the boredom.  Dr. Monty and I Discuss Electrolytes and Dealing With the Heat [55:12] When it's hot what signs indicate stress and is white block salt enough? [55:33] The salt contains electrolytes which helps cool the horse and improves the cardiovascular system.  [56:02] White salt may not be enough. When it's really hot put an electrolyte supplement into the feed. [57:01] If it's too hot for you, it's probably not the best time to ride. Start early or wait until the evening. Horses deal with heat through respiration and sweating.  [57:49] Placing ice on the jugular vein will cool the blood flow which helps to cool the body.  Links and Resources: Trailer Loading Tips Sponsored by Tekonshah Stacy Westfall horse training lesson with Twilite Trailers - Part 1 Stacy Westfall horse training lesson with Twilite Trailers - Part 2 Episode 30: Correcting Behavior We Dislike In Our Horses Equithrive Use the code Stacy for 10% off and free shipping Have you ever wondered what a live version of this podcast would be like?I’m hosting some live, online video calls that are like a live version of this podcast. I teach on a subject, answer questions and for those who are brave, I’ll turn your video on live too and you can join me for a conversation! If you want to learn more about this you can visit https://stacywestfall.com/live/ for more information!

1hr 1min

7 Aug 2019

Rank #12

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Is Your Horse ‘Swearing’ at You? His Intentions Matter.

Intentions matter. Today, I’m talking about your intentions when training your horse, and your horses intentions. I’ll talk about what constitutes a good intention and a bad intention and remind you to keep in mind that sometimes your horse is just asking a question in your conversation. It’s important to be aware of your own intentions when working with your horse. You also need to be aware of what your horses intentions actually are. Are you teaching your horse that it’s ok to step towards you? Are you accidently allowing your horse to act more dominant? Being aware of your intentions and your horses intentions is important. It’s actually very freeing once you understand that intentions matter. Show Notes [02:02] At some recent clinics, I've had some horses experimenting with bad intentions.  When you have a horse who truly means to dominate that is a bad intention. [02:23] He could also have a bad intention when he attacks another horse. Instead of using good or bad, we can also say healthy or unhealthy. For Simplicity, I'm going to use good and bad. [02:48] If you had a really aggressive stallion who wanted to dominate you, we would label that as bad intentions. [03:08] On the other extreme, we have horses that are sweet and easy to get along with. [03:10] But there are a lot of horses between those two extremes. [03:27] When people are backing away from their horse, sometimes the horse will step boldly towards them. When a horse does this they could be asking a question that the handler doesn't recognize. The horses intentions could shift from boldly stepping with confidence to boldly coming towards them to dominate. [05:01] I've seen horses that aren't normally dominant stumble onto the fact that the handler is kind of awkward with the tools. [06:07] This will perfectly fit into a place for a horse to move a human and that's where we're going to label this a bad intention. [07:06] Intention matters. When I'm watching people and horses, I'm watching whether the horse intended to move the person or if it was an accident. [07:37] If you suspect your horse is trying to control you, those are things you need to look out for. You may even want to set up a video to see what is going on. [08:27] Oftentimes horses have good intentions. They may be trying something new and just be making a mistake. How you handle a horse with good intentions matters. [10:11] If your horse is swearing at you, that is one of the clearest indications that his intentions aren't good. [11:24] A lot of times people who come to the clinics are concerned that they are asking too much of their horse. Very rarely this is the case. [11:50]  Most people who are worried about over-correcting are usually the people who aren't doing enough. [12:05] A lot of people are worried about abusing their horse. [14:15] The person who's worried about overdoing it is likely the one who isn't overdoing it. [14:28]  It's very freeing to know that my intentions matter and that my horses intentions matter. Links and Resources: Stacy Westfall YouTube


15 May 2019

Rank #13

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Why would I look forward to my horse spooking?

Episode 61: I explain the stages of horse training as I see them. I use the levels of elementary school, high school and college as levels of horse training. I explain what I’m looking for in those stages…and the idea that just riding a horse for more hours does not necessarily mean they keep moving up through the levels. In this episode, I go into detail with Presto who is in elementary school. I also explain why I don’t feel safe until a horse in elementary school spooks…and recovers. During this season, I will be sharing more behind the scenes with Presto, Willow and Gabby so you can better understand the methods I’ve been teaching you.


15 Jan 2020

Rank #14

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3 Negative Thoughts Riders Often Have Toward Horses

How do you treat your horse when he makes a mistake? In this episode, I’m going to share three common ways I see riders react to their horse making a mistake and why that matters. I’m going to talk about the rider not actually recognizing a mistake because of their own lack of clarity. How some riders view their horse through rose colored glasses and incapable of making a mistake, and the harsher view of not letting the horse win. I tie everything back to a previous episode where I talk about how riders can make mistakes in the right direction, and this episode that explains why better clarity creates better communication with your horse. Show Notes: [01:47] It's common for riders to not have clarity or not understand what they want. Although, they do have some clarity on what they don't want. [01:59] An example of this would be, "I don't want my horse to move when I'm saddling him." The reverse of this would be, "I want my horse to stand still when I'm saddling him." [02:13] Having clarity of thought will get you closer to what you want. [02:28] When you think about what you don't want your horse to do, you have a tendency to make corrections from a view of what the horse did wrong. [03:02] If the clarity of what you actually want hasn't been conveyed to the horse, they are stuck in a guessing game. [03:58] If we think the horse doesn't make mistakes, then the rider will have a tendency to make excuses for the horse. [05:31] Sometimes riders will have the attitude of they can't let the horse win or I can't let him do it wrong or he'll learn to cheat. [06:15] Riders with this attitude can have a tendency to use extreme pressure which will block the conversation between the horse and the rider. This becomes a very win or lose situation. [07:13] When we're having conversations with horses, it's mostly physical. [08:07] I can make mistakes in the right direction, because I have a very clear end goal. [09:16] Horses can make mistakes that are unintentional. I still label it a mistake on the horses part and take action to correct it. [10:36] As a leader, I have a plan, and I'm willing to execute that plan. I'm also looking to reward as many small movements along the way as I can. [11:45] You need to know where your operating from when you're handling your horse. [11:59] Recognize the thoughts that you have that drive your actions. Links and Resources: Episode 28: Is Your Horse Training Routine Dead? Episode 10: Make Mistakes in the Right Direction


5 Jun 2019

Rank #15

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Q&A: Are multiple riders good or bad? Training Secrets?

One of the things I do on this podcast is answer listener questions. If you have a question you would like to ask or have a topic you would like to hear more about, go to my website and click on the orange tab to the right to leave a voice message. My first question is from a listener who wants to know if there are different techniques that the professionals in the western world use when showing their horses that people at home may not know about. I answer this question by using an example of three different trainers, and I share how the horse world is a lot like life, and we see different trainers doing different things. I share why it’s really important to understand who you want to be and where you draw the line. I put educating the horse above winning the show. I also answer another listener question about horses having multiple riders.  This one is a two-part question and revolves around whether it’s good for a horse to have multiple riders and how to make sure the riders aren’t doing any damage to the horse. This is a great question, and the answer revolves around the horses level of confidence, grandma's rules, and their level of training such as elementary school, high school or college. I recently returned from a show with Gabby and Willow, and I’ve been in a reflective mood, so these questions are timed perfectly.  Show Notes: [01:06] The first question is from Jamie. She is wondering if there are different techniques that the Professionals in the western world use when showing their horses that people at home may not know about. [03:12] I just returned from the Western Dressage Show with Gabby and Willow, and I'm still reflecting and processing on everything that I did leading up to the show. [03:49] People have different training theories. So I'm going to give examples as if there are three different trainers. [04:11] Trainer one is willing to do anything to win. This isn't the majority of the show world, but it's out there. Trailer number two wants the best for the horse and the best for the customer. They work really hard to communicate and bring out the best in the horse and the rider. [05:01] Trainer number three has been training for decades. They might be a little bit burned out. [05:47] You are going to see different trainers doing different things, and that's just a part of life. [06:22] You have to pick which trainer you want to be. I would never be that trainer who does anything to win or does anything unethical. [07:39] I've used ear plugs with my horses during mounted shooting because of the physical damage that could be done to their hearing. I also used your plugs on myself, because I was shooting blanks out of my guns. [08:44] Some trainers could use earplugs when there's loud clapping for a mental advantage, but taking the long way around would be a better approach. [09:52] At home, you're going to have to weigh out what you believe in and what you're going to stand for and do. [14:58] There are also rules for different shows about things like earplugs.  [17:14] The horse industry is a reflection of life whether you are training or showing. [17:53] You'll see a lot of trainers doing a lot of different things to get a lot of different results. Break those into categories and see if it fits with what you would want to do with your horse. [18:07] The next listener has a two-part question about multiple people riding a single horse. Is it good for a horse to have multiple Riders? How do you make sure novice riders aren't doing any damage to the horse? [19:21] It's good for riders to ride different horses to gain experience. [19:31] There are multiple layers to the question of whether it's good for a horse to have multiple riders. [19:49] When a horse is in elementary school, I would like to see a lot of consistency with who rides the horse. The horse is impressionable at this stage.  [20:21] When the horse is in high school and college level, they are able to switch gears faster. Now it tends to be less confusing for the horse. [21:02] Advanced horses don't experiment with Grandma's rules, because when they were trained all the rules were the same. [22:25] One of my biggest training philosophies is to prevent problems as long as possible. [23:37] It really matters who gets on your horse. [25:03] I keep my horses protected in shelter during the elementary school years, and then open up a little more during the high school years. By college I get them really comfortable with different riders. [27:52] If it scares the horse, it falls into the category of damage being done and shaken confidence.  Links and Resources: The trail to the World Show Episode 1: Meet the Horses & Goal Setting Stacy's Video Diary: Jac-Episode 1-First Day-Part 1-Evaluating Jac Stacy's Video Diary Jac-Episode 34-How a horse responds to a new rider Episode 47: Locking and Unlocking Traits in Your Horse Have you ever wondered what a live version of this podcast would be like?I’m hosting some live, online video calls that are like a live version of this podcast. I teach on a subject, answer questions and for those who are brave, I’ll turn your video on live too and you can join me for a conversation! If you want to learn more about this you can visit https://stacywestfall.com/live/ for more information!


16 Oct 2019

Rank #16

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3 Reasons to Do Groundwork With Your Horse

A big part of training is establishing communication in a safe way. In this episode, I share three reasons why you should do groundwork. I share how to safely work with horses at different stages and one of the biggest aspects of communication which is reading body language. I also introduce a new segment with equine veterinarian Dr. Monty McInturff.  Over the years, I've spent a lot of time with great veterinarians. There is routine care, maintenance, and early diagnostic care. Seeing so many horses in training is kind of like being a sports coach. If I saw something off, a vet trip would be needed. Anytime you can spend time at vet clinics watching what is going on is a huge learning opportunity.  When I was talking to the folks at Equithrive and they said they had lots of connections with vets, it was super exciting to me to think that I could continue my education through this partnership with them. This week I am bringing you a new segment called: On Call with Dr. Monty. Dr. Monty has been an equine practitioner for over 30 years and specifically focuses on the equine athlete.   Show Notes: [01:12] Stacy shares an entertaining listener voice mail where he acted out her podcast instructions while listening at an airport. [02:12] A deep dive into the horses body. The first thing I go to is a horse in a round pen. Thinking about ground work makes it easier to think about the horses body.  [03:32] Three reasons why you should do ground work: 1. It's the best place to read the horses body. 2. It's the best for your horse to learn to read your body. 3. You can teach emotional control.         [04:10] Picture yourself standing in the middle of a 60 foot round pen. A wild horse will be further away from you. As a handler, you read the body language and decide where to move while the horse is reading your body language.                                [07:15] There is a conversation happening between the horse and rider even if it just looks like a horse and rider walking towards a stall.                                                            [07:45] Your horse is reading your body language and what he is allowed to do and not allowed to do.                                                                                                                 [08:31] I want you to think about the power that comes in having the horse away 15 or 20 feet away from you. Now you have a complete picture of the horse's body. [09:33] Think about how the conversation feels different when you and the horse really respect each other's space. [11:04] When horses are in our space but ignoring us, it's a problem. [12:04] Earn the right to be in your horse's space and have the horse earn the right to be in your space by being respectful of you. [14:27] When your horse is 20 feet out, you can really start to see what the horse is looking at and the world through his eyes. [16:20] If your horse isn't interested in you, he's not going to be reading your body language. [16:47] Teaching emotional control is the beauty of groundwork. I'm going to do this with a horse that's a little bit further away from me. [20:23] I think it's the desire for closeness that brings us in too close to our horses bodies too often. This can accidentally set us up for a dangerous spot.  [21:59] When your horse is closer than four feet, you need a very clear working system, because there is a danger zone.  [23:09] Look at ground work as a place where you can study and read your horses body language, and your horse can study and read your body language. It's also an amazing place to teach emotional control to the horse. [23:36] Are you doing enough groundwork to allow your horse to read your body language? Can you adjust the working Zone you have around your horse? On Call with Dr. Monty [31:48] The owner of Equithrive approached Dr. Monty about 10 years ago to ask him to try a product. Dr. Monty wasn't interested in an oral joint supplement, but the owner of Equithrive gave him a sample.[32:54] He gave a trainer the product to try. A couple months later the trainer was asking for more. He said it really worked great for his horses. [33:42] Taking the product twice a day had 19 or 20 year old horses acting like they were 9 or 10. They had more endurance and were more active.[34:00] Dr. Monty started using it on older horses, and now, it's the only oral joint supplement that he recommends. [35:18] Stacy uses the supplement on Popcorn and noticed dramatic effects. The product turns down the production of inflammatory enzymes.   Links and Resources: Stacy’s Video Diary Equithrive Use code Stacy for 10% off and free shipping Tennessee Equine Hospital Monty McInturff, DVM Have you ever wondered what a live version of this podcast would be like?I’m hosting some live, online video calls that are like a live version of this podcast. I teach on a subject, answer questions and for those who are brave, I’ll turn your video on live too and you can join me for a conversation! If you want to learn more about this you can visit https://stacywestfall.com/live/ for more information!


24 Jul 2019

Rank #17

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Your Horse Has Questions

I’m explaining something that was a game-changer for me and my horse. When I share this topic with people at clinics, I see an instant change in them and their horse. Did you know that your horse is always asking you questions? Watching horses in the wild, you see them ask each other questions about leadership. They also do the same thing with you. The good news is that once you understand that a change in your horses body language is him asking you a questions, you can answer those questions and even have conversations with your horse. Horses questions progress with their training levels, and this is where things really begin to get fun. Show Notes [01:28] Your horse asks you questions with body language. The questions can look like things like a break of gait, diving in, pulling out, or reversing direction. [01:43] A lot of questions are happening when the horses are doing different things with their bodies. [01:54] Around the age of four, children ask about 73 questions a day. [02:07] Horses also ask a lot of questions, and it can feel overwhelming to people. [03:42] Sometimes people think after training, horses aren't going to have any questions, but they do. [04:18] Keep in mind that the quality of your horses questions change as the training level changes. [04:32] Number one: Your horse is going to ask questions about leadership. [04:40] Number two: These questions will reveal his temperament. [04:48] Number three: The questions he asks are going to reveal his training level. [05:25] When a horse offers to bite you, it's asking the question of what if I bite you. [06:22] Their questions also reveal a lot about their temperament. [08:23] Think about horse training as a bell curve. Put elementary school on one side and college on the other. It's like climbing a mountain. [09:26] Questions in the beginning will be more challenging. Somewhere along the line when things get more advanced, your horses become really fun. [14:17] Playing a game of hot or colder requires you and the horse to have a conversation. [15:46] The coolest things happen when you and the horse are having a conversation. [16:22] Instead of everybody feeling like it's right or wrong or good or bad, it's just a conversation. Things get so fun when you and the horse have this type of awareness in your bodies. [17:13] In the beginning, horses will have big questions that you need to have big answers to. [17:44] Any areas that you don't have answers for will be the areas your horse has the most questions about. Links and Resources: Stacy Westfall YouTube


24 Apr 2019

Rank #18

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Tack: Bridles, Headstalls, Bits & Reins

Today's podcast I'm focused on the bridle, which includes the head stall, bit chinstrap and reins. First, I'm gonna give you five things to consider. Then I'm going to answer a listener question that was e-mailed in to me. And finally, I'm going to take you on a virtual walk through a tack store with a friend of mine where we will discuss all the options you will have when you walk into a tack store. I'm reminded again that this can be a really complicated subject.  I'll break it down here and I'm going to make some videos that will help you to those will be posted on my YouTube channel and on my website. 


13 Nov 2019

Rank #19

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Q&A: Rescue horses, boring riders, why striking & kicking?

Episode 56: I answer listener questions and receive some feedback from Ron.  I answered a question for Ron in a previous episode and he calls in to let me know that he has tried the methods and they are working well.  Question 1: Hi, my name is Virginia. I'm calling from Westchester County, New York. Thank you so much for your podcast and learning so much. I recently rescued a gelding they think is between 15 and 18 years old. We think he has a new century. We don't know too much about his history, though. He came to the new barn underweight and I've been feeding a lot, but he's been very pushy on the ground and in the arena. He trots and canters off before I cue him. It goes to the gate and stops as if he's saying, I'm done. I want to just go back to my and eat, because when I do lead him to his stall, he pushes right through me. So any advice you can give would be greatly appreciated. Thank you so much. Question 2: Hi, Stacy. Thank you so much for your wonderful podcast. My question for you is what prevents a well-trained horse from kicking out or striking out at its handler? I am kind of new to the horse running and have quite a fear of being around the hindquarters or the front end and within striking distance. And I'm looking for a good answer that's going to kind of give me peace. I for example, let's say I'm behind the horse, washing his tail, washing his lower legs or even on the side putting on his saddle. What prevents him from kicking out is there's one small thing that frustrates him. Let's say he doesn't like it when you wash his tail or he doesn't like it when you squeeze his lower leg when you're trying to get the water off.So what makes him say, you know what, I'm just going to handle this?   So what prevents him from kicking me or striking out at me even as he respects me, even if I don't know even if what, but just what prevents him from striking out and kicking out if I do something he doesn't like? Is it just that there's a line of respect and he knows not to cross that?


11 Dec 2019

Rank #20