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“To get to the neutral position in the middle of the teeter-totter, you have to have a version of positive tension in your body.” Stacy Westfall
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Today, I’m talking about active and passive riding. Do you know if you are doing too much or not enough when riding? A rider who doesn’t know how to ride may be in a defensive position and not doing enough. A rider using all available aids may be doing too much and making the horse unhappy.

In this episode, I talk about these concepts and finding the neutral middle ground using active tension. I also talk about finding your seat and independent movement from the horse.

“Having a purpose and a plan in the arena made me an active rider.” Stacy Westfall
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Show Notes

[00:40] Are you an active or a passive rider? Are you doing too much or not enough?

[01:07] Imagine a teeter totter with too much on one side and not enough on the other. The middle is the neutral position or a non-disturbing connection.

[01:34] Connection is hidden inside the active and passive rider conversation.

[02:13] When it comes to connection, we can also be doing too much or not enough.

[02:47] A rider who doesn’t know how to ride will not be doing enough.

[03:31] Another extreme would be a rider doing too much and using all of the aids all of the time, so the horse does not feel a release.

[04:06] A sign of this could be the horse looking very unhappy.

[04:51] The reason I want you to think about how active or passive you are when riding is because you have to have a version of positive tension to get to the neutral position.

[06:40] When doing riding exercises, we need to be able to return to a neutral state.

[09:39] A full release doesn’t have to be that we take away all of the aids from the horse because then we would take away all of their support and communication.

[09:56] If we end up too far on the other side of the teeter-totter, we interfere with the horse.

[10:25] In a free walk, a horse is supposed to be marching forward. You really have to pay attention to your aid to ride this maneuver.

[11:55] You have to go back and forth between active and neutral and adjust the pressure in your legs and put the intention in your body.

[12:49] My mom and I used to ride bareback trail riding. When I started using my western saddle, it would make my knees hurt. I blamed it on the saddle, but then I realized this was because I was collapsing on the horse and moving to the passenger side. Riding bareback requires tension.

[14:52] I retrained my body to be more active when I’m trail riding which will intuitively be better for my horses.

[15:23] One of the first things you need to find when you are riding is an independent seat. Try carrying a glass of water or an egg in a spoon and see if you can ride with your hands staying independent of the movement of the horse.

“One of the first things you need to find when you are riding is an independent seat.” Stacy Westfall
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Links and Resources:
How Clear Intention Leads to Clear Aids and Prompt Results

The post Episode 17: Are You Helping or Interfering With Your Horse When Riding? appeared first on Official Site of Stacy Westfall.

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“Bareback naturally encourages you to get into a rhythm with the horse.” Stacy Westfall
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Today, I share my experience of three different riding styles. People often ask me if I ride Western or English. I actually ride and compete in Western, English, and bareback. I first learned to ride Western. Then I moved on to bareback, because I was too small to put the saddle on my pony.

I dreamt of getting an English saddle like the ones I saw on TV. I got one for Christmas, and then I was doing it all. I have a lot of experience competing bareback and Western. I’m also taking dressage lessons. Today, I’ll be exploring the differences between these three styles of riding and how these saddles or lack of saddle affect the rider.

“When you're working towards becoming a better rider, it's all about stretching yourself out of your comfort zone.” Stacy Westfall
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Show Notes

[04:07] I have competed in all three types of events with my horse Popcorn.

[04:41] Riding is the art of keeping a horse between you and the ground.

[04:58] This year I’m going to compete in Western dressage and traditional dressage. Either way, I’m putting emphasis on dressage this year.

[06:13] I have at least three different seats when I ride a horse my Western seat, my dressage seat, and my bareback seat.

[06:55] I grew up riding mostly bareback. Bareback naturally encourages you to get into a rhythm with the horse.

[07:42] A saddle is something between you and the horse.

[08:20] As people relax on a horse, bareback encourages them to lengthen their legs.

[09:02] It’s better to think of balancing and sitting deeper on the horse and extending your legs.

[10:27] I enjoy trail riding bareback.

[11:19] A horse isn’t going to be perfectly balanced when learning new maneuvers. This is where a saddle comes in handy.

[12:33] When working on refinement, I don’t want to lose my balance and clamp my leg on the side of the horse.

[13:31] Riding Western. There are so many different saddle choices. There are also choices in the way the stirrup hangs.

[15:13] If you are aware of where your saddle wants to put you, you will know whether you are fighting your equipment or have a weakness in your legs.

[16:29] The western saddle comes with a lot of great benefits like the saddle horn and a more stable feeling leg.

[17:05] There’s so many different styles of English saddles. There is a thin stirrup leather that is easy to move. The English saddle is kind of a halfway between the Western saddle and riding bareback.

[18:32] It takes awhile for my muscle memory to remember that the stirrup leather will move much more easily than with the Western saddle.

[19:33] People often ask if it’s harder to stay on the English saddle. Your seat and balance determine staying on top of the horse more than your saddle does.

[20:04] My dressage saddle feels as secure as my Western saddle.

[21:06] With an English saddle, grabbing the front of the saddle feels like pulling yourself down into the saddle.

[21:52] When you’re working towards becoming a better rider, it’s all about stretching yourself out of your comfort zone. Getting out of your comfort zone becomes a power.

[22:12] Each saddle has something to offer you.

[23:31] A well-balanced rider is best for the horse regardless of saddle type.

[24:20] Saddle fit is a big subject and finding a saddle to fit the horse and the rider can be complicated.

[26:50] Whenever experimenting with changes, make sure that you do it with a horse that you trust or take a riding lesson.

“A well-balanced rider is best for the horse regardless of saddle type.” Stacy Westfall
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Links and Resources:

Stacy Westfall Championship Bareback & Bridleless Freestyle Reining with Roxy

Popcorn and Stacy Westfall Mounted Shooting

The Stagecoach West: Horse Tack & Saddlery

The post Riding Horses Western vs English vs Bareback appeared first on Official Site of Stacy Westfall.

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“The more specific you are with your feedback loop the faster you'll get to where you want to be.” Stacy Westfall
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Last week, I talked about how time and repetition will create a feedback loop that you can modify. This week, I’m going to expand on the concept of the feedback loop and share three ways to get riding feedback for continued improvement. There are pros and cons to each method.

You need to weigh out which method is the best for you and which methods you can combine for the best results. The three methods are eyes on the ground, mirrors on the wall, and videotaping. In this episode, I talk about what these are and how to get the most from each method.

“A mirror can give you a snapshot of your frame and the horses frame.” Stacy Westfall
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Show Notes

[01:44] Eyes on the ground means someone watching you from the ground like a riding instructor.

[03:00] Having higher educated eyes on the ground will change your feedback loop.

[04:37] The pros of having eyes on the ground is getting feedback. Hopefully it’s feedback with an educated opinion like from an instructor. Cons include cost and time.

[05:25] Mirrors on the wall. I learned to use mirrors when I was in college. Dressage barns have mirrors up, because they work.

[06:12] This can give you a snapshot of the horses frame and your frame.

[07:31] Mirrors in the arena give you real-time feedback.

[08:09] The pros are instant feedback. The cons are having a location to install the mirrors.

[08:50] The most frequent thing I recommend is video.

[09:48] The pros of video tape is that you can watch it multiple times. The cons are lack of immediate feedback such from a mirror.

[11:20] You don’t have to tape for a solid hour. You just need to grab certain moments.

[13:00] Pixio is a recorder where the camera will follow you around.

[13:44] I mix it up, because I like to do all three.

[14:28] Horses are always giving you feedback. When you can feel what is happening you have the ultimate feedback loop.

[15:50] Even videotaping 5 minutes a month, you will be able to see Improvement.

[16:09] To really make progress, videotape once a week. What you’re trying to do is improve your ability to read the horse’s body language and feel the feedback. When you can feel what’s happening with the horse’s body language, you have the ultimate feedback loop.

“When you can feel what's happening with the horses body, you have the ultimate feedback loop.” Stacy Westfall
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Links and Resources:

PIxio Move N See Personal Auto-Follow System

The post 3 feedback methods for improving your horseback riding & breaking the habit of looking down: Episode 15 appeared first on Official Site of Stacy Westfall.

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“Muscle memory is a type of habit.” Stacy Westfall
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This week we are talking about muscle memory. I’m going to share my two different views on muscle memory and one way that you can fast-forward you’re learning. Last week, I talked about muscle memory being different than your strength or fitness level.

I think people get confused about these concepts because in the beginning, they both come together. When you are learning to ride a horse, you develop new muscles and new skills. In this episode, I am focusing on the muscle memory side of learning to ride.

“Repetition helps when you're trying to learn how to refine, hone, or sharpen a skill.” Stacy Westfall
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Show Notes

[01:28] Muscle memory is a type of habit. An example of this would be when we learn to write.

[02:23] Repetition and putting enough time into riding is what’s needed to form this type of muscle memory.

[03:01] You need to put in the time and the repetitions in order to create a feedback loop. Once you create a feedback loop, then you have something that you can modify.

[03:38] Repetition helps when you’re trying to learn how to refine, hone, or sharpen a skill.

[04:07] A lot of riders are uncomfortable with asking the horses for a lot of repetition.

[06:26] Time plus repetition will create a feedback loop that you can modify.

[06:52] Experience muscle memory (where you feel something) is important because it will enable you to fast forward your learning with horses.

[08:10] Riding well trained horses can help with this.

[09:17] By riding a well-trained horse, you get a longer opportunity to feel the muscle memory when a horse does a maneuver correctly.

[10:36] When you know what it feels like in your body, you will better be able to reward a green horse when they do a correct maneuver briefly.

[10:49] I would be willing to pay more for a lesson on a well-trained horse.

[11:37] Training on a well-trained horse will help you have the awareness in your body to fast forward the training of your own personal horses.

[11:46] Embrace the idea of repetition.

[12:28] If you are taking lessons, ask to take a lesson on a well-trained horse.

[12:49] Just one lesson on a well-trained horse can put some really cool feelings into your body that will make it easier for you to translate that and transfer it over to your own horse.

“Training on a well-trained horse will help you have the awareness in your body to fast forward the training of your own personal horses.” Stacy Westfall
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Links and Resources:

Muscle Memory

The post Episode 14: Muscle Memory: habits & experience can improve your horseback riding skills appeared first on Official Site of Stacy Westfall.

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“When I look at a rider that really stands out, I see a rider that is strong and flexible and has muscle memory. The strength and flexibility is separate from the muscle memory.” Stacy Westfall
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Today, I’m talking about strength vs muscle memory as I continue season 2 which focuses on the rider’s body. I will also be giving you my time saving tip for making time to work out. Have you noticed how it’s easier for naturally athletic people to jump from sport to sport?

I’ve noticed this, because I’m not a naturally athletic person. This means that I have had to put in a lot of riding hours. My passion for horses was the thing that kept me going. In this episode, I focus on getting stronger and more flexible and why it is important.

“When I'm a stronger rider, things are easier for my horse.” Stacy Westfall
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Show Notes

[04:34] I’m going to talk about muscle memory next week. For now, let’s focus on being stronger and more flexible.

[06:04] Charlotte Dujardin had to get an exercise coach to gain the strength for the powerful riding maneuvers she did.

[06:07] When I’m a stronger rider, things are easier for my horse. I can be better balanced when I’m riding a colt.

[07:29] When I was younger, I didn’t see the need to focus on being a stronger rider. As I aged, I started experimenting with different ways to improve things.

[08:03] I have experimented with improving balance even to the point of trying a unicycle. This wasn’t a good idea.

[09:05] I did start eating dinner while sitting on a blue equine ball. I discovered that I lift my feet off the ground I could see which direction I naturally tended to lean.

[10:34] I can’t say enough good things about yoga. I’ve also worked in strength training and running.

[11:39] I used the Couch to 5K app. I have been much more intentional this year about working exercise into my life.

[12:50] I have been experimenting with a routine where I rotate strength training, yoga, and running. It’s amazing what you can do in 30 minutes a day.

[13:16] If you’re not fit, it will have an effect on your horse.

[13:44] I was forced to be an active rider when riding bareback during trail riding.

[14:01] I was a lazy rider when I road trails using a saddle.

[14:37] My bad habits of being a lazy trail rider came back in my body when my knees began to hurt.

[15:30] There is a lot of strength that is needed with riding. It takes a lot of strength and flexibility.

[16:40] A strong and flexible rider should train outside of riding, because you don’t want to neglect the opposing muscles.

[18:24] My time saving tip for finding time to exercise is using your horse to motivate yourself to workout. Your horse will think it’s super cool when watching you do all of the work with jumping jacks and lunges.

[20:50] A lot of the trails near my house have water crossings, so I’ll jog then ride my horse over the water and then jog again.

[21:45] On days when I can’t ride, I can work out and still know that I am improving my writing. This helps me stay motivated.

[22:01] Join me in becoming a stronger rider in 2019 with #EquineCross.

“I have been experimenting with a routine where I rotate strength training, yoga, and running. It's amazing what you can do in 30 minutes a day.” Stacy Westfall
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Links and Resources:

Charlotte Dujardin’s World Record Breaking Freestyle test at London Olympia

Weaver Leather Equine Activity Ball

Yoga DVD on Amazon

Couch to 5K® – Run training

#EquineCrossFit

#equinecrossfit - YouTube

The post Episode 13: Horseback riders need strength & flexibility appeared first on Official Site of Stacy Westfall.

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“If you are struggling with fears, write down your fears and determine which ones point towards physical danger.” Stacy Westfall
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In this season, I am focusing on the rider’s body. In this episode, I’ll be discussing four different aspects of danger including is horseback riding dangerous, how can we manage the risk, the main mistake I see rider’s make, and exercises for improvement.

“You don't have to wait until you're in the middle of an emergency to practice things like emergency dismounts.” Stacy Westfall
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Show Notes

[02:01] We all know that horse riding can be dangerous.

[02:33] Driving in cars is also dangerous, and it’s something people do everyday.

[03:15] We realize there is risk, and we realize that we can do some things to reduce that risk.

[03:43] A horse without training can be like a car with a failing brake system.

[04:06] What creates danger? A rider that lacks training or a horse that lacks training are the two things where we can control the risk level.

[05:40] The way we can manage risk when riding is to physically hard wire a response into our bodies and our horse’s body.

[06:08] Our physical ability changes as we age. This changes how we have to think about and plan about hardwiring a response.

[07:05] I’ve taught people how to do an emergency dismounts and emergency stop and dismounts.

[08:31] You don’t have to wait until you’re in the middle of an emergency to practice things like emergency dismounts if you hard wire them into your body.

[09:43] It’s good for you and your horse to practice mounting and dismounting from both sides.

[10:24] Having these tactics hardwired into your body gives you a level of confidence if an emergency does happen.

[10:54] Mistakes people often make is not practicing the emergency stop and dismount or practicing too much and not moving forward.

[12:26] It’s a trend for people to learn to rely on the one rein stop. This is like using an emergency brake for your main braking system. Not practicing for emergencies at all is an equal problem.

[13:32] There is also a mental component to this. You need to have multiple ways to stop your horse.  Finding the balance is really important.

[15:03] Switching the rider isn’t going to fix the problem of a horse that isn’t hardwired for a safe response.

[15:23] I don’t have to think about how to grab the saddle horn when riding.

[16:05] I don’t have to think about which direction I would take the horse’s head if I needed to bend the horse around.

[17:01] The third thing is a little more broad, it’s basically to move your expectations higher.

[17:44] Ask yourself if you can smoothly stop and get off quickly. If not, you need to evaluate if there is something you can change.

[18:12] What can you control that would make things better?

[18:30] Take your horse to the next level and move up to high school.

[18:45] If you are struggling with fears, write down your fears and determine which one points towards physical danger. Then make a plan and practice it.

“The way we can manage risk when riding is to physically hard wire a desired response into our bodies.” Stacy Westfall
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Links and Resources:

Episode 1: Fear vs Danger: Riders can improve if they know the difference

Stacy’s Video Diary: Jac-Episode 1-First Day-Part 1-Evaluating Jac

The post Episode 12: Is Horseback Riding Dangerous? appeared first on Official Site of Stacy Westfall.

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“It's almost easier to get a naturally timid horse to follow a strong leader, because that horse actually needs a strong leader.” Stacy Westfall
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In his 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.

“I'm always evaluating who the horses are and what their training level is.” Stacy Westfall
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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 horses mind and the horses 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 backwards 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.

“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?” Stacy Westfall
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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

The post Episode 11: Season One Q & A: Evaluating Horse, Confidence & Desire, Limiting Beliefs appeared first on Official Site of Stacy Westfall.

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“It's easier to get started if you free yourself up to the idea that it's okay to make mistakes. The biggest key is being able to get started and not hold yourself back in some way.” Stacy Westfall
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Season 1 continues with its focus on the rider’s mind. Today, I discus making mistakes. I’m going to break it down into three different things. Why you should make mistakes. Which mistake you should really try to avoid. And how to measure the direction of your mistakes.

During my clinics I often tell riders that they should make mistakes in the right direction. This implies that it is okay to make mistakes, and there is some kind of way to measure the mistakes that you are making and how that’s working out for you. Listen on to learn how to make your mistakes work for you.

“You need to be your own coach, and you will find that laughter brings more power than criticism.” Stacy Westfall
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Show Notes

[02:14] It’s easier to get started if you free yourself up to the idea that it’s okay to make mistakes. The biggest key is being able to get started and not hold yourself back in some way.

[02:39] When I see riders tense up at mistakes it makes me think of training a horse. I know when my horse makes a mistake I’m not going to criticize or judge.

[04:45] When you’re out in the barn riding you need to be your own coach, and you will find that laughter brings more power than criticism.

[05:03] A mistake you need to avoid is one that risks your safety or your horses safety.

[06:13] As your training your horses you need to be able to measure the trend that your directions are headed.

[06:35] Take 30 days to look over the trends.

[07:07]  There are three different options that come up when you look at Trends. Number one is trending down. Number two is staying the same or flat-lining. Number three is trending up.

[07:57] I make mistakes on purpose when teaching the horses how to change leads.

[08:21] I started asking Gabby for lead changes before I had full control.

[09:07] I’m teaching myself and my horses that mistakes are okay.

[10:45] The problem with waiting until perfect is the horse actually thinks they’re doing something wrong when trying a new lead change.

[11:27] Realize that you’ll need some sort of consistency or you won’t be able to measure the trend.

[11:44] Get motivated to get into some kind of rhythm. Try working the horses three days a week.

[12:29] Use video to review and compare the trends.

[13:34] The more details of a ride you can feel, the more you will know what’s not working.

“Decide your end goal then measure whether it is trending up or trending down.” Stacy Westfall
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Links and Resources:

12 hours at a horse show with Stacy Westfall and Newt

Horse spontaneously stands on box, but why?

The post Episode 10: Make Mistakes in the Right Direction appeared first on Official Site of Stacy Westfall.

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“Hi Stacy, again a very interesting podcast. I love how you break it down into parts. This makes is much easier to understand. I have a 4-year-old stallion in training, who was really disrespectful when I first started. Very pushy, using his shoulders to run right through me, not respecting my space at all. The owner had to use a whip when walking with him and they corrected him by using that whip. I have been working with him for a couple of months and he is doing very good… He is backing out of my space nicely, moving his shoulders and hips when I ask him to and he comes of pressure quite nicely. I´m pretty happy with the progress he has made in this time. But… he keeps on biting. Biting me, biting the rope, biting the fence. When he is backing up he tries to bite me, when I put on the halter he bites. Basically, whenever he can reach me, he bites. I tried your chicking wings, but he doesn’t care. It hurts me more then it hurts him. I tried a chain when I walk with him and tie him up, but again he doesn’t care. He keeps on biting the chain. I did make his feet move whenever he bites, but now he bites and starts lunging himself right away. Kind of like a kid grounding himself. The owner would hit hem whenever he would bite her. Now it is a game to him. Is he fast enough to bite us before we hit him? ( I don’t hit him. Let that be clear) The biting isn’t aggressive but it is a ‘playfull stallion behavior’. But he is weighing around 600KG ( he is nog a quarter horse) And I don’t like to play and be bitten by a stallion who weighs that much. All the other groundwork he is doing fine, but I feel that the biting issues is one of the things keeping us from graduating to college. Any suggestions on how to fix this? PS: His teeth were checked as well and all fine.” Samantha

Thanks for the question, Samantha. Here are a few thoughts on the subject.

Habits and hormones.

Stallions with a very high drive to bite are a challenge with no easy answer. If they are corrected early on during all human interactions it can be slightly easier but the ones that choose to be mouthy, choose that as an expression of their desires. I have had amazing stallions that were very well behaved, decent stallions that were behaved most of the time and stallions that were always pushing the boundaries.

Good to Great.

When I trained for the public I dealt with all of them but as my business grew and my knowledge grew I started making different choices. In college (I went to an equine college) the vet had a saying, “A good stallion makes a great gelding”. He was noting that there was an improvement in some way when gelded.

Trainability vs performance…or both?

What does the industry value? In the reining industry, the stallions must be both athletic and highly trainable. Reining horses are required to reach a higher level of training than say a racehorse. Because of this, the horses are being bred to be both athletic and trainable. There are more and more stallions in the reining industry that are very trainable and easy to be around because of this. In other industries, the performance outweighs the level of ‘trainability’. This isn’t to say that a racehorse isn’t trainable but it does acknowledge that the ability to race fast is more highly prized. What is the goal with this stallion?

Mustang stallion displays his battle scars…scars he thought were worth fighting for.

To Geld or not to Geld.

What is the long term plan for this horse? This is a conversation worth having with the owner. As a trainer, you don’t have the full say of what happens with the horse but you do have control of which horses you decide to train. You must decide what level of correction you are willing to use…but remember that the stallion might ‘ask’ for more. Think about the fights that stallions have with each other in the wild. Some will really turn up the pressure.

In my world, my answer would be to geld him. I know this because when Newt was just turning two he started getting mouthy. He had always played with other horses using his mouth but he started doing it more and more to people. The distraction in his mind that was driving this behavior would have also caused distractions in other areas of training. I gelded him. I chose it early because I didn’t want his hormones to create other bad habits and I knew the distraction level was going to change the training and require me to be harder on him. Gelding him took away the desire to bite and made his life around humans and other horses easier.

There are other industries that may overlook the behavior for other qualities but I’m only going to speak from what I have seen. Twenty plus years later I agree even more with the wise old vet from my college years. A good stallion makes a GREAT gelding.

The post Dealing with stallions that bite; habits and hormones appeared first on Official Site of Stacy Westfall.

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“You can teach a horse that training isn't a scary thing, but before that happens you have to believe it in your mind.” Stacy Westfall
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Issues that affect the way a rider thinks has been the topic for this podcast season. This episode is about something that you should spend some time contemplating when you are at home sitting on the couch. If you do, it will change the way you ride.

This topic is pressure. How do you react when you hear me say pressure? What flashes in your mind? What do you picture when I say pressure and horse? Understanding that pressure isn’t always a bad thing, and the right pressure will allow your horse to learn and grow, can make you a better rider.

“I propose that it’s a form of pressure that builds a horse's mind.” Stacy Westfall
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Show Notes

[03:37] My first podcast episode is set to a video of horses playing on YouTube. When you watch the horses play, you are watching an entire game of pressure.

[03:58] Horses aren’t afraid of pressure. A lot of riders try to create a pressure-free world for their horses, but it isn’t real.

[04:39] A pressure-free world isn’t a realistic view of our lives or of the horse’s life.

[05:07] If you watch horses in the wild, there is pressure from other horses. There is also external pressure from the environment.

[05:54] To build muscle, we need a form of resistance or pressure.

[06:11] I propose that it is a form of pressure that builds a horse’s mind.

[06:19] Applying pressure on can break down a horse mentally if done wrong.

[06:30] By avoiding pressure the horse becomes weaker.

[07:13] Denny Emerson of Tamarack Hill Farm talks about pressure and how it depends on context.

[09:33] My bareback bridleless ride with Roxy was not created without pressure.

Pressure as a theory is not just a theory for people. It can become a theory and principle for horses.

[10:15] Roxy understood that the pressure wasn’t something to run from.

[10:39] We can also teach the horse by holding contact with the reins.

[11:01] You can teach the horse that training isn’t a scary thing, but before that happens you have to believe it in your mind.

[11:14] A simple, but not easy exercise. Take the slack out of the reins and find the rhythm of the horse’s head as it walks.

[11:36] When a horse walks their head moves up and down or slightly forward and back.

[12:17] Following the horse’s head with your hand makes you easy to hold hands with.

[12:49] If you have a tenseness about the idea of contact in your mind, you won’t have a good result.

[13:18] Both people and horses need to understand pressure in order to learn things.

[14:20] To advance in life, you need to be able to understand and handle degrees of pressure.

“To advance in life, you need to be able to understand and handle degrees of pressure.” Stacy Westfall
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Links and Resources:

Stacy Westfall first Podcast on YouTube (watch the horses apply pressure to each other)

Tamarack Hill Farm

Stacy Westfall Championship Bareback & Bridleless Freestyle Reining with Roxy

Valegro & Charlotte Dujardin

The post Episode 9: How riders view pressure will effect their horses appeared first on Official Site of Stacy Westfall.

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