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.
Today, I’m talking with Molly Wagner about getting started as a professional in the horse industry. Together, we are going to tackle two voicemails that came in. Some of the topics we discuss include:
What can I do to gain reputation and experience? The challenge of family and work goals. Gaining confidence, making mistakes, learning on the job, equine careers outside of training…and more!
Today I’m talking with Lynn Palm about western dressage.
Lynn literally wrote the book on the subject of western dressage. She competes, judges, and teaches people about the sport. In this conversation, we discuss the step by step nature of the dressage tests, how the tests lead to balance in horse and rider…and more!
How much does it cost to own a horse? It is not an easy question to answer because there are so many variables but today's guest, Nicole Ross of HorseRookie.com has a unique solution. She began sharing 'What I spend on my horse: Monthly Expense Report' each month on her website. She explains what she spent, why...and even what was 'well-spent' and what she might regret. Nicole also shares tips on how to keep expenses down with bartering and trading.
Why is change hard? Why do we ‘want’ to change…but find it challenging? Today Ginny Telego explains a model for change that involves recognizing several necessary steps: Awareness, Desire to change, How to change, Ability, Reinforcement.
We discuss the resistance to change, the desire to quit and the topic of being bucked off and spooking horses!
Getting into horses or returning to horses later in life can be a challenge but can also contain many hidden blessings. My guest today, Suzi Vlietstra, shares her experience of returning to horses at age 57. In her words, "So here I am, an older and wider rider hoping to recapture some of the equine magic." and another quote, "I was now a very adult rider with some unfamiliar fears..." We discuss the challenges of changing bodies, letting go of past expectations, embracing the here and now...and much more.
Does clicker training work with horses? Won't they just start looking for treats all the time? In this podcast, I'm talking with Mustang Maddy about clicker training horses. We discuss positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, staying safe, mental barriers to trying new training techniques and more. She outlines the steps she uses to safely introduce the clickers and hand feeding. She also shares a free video series and downloadable PDF on the subject!
Is it possible to get started in reining and fully train your own horse from start to show?
Today’s guest says ‘yes’ and he has the track record to prove it. Today, I would introduce you to my husband and my coach, Jesse Westfall.
Over the years Jesse has helped many people get started in reining and he specializes in helping people who want to train their own horse. Listen as we discuss the process.
Today we are talking about Riding with Confidence and my guest is Barbra Schulte. She is a Hall of Fame rider and a performance coach. I looked through my emails and asked her questions about fear of cantering, fear of messing my horse up, fear of making a fool of myself when I ride, and more. Listen to the podcast to hear here advice.
Today’s question is about teaching horses to pony or the art of leading one horse while riding another. Ponying can be a great way to exercise two horses at once as well as a way to expose a younger or less experienced horse to more of the world without riding.
This podcast lists things to consider regarding the horse you will be riding as well as the horse you will be leading or ponying.
It also discusses controlling your environment and situations you should prepare for such as narrow trails, barkin
Today, I'm answering two questions that were left on my voicemail line (the orange tab on the right side of the home page). Both of these involve the idea of riding different disciplines. The first question discusses ethics, showing, and competition. And the second question is more about how to handle the apparent contradictions between some disciplines and their cue systems.
Question 1: My horse wants to run and play at the beginning of lunging. It takes a long time to get her to walk. Should I accept this or change it? How would I change it?
Question 2: My horse has been recovering from an injury. I would like to go back and improve his groundwork but I'm not sure if lunging is the best thing right now while he is still recovering. Are there other things I can do that don't involve lunging?
A listener called in a question about training her first two-year-old. She is struggling to find the balance between quality vs quantity and also a concern of causing boredom during the training process. Stacy explains her views on finding a balance between quality and quantity beginning with the idea that quality always matters and quantity is often part of 'seasoning' a horse.
Stacy also explains her view that boredom is GOOD for horses...but that the caller may be confusing signs of frustration or conf
How does planning help set your horse up for success? How do the layers of training build into a more refined cue system? These topics and more come up as I answer the two following questions.
Question 1: I loved the pattern you shared on Episode 70, Riding Circles within Circles. I felt a huge difference in my horses and myself within 10 minutes...Are there any other patterns you can share with us and what you would use them to accomplish? Second, with a high school level horse, do you still ride thes
Today I’m answering three questions that I think are all related. One is about a horse that pops his head up when he steps on the lead rope, another is about ground tying and the final one is about tying with patience.
When a horse steps on the lead rope while grazing, some will step off the rope without missing a bite...while others will pop their heads up almost as if they are surprised. During this segment, I discuss the 'truth' that both horses are experiencing and I outline how to show the horse the
Q&A: Ranch riding, ranch trail…the horror!
How to better prepare for the transition from home to show.
Preparing a horse for rider nerves.
Practice the pattern or don’t practice the pattern?
The battle with anticipation.
Q&A: While I was riding through a gate on horseback, my horse reached over with his nose and TOUCHED the electric fence.
Now I have issues opening the gate…HELP!
Have you ever had a reason that stopped you from riding? Maybe you were injured? Maybe your horse was injured?
I find that when I look back there have been many reasons that I have missed time or gone 'off schedule' for a number of unplanned reasons. For some of us, this is happening now with the pandemic. When 'big' things happen in my life I try to see how they might remind me of smaller events that I have successfully navigated.
In this podcast, I give several ideas on how to handle
boarding and not
Listen as a caller describes how she changed her lunging experience in a matter of days. Stacy outlines the steps that made this 'leap' in learning possible. Hazel calls in and asks how to get her school horse to respect her space more. Stacy gives her three different suggestions. Amy has questions about how to get her ranch horse to 'wait' a bit more during the trail obstacle phase. Stacy explains how she teaches this type of 'wait' using three different examples: lunging, riding a nervous horse and when t
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.
How are you doing? Before you answer that question, I'd like you to pretend that you are a horse. What's the first image that comes to mind? An Arabian? A racehorse? An overworked driving horse?
During this podcast, I share with you my idea that maybe it is helpful if we view our situations from a slightly different angle.
It is also interesting to sometimes use the horse training techniques on OURSELVES.
Are you rocking the teeter-totter?
Are you working the emotional AND physical cycles?
Q: After warming up and we're beginning to work, I have a really hard time keeping his gait consistent, usually start out slow and easy. But as we continue on, he has a tendency to increase his speed and will tense up and occasionally throw his head. Whenever I ask for a change of gait, especially downward transitions in, it most often happens during the lope. It also happens when I'm lunging him prior to riding, and I would like to know your opinion on how my contributing to his craziness and inconsisten
Question: “I was wondering how you keep your motivation for riding your own horses when you are training other people's horses. I feel like I have to have a lot of motivation for everyone else's horses to keep them going and keep them working towards their goals. But I have a lot of trouble working my horses.”
Answer: There are many ways too look at this. Here are a few to consider.
Look for similarities or contrasts between your goals with your horse vs your customers horses.
Do you plan to show
How to teach your horse to spook, in three easy steps!
1) start with a horse with lack of experience or holes in the training
2) try not rock the boat…
3) when the horse has doubts, reduce the pressure or request
Thanks for humoring me there.
Sometimes when I’m thinking about a subject…I try to consider all angles and this time, I decide that telling this story backward would be interesting. I really do go through the steps of how to teach a horse to spook...but I then follow it up with how NOT
Can training horses to do tricks like rearing, bowing or lying down cause problems? I answer this question by using examples of six different horses to illustrate my answer...which is sometimes yes and sometimes no.
I also explain how I decide which horses are better candidates than others...and how timing does matter.
I discuss a comment left on the show notes of the last podcast and expand a bit more on the idea of dismounting as a way to avoid problems.
In keeping with the seasons theme, 'What's goi
Today I answer two listener questions.
Question #1- "My question for you is how you can tell when your horse is ready to go on its first trail ride. What kind of skills do you like to have in the arena? And then what do you practice on the first trail? Right. How do you know when to call it quits and what are your goals on your first time going out?"
Question #2- "My question is about balancing training your horse, being a mom and also being pregnant. I'm on my second pregnancy now and I'm just going
What is a tipping point in horse training? Why does it matter? How would it help with spooking?
In today's episode, I discuss the idea of tipping points and how they impact my outlook on training. I see smaller tipping points where the small day after day lessons finally result in a bigger change. I also see larger tipping points, where clusters of training ideas come together to form even larger tipping points...which is when training gets really fun.
I also discuss Resistance (a reference to Stephen Pre
The Complete Guide to Improving Steering and Teaching Neck Reining is here! If you like this podcast, this course is the video & teaching version...on the subject of steering!
Later in the podcast, I discuss the idea of ‘once in a lifetime’ horses. I’ve had three so far…at least in the public view. What does that mean?
And finally, I update you on my horses. I discuss getting started again after a break, Where I feel the ‘loss’ the most and the concept of finding the ‘holes’ in a horse's
In this episode, I make a confession about how much (or not much) I have been working my horses, I discuss self-awareness and I answer 12 horse training/career questions for a young lady who wrote in.
Horse Training Interview Questions
What inspired you to be involved in this career?
Describe one of the challenges in your career?
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Why did you choose to go to the University of Findlay to pursue this career path?
What qualities do you think a person in th
This week's podcast continues explaining the levels of training that horses go through. I describe the middle part of horse training as boring…
Picture a bell curve. The beginning of the curve is the beginning of the horse's training. I call it elementary school and quite a few exciting things happen there; haltering, saddling, bridling & riding.
Then we get to the middle of the bell curve. Where the changes are subtle and the hours are long. The long, repetitive middle. Like Wednesday, everyday…if yo
In this episode, 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.
In this season and episode, 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 shares five actionable tips for staying motivated.
Stacy starts by answering a listener's question about motivation:
"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...
[00:00:03] Hi, I'm Stacy Westfall,.
[00:00:05] And I'm Ginny Telego and we are broadcasting live today from Stacy Westfall cabin in Perrysville, Ohio,.
[00:00:13] Otherwise known as that little cabin on a hill and today. Thank you for joining me.
[00:00:19] Thanks for having me.
[00:00:20] I am excited because we're going to be talking about curiosity and how can that not be exciting? I love curiosity. I know this because it came up during one of our other conversations.
[00:00:03] Podcasting from a little cabin on a hill. This is the Stacy Westfall podcast. Stacy's goal is simple to teach you to understand why horses do what they do, as well as the action steps for creating clear, confident communication with your horses.
[00:00:46] Welcome to the Christmas edition of the podcast, because this episode releases on Christmas Day this year, I thought I would share one of my favorite Christmas memories with you.
Or maybe it's a lesson you get to decide.
What you're hea
In this episode, Stacy explains that she has been pondering the answer she gave to a listener last week and she has more to add this week. She discusses the role of faith in horse training as well as mistakes she sees people make when they use the word 'faith' as applied to their horse. Stacy also discusses how 'good natured' horses can still hurt people and why this happens. Full show notes. [00:00:03] Podcasting from a little cabin on a hill. This is the Stacy Westfall podcast. Stacy's goal is simple to teach you to understand why horses do what they do, as well as the action steps for creating clear, confident communication with your horses. [00:00:22] Hi, I'm Stacy Westfall, and I'm here to teach you how to understand, enjoy and successfully train your own horses. [00:00:31] Do you ever have an idea that just grabbed hold of you and won't let go? Okay. That's what happened to me with last week's podcast episode. I recorded it and I told you that I was getting ready to go on a trip. And what happened to me was that although I conveyed my thoughts as clearly as I could at the time, my mind would not let go of one particular question. In case you haven't heard last week's episode, it was a Q and A, and one of the questions basically boiled down to I'm going to read a section of it. "My question for you is what prevents a well-trained horse from kicking out or striking at its handler?” And while I answered the question one way last week, I want to add to that this week. I mentioned last week that my husband and I were going to be driving down to the USDF dressage awards ceremony. And that turned out to be a 12 hour drive each way. Yeah, that was my idea. Not quite sure I would choose that again, but I'm always a toss up between, driving or flying. I'm not really a fan of either one. I think personally, I was created to move at the pace of a horse and not anymore. But anyway, maybe all that time in the car played into my mind chewing on this, but I just couldn't put it down. [00:02:01] And I think it's because basically what it boils down to is this play between faith and training. And especially for me, the thought between faith and horse training is something that I think about a lot. If you guys have ever got an email from me, you'll notice that I sign them “Ride with Faith” because faith on all levels is a big part of my life. And many of you may have seen my bridle this ride on Roxy. And just in case you haven't, I'll put a link to it in the show notes. But that ride where I was bareback and riderless doing freestyle training moves in front of thousands of people not too long after my father had passed away. It took faith on all kinds of different levels. And so I think the question that was asked anonymously, which was very genuine and very valid, triggered me to look around the world for an even better way to answer it. And that very long, very long car drive proved a lot of evidence, because when we get into a car a lot of times and in this case for the majority of it, my husband was driving. So basically, I have to have faith in his ability to drive. And then we drive down the road with other drivers, which also takes a lot of faith. But it's interesting because this kind of faith also involves training. [00:03:35] So most of the time when people are learning to drive a car, they don't do it on a winding road, right beside the Grand Canyon, they go into a big flat parking lot, preferably an empty one, and they get some slow basic training. And then that training leads to more experience and then it leads to a driver that we have more faith in. And I had the pleasure of helping to teach my three sons how to drive. And I can tell you that at the very beginning of that, there is not a lot of faith. There is a lot of that's why they have those brakes before the official driver's ed teacher so that they can stop the car because they're like not willing to go on faith alone. They're gonna reach in and they're going to change something. And I think that this is where the idea of faith in something big like God is kind of different than faith and the other driver going down the road. But I'll love to hear your feedback on it. But when we look at the instructor and the student in that driving car, you know, it's like you can have faith that the student has a good heart and that they're coming from a good place. But you also can recognize that their lack of experience operating this could also lead to something disastrous. [00:05:04] And so I think that sometimes when I use the word faith around the horses and the horse industry, a lot of times when I'm signing the covers of the DVD. I’ll write, “Ride with Faith!” and I realize sometimes that that can be taken to an extreme, which I also realize the idea that it is an extreme is also my opinion. But when I think about it, my the extreme, in my opinion, would be that people might just put their faith and I'm doing little air quotes here in their horse and go bridle is on faith alone. And I personally know this kind of faith because I gave it a try as a teenager and it resulted in me riding my mare with a halter and basically getting run away with for a very long stretch of a dirt road while riding bareback. And keep in mind that this was a horse that I had a great type of a relationship with. She was a good natured type of a horse. And now, looking back, I would have been more accurate to say that I had faith in her being good natured or faith in that that she didn't intend to do me harm. But the problem is, her view of what I could ride and handle was not the same as my reality. And she in reality needed a lot more training to be ridden in a halter, and she hadn't received that training. [00:06:39] So through no fault of her own, she greatly endangered the both of us because, go figure, horses are not actually really good at making great decisions around roads or cars or different things because they don't understand it, which kind of brings up a really good point, which is that a lot of people are injured on good natured horses. And when I look at it, sometimes I think there's a piece and I remember having this piece of me be very prominent. I think that sometimes we want to believe that only like a mean, evil, bad horse would hurt people. So, you know, you picture something really aggressive or in pain or whatever. But what I see a lot more often is good natured horses who don't have the training that they need to know how to interact. And simply treating a human like another horse can lead to broken bones and hospitalization, because without knowing it, the horses don't understand that they're big and we are squishy. And so compared to their horsey friends, when they treat us in a way that they perceive as completely fine, it can literally hospitalize people. And that's a problem. But it's not a good natured problem. It's it's not because they were mean. It was just because they lack the training. So I think it's kind of interesting to play around with the idea of the good natured. [00:08:13] You can have kind of a faith, this kind of judging something different than the training level, which is interesting because I think that's where it's a little bit more like the drivers on the road like you want to have. Faith in the drivers on the other side of the road when you're driving. But I also suggest that you have like a highly developed set of defensive driving skills too, especially nowadays as you're driving and you see lots of other people swerving and texting. I don't know about you, but I'm a hawk eyes looking for these erratic movements in these other vehicles so that I can turn up my defensive driving skills. And, you know, that's just a fact of what's going on right now. And I still have enough faith to get in a car and spend 24 hours driving. And I think the good news about horses is that they are generally good natured, which is also something that I thought about a lot as we traveled all of those miles. Because when you travel that much, you get to look at a lot of different people that you interact with. And I think when we're in our own routine, daily, weekly, monthly, maybe there's not as high of an awareness of the people that you interact with. And maybe that just depends on your lifestyle and your job. But. For me, I know that I interact with a lot more when I'm traveling, and I'd be willing to bet that a lot of them are irritated. [00:09:48] And one of the questions from last week was, “Why don't horses strike out of there if they're irritated?” And what's interesting is, you know, you can kind of ask the same question of people, because there's a lot of irritated people, but it doesn't come down overall as physical as as well as what you could fear. You know, because most of the time it's funny when I travel. I don't know if you do this, but definitely after being around horses for this many years. When I see somebody that's in a really bad mood or I'll even joke about it myself when I'm in a bad mood, and I'll say to my husband, can't you see my ears are pinned because, you know, people will speak sharply or they'll give off a lot of body language that makes it clear that they're in a bad mood, which is so much like our horses. And for the most part and I'm talking about perfect strangers for the most part, the majority of people that you interact with are nice. And I'll tell you a little secret, I'm not actually super fond of traveling. Just kind of funny when you look at how much traveling I do in a year, but I'm not really fond of it. [00:11:04] And the one thing I do know for sure that I have learned from traveling as much as I do is that from coast to coast, we've traveled to Canada, Australia, Germany. Traveling really highlights how many nice people there are out there because you're out of your comfort zone, you're out of your regular people that you know, and you're just out there. And for a huge portion of it, when you do that much traveling, you're relying on perfect strangers to get you around. And it makes you feel vulnerable. But it also makes you really aware of how many nice people are out there. So I have a challenge for you as you go about this next week. I would like you to look at all the different things you have faith in. And I'm talking the little things like the floor that you stand on without questioning it. Or the food that someone serves you at one of those Christmas parties. Or the fact that you're going to take another breath right after this one. Because faith is a really interesting thing to think about on all levels. And it's actually amazing how much faith we exhibit on a daily basis. Thanks again to the anonymous person who left last week's voicemail is my guest that most people would easily have talked themselves out of asking something that others could perceive as a simple question. [00:12:36] But personally, I've gotten a ton of enjoyment out of pondering it. And I really, truly want to thank you for daring to ask. [00:12:45] And I want to thank all of you for listening. I'll talk to you again in the next episode, which happens to be on Christmas Day. [00:12:58] If you enjoy listening to Stacy's podcast, please visit StacyWestfall,com for articles, videos and tips to help you and your horse succeed.
[00:00:03] Podcasting from a little cabin on a hill. This is the Stacy Westfall podcast. Stacy's goal is simple to teach you to understand why horses do what they do, as well as the action steps for creating clear, confident communication with your horses.
[00:00:22] Hi, I'm Stacy Westfall, and I'm here to teach you how to understand, enjoy and successfully train your own horses.
[00:00:31] And today I'm celebrating the one year anniversary of this podcast. I'm kind of shocked. I sat down to record and re
[00:00:33] I've been talking about horse tack and today I'm answering a listener question about martingales, training forks, draw reins and the like. Let's listen to the question. [00:00:44] Hi, Stacy. My name is MAXINE. First of all, I wanted to thank you for your podcasts. They've improved my communication with my horse a ton and I'm excited to continue listening to them. My question is about equipment. I have a hot horse, probably a 7 on the teeter totter and she naturally has a fairly high headset and really wants to go. I've been practicing lowering her head in a walk and trot, getting a proper frame from her with some success. So my question is about training. It's for riding and lunging and how you see their place in horse training as I'm not using them, but maybe could benefit from it. I'm talking about martingales, training forks, draw reins, side reins and I'm sure the list goes on. Do you see a benefit? And if and when would you use them, if at all, to the help and training? Or are they just a Band-Aid? Thanks Stacy. I'm looking forward to continue listening and learning from you. Greetings from Canada. [00:01:37] Thanks for your question, Maxy, and I'm glad to hear that the podcast has been helping. Some people would consider these things to be training aids and other people would consider them to be gimmicks. Let's have a conversation and see if we can come up with a few different ways to view them. And then at the end of the podcast, you get to decide what you believe. Everybody listening does. Now, this might sound like a rabbit trail, but go ahead and follow me for a minute. When you imagine riding a horse, the rider typically gets to steer the horse with either direct rein, or indirect rein,. And just for a quick review, direct rein, means that left rein, means go left, right rein, means go right. So if we wanted the horse to steer to the left would pull on the left rein,. The horse would bend to the left and the feet would move to the left and you'd head to the left. Same thing going to the right. But in indirect rein, or neck reining, the opposite is true. So if you are neck reining horse, you hold both reins in one hand, and if you move your hand to the left, the outside rein, makes contact. So the right rein, would make contact, but the horse would be expected to go to the left. So that's considered an indirect rein,. But let's stop and think. [00:03:03] When we first see a horse ridden under saddle, let's say the first ride or the first 10 rides. Most commonly, if these are the two things you have to choose from, what do you typically see them steered with? Direct rein, or indirect rein,? And why? I'm going to say that most commonly when you have these two things just to choose from, you're most commonly going to see a horse that is steered with a direct rein,. And that's because the direct rein, so left rein, pressure means go to the left tends to be more clear. It shapes the horse. So it bends the horse to the left as it communicates with the horse to move the feet to the left. Now, we all know that this is not the only way to steer a horse. A horse can be steered with the outside rein, the indirect rein,. A horse can be steered with legs. A horse can be steered with voice. Have you ever seen really good driving team? Those people can actually steer those horses just with their voice cues. And there's all kinds of other creative ways, especially now with the Internet that you can see. But. The kind of standard thing you see is a direct rein, because it shapes and it's very clear. So go back to and think about episode 52 when I talked about shanked bits and snaffle bits. [00:04:29] Do you remember back in that episode that I talked about the shanked bit having a different signal? And on day one, the very first day that I put a shanked bit on a horse that's only ever ridden before in a snaffle bit, the horse will have a different response to that bit because of the different pressure points, the different signal, the different way that that feels. Well, that is where I'm going to go with this conversation about training AIDS. So many of these training aids that you've listed have kind of a similar idea behind them as the idea of the shanked a bit. So to different degrees, these different training aids applied different types of pressure that give the horse a I'm going to phrase it this way, a more clear way of changing their body or shaping themselves. But. Before we get sucked into the thousands of different combinations that are possible with all the different training aids that are out there. The first thing you're going to have to do is you're going to have to ask yourself, do you like your reason for using any of these tools or any of these methods? Because that's the same. You're going to apply it both ways, tools or methods. So think about it like this. If you're working with a horse and you're frustrated that you're not able to communicate with the horse on a certain subject. [00:06:00] So you think about grabbing a different aid, that could be a red flag that maybe this might be. Might not be the best time to change. So what I'm saying is like, what is your reason? And do you really like that reason? Because if you think that you're being unclear and that the horse doesn't understand, you've got to really reflect on everything that's going on with you, because there's probably a lot of different ways that you could become more clear with your communication. So let's just jump in and use the example that you did. You mentioned lowering the horse's head or bringing the horse into a different frame. There are going to be numerous ways that you can work on this. So just make sure that it's coming from a good place and not a place of frustration. But I'm going to get a lot more direct here. So let me answer your question a bit more directly. One of the questions you asked was if and when would I use them? When I was in school. And you've got to remember that I went to a four year equine school. During those four years, we the students learned how to use all of these different things. We learned how to use martingales, and training forks and draw reins. And we learned what the intended use of these things were. [00:07:25] And we also learned either directly or indirectly from what the unintended uses could be. And what I mean by that is that maybe something that was intended to be used one way, let's just say training forks or depends on who you're talking to. But let's just say the one where you would snap down to the girth, it would come up and you'd have these little rings and your reins would run through those rings. So let's just use the word training fork. But this is becomes where people mix all these different terms around in different ways. So those rings are intended or were designed by somebody so that they would be adjusted a lot higher up are a lot longer than what most people adjust them. So the intended use of those was that if the horse were to be ridden in a snaffle bit and was to lift its head to vertical. So we're thinking the front of the horses knows that the front flat part of their face instead of going up and down to the ground vertical. I actually phrased that wrong. Imagine that horse taking that nose and lifting that nose way up until they're until their nose was horizontal with the ground. So we've got this very up, up, up position. Horses can discover that if they lift their head very high that the bit no longer has pressure on their on their gums, has now just pressure on their cheeks. [00:09:01] And horses that will discover that will actually pick their heads really high up to change the pressure point. So these idea of these like training forks was designed so that if the horse lifted their head up that high, that the pressure coming from the rein, that's being redirected through those forks would now still be applied to the horse's gums. So that's the intended use. But the unintended use that a lot of people use them for is they make them very short and they use them to pull the horse's head down. So that's what I mean by an unintended use. But there are lots of different tools that have been created for little situations like that. And there are some of these tools that I would consider extreme, even when they're used being used as intended. So in this case, these forks, when adjusted the way that the designer meant for them to be adjusted, they would only ever be engaged if the horse flipped its head very high upor sometimes when people are right, a little bit like my horse flipped his head upside down. And they what they mean by that is that the horse took its nose way up in the air, way, way up in the air, up to horizontal or higher. And these this one tool I've been describing was designed to only engage when the horse's head was incredibly high like that. [00:10:25] But I'm telling you that probably 90 percent of the time, if I'm traveling around and I see I'm being used, they're not adjusted for that use. They're being used for a different use. But again, I've seen tools when I've traveled around and gone to different expos that I would consider extreme even when they were used as intended. So can you hear how this gets kind of foggy in here? Well, let me answer another one of your questions. Do I see a benefit to any of these training tools? Well, first of all, I don't use any currently, and we're gonna get to that in just a minute. But when I look back at them and I go back to my college years looking back, can I see where some of these tools can be useful? The answer would be yes. And the way that I can say that is because I can see where some of these tools could be used to show a horse. Where the rider wanted him to go, but here's the much bigger question. Here's the primary question that I see in this whole thing. Do they help in training or are they just Band-Aids? To me, this is the really big heart of the question and the reason that I don't use them now, but the reason why I can also say yes, that I do see how they had a purpose back then and why people are still, you know, curious about using them now is that you have to again go back to like your bigger training principle. [00:12:02] So I don't use them now because I would rather do things in a long, slow way. And these training tools can often become Band-Aids because the horses can apply grandma's rules. So let me go a little deeper here. Remember, my idea of grandma is rules is this small children quickly figure out that adults have different rules. I'm talking really little kids. So if, for example, if grandma thinks something is cute, like jumping on the bed and allows it when the when the small child comes to her house, then the child will happily run in and do that cute thing of jumping on the bed, even though they're not allowed to do that at home. And then sometimes, depending on the family dynamics, the parents might walk in and the kid might look at the parents and run and jump on the bed knowing the parents don't allow it. But also looking to grandma to be the one that's like grandma is going to allow me to do it. Parents are not going to be happy. And the kids are really just kind of poking this button to be like, OK. [00:13:08] And what happens in this situation and the family dynamics are going to play out how that goes? Well, if very small children know how to test the different rules of different adults. And then really, if you look at it, the school aged children, they're famous for testing substitute teachers. Horses do this too well. They do this with people, but horses also do this with training aids. So the reason that a lot of the training aids don't work when they're removed is that if the rider doesn't know how to handle the situation, it's going to pop right straight back up as soon as the rider goes back to riding without the aid. So in the end, when you figure out the timing of your aids to get the horse where you want it to be, you will find that you don't need these other tools. And interestingly enough, the training will be more solid. But. I can also see where there are times that people could use these for a short amount of time and show the horse the way. Show the horse the shape. But again, I'm not going to go through each and every training tool out there that's considered somewhere between a training aid to a gimmick. [00:14:33] The training fork is only engaged when the horse's head is upside down. But I'm also here to say there are many ways to communicate with the horse to not have its head upside down without necessarily using those. But are those ones those ones, in my opinion, used correctly, don't fall into that category of extreme where I think there are aids out there that do. So, again, double check why you want to use this. And do you like your reasons? And then one last thought that applies specifically to your question that you asked. You mentioned that your horse was hotter and hotter. Horses are often the more emotionally reactive horses and they tend to get a lot of these aides put on them even more. So do the really duller, quieter horses. The aids that we end up discussing there sometimes tend to be more like aids to get them to move forward. But hot horses greatly benefit from learning to control their emotions through groundwork. Because in groundwork, when you're doing the way that I'm going to explain here for a moment, the horse needs to see that they have a choice. So let's just use the choice to stay still and stand and look at a scary thing versus running away. So they need to have the option of doing either. So they need to have the option. So let's just picture that I'm standing there and I'm going to start whipping the ground really hard with a stick and a string. [00:16:03] And that's gonna make a lot of noise and a lot of energy. Well, those hotter horses are going to have more of a likelihood of choosing to run away and they need to be able to see the choices between I could stand here or I can leave. And we're not going to go into the full subject of, like how you train that here. But it is that choice that where they know they could leave. And they know they could stay. And it is you learning how to apply that pressure and not think that for the horse to stay, you have to have no pressure and that the horse is going to leave for sure if you add pressure. It is that dance of figuring out that puzzle that then leads the horse into curiosity of how they could apply. Like, oh, that seemed like it was a highly emotional charge thing and my first instinct was to run away. But now through this conversation I've been having with this this handler rider, I now see that there are many different options. And wow, it kind of feels good not to go into flight mode, some getting even more curious and more brave. But it's interesting because if you think of it. If you take away the option of leaving and you just let's just pretend you like hog tie them together so they can't leave. [00:17:25] That's not going to get you the horse that's going to be making a choice to stay. And I think sometimes with certain aids, certain training aids versus or maybe even gimmicks, sometimes when they're used, they take away the horses choice completely. And that becomes not in the long run what we want, because the challenge is that if that horse feels trapped. They're not really making a choice. And one more thing with these hotter horses, when you have a hotter horse, if they have not learned how to control their emotions, if they've not learned how to make some of these choices, when you put them into martingales or draw reins or a lot of these other aids, many horses take those as feeling trapped and a horse is already emotionally charged and then feels trapped can really become a challenge. So I hope that that gives you a lot of different thoughts to ponder. And as always, if you have a question or you want follow up information on something I've talked about, you can go to my Web site and there's an orange button on the right hand side where you can click and leave your voicemail. And I also want to let you know that I do offer a limited number of paid coaching calls per month as time allows. [00:18:42] And these are really great for people who want direct private coaching from me on the phone or in a video call. And sometimes it just really helps if you want to ask your questions, but you don't really want to do it in a public way or you want me to review a video and we can talk about it together. Are you working with your horse? Riding your horse? [00:19:00] And, you know, sometimes it just helps to get someone else's opinion on something you've been pondering. So if you're interested in that, I'll put a link of my calendar of availability and all of that over in the show notes of this podcast episode. [00:19:15] Thanks again for listening and I'll talk to you again in the next episode.
[00:00:22] In this season of the podcast, I'm talking about horse tack. And today I'm covering several items saddle pads, cinches or girths, billets and breast collars. If you want to see everything I'm using, watch any of the most recent videos I've been putting out on YouTube. You'll find those videos as well as photos on my Web site, StacyWestfall.com. And I also started something called Stacy's Stuff, which is a series of pages on my Web site that shows the items I'm currently using in my barn with full page write ups about what I'm using and why. I'm going to give you a few quick tips here and then we're going to listen to my conversation with Trish. [00:01:27] When I think about saddle pads, one of the tips I have is to go ahead and pull that saddle pad up into the gullet of the saddle. I use a contoured saddle pad, but even though the saddle pad already has a natural curve to it, it is still important to pull that pad up into the saddle. On one of the most recent videos I just posted shows the saddle pad sitting on Gabby's back and then I put the saddle on top of it and you can actually see that I can't slide my hand underneath the saddle pad because the pressure of the saddle is pushing down on that pad. [00:02:12] Then I lift the pad, that contoured pad up into the gullet and then you can see that I can easily stick my hand. Following the line of her neck. And I can actually feel her withers even though she has the saddle and pad on. That's how your saddle should be fitting. If there's pressure on the withers, that's gonna be uncomfortable. But it also will accentuate the saddle rolling if you don't lift it up off. So when you can actually lift that pad up into the saddle and you can fit your hand down there, that will prevent your saddle from rolling as much because then the saddle will be properly fitting. Instead of having that weird pressure on the withers, which actually helps your saddle want to roll around. So not a good thing you don't want the saddle rolling, so lift that pad up in. If I'm going to give you just one tip about selecting a cinch for your Western saddle, what I want you to think about is that I want you to use the longest one you can without it touching the saddle pad. And I have several different lengths laying around here so that I can change because sometimes you'll have a horse gain weight and then you need to use a longer one or sometimes you'll get one that's getting really fit. That was too heavy and you might and I might switch to a shorter one. But here's the reason that I want to use the longest cinch possible without it overlapping on my saddle pad. [00:03:51] And it is because I don't want the billet strap or the tie strap. That's that leather or nylon piece that goes from your saddle and holds your cinch on. I don't want that putting a lot of pressure on my horses side. So again, on that video that I've just made using Gabbie, I purposely have a section where I put the the cinch that was too small on her and you could clearly see that the strap was touching. And what's really interesting is not only touching, but it made it very difficult for me to slide my fingers underneath. You can actually see her. Her skin kind of pucker when I'm trying to push my fingers underneath there. Then when I switch to a correctly fitting cinch. So there's not very much space between the cinch and the pad. Maybe a couple of inches. You can then see that it's very easy for me to slide my fingers behind there because the pressure is not being applied to her side by that billet or tie strap. And to me, that's really important because when I see horses that have a lot of pressure being put on their sides with the billet or the tie strap, I know that there's more of a likelihood of that rubbing on the horse. Not to mention it puts the buckle of the cinch a lot further down into that horse's shoulder area, which is another reason that could be rubbing. So I use the longest cinch I can without it overlapping onto the pad. [00:05:22] And again, you can see that on that video. And I'll go ahead and put a link to that video in the show notes of this podcast. Another question I get asked quite a bit in regards to the billet or the tie strap is do you tie the knot up at the top to secure your saddle? Or do you use the hole and the little tongue that is on the on the cinch? Personally, I now a days use the holes that are in the billet and or the tie strap and I use the holes that are in there. And when you're gonna do that, if you've never done that before, what you do is you tighten it up, you tighten up the saddle. You you pull that tie strap tight and then you have to back that off just a little bit. And I'll I'll make a video and show that, too. But in order to make that little tongue on the cinch, stay snug. You've got to put it into there. And then you actually almost feel like you're reaching up there and loosening that that that billet tie strap just a little bit so that it holds snug on that hole. But I also remember when I was growing up, this somebody showed my mom and I how to do that. And we were kind of terrified that we were gonna do it wrong and it didn't feel that secure. So I know the entire time I was growing up and until I went to college, because remember again, I went to an equine college until I went to college. [00:06:56] My mom and I always tied the knot, which at the top of the that tie strap, there's a way that you can you can tie this little knot and make it tight. And that if you're used to doing that, that's fine. The reason I don't do it as much is because when you start to do a lot more advanced movements with your horse and let's just say that I'm working on lead changes and I want a lot of freedom of movement in my leg. Sometimes having that bunched up knot up underneath, there is a little bit more of something that will kind of catch the fender of the stirrup when I'm trying to move it around. And as you just become more and more aware, as you ride for more and more refinement, it can be something that you can feel. And so because that's what I do a lot. That's why I don't tend to tie that knot. But again, if you're trail riding, if you're new to this and if you're not comfortable with the idea of using the hole, don't do it, just totally tie the knot. Like I can still tie the knot. And I would still do it to go trail riding casually if I needed to and wouldn't have a problem at all with it. The last subject I'm going to offer a tip on before we jump into my conversation is breast callers. So a lot of times when people are coming over here to ride, we've got these big hills in the state park out behind us. [00:08:22] And a lot of times they'll say, you know, do I need a breast collar or do I not need a breast collar? And I typically will say, if you're not sure, let's go ahead and put one on. But what do I do when I go out there most of the time? I don't have one on. But listen to this. This is really interesting because I discovered this on a trail ride with friends the other day. We were out there and we were climbing up one of these pretty good sized little hills that we have out here. And I was riding along and I did not have a breast coller on. Now my saddles fit well, but I got thinking this person up ahead of me is having trouble with their saddle staying forward. This could either be a saddle fit issue or this could actually be a phase of training issue. And what I mean by that is I am most likely to put a breast collar on when I go out and ride up and down the hills behind here behind my house. I'm most likely to put a breast collar on with a less experienced horse and I'm less likely to do a on a more experienced horse. And that got me thinking as I was watching this this friend of mine ride up the hill. Why would that be? And I think it's because the horses, as they get more comfortable and they get more powerful and they get more athletic about how they go up the hill, they're not quite as likely to wiggle themselves out of the saddle. [00:10:00] And as I was watching this person's horse climb up the hill, it was not very coordinated because it lacked experience. And it was really interesting because I believe that at least a good part of what was going on there was that this horse was essentially like wiggling itself out of the tack a little bit. And that kind of explained to me one of the reasons why I just naturally will grab for the breast collar on the less experienced horse. Now I for sure see the point in the breast collar, and that is that it can actually help secure the saddle just a little bit. But you're going to hear in my interview with Trish, I totally agree with what she says, which is if you have a saddle fit problem to wear, your saddle keeps sliding back. You need to fix that problem. Don't go to the breast collar to fix that problem. So would this person that was riding the question that I had, is your saddle moving like this all the time or is this just happening when you come up here and your horse is learning to climb the hills? So there's my tip for breast collars. Now let's jump into my conversation with Tricia Campese from Stagecoach West. You'll find more tips as well as the different materials that are used and even some ideas for maintaining and fitting your tack. [00:11:28] Let's jump in and listen to this conversation. [00:11:34] Well, Trish, on today's podcast, I'd like to cover several different. I guess I might call them accessories, but they're they're kind of more than accessories because they're a big deal. And the one I'd like to lead off with is the one I mentioned in the last podcast, which is saddle pads, which there might be more options and saddle pads than there are in saddles some days I think when I look. But I bet you can break it down into a more manageable, more manageable. A way to look at it. Then what I would do so. Can you tell me a little bit about saddle pads and what to look for? What are the options? [00:12:08] Well, as we had talked earlier, our favorite thing to tell people is that every good saddle should have a good saddle pad. And I we've sometimes wondered why somebody would spend, you know, whether it's, you know, five hundred dollars and up on a saddle and then they want to spend twenty dollars on a saddle pad. We there are so many wonderful materials out on the market for saddle pick ups nowadays. The technology behind them is just amazing. So there's fleece, there's wool, there's, you know, a plethora of different type of pads. In a lot of times people come in and they're not you know, they come in sizes. [00:12:57] If you didn't buy the saddle from us the same thing, have a picture of your saddle or know that it's a square skirt or around skirt saddles come pads come in sizes according to what fits under your saddle. You know, and there's so many good materials out on the market nowadays, you know, readability or you know, if you're riding performance horses and you're riding multiple horses, you might want to look at something that's super easy to clean, especially if you're using it from one horse to the next horse. Same thing with it drying out easily. [00:13:39] We do sell quite a few pads to correct some saddles that don't fit 100 percent. You know, there's different types of pressure, really, pads that we sell, a lot of that. [00:13:52] Do some help with making your saddle fit a little bit better. What would those look like? [00:13:58] Most of those ones have a a pressure relief piece that is actually built on the underside of the pad instead of on the top side of the pad and designed to fit behind the shoulder. And it follows the curve of the horse's center part with their back. A lot of horses get that drop behind the shoulder, especially an older horse, which we've noticed more and more people nowadays are riding their horses well into their late 20s. And saddles were never designed to fit, you know, an 18+ year old horse. Yeah. They were designed to fit young horses. So that is and you know, a thing that we designed because we kept seeing it more and more in our saddle fitting when people would come to our store. So they just helped balance the saddle out and they fill in with horses, started to muscle in that. [00:14:54] And then we talked a little bit at one point, like you're seeing a rise in the number of pads that have a contour. [00:15:00] So almost all the saddle pads that I have in our store contoured tops. And it just makes sense. Why wouldn't you want a pad that isn't already kind of in the shape of the horse's top line? [00:15:12] Yeah. And I'm thinking it fits better. Exactly. So I'm thinking if you're listening to this and you're not quite sure what that contour is, if you can imagine laying the pad on the floor and it's kind of folded in half the way that it would be, you know, roughly like if it was on your horse, like if it's just flat, square or, you know, then then it's not contoured. But if you if it's got that higher spot where the withers would be in, then it kind of dips down. There's that shape like you visualize the top of a horse. Normally that's a contoured pad and that tends to be the leg we talked about in the saddle fit. You want to be able to keep the pressure off the top of the withers. So if you're saddle stays up at the top of the withers, but if your pad is like pushing a ton of pressure down there, that's not good. So these contoured pads aren't really helping. How many different like kind of shim type pads and different things like that do you have in the store? [00:16:07] I probably have 10 to 15 different types for mobile pads. Okay. And this removable pads are the ones that you could pull the actual pieces right out of the top of the pads. And so if your horse was extremely high, withered, but the rest of them was wide, or you could leave the front shim and you could go back to out. Sometimes it's a combination. You need all three shims and then. [00:16:33] What about thicknesses? Because I'm guessing that's another big question. [00:16:37] Yeah. You know, if you have a good fitting saddle, then we typically recommend either a half inch or three quarter inch. You would not want it if you have a good fitting saddle. It's like having a good fitting shoe. You would not add more padding to the inside of a good fitting shoe. It would make a shoe fit tighter. And that's kind of the same concept with pads. You know, a thicker isn't always better. [00:17:01] Yeah. Because that can actually make it almost like the saddle is going to fit almost more narrow because you're kind of filling in that spot. That's that's a good point, too. Is there anything you know? I do know that sometimes when you're looking at the nicer pads, like what would you say the price differences between an inexpensive one that you that you of are trying to avoid selling, really, versus the nicer one? What's the price difference there? [00:17:29] Ok. Price the price on the less expensive ones would be anywhere from 20 to say forty nine dollars. Anything up above that you're starting getting into a better quality of material. You get into a, you know, 100 percent wool felt instead of a synthetic felt . Wool felt is very breathable in nature. They dry quickly. They take on a lot of impact off the horse as they are a natural shock absorber. Typically you're looking at spending well over eighty nine dollars on a good pad. They can be anywhere from eighty nine to two hundred thousand. [00:18:17] Is there anything you can do to extend the life of that pad. How long would those pads. You know, I know it's probably gonna vary quite a bit. I mean if you ride one horse occasionally in that pad or if you ride five horses a day every day, you know, you're going to have a big difference in in that kind of stuff. But if you like, what can you do to extend the life of these pads? [00:18:41] A couple things. Is that what after you're done using them as I always flip my pads upside down to let them air dry? Depending on the material, obviously a wool fleece is gonna be a little harder to take care of. You should wash them at least once a year. There is product from a couple different companies that make they make pad wash. You should want to or do something to maintain your pad. Personally, I'd use baby shampoo because it's hypoallergenic and I won't harm a horse and just kind of power wash the bottom of the pad with the full pads. [00:19:26] And you can't do it right after you use it. But if you wait a day or two the paddle dry you'll see where it was and you just kind of perfect. Curry it off and brush off the dirt or a vacuum or extend to nice you know a little a little hand-held one. [00:19:41] Yeah. Very good. So I know that, I know that like you like you said before, you know, a good fitting saddle is number one. But one thing we discussed in that podcast about Saddles was that, you know, sometimes the horses are in a stage where for me, I'll start a young horse. Understandably, they don't have muscle for being worked because they haven't been worked and they don't have experience carrying the rider or the saddle. So they don't have a muscle built up for that. So a lot of times I know that when I'm first starting out with them, I know that as they're building, I actually change saddle pads a fair amount because I'm kind of trying to help them fit the saddle a little bit different. So. So I'm going to a lot of times I'll choose a a saddle that's a little bit wide if I'd rather have a little bit wider than a little bit narrow because of that same shoe analogy that you gave. But then I can play around quite a bit with the. So a lot of times I'll be a little bit lacking because they don't have the muscle tones. I might go with something thicker. And then as they muscle up, as I work them, I can do a fair amount of adjusting with the saddle pad before, you know, because because my my saddles kind of in a range of fitting. I'll just put it that way. But the horses in the process of changing. And so I know that for me, that's kind of how I look at using the pads in my world. And unless you have anything else to add on that, I kind of wanted to jump into another category. [00:21:18] The other category would be the cinch or the girth, which is kind of basically like an English versus Western terminology. So sometimes I'm guilty of of kind of interchanging those things. [00:21:51] So when we're looking at a cinch, again, you've got a bunch of different options. So. And your favorite thing sizing ago is something the size of lots of sizes. So bring the photo of your horse. Bring a photo of the saddle on the horse with the pad with the cinch that you're already using. And so. Yeah. What are your what are your options in your store on on cinches. [00:22:24] Oh. So cinches come in a bunch of different materials from neoprene to mohair to air flex. There's also more. I'm trying to think what other ones. Wool, 100 percent wool fleece and some almost all of them nowadays except for the mohair. You can velcro the material off of the actual girth so that they're washable. Mm hmm. And I think primarily what you need to look at is what what you're used to using, what's comfortable for your horse. Now, there are a few horses that are allergic to neoprene, so you should know whether your horse's allergic to neoprene before you buy any neoprene girth. [00:23:15] Mm hmm. The reason those have been popular is because they're easy to clean off. And your trail riding with them. Nothing gets stuck to them. Yeah. Now they air flexes. Nice. Because it's basically like a easy to wash off, but it's got the you know, the airflow material that has those little ripples in them. [00:23:38] And then mohair. A lot of people have gone back to mohair because they're more natural breathable material and they've doubled them up now. But they all come in sizes. [00:23:51] They all come in sizes. And so yeah, I know that there's times that I'm trying to look on the on the little sizing tag. You can pretty much you could probably just measure like it's a little sizing tag disappears or never was there. Is it pretty accurate to measure and end on the on the one that I am using now. [00:24:09] You have the most the materials that I accept for the mohair string, you know. Now they have mohair and alpaca is the other new one that they're doing. A lot of those will stretch out by. Oh, yeah. And within a half inch or an inch, figure out what size girth you need, you know, and then looking at what the proper girth size is for a horse. One a trick to measuring for us. If you're not sure you can't. You don't have pictures is to just measure right around the horse where you're skirt would go. You give us the entire measurement to we'll be able to figure it out off of that. Or if you're an English rider and now you're going into Western, we can convert. We know how to convert to sizes or vise versa. If you're a western rider and go into English, if you give us your western cinch, we can figure out what girth you need. [00:24:59] Yeah. And and I know that, you know, it probably changes it changes a little bit more subtly when you change your saddle stuff because of the rigging. And and that stuff. But that's a much more I guess that would be a more subtle, a subtle sizing thing. 'Cause I know that there's a couple of horses where if I changed to a different saddle, I need one that's a little bit longer or a little bit shorter based on something in the rigging is changing that. How far down. Yes. [00:25:27] Yeah. Yes. Yeah. So rigging on the side of the saddle can come in many options as well. They can be, you know, rigging can be more four-word can be stepped back a little bit or it can be dropped down as well. Mm-Hmm. And then too it would depend on if you're using enough fill it or if you're using to tie straps. [00:25:48] Perfect lead in to billets. Can you tell us about the options for billets and what they are, where they go in and what might confuse people. [00:25:59] Most of the confusion would come with, you know, used to be that most companies put it in off side billet basically is a single piece of leather and you just buckle your girth into the side of it so that one is decided to leave and all the time. And then it goes under the horse and then you use a tie strap. And the tie strap is usually long usually six and a half or seven and a half feet long. And that is the strap that we would normally try and make the beautiful little knot on the side. Or you can buckle with the girth if you on is the buckle on that side. But a lot of people have switched and gone back to using two tie straps on both sides. And typically why they've done that is because a few of the saddles are now coming with or angled rigging in the back. So that, too, can do what they call center fire rigging, center fire rigging, all that. As for is it makes you're rigging the longer strap will then go through your girth and then through the back rigging and that helps stabilize the saddle a little bit more. If you do a lot of hill riding. [00:27:16] Ok, so keep the saddle more centered. Hence the center fired rigging. [00:27:21] Yeah. And so that's changing what people are using for strapping. [00:27:26] Yeah. Yeah, I see. We see more people using to tie straps than just the standard off ballot and a tie strap. [00:27:35] Yeah. OK. That makes sense. And those also come in a range of materials. [00:27:41] Yes. Leather it leather nylon. And then there are some new ones that are coming that have elastic in them. You know they're trying to give it a little bit more stretch. It's kind of like stretch pants I guess. [00:27:56] I have not seen that. Yeah, I've seen leather. I've seen nylon and I've seen like a hybrid where they take like a make a sandwich of nylon with leather with leather around it. But I have not seen elastic yet. [00:28:10] Yes. Now they have elastic. [00:28:11] That is fascinating. So, yeah. [00:28:14] It's also something they did in the girths, too. Now we have a cinc that has elastic in the girth so that it stretches. [00:28:22] It's the same concept with the English has the elastic billet straps. [00:28:27] Yeah. The side of their girth. [00:28:29] Tell me about breast collars. [00:28:58] Well, breast collars used to be something that everybody used when they were showing horses. I mean, when we sold them, you know, I'm talking back in the 80s, early 90s, it was always you got show saddle, you got the headstall that matched the reins and the breast collar. That was always a package type deal. And as the years went on, people got away from having a breast collar and meant to just, you know, and then they got away from needing the matching reins and always went with a certain style of rein,. And just the headstall they would get a ranch and headstall. But I see the breast collars starting to come back into that. Not so much the show world, but the trail riding world. More competitive stuff like the ranch horse stuff and the mounted shooters are all using breast collars now just to help kind of stabilize the saddle so it stays where it's supposed to set. You would never want to buy a breast calor to solve a saddle fitting issue, though. Mm hmm. Good point. So if your saddle had a bad habit of sliding back every time you ride in it, that's typically something needs to be fixed either in your pad or the way you tightened up or the fit of the saddle. [00:30:16] We see the breast collars definitely in a more of a trail riding ranch. Look, coming back into the industry. [00:30:25] Yeah. And how many different styles of those do you have? [00:30:28] Well, there's three or four different styles. Your typical three piece breast collar, which is the two straps that attach to the D rings on the saddle and then the one that goes to the center of your girth. [00:30:42] And then now the new one is a running breast collar and also a what they call a Montreal breast collar. It's been real popular. [00:30:55] What does that one look like? [00:30:57] The Montreal breast color is similar to a, well, English breast collar. So it snaps on the tap, rings of the saddle and it goes straight up the neck instead of around the shoulders. [00:31:11] It's a little bit more easy to adjust because the straps are don't inhibit the shoulders. They tend to just go up the neck 'cause the strap that goes up around the top of the wither area. [00:31:28] Okay. Yeah, this might be when there's some photos in the into the show notes. [00:31:35] Yes. And the pulling collars have also been probably the second best sellers next to the. It would be the regular standard three piece the Montreal and the pulling collars and pulling collars go up in wrap. They'd loop over your pommel on your saddle. Kind of the same concept as a Montreal breast collar. Just it looks more Western. [00:32:00] Yeah. Yeah. So a lot of these are going to have a similar function, but a different look. You're just you're saying that the biggest function difference is the one that goes over the shoulder, you know, is actually in that shoulder movement. And then. The one that kind of wraps more around the neck is a little less on there and it should be fitted, so it's a subtle enhancement to your saddle fit, not actually holding your saddle in place because at that point you have a saddle problem. [00:32:30] I would say that's a pretty, pretty ton of information for everybody to be digesting. On saddle pads. Cinches. Billets, breast collars. A lot of good food for thought on so many different ways that you can look at the materials and their current use and your horse changing. And yeah, this is a great reminder when I go back to something that I kind of do. Second nature, when I walk out to the barn and saddle my horse, it's always fun. When I break it down and start trying to explain it to people, you go, Oh my. No wonder this can be intimidating or confusing because there are a lot of things to consider inside of each one of these little tiny subjects. So thank you so much for joining me today and explaining it so thoroughly. [00:33:19] Oh, you're welcome. Thank you for having me. [00:33:25] A lot of the items that we talked about in today's podcast are items that do need to be replaced. How often do you need a new saddle pad? Well, I'm going to compare that a little bit to buying a new pair of sneakers. So the more often that you use those sneakers, the more often you're going to want to replace them. And the same thing's going to be true for your saddle pad. So if you invest in a nice high quality saddle pad and you ride infrequently, then it's going to last you a very long time. If you invest in a really nice saddle pad and you ride in it a lot, it's going to be like those expensive pair of running shoes. It's doing a lot of hard work and you know that those sneakers break down and you can feel a difference when you go to the store and put a new pair on. Well, that's a great sign that you need to replace them. And I know that in sneakers they actually have like mileage and things like that. If you're a runner, that they recommend how frequently you should replace them. And I would say I don't have the number for you, but it is similar to the same idea when I'm riding my horses. I can actually tell a lot of times when my pad needs to be replaced because I will notice that it doesn't have as much of that kind of cushiony feeling to it. I can start to see where the pressure is wearing on spots, on the on the pad that you can just see. Pressure has been applied. And the biggest thing I can tell you is that it will start to change the sweat pattern. [00:34:56] So a lot of times when people are trying to figure out how their saddle fits, they're going to be looking for pressure points. And one of the ways that a lot of people will do that is after they ride the horse, when they take the saddle on the pad off, you want to know if there's a nice even sweat pattern or if it's got these uneven or dry spots on it. And I can tell a difference in the sweat pattern between a new saddle pad where that will be a much more even pressure versus an older saddle pad that was just as nice, but has been ridden in for hundreds and hundreds of hours and something has changed. And I'm going to say that the material is breaking down just like those expensive sneakers that you can invest in. That doesn't mean they last forever. I think maybe the most important item to check in your entire barn, at least for this conversation of what we've had, is those billet straps, the offside bill, especially because it's something that we're not touching and looking at as often can be really something that can wear without you noticing it. And it can be a very serious thing. I know that years ago I was riding and Jesse was out riding and he said, I'm gonna go outside and ride just a little bit. And I thought, I don't know. I just have this funny feeling. And I followed him outside because I was riding a younger horse. I wasn't quite sure I want to be out there. And I went out there and Jesse was riding on a much more finished horse. [00:36:31] And he went down and he did a roll back. And his offside billet, it broke. And I happened to be looking because again, I had that strange like feeling I should be out there. The offside billet broke. And he had the most confused look on his face because he was still on the saddle, but he was falling off. But he hit the ground and broke his ribs and it turned out to be the offside bill it had been wearing, hadn't been checked. And when that horse made that big move of that roll back. That gave and the whole saddle came off. Now I'm telling you, you really want to check the bitless, really the onside one can actually start splitting at the top also. But just make sure you check those things. I've been making a lot of videos for the YouTube channel that are kind of matching up with these podcast topics. So if you want to see some of this in action, you can go to Stacy Westfall dot com or you can search my name Stacy Westfall over in YouTube and you'll find my channel where you'll find a lot of these little videos showing the different pieces of tack. But you can also watch any of the trail to the world show or any of the different videos there and see all of these things in use. Remember that if you decide to go over it and shop on stagecoachwest.com, you can use the code 'Stacy' in the checkout to receive 15 percent off your entire purchase. [00:38:03] Now that excludes saddles, but on saddles they do actually offer a 6 month and 12 month, zero percent financing. If you're in the market for a new saddle.
[00:00:22] Hi, I'm Stacy Westfall, and I'm here to teach you how to understand, enjoy and successfully train your own horses in this season of the podcast. I'm talking about horse tack and in today's podcast the focus is on saddles. [00:00:38] I'm going to open with my thoughts on saddles and then answer three listener questions. [00:00:44] And finally, I'm going to talk with somebody who has over 500 saddles on hand. [00:00:54] There are several things that make saddle fit a challenge, and I think the number one is that we're trying to satisfy the needs of two individuals, the horse and the rider. I'd like to start this podcast with an interactive visual. So unless you're driving, if you're driving, skip this. I'd like you to hold your hands out in front of you. They're going to represent the bars of the saddle. So if you hold your hands with your fingers pointing away from you and let's just hold them perfectly flat so your knuckles are up. And both hands are our thumbs meeting. When you start to angle your hands into like just tip your pinkies down a little bit and angle your hands, what you're gonna be representing there is the bars of the saddle. Now, where this gets really interesting is when we talk about the bars of the saddle. You can imagine that you could hold your hands close together. And that would be a very narrow tree or very narrow set of bars. Now, you could keep the same angles. So let's say that each of your hands is at a 45 degree angle. You could take that and keep the 45 degree angle in your hand, but you could spread them apart further. So now your hands are four inches apart. That would be a wider tree. So there is the width or the space in between those bars. But there's also the angle of the bar, because as you can imagine, the more angle that you put on that. [00:02:23] So if you take it from 45 to 55 or if you take it from 45 to 35, as you angle your hands in and out, you can see how that's going to change a lot of where the pressure hits on the horse. And then on top of it, you'll often hear a word used that's called bridging. And that would be if you're holding your hands, let's say that they're at a 45 degree angle. If you put a lot of arc in your hand so that your knuckles kind of dip down and your fingertips kind of dip up when you do that, that would be putting a lot of rock into the tree. Now, if that is very street, then you can have a saddle on some horses that might bridge, meaning that it would touch only in the front and the back and there'd be a gap in the middle. And then one more thing to consider, which no longer involves your hands and that that angle it is now when we talk about the gulla of the saddle that is that front part of the saddle where those two front bars are connected and how high that gullet is matters. If you have a horse, you do not want your horses withers to touch the gullet of the saddle. So you don't want the that part where you typically picture the saddle horn being attached. [00:03:43] You don't want that so low that it's touching the horse's withers if that's happening. That's a whole different problem. That actually doesn't have to do with the width or the angle as much as it does that space that's in there. And whether or not your horse has high withers now you'll also notice this is pretty much only been talking about the horse's experience. Now, if you want a tiny bit of hope, I want you to think of it like this. Think of it a little bit like fitting a shoe. So when you go into a shoe store and you try on shoes, it kind of matters what you're going to do with the shoe and how frequently you're going to wear it. So if you've got a casual shoe that you want, you can get it. It's somewhat important how it fits. And, you know, you'll try it on and you'll walk around, but you might not be super picky. Now, the more you're gonna use it or the more intense you're gonna use that shoe, you're gonna pay more attention. So let's say you were going to take up running. You might be more interested in how that shoe was going to fit because of the amount of time you're going to be wearing it. And because of what you're going to be doing while you were wearing it. And then we can go as far as saying that maybe you've got an issue with your feet and so you actually need like some kind of custom shoe and that can happen to and that's a little bit more of a unique situation. [00:05:09] And those are the same scenarios you're going to run into when you're discussing Saddle Fit. When we look at it, the other issues are actually the length and frequency of the ride is going to matter. And then the balance of the rider is going to matter. So no matter how good your saddle fits, you can't make up for it. If you're very unbalanced and you'll see this often when you have a a well-trained horse with a well-fitted saddle and you give a lesson to somebody who's new and kind of bouncing around, then a lot of times that unbalanced rider will actually cause that horse discomfort, even though all the tack is fitting. So the fitness level and the balance of the rider will actually help to improve things. So as we get closer to the New Year, we're not quite there yet. But it's another reason to put Rider Fitness higher up there. When you're not riding your horse doing some kind of exercise because your fitness and balance in general is going to help improve the ride. [00:06:20] Now on to the questions. This first one is from Jodi. "Hi, Stacy. I've binge to listen to your podcast and now it's on repeat through the night. I've learned more from your podcast than I've learned from anyone face to face. [00:06:35] I'm wondering what your thoughts are about treeless saddles. I have an off the track thoroughbred arriving next week and he needs a bit more time to put on weight and muscle. He has high withers. I'm considering a treeless saddle for the interim until I can have him correctly fitted for a saddle once he's fitter and filled out. There's so much debate on the topic and I'm really unsure of what to do. I've noted that many pro riders use treeless at times. So I'm thinking it's not as bad as many make it out to be. I'm in Australia and quite remote, so saddle fitting isn't a quick and easy task. I intend to ride extreme trail endurance and personal ranch work. Not competitive. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts." Jodi. Thanks for the question, Jody. And as with any other saddle fit, treeless comes in a lot of different forms and they actually function really differently. So when we're talking about treeless, some of them still have a very hard front and back pommel and cantle and even the bars might even be solid, but maybe it just has like flexible wings that are on the bottom of the bars. Some of them actually have soft bars. And so maybe the front and the back are both hard and solid, but the bars in the middle are soft and some are made with material that's barely flexible, meaning that you could set the saddle down on the ground and you could stand on it and it would flex, but it wouldn't go flat. [00:08:13] And others are so flexible that if you set the saddle flat on the ground and stood on it, it would flatten out completely flat. So even when you go into looking at at, you know, flex tree saddles, there's a lot of research to do. I've used some different flex trees and it's about like anything else as far as regular saddles or saddle pads, which we'll talk about in the next episode. There are pros and cons and there's good reasons and there's some that aren't so good for certain horses. Probably the biggest criticism that I've heard of is if they get really, really flexible. Some question is do they distribute the weight as well, which is kind of the purpose of the saddle is to be able to distribute the weight more evenly. Or do they flex and kind of create a pressure point? Now, I've also heard the argument that heavier riders might change the way that that flex tree works more. So if you've got a light rider that's only going to minimally flex it, then you might not end up with that same pressure point type thing. So I've seen it where some people have said that it actually the performance of the tree is actually changing due to the weight of the rider, which kind of makes sense if you got something that's going to flex. [00:09:33] But again, it totally matters how much it's going to flex. Now, if you go ahead and do the treeless saddle, the one thing on some of the ones that I tried that you want to make sure doesn't happen is that if the bars and everything flex, just make sure it doesn't, then lower the height of the gullet to where as the bars or something flex that it lets that saddle come down and put pressure on the withers. That's one thing I've seen with some of the flex trees that maybe weren't as well designed or at least didn't fit that particular horse. So I would watch that. I think that we will see more and more of these different trees that are put into saddles because we are fitting something onto a horse. And with that horse, that horse is going to be moving and functioning, which is that's a whole another thing. Personally, what I would love to see anybody out there who has a connection. What I'm waiting for is somebody to design a saddle pad that is purely I mean, I want this to be a super expensive saddle pad that's only used for diagnostic. And I want to pay to put this saddle pad on. And I want to ride my horse. And I want the saddle pad to be communicating to like an iPad and telling me how the horse and the saddle fit each other while I'm riding. [00:11:04] I don't need to own this and ride it in an everyday, but I think a saddle company out there really needs to do this so that we can all meet up at different places. And we could actually see because there's a whole other argument, which is most of the time you're standing still trying to fit the saddle, to horse the standing still. And then when we go and ride the horse, one of the things we're looking for is this nice round collection, which basically means asking that horse to kind of arch and build that suspension bridge underneath the saddle, which you could argue can fill in some of that bridging thing that can happen. So, again, this is why this can become a complicated conversation. [00:11:45] The next question comes from Linda. "What should be the next step when you discover that your tack, specifically your saddle or pad, is causing new white hairs to appear on your horse? Thank you", Linda. Thanks for your question, Linda. Generally, when we see these white hairs is going to be pointing out that there's some kind of pressure point. The two most common places I've seen that happen would be directly over the withers because something is setting a lot of pressure there. Now, that could be just the gullet of the saddle sitting down on the withers. That can also be a saddle pad that is putting a lot of pressure down on the withers because you always want to make sure that you kind of lift that saddle pad up into the gullet so it releases the pressure over the withers. [00:12:30] We're going to talk about saddle pads in the next episode, but it could be pressure point there or the next most common would be those fronts of the bars that you know, that area over the shoulder. Years ago, I was riding a horse and that horse slipped and fell while I was riding it. And neither of us was hurt. But when we stood up and a while later, the horse actually developed some white hairs on the side that we had landed on. And when the chiropractor was out, I was like, I haven't seen any soreness. But I do know that we slipped and fell. And this was the side we landed on in the chiropractor's opinion was that that pressure that had happened probably caused it. But he lined it up more like almost a bruise. He was like, oh, don't get panicked, because, of course, I was panicked. But it was interesting because my horse wasn't sore. And even more interesting was the next shedding cycle, the hair actually returned to a normal color. So the white hairs disappeared and the regular hairs came back in. So I thought that was kind of interesting. Basically, what I'm going to say is that you get a pretty idea, that pretty good idea, that something is putting a pressure point there. [00:13:45] So now you have to start the hunt for improved saddle fit or and or the saddle pad combo. A lot of times when I start to suspect my saddle isn't fitting as well. One of the first things I'll do is change out to a different saddle pad, much less expensive and order my saddle. That's been fitting pretty well for a while. Probably hasn't dramatically changed in less. I've seen a really big change in my horse as far as weight or muscling or something. But a lot of times I can actually do a lot of changing with the saddle pad. But again, we'll talk about that the next episode more. The thing that I would recommend is that you maybe hall somewhere where you can ride in some different saddles. Now this might be a trainer's barn or a clinic, especially if you can find somebody who you can ask ahead of time, are you willing to talk about saddles and saddle fit? Because what's interesting is I would say it's a lot like driving a rental car. You know, a lot of times you'll drive a rental car when you fly somewhere and you'll start to learn what you like and what you don't like. Just buy those short drives in the car and you can actually learn a lot more about what works and what doesn't work just by trying it out or riding around. [00:15:02] So a lot of times when people come to lessons or clinics here at our house, we have them go ahead and ride in a few different saddles. If they're having any question about saddles, if they uttered the words, I'm not sure about my saddle. Odds are we're going to have a ride in two or three different saddles that we have here, not because they need to buy one immediately, but because if they experience riding in 20 different saddles, they will develop an idea for what works better and what doesn't work as well. And again, we're fitting two individuals here. So we've got to get the riders preference and the horses preference, which is why a lot of times if you can haul somewhere. That's what I would find to be the best recommendation I have for you. Otherwise, you'll hear as we talk a little bit later on when I talk with Trish about some of the other ways that you can you can tackle this. [00:15:56] The next question comes from Nikki. "Will you please talk about Western dressage saddles? What makes a Western saddle conductive to dressage? I know you've developed several saddles. Will you be creating a Western dressage saddle? I understand you've been riding dressage in a ranch, reining and riding saddle if you develop a dressage saddle. What would you do differently?" Nicky. Yes, thank you for the question. Nicky and I have been using the saddle that we developed. [00:16:26] My husband actually developed the saddle I've been riding in and it was designed excuse me, it was designed more for training and ranch riding, but it was developed well enough that it allows my leg to hang more straight down. So what you want to watch for is that some Western saddles were Darvon designed for different reasons. So if you have a cutting saddle, they're going to want you to set in a pretty different way than like a Western pleasure saddle. And so if you look at even top riders in different Western disciplines, you're going to notice that they're sitting in different ways due to what they're doing. So because dressage wants you to have more of that ear, shoulder, hip, heel in a line, you want that more horsemanship ability to put your body in that that more horsemanship type form you're going to want to saddle. That doesn't fight you. If you go there. And what I mean by that is if you've got a saddle that naturally wants to swing your leg forward, you're going to be constantly trying to bring that leg backward and back to that to that straight up and down area. So what I notice the most when I switch back and forth between any of my Western saddles and my dressage saddle is two things. Number one, there's a lot less saddle there in the dressage saddle. Now, that doesn't mean I feel less secure because it's actually my saddle has a pretty good dip there in the middle between the Pomerleau and the cattle. [00:18:05] And so when you look at saddle, it's got that really deep sea. And I really like that. But I can feel that my leg hangs a little bit more straight. And the number one difference, easy to see. Is it that big fender on that? Basically that leather that holds the stir up to the saddle is called the fender. And that fender is inches wide in my dressage saddle and it is very wide in my western saddle. And so it is easier for me to move my leg very subtly in my dressage saddle because of that reduced fender. Now, when I have got a Western saddle that I've been riding in for a long time and the leather is very broken in and soft and it's it's really nice, then I get pretty close to the same feeling. But I do know that that with that's what's changing. I haven't really totally gone down the road of thinking about developing a western dressage saddle per say, because this saddle I've been using, you know, I just won two world titles with it. So I'm fairly partial to the fact that I think it's fitting good enough for that. And then I'm not quite sure I want to. Make some of the changes that have been suggested because let's just say making the skirt smaller. I'm not sure that that's necessary. [00:19:33] And so I kind of don't want to just do it, just to do it. I like the way this one rides and feels. But here's what I'm going to do. The same thing I just recommended when I was answering the last question. Every time I get near someone with something they call a Western dressage saddle, I'm going to get on and ride. And if possible, I'm going to sit on them when I go to Expos. If I find a horse that saddle up with it, if I go to a tack store, I'm going to sit in them and I'm going to develop my own opinion the same way I just recommended that it should be done. If you're looking for any saddle. Thanks again for your question. Now, I'd like to share with you a conversation that I had with my friend Trish Campese from Stagecoach West. Over the years, I had a lot of different offers from saddle makers to design saddles with them. But in the end I ended up choosing Stagecoach West. And the reason I chose them is because of their customer service. They really care about saddle fit and they could actually hit price points that were in the range of the majority of my customers. I also really like that they take trade-ins on used saddles, which was important to me because over the years I've traded in many saddles as I wanted to change what I was doing or upgrade. [00:20:58] Let's listen to my conversation with Trish. [00:21:03] So, Trish, on today's podcast, I've been talking about saddles and it's a huge subject. And when somebody first walks into your store, I'm not even sure which happens more. So you'll have to tell me whether they've whether it's their first, you know, horse saddle thing or whether they're even looking to replace the saddle. I'm not sure. You might still get the same questions. Almost not even. Based on experience level, but just flat saddle fitting feels complicated. Is that is that what I am? Is that correct? Is that observation pretty correct? [00:21:37] It can be complicated sometimes to not be complicated. [00:21:42] Go ahead and break it down for me, because I have to admit that even after all of these years, you know, there's definitely the big chunks of it that I'm way more comfortable with. But there's so many nuances depending on, you know, different things that I still have trouble maybe explaining it clearly. I'm going to let you give that a shot. [00:21:59] So I think the first thing, if somebody walks into my store and they first off, when they see it, I have I have a lot of saddles. We carry well over 500 saddles in our store and that's just on our floor. So I think one of the things that we always ask them is, first off, what discipline are you writing? Because you do, then that kind of narrows down which type of saddle that are, you know, maybe need to look at or need to sit in. And then the next thing would be, you know, is there a price range that you want to stand? As we also carry a pretty wide variety of you saddles. So we try to have a little bit of something for everybody. [00:22:39] Then the next thing that we really want when I ask them is, so what? What kind of horse are you writing? We have pictures of your horse. Mm hmm. What have you tried on your horse that maybe didn't work or didn't work? And if they have no clue. Pictures are always the number one thing that helps us. Yeah. There are so many different, you know, inside of these saddles that are built for different shaped horses. And so we try to start with those basic questions so that we can at least kind of target and get them in the right area for, you know, what happens to different cells and see what's comfortable for them. [00:23:19] Yeah, because essentially you're fitting two different beings. You're fitting the saddle to the horse without the often without having the horse. Although I have to say that I'm in Ohio. You're in New York, and I'm constantly telling people if you are within even like six, eight hour, whatever your tolerance is, I'm like drive to the store because they have an arena out behind the store and put the saddle on the horse. But I also know that with a lot of the saddles, you will take returns on your saddles. Can you talk a little bit about that before we go a little bit more into, you know, guessing on that saddle fit? But let's just say somebody buys one of the saddles that Jesse designed, and they're in Wisconsin and you're in New York. What would you be talking them through? [00:24:06] Well, first off, the same thing we would want to have them email us some photos if they're extremely not 100 percent sure about the fit. You know, we know how the tree fits. If they get us some pictures and we can make a pretty educated guess off of those pictures, whether that saddle will fit or not. But one of the things that we've always had in place is we have a 10 day return policy. And that's not just you're not getting any fees incurred if they return the saddle to to us. So there aren't any hidden fees. Well, obviously, they're going to have to pay the shipping coming back to us. We offer free shipping going out. If you give us a call, we can issue a call tag. What they would it would normally cost them to ship it back to us. But we want people to feel that even a 10 days, they can't get the saddle back to us right away. We are very lenient with that policy. I would allow up to a month, depending on the situation, because not everybody has somebody to come out to help them fit the saddle if they need help or ask. If they need to have the vet come out and check the saddle. We're very understanding with all of that. [00:25:24] So I try not to, you know, limit people. Yeah, we have a 10 day policy, but do we really stick to it? And we kind of let things slide a little bit just because we don't be in a family right business. I don't. I can make my own rules at the end of the day. [00:25:50] We had a lot of different offers (places to build saddles with) and we went with working with you guys because of your views on exactly this, between the views of your, you know, wanting the fit to be right for the horse and rider so much that you were willing to stand behind it on before, during and after the sale. And then the fact that I was able to say to you, like Trish, if this is the wrong saddle, if we don't, it's the saddle we designed doesn't fit their horse. Please sell them something that I don't have any connection to. Because, you know, they needed a saddle that fits, and I love that you carried a wide range of manufacturers, wide range of price ranges and saddle, you know, styles and and and everything. Because I'm well aware that the saddle that we design and ride in on our, you know, 14 to for 15 hand quarter horses that are shaped predominately like a reiner might not fit somebodies draft cross or whatever else it is that, you know, is coming down the road. So I love that you guys are really open to that kind of stuff because there's a lot that goes in the saddle fit. Yes. So I know one thing we've discussed of a fair amount is, you know, that the needs of the horse might change depending on their age or their fitness level. Can you kind of talk about what you see with people in Saddle Fit and those subjects? [00:27:22] One of the one of the big ones that we see and we hear quite often we'll be you know, somebody comes into our store in the spring and, you know, they're getting ready to start, you know, the process of getting their horse back into shape and start writing them. And we fit the saddle to the horse. According to the horse at that time and then over the summer is their discipline. They start writing, you know, more hours every day longer. You know, more often the horse changes that it would. It's no different than me. I'm not the same size I was when I was twelve. You know, I don't wear the same size that I did then in the horse typically can change their their whole top line changes, their muscling changes. So we do see a little bit of that. You know, and and that does become a problem, you know, because of what didn't fit what fit the horse. Good. At one point might not get them later through the summer months. [00:28:20] Yes. They change all the time. Yeah. [00:28:23] Even with age, you know, horses have changed. As they get older, their back starts to change. They grow up a little behind the shoulder blade. And they're they don't get as tight as muscling as they used to. So, I mean, that all plays into trying to do the best for the horse. You know, when we do have them. [00:28:45] Yes. And, you know, just it's it's a little bit of a challenge. But just to let people understand a little bit more when you're looking at those saddles, there's the width of the saddle and how wide it is, you know, going to be. But there's also like a flare to that. The saddle tree. And like, is it going to be kind of more upright, like more like a steep letter A or is it going to kind of widen out into a wider and wider a letter a. And then it's got like something called the twist, which I'm trying to figure out how you would describe without any visuals. How would you describe that? [00:29:24] Well, the way I would describe that is as they are building a saddle and they're putting the seat and the piece across the top of the seat. The saddle maker actually can skive down that center part to make it fit narrower or they can lift it up to have it tilted. So the rights of the saddle to be a higher rise in it, everybody fits so differently. That's my my big thing is that you need to sit in these saddles. [00:29:55] So, I mean, if you're at a you go to any kind of event where there's all those different vendors there with all those different saddles, I always recommend them go sit in the saddle. Don't feel ashamed to walk into a store. And then, you know, sometimes people get embarrassed. They don't want to sit on them. You have to sit on them. Every everybody there can be five of us standing there in our store. We get a brand new saddle and that we're all excited that we designed. That's come in. Everybody sits in it. Yes, it is. It's good to know how each one of those sit. [00:30:27] Yes. And, you know, we do something similar here at the clinics. And and I think you're right, there is like an apprehension a lot of times. But people will come and they'll be riding around. And sometimes we'll see a little bit of something going on. And we're not 100 percent sure if it's saddle or not. And we'll start switching our saddles because it's pretty easy for us to have four or five different style saddles in our barn at any time. And then they come in with their saddle and we'll start switching things out and watching how the horse moves different and how the rider sits different and all this stuff. And sometimes I see people getting a little bit uptight, like they think I'm trying to sell them another saddle. And I'll I'll try to be really clear and say, I want you to gain a ton of experience so that not today, but someday down the road. And it might be with this horse or it might be with another horse or whatever. The next time you are ready to buy a saddle, every time you sit in another one and ride in another one, especially, you have that. Serious that you carry with you forever, so you get the more experience you can get. Gain it like borrow your friends for five minutes, like switch out, because the more things you feel, you'll know you'll develop a feel for what you like and what you dislike. And that's kind of what I hear you saying. Like, feel free to do that in the store, too. [00:31:45] Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. We always recommend that you never saw them, you know. Especially because that it'll help you determine. You know, you might ride a 16-inch, but in a different style of saddles, say you sit a 16 in a trail, but then you want to sit a 16 inch barrel racer or that barrel racer is going to set differently than their trail saddle. And you might be a different seat type until it's good to have, you know, when you're in someplace that where there are people there who can tell you. OK. Look, look here. This is how it's supposed to feel and this is how it should fit. But, you know, you need a different seat size. [00:32:21] So. Yeah, yeah. And as far as. Yeah. And as far as fitting the horse, one of the things we do pretty common is we encourage people to, you know, put the saddle on without a pad and just tried running their hands underneath that saddle to feel four different pressure points. Is that kind of the most basic, is that the most basic version when you're trying to talk to somebody over the phone about how to maybe check whether there's some serious pressure points going on? You have. Yeah. Is that it? Yeah. [00:32:51] So you want to look at the pressure point in the front because that's obvious one that everyone checks where they always check for the under the you know, the horse's shoulder. Yeah. Make sure that it's got clearance on the horse's weathers. Yep. And it used to be you know you want to be able to fit three or four fingers but I've had it works two fingers and it fits the horse beautifully. Now that's not necessary. Always the best rule of thumb. But you want clearance under that. [00:33:22] You know, and then you check the shoulder area because you do not want, you know, the top part of the tree to be tight in the bottom part to be loose. You'd like the same nice even pressure going all the way down where the tree is involved. The other spot that a lot of people neglect to check is where you actually sit in the saddle. So the two sides of that tree should follow the curve of the horse's back. Kind of not an easy place to check for fit. The two ways you can do it is up underneath your fender. So you want to reach up under the side of the saddle as far up to the center of the back as possible. And you want to make sure that tree is making somewhat of contact. Doesn't have to be exactly down on him, but you don't want it. So off their back that you can wave your hand in there. Yeah. And then the back part of the tree. The other thing that's important when you're looking at saddle to stand back from the horse with the saddle item and make sure that the saddle is level. So the pommel in the candles should be who level, not the horn the. [00:34:28] Yeah. You know what we can do is we can stick some pictures and video in the show notes for this episode so that some of the stuff we're talking about that could be a little bit harder to visualize for people if they're not quite sure what the pommel is, what the candle is, what the gullet. We can I can stick some some illustrations into the show notes so that they can see that. But for sure, I mean, I'm always recommended to people to ride with somebody that you that you trust. Go take a lesson, but don't be afraid at your lesson to just spend the first half an hour of your lesson talking about equipment and fit, because sometimes I think the instructors, if you don't ask them for that, are a little bit, you know, unless there's something glaring. They just kind of jump in to what they think you paid for, which was like how to go in a circle. And, you know, if you say I'd really value your opinion on equipment fit, I don't know anybody that would refuse that. But they won't necessarily force you into it if it's not something glaring. So and then for anybody who's lucky enough to be within driving range of a store or like Stagecoach West Drive straight there. [00:35:38] When I was shopping for my dressage saddle, I was close to an English store down here. And I took my horse to the store and they were not nearly as set up. I was actually next to a railroad track in a parking lot. So your store with the full riding arena is like a serious thing. And I know I've sent several people over there with trucks, trailers and horses, because if you're if you're about to make a pretty substantial investment, I mean, your horse is a huge investment. And then, you know, your saddle is a pretty good chunk of change investment. You know, you might as well make sure you really have a great one. And in the next episode, we're going to talk about like the cousin to the saddle, which is gonna be the saddle pad. So I think we'll end this episode and. And move in into on the next one, we'll talk about the saddle pads. How's that sound, Trish? [00:36:30] Sounds awesome. Well, thanks again for joining me and for all of your information. Oh, you're very welcome. I hope you found that conversation helpful. And I wanted to let you know that if you do go over to www.stagecoachwest.com and you choose to make a purchase, if you use the code 'Stacy' , you'll get 15 percent off your entire order...excluding saddles. [00:36:58] But the good news on saddles is that they do offer six month and twelve month, zero percent financing if that's something you're looking into. Thank you for joining me and I'll talk to you again in the next episode.
[00:00:33] In this season of the podcast I'm talking about tack. 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. [00:01:05] 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. Let's get started. [00:01:18] Typically, if someone says they have a question about a bridle, it very quickly actually turns into a conversation about bits, a bridle is actually the whole entire setup. It's the head stall, the bit that chinstrap the reins. It's everything. But very often when people have questions about bridles, they actually have questions about bits. So before we dove into specifically about bits, let's keep it a little bit more general for a minute. [00:01:49] And the five areas I want you to consider right now are, number one, dental issues. Number two, why use a bit at all? Number three, snaffle vs. shanked, bit number for different mouthpieces in either the snaffle or the shank bit and number five head stalls. So why use a browband? Why use a one ear? Why use a throat latch? [00:02:17] All these different things. So as you can hear, again, this could go very, very deep. But what I want you to do is I want you to begin thinking about it. And then if you have questions, I want you to send him in. The first thing I want to focus on for a minute here is the idea of dental issues. So horses, pretty much their teeth continually grow throughout their life. At the end of their life, that might change a little bit. But for the majority of the riding years, we're going to look at it like the horses. Teeth are continuously growing. And there are a variety of reasons why horses need dental work in episode 39. Dr. Monty joined me and he discussed many of the reasons he thought the horses need more dental work now than than out in the wild. And that would be a good thing to go back and listen to. My very short version is that the horses get sharp edges on their teeth when they're chewing, and that can cause problems with eating and with riding. [00:03:19] In addition to that, if their teeth don't naturally line up really well. So if you can imagine that back row of teeth, if that backrow those back teeth top and bottom don't line up perfectly, then they can actually end up with one tooth that's just continually growing. And you can actually I've seen horses when the equine dentists have come. I've seen horses where the bottom tooth that didn't line up was actually rubbing or cutting into the gums of the upper jaw because the teeth continually grow. So if there's not a surface to rub against and you can see this in the front of their mouth, too, actually, because if they don't line up in the back, odds are they're offset in the front, too. So if you've got a great equine dentist, they will be showing you a lot of this stuff. And I have reached my hands into and I have felt those cuts, those lacerations, those sharp teeth, those long teeth. And when you get a chance to do that, all of a sudden you realize how many dental issues the horses could have. That could be physically painful and could be the reason why your horse is resistant. [00:04:30] And this kinda leads into my point number two, which is why use a bit at all. But before I jump into that one. Keep this in mind. You don't avoid dealing with the dental issues by riding in a halter or a bootless bridle, because when the horse is having dental issues and the teeth are causing lacerations on the inside of the cheeks, those horses are sensitive, period. They're sensitive to handle, to brush, to lead, to touch. They're sensitive to the outside pressure of a bit less bridle or a halter. And you can actually see a little bit of that in my YouTube series, Stacy's video, Jack. There is an episode in there where I am lunging, Jack, and I actually say this horse needs his teeth done. And I could tell when I was lunging him because of the way that he was opening his mouth and acting odd on top of that. Again, even if they're their teeth aren't sharp on the side, there can actually be a locking type thing that happens to their jaw. If those teeth are offset and their jaw, when they flex, when they give their chin and flex to a more vertical position, if the teeth aren't properly lined up and haven't been maintained or just aren't naturally really excellent, then when that horse goes to make that motion, that jaw actually needs to like that lower jaw needs to be on the slide forward and they physically can't do that. [00:06:06] If their teeth are inhibiting it. So you'll actually see horses with problems chewing their feed because of their their teeth. So there is no way to avoid it. Whether you use a bit or whether you don't use a bit, dental, dental, dental, dental, dental. OK, I'm going to leave that topic. Why use a bit at all? Now, this is interesting because basically if we just put the bit or bitless bridle, well, let's just use the word bridle here for a minute. If we just put the word bridle there and we say a bridle is a motivator, it doesn't really matter if you want to talk about having a bit or being bootless. Basically, the reason that we're putting any of this onto the horse is for communication. So when to use one and why to use one basically is motivation and clarity of signal. So even if it's a halter, you're using it so that you can apply some pressure and release some pressure. Your using it a lot like if you're holding someone's hand and you're guiding them through a parking lot. [00:07:22] So I'm thinking about holding the hand of a small child and guiding them around. You could be communicating just with language, but you can also use physically holding hands and guiding and shaping. So a lot of times you'll hear me use the word shaping when I'm talking about the rider holding the reins and communicating with the horse. And that's one of the ways that I view it. [00:07:43] And that actually doesn't really matter to me whether you're thinking about the shaping bit or bitless. But where that does start to matter, bit or bitless, where that matters is clarity of signal. So there is the thought that you could actually have more clear signal with different bits. So we're gonna get into that later. But on the surface, why use a bit at all? Well, you don't actually have to. Let's talk about a bridle, bridle, halter. [00:08:12] They're all motivators. And then what to choose is going to become dependent on the horses motivation level and the clarity of the signal of whatever you choose to use. So a horse that is more willing to ignore you. Might require more motivation. Where a horse that's really sensitive might be motivated very easily with something that another horse would ignore. And then there's clarity of the signal. We'll get into that in the next topic, which is number three, snaffle bit versus shanked bit. This is where the majority of bridle questions starts to really come up. A lot of people have a lot of questions about a shanked bit versus a snaffle bit. They have questions about the length of the shank, the using the bit. Why would I use one versus the other? And let me do a short version here. A snaffle bit is simply a bit that doesn't use leverage and is shanked bit is any bit that does use leverage. [00:09:28] So when you look at a snaffle bit primarily, it's gonna be something that you're going to picture having rings on the left and right side of the horse's mouth and that when you pull on the right rein,, that right ring is going to be pulled on and it's actually going to kind of pull through the horse's mouth and that left ring is going to push on the horse's left side of the mouth. So this snaffle bit is going to actually have more of a signal to bend that horse to the left and right. And of course, you can pull on both reins at the same time, which is going to engage the left and right side. But what a snaffle bit does not have that leverage. And so when you would engage both at the same time, you're just going to have that direct. We're just going to call it like it's a direct rein,. It's a direct pressure of whatever amount of pressure you have in your hand is going to be directly down there, the horse's mouth. Now, when we get to the shanked bit, let's just picture that you've got a shank on the bit about the length of your your finger. And so with that shank bit, if you can imagine, the rein, is attached to that bottom of the shank and that there's a chinstrap behind the horse's chin. [00:10:50] When you pull on the rein,, it's going to rotate and there's gonna be like a leverage action. So the length of that shank is going to change the amount of leverage that there is. And so when we think about the length of the shank, I'm going to post some videos and some pictures that go along with this. But the length of the shank, it's actually really important to think about the ratio. So if you're sitting here picturing a shanked bit that's going to have a bit piece is going to maybe look similar to a snaffle the mouth pieces we can talk about in a minute. But you've got the mouthpiece and then on the shank, but you've got whatever is above the mouthpiece, which is called the purchase, and you've got whatever is below the mouthpiece, which is called the shank. And the ratio of that top above the bit to the bottom below the bib matters a lot because it changes the leverage point. And the more the the more leverage there is, the longer that shank, the stronger that pressure can be. [00:12:00] So not all shank bits are created the same like some are really short, some are longer. But that's just one tiny little piece as far as how they work. Let me say this the biggest difference between a snaffle and a shank bit as far as the horse is concerned with signal is that the snaffle bit has a more clear signal for turning the horse's head left and right. So Ben, the horse left and right were a shanked bit, has a more clear signal for getting that horse to break at the pole or bring that face more to vertical or bring that chin back a little bit more towards the chest so that that breaking it, the vertical that is more clearly communicated with the shanked bit just as a side effect. So when we're thinking about why we would switch from a snaffle to a shank or a shank, you know, one shank bit to another shank bit, a lot of it is going to actually depend on the signal and the clarity of of where the horse finds release. Let's talk just a minute about number four, which is different mouthpieces so you can have a shanked bit that has a traditional snaffle bit mouthpiece in it. [00:13:24] So when when most people picture a traditional snaffle bit, they're going to picture a ring on each side and they're going to picture these two bars that come together and are jointed in the middle. And then all of those pieces are loose. And that turned that would be like a traditional snaffle bit. Well, you can actually get a shanked bit that has that same mouthpiece. So there's all these different choices that come into bits and then there are different mouthpieces inside snaffle serve different mouthpieces inside of the shank bits. But the whole purpose of these different mouthpieces is to communicate and use either different pressure points. So, for example, some of these bits are going to put more pressure on the tongue and some of these are going to have kind of a curved up allowance for the tongue, which means it's going to not have the tongue pressure. And some of these are going to be more narrow, which means that the pressure on the bars of the horse's mouth will be a little bit more increased. And some of these are going to be kind of medium. And then sometimes you'll have these really, really big. I don't know if you've ever seen these very large like twice the size of my thumb. These these bars of these bits that are like twice the size of my thumb. And so all of these different ratios are going to change how it feels in the horse's mouth. [00:14:53] And as you can imagine, it's going to change if you've put that that really big fat bit mouthpiece into a little tiny horse. That's going to be different than if you put it into a great big horse, because the ratio of the size of the horse's mouth to the size of the diameter of these bits. So there's a lot of different things to consider that this is why it can almost get overwhelming. But I think one of the best things to do when you're kind of feeling overwhelmed, at least for me, what works well is I keep gathering information and studying and learning and trying things until I start to get oh, I've got a breakthrough in that area. I understand that a little bit more and just continue on. So when we are talking about any bit, we're talking about shank bits in particular here for a moment. But this idea of signal, you're going to hear me use this word signal a few different times. And when I talk about signal, what that means is that prior to the bit actually being used for pressure being applied before pressure comes signal. So the signal is like this pre-warning device. And what that means is you can actually look at if you're imagine that you're sitting on your horse and you're walking along and you want to stop, one of the signals could be that you begin to take the slack out of the rein,. [00:16:26] So let's say the reins are loose. They're not a direct line from the bit to your hand. So you start to take the length out of those reins. That's gonna be a signal to the horse that, hey, the next thing, after the length, after she collects up these reins, the next thing might be pressure added to the bit. So the signal would actually be the slack coming out of the reins and the different signal could be with your body. But when we talk about the signal that the bit can give. That's where we're going to talk about some of these shanked bits that have these different mouthpieces that are kind of high and they make you wonder why would you want any of these mouthpieces that go up a little bit? The theory with some of them is that when you take the slack out of the rein, and then you pull on the rein,, just imagine rotating that bit one inch that when you rotate that bit, one inch, it doesn't necessarily tighten up the chinstrap. Let's say the shins drops, not engaged until you rotate the bit two inches. So when you rotate that bit one inch, this port, this part of the bit in the horse's mouth, this port will actually kind of raise up off the tongue just a little bit. [00:17:44] And when that raise is up, that's a signal to the horse. The next thing coming after that might be the chinstrap. So signal is this pre-warning. And I'm going to put one more thing in there really quickly. And that is the idea that with shanked bits, sometimes when people see those ports that raised a middle piece, they automatically assume that that middle. Peace is to apply pressure to the roof of the horse's mouth, and that is not true because that roof of the horse's mouth, first of all, it changes. But when the horses are young, that is much higher up there. And the majority of those early riding years like that horse's mouth has a lot of room in there to typically for there to be rotation with, however touching the horses. Roof of the mouth. If that bit rotates so high that it's going to touch the roof of the mouth. That's actually a flaw in how the chinstrap is adjusted. The majority of bits. And of course, there's always gonna be exceptions, but the majority of bits are made if they have that port that that poor is is actually interacting as a release. Like it's it's like sitting in there. And when you rotate the shank, it's actually like picking that up off the tongue and it's changing things like that. [00:19:09] It's not about poking into the roof of the horse's mouth so you can go on to do some Google searches, although that's kind of scary sometimes. About it's there's actually a lot of room in there. And that's why so many of these bits that have like, you know, let's just use a number like like if the ports like an inch higher or whatever, like it's not getting anywhere close to the horses roof of the mouth. And you can double check that even when your dentist comes out, you can ask how much room is in there, because I know I have that conversation with my dentist when he's here. [00:19:41] And then another subject is like broadband versus one ear. So this is moving away for a bit and more into the head stall. But broadband versus one ear throat latch versus not having a throat latch. These are some of the things to consider. And typically a broadband is used always with a snaffle bit and then the one ear you can ride in a shanked bit with either the broadband or the one here. But the reason why you want the broadband with the throat latch on the snaffle bit is that if you do pull on both reins at the same time, when you make that motion, it actually pulls the bit up into the horse's mouth and makes the headstall loose, which means there's more chance that say you were slowing the horse down and a fly lands and he shakes his head. There's more of a chance that the horse could shake the heads to fall off, because when you were pulling on the reins, you're actually taking and making that headstall more loose, where functionally when you pull on the reins on a shanked bit, it actually will have a slight downward pressure on the top of the pole. [00:20:55] And that is just because of the way that that leverage is working. But it also functionally kind of keeps it from coming off during that moment. So it actually instead of loosening the headstall, which is what happens at a snaffle, it actually if you can argue anything. You could argue that it kind of tightens it up a little bit. And so there's some form to function things there. And then you'll hear me talk a little bit more about throat latch adjustments during my discussion a little later with Thresh. I want to answer one question that came in before we move on. And that is this. I'm going to go ahead and read it. I was wondering what your thoughts are about riding a horse. two-handed with a shanked bit for Western dressage. [00:21:40] I've always thought that a shanked bit equaled neck reining or moving to a neck reining, but I can see that's not actually the case at all. Is there a type of bith that works better for using two-handed such as fixed cheek versus loose or anything like that? How do you gage when you should go out of a snaffle for dressage? I was also wondering if you like loop reins or split reins for the sport and with a snaffle. Do you ever use slobbers straps? Why or why not? That's the end of many more than one question. Let me break that down for you. So basically the big the big first chunk of this is that the question asker is saying that they always thought that the shank bit was for neck raining. And I get that a lot. And traditionally, you are moving towards neck reining when you are using a shaped bit. But the bridge between having a horse that understands the snaffle bit and direct training versus neck reining you typically will actually see a lot of work being done to handed. That leads to neck raining. So when we're doing the neck right, when we're doing the direct raining in the snaffle bit, we will start to introduce the idea of a little bit of neck raining. And I've talked about this actually in other podcasts when I was talking about, you know, bending, spiraling out, some of those different things. [00:23:12] But there definitely is a misconception out there that as soon as you move into the shank bit, you should be riding one and neck reining. That doesn't really work because you need to be able to make those same or very similar corrections and help shape that horse when you're riding in the shanked bit to help them bridge and understand the idea up into full-blown neck raining like when I walk in to show in a raining pattern. So what we're doing when we're riding two-handed is we're actually helping build that bridge between the the two handed in a snaffle to one handed in the shanked bit. And the reason why that typically falls into me saying it like that two handed in a snaffle, one handed in the shanked bit is because snaffled are more well designed for using two-handed. Of course you could ride one handed and a snaffle when I ride my horse bridleless is the equivalent that equals the idea that I could actually ride in any bit, any which way I want because I've worked to the point where the bit is no longer necessary. But if we don't go that extreme, what we can say is the snaffle has a more clear and better signal when used two handed, and that when you ride a lot one handed in a snaffle bit, the horses will frequently start to actually kind of poke their noses up and out because they find they can find a release there because of the way that the bridle has a signal that the bet that particular bit has a signal. [00:24:54] So that's why it tends to be a better bit two-handed. This is also why the shanked bit that I told you in the beginning tends to have a more clear signal for that vertical or break at the pole because has that it tends to lend itself better to being a one-handed bit because the horse doesn't find accidentally find that little escape point. Of course you can fix either of those with training. But again, we're just talking about the signal and what generally happens. When you do switch from. A snaffle bit to a shanked bit, what I switched to is something that has a loose cheek piece. And again, I'm going to make some videos posted on my YouTube video, on my YouTube channel and on my blog on the Stacy Westfall dot com and you'll be able to see some examples. But the loose cheek or the the fixed cheek on the side of the shanked bit just means whether or not that cheap piece will rotate or not. So some shaped bits are completely solid, meaning there's not a single moving point on them and some are very mobile, meaning the sides move and the mouthpiece might be broken in multiple pieces. [00:26:17] And if you want a quick way to remember, the side effect of each of those would be that if everything is welded together on your bit, that's probably going to be a bit that's going to make your horse feel a little bit more like that welded together and straight. Those bits that don't move a lot are meant to be ridden very straight. The bits that have a lot of moving pieces lend themselves better if you want your horse to be real bendy and soft and do some of those different shapes. That's just the big broad generalization for try to remember the difference. Now, she did manage to squeeze in a bunch of other questions, let me see if I can can answer them real quickly. How do you gage when you should go out of a snaffle? Personally, my horses won't graduate out of a snaffle into a shanked bit until they can bend, spiral out and counter bend and they can actually step around like a pivot or a very slow spin of at least somewhere between 180 to 270 degrees. And the reason for that is that basically what I'm doing when I'm able to make that horse do that little simple pivot or horsemanship turn or that little partial spin. And when I can do spiral out and counterman, I am showing that my horse understands moving its shoulders. And when the horse understands the the that I'm controlling the shoulders. [00:27:47] Now, that shows a level of understanding that the horse could graduate into another bit if the horse cannot do those things. I do not think it's developed mentally understanding enough to be able to move into a different bit and total side note. But everything I just said there was so fun to find out that the same time in dressage that they actually allow you to move and use the equivalent of a shanked bit in dressage. The same thing that changes in the test is the same thing I've been saying for many, many, many years now, which is that horse needs to understand how to do that, that pivot that so that counter bend, that moving the shoulders, that is literally what divides second and third level. And that is also where they start to let you be able to use a shanked bit. Totally fascinating. Another question here is with a snaffle, do you ever use slobbers straps? Why or why not? And again, slobbers strap. You can do a little Google Research and see what that looks like if you're not sure what it is. But for me, I don't use a slobbers strap. So the purpose of the slobbers strap is actually back to that idea of signal that I talked about earlier. And with signal I actually am getting a really good signal with my really nice heavy harness leather reins. [00:29:15] So my reins are already doing that signal which so a lot of times that slobbers strap can be used with a loop rein, or that mecade rein, or that rope kind of a rein,. And that's just got a different feel. But I'm already kind of taking care of that that signal with the other rein, that I use. So I don't personally use slobber straps, but I have nothing against them and I can see why people would use them, but just not the style I'm using. [00:29:45] Poof. That's a lot of information. How you guys doing? In this next segment, I would like to take you on a walk through the many choices that you have when you're looking at bridles. [00:30:01] And joining me will be Trish Campese and she is the owner of Stagecoach West. Stagecoach is a store that I do a lot of work with, and they have been in the industry for 40 years. In 2020, they'll have been in the tack industry for 40 years. And I really, really appreciate working with Stagecoach West because they really care for horses and riders. And one thing I want you to listen for inside of this is I actually end up learning that they have a bit rental program. And I didn't know that before this interview. And to me, that just is more evidence towards the idea that they want to help horses and riders have things with work. They want to be able to help you find what's going to work for you and your horse. [00:30:55] So let's listen to my discussion with Trish from Stagecoach West at stagecoachwest.com [00:31:06] Trish, I'd like to talk about bridles, because I can imagine that someone standing in the aisle way at your store with all the bits and the head stalls, basically all the separate pieces that go together to make a full functioning bridle. I can imagine with all of those options, they could be kind of overwhelmed. [00:31:39] I think with the material, the first thing that they're going to walk into is primarily leather. Now we sell more leather constructed head stalls than we do anything or bridles. Determine where you want to call it. Yep. [00:31:53] There are one ear and brow band and there's other things to look at. Throatlatches. Then you get into color schemes. They come in harness leather. They come in chocolate. They come in. They're coil. They come in Walmart. They come in later. [00:32:14] In the western end of it, typically there are not a lot of size choices there, particularly all horse size. We do carry a couple that are Arab sized for smaller headed horse, but typically western bridles only come in horse size. [00:32:33] I know one year for newbies, you know, new horse owners will think twice about one year because it isn't as safety concerns with most of them. They want to throatlatch with a browband. [00:32:47] Well, one area where most actives writers will lean more towards less, which is one year there's less. [00:32:56] I'm turn to think of other options would be how your bit attaches to the bridle. [00:33:02] There's Chicago screws, There's ties. There is quick change buckles. [00:33:16] Right. And we haven't even left basically when we're looking at a bridle, just to be clear, we've got the headstock, which is pretty much all we've talked about yet. And then you've got the actual bit, which is another place I can imagine people just being overwhelmed, looking at all the choices there. We'll talk about that in a minute. And then you actually still even have more choices. When you go into the reins, you're gonna have a bunch of choices. And the little tiny innocent looking chinstrap comes in a variety of choices. So, yeah, so that so we've kind of covered the head stalls when they turn around. Now they've figured out which which headstall they want. They do come in nylon too. I would imagine that's still they do possible they did. And so they've, they've chosen the material they've chosen whether it's broadband or single ear they've chosen or double ear or with or without the throat latch which kind of does a little bit go with the ears and not depending. And then they've chosen how that's going to attach the bit. And we haven't even got to the bit yet. So then they turn around and they're staring at your giant bit wall or how many walls of bits do you have? [00:34:21] We have a long wall of that. Yeah. Everything from, you know, snaffle bits to big horse bits or, you know, more experienced horse bits. And there's a hackmore and there's you know, it's just an area of different types of things out, you know, right. To keep up with as much as is on the market, you know. [00:34:44] And so that they turn around. And if they. I would imagine that the customers fall into kind of two categories, because some people are going to come in knowing what they're looking for because they borrowed a friend's bit or a trainer recommended a bit or they're gonna kind of come in and tell you what's going on and ask for a suggestion. Is that does that happen much? [00:35:04] It happens quite often, actually. We're pretty knowledgeable, most of us down there in our tax department on how best to work in the horse's mouth. So we do when they start talking to us about what's going on with their horses doing. We try to give them the best educated choice that we can recommend to them. We also offer rental. yes, we rent out our bits because it is a very that is a very tough subject because there are so many. I probably have five hundred bits hanging on our wall. [00:35:44] I'm over one now. I'm not even looking at it, you know. [00:35:49] Yes, I do. Video is actually the perfect example of, you know, just snap pictures, videos help us if we did a video. What exactly that horse is doing with that particular bit that you're not happy with? We would try to recommend some. [00:36:06] Yeah. Can you tell me a little bit more about your bit rental program? [00:36:09] Our bit rental program is a dollar a day and we recommend that you test the bit up to 15 days. [00:36:18] Typically, though, you can see a difference in the horse after a few rides, but sometimes it does take a little bit longer, depending on how drastic you've changed a bit in the horse's mouth. [00:36:32] Yeah, that's a really neat program. And I think it's worth saying again that, you know, the store's been running for 40 years, so this is not your first time around recommending bits like you can walk into. You know, some stores and get people that don't have a lot of experience. They're way more likely to get somebody with experience at your store. But also, I'm impressed that you guys run a bit clinic every year, which is another thing that people should just be aware of is an option, meaning that around the country or wherever you're located, if you look, you can find bit clinics going on. And so I'm thinking about it from two standpoints. First of all, somebody attending a bit clinic would have a great opportunity to get the bit fitted and talk to the person and multiple people that are there. But also, you have at this point attended a lot of befitting clinics, I would guess. So your experience is way higher. [00:37:24] We've done them for 18 years. [00:37:28] That is out of clinic efforts. [00:37:31] And it's great because you get to see so many different horses. It is different now. It's different. How did the horses react in different vets? It's it's a good it's a great experience. Yeah. [00:37:43] I always would recommend, even if you are a professional, it is such an enlightening information on the inside of a horse's mouth and how different they're designed. It's a very unique opportunity. [00:37:58] Yeah, I've I've sat through a fair number of them whenever I go to educational things, actually probably equipment fitting as I've done, saddle fitting, you know, clinics and and different clinics like that. And I'm looking in the dressage world at some different bits. And I was just at a store and they were saying, we're gonna have a English dressage fitting, a bit fitting, you know, clinic coming up. And that's what we would recommend that you come to nose like that is really good information to know. So. So you would you would recommend that people coming in and this fits obviously not everybody listening is gonna live within driving range of you. So this is just general general information for anybody listening that, you know, having pictures, having video of the horse, having pictures of having video of what the horse is doing that you're disliking. Those would all help when you're fitting the bit. And then I'll have already talked about this in numerous other places. But but having the horses teeth worked on, I'm just going to sneak that in there one more time because a horse with dental problems is going to have bridle problems across the board. And let's go move into the other two subjects that are still a piece of this, which would be chin straps and reins. Which one would you like to go to first? [00:39:16] Well, we can talk about chin straps. Yeah, they they cut the same thing. They come in leather, they come nylon. They come with a chain. They come flat without a chain. And honestly, we tried to match up with the bit. [00:39:36] The curb chains has to be within regulations if they're showing we we kind of asked like just showing for h are you showing open or are you showing you know, when a breed show cause they there are some curb chains that are allowed and some that hurt you until we try to ask them about their horses, their horses pretty laid back and you know, very respectful we might say, you know, you could probably get away with no chain and just have a leather strap. But, you know, we try to look at those. And in matching the bridle, of course. [00:40:10] Yeah. And I just had a horse here that was very large. He had almost like a draft cross mix. And it was really interesting because I was trying to help them adjust the chin strap because it was pretty much 100 percent engaged, like just getting it on. Basically, it was really tight. And we'll talk about adjustments here. I guess we could talk about it now, but it was like it was really tight up against his chin just when you put it on. But mostly I think it was because he was very large and I was trained to look around my barn where I have a lot of small horses. And I was thinking we just need a bigger chinstrap for this draft cross type horse, because otherwise, you know, it's it's pretty much full on engage before you even started, you know, rotating the shanks or anything like that. So there's a lot of different pieces. And I also just to throw it in there with a just. Else that when we are talking about those throat latches, which we kind of breeze past, you know, every once in a while I'll say to people when I'm looking at how it's how they're they've got a digested, oftentimes I'll find it pretty tight. And if you just if I stand beside the horse and ask the horse to back up, kind of holding my hands over the saddle area, you can see if the horse gives the chin and is choked by the throat latch that it's not going to want to break at the pole because of that discouraging choking kind of pressure there. So a lot of there's a lot of little adjustments that go into these head stalls and we. Yeah, into the into putting the head stall onto the bit the bit, you know, and the chin strap. And we still have even talked about reins. Anything you want to throw in there on the adjustments? [00:41:55] I guess what the curb chain adjustment, you know, a rule of thumb, it was always two fingers behind it. But I found that, you know it in conjunction with a proper fitting bit. They probably should adjust it according to the horse. So like you said, with that one being too tight, that's always engaging the horse's mouth. Always putting pressure there. Some horses who are maybe better thinkers and need a little time to process things. You might want to leave that a little looser more if you have one that is in a situation where they're a little bit more nervous than you need them to pay attention quicker, you can tighten it up. I always think of it as if you go out of trail riding. Sometimes if you're with a group when you had to hold the horse has a tendency to be a little bit more forward. You would tighten your curb chain up a hole just so that a bit gages a little faster into the horse's mouth. It's just too tight according to the horse. [00:42:52] Yeah. And I think one thing that you kind of alluded to there is that, you know, I'm holding my hands up, but since this is more like radio, nobody can actually see them. But if you can imagine that, yeah, the old the old rule of thumb was the two fingers kind of slid between if you could imagine putting your your fingers kind of stacking them and sliding that between the chin strap and the and the horse's chin. And and that it it kind of works. But what I'm actually looking for is more what you just alluded to, which is actually the rotation of the shank because the whole point, the whole point of a lot of the way that the bits work, once you move into a shank bit away from a snaffle, which I'm going to take a moment and say even on snaffled bits, a lot of times in the Western world, you'll see people have a chin strap on there and they're actually using that more like a bit hobble type thing so it can't pull through the horse's mouth. And that really confuses people because it's like, why do you have a chin strap on a bit that doesn't have leverage? And basically it's not being used for leverage is being used for a different purpose, which now we get into the more you know, what type of what type of side. [00:44:00] Pete, how's the shape of the side of your snaffle? Is it around the cheek snaffle or does it have a D type snaffle side or does it have like a full cheek snaffle? And then you wouldn't need that like idea of the the chinstrap stopping it from pulling through. But I'm wondering down a rabbit trail here now I'm going to run back to the idea of like when you have this is this is the part of the challenge with bits. But if you go back to that chin, strap on a shank bit, what we're often looking for is how much movement is in that shank before the chin strap engages. So, you know, you're standing on the ground and you pick up, you know, you just reach out with your fingers and touch the end of those Shank's where the reins would it would attach. And you rotate that back and you want there to be a little you want there to be some level of movement before it engages. Otherwise, you've got it too tight, which is what I was just talking about with the horse, with the really big chin. But then the other problem I see is if people either don't use a chinstrap at all on a bit that was designed to have a chin strap or they have a really, really loose than that, then that bit can really over rotate beyond what it was designed to do because you can actually have those shanks pointed instead of just four because the lack of visuals. [00:45:18] Imagine the shanks pointing more or less straight down to the ground towards what I'm going to call six o'clock. If you are on, if you're the rider and you pull and that rotates it all the way back to like, you know, three o'clock or even higher up to two o'clock. You know, that's a chinstrap issue, which is why everything I'm saying here is more and more evidence is why riding with somebody who can help you and give you some feedback on how all of this stuff fits. We actually do that pretty regularly when people come to ride with us for clinics or lessons, even people that have been riding with us for years, they'll be times we'll be like, hey, let's make this little change for this little reason or, you know, this is what you're dealing with right now. Let's try a different bit to make a more clear communication of what we're going for to the horse. So. Just hats off to you for standing there and answering questions about 500, literally 500 different bits. And we haven't even talked about all the combinations of headstall styles and straps and last category, reins, what do you have for subjects and what do you have for materials and reins? [00:46:41] There's gaming reins, barrel racing rein, mounted shooting reins. I mean, there's just so many different reins. Typically when somebody comes in, then the first thing I ask them iWhat are you used or used to have? One continuous rein,? Are you used to two separate rein, split rein,? [00:47:07] And one of the questions they always ask is, you know, what would I personally use? Well, what I use and what somebody else might like in their hand are always very different. So I always tell people to walk around and hold them in your hands, you know? [00:47:22] You want soft. Do you want something that's, you know, more stiffer feeling? So they come with different ends on them as well. [00:47:34] The way how they attach to the bit they can be snaps's, they can be tied. They can be Chicagos screws. They can be quick release pieces. So, I mean, there's a lot of options with the rein,. [00:47:49] Yeah. [00:47:51] We always try to ask them, what what are you currently using, what have you used, what you haven't used? What did you like? What did you like? [00:47:58] Yeah, and I can definitely see whether that be a good starting point because. And then that your advice to hold the different reins in your hand because you know, sometimes you just learn from experience. But I know that personally, if I'm writing, obviously, if I'm going to show one handed, then I'm gonna be, like you said, dictated to by the rulebook. I'm going to be in split reins. I'm gonna be, you know, one finger down in between. It's gonna gonna spell out some of it. But then when I'm at home riding, there's more, you know, like, hey, I'm riding younger horses, I'm riding predominantly two-handed. Does that mean that I you know, I actually just had a a single rein,. So basically a loop rein, made butt out of the leather that I really like in my split reins. But I did that because of showing in the western dressage and the way that I have to adjust the horses head up and down. The split reins were kind of getting like there was just a lot to manage and I wasn't really using them for what the purpose was. So it was like, OK, I'm gonna go with a different rein,. But then back to what you were saying about holding him in your hands. I ride with a more narrow rein, because I've got really pretty small hands and I know that the same leather reins that I'm riding in that I think are a half inch thick come in a thicker version with I should say they come in a wider virgin. and a lot of people with bigger hands like the wider version. And it's like back to what you said, it's kind of a personal preference that comes down to like personal preference and physical size of my hands. So good advice on holding things and then. Yeah, just riding in them. Riding in them. You'll develop a feel. Absolutely. [00:49:43] Well, thank you so much for joining me today, Trish. Thanks for your time. You're very welcome. I'm glad to help. [00:49:53] I'd like to mention that the rental program that Trish mentioned is available through the mail. So if you don't live anywhere near them, they're located in New York. You can actually do this through the mail, too, which I find fascinating. And one thing that I should also mention is that putting bridles together once you have all of these different pieces can be intimidating. I need to make a video for you guys on YouTube that shows you how to put the bridle together. But if you're really intimidated and you are looking at a different bridle and that includes the head stall, the bit, the chinstrap, the rains stage coach will actually put the bridle together for you, which is awesome because I myself have remember putting things together upside down, backwards and wrong. [00:50:52] And it's always a little bit sad if you're at a horse show and they're checking bits and somebody goes in and shows their horse and then comes out and the judge checks and they can be disqualified for things being put on incorrectly because that's some of the rules when you show, as Trish mentioned. There's different rules. And so not only could your let's just say your chinstrap could be illegal, but if it's twisted, that can also get you disqualified. And different things just being improperly put together are not going to signal correctly because I know a lot of times there's these little loops on the side of some of these bits and this little mystery loop. And I will definitely put a little video together for you for this little mystery loop on the side of some of these shank bits. Is there so that you could actually use that shank bit like a snaffle by moving up the reins to beside the mouthpiece? But when people don't know, a lot of times they'll put their chinstrap there. But then it doesn't actually have any leverage because the chinstrap actually needs to hook to the same loop typically as the head stall. [00:52:02] So this stuff can get really confusing. So I would highly encourage you to work with somebody. Go ride your horse and take a lesson and ask them questions about your tack. Nine times out of ten, they're going to walk up any way. I know if you come here for a clinic or a lesson, we're going to mention anything that we see that's out of place. We're going to show you how we would adjust it. We're going to tell you why. And I think the majority of people out there teaching would do this. And I also know that places like Stagecoach will and we've mentioned doing bidding clinics where you can you can go and you can watch at these different horse expos or you can find bit clinics. If you go to any area place like like your local tax store, ask them, search online, find these information outlets. [00:53:09] And if you decide to purchase anything there, you can use the code Stacy for 15 percent off your entire purchase excluding saddles. And speaking of saddles, that is next week's topic. Thanks for joining me. I'll talk to you again in the next episode.
In this season, I'm going to explain some of the choices in tack and equipment available. I'll also share what I'm using and why. Today's focus is some of the items used when leading the horse. Things like halters, lead ropes, and lunge lines. I'm also going to introduce you to a friend of mine who owns a tack store. I'm also going to close out the episode with a sad story. I'll also give you the biggest training tip that matches this discussion. Equipment is such a huge topic that it's even a challenge to break it down. If I don’t talk about something you’ve been wondering about, please leave me a voice message or send me an email. This a no judgement zone. I know you can feel a little lost sometimes when it comes to tack. There are also new items and new things to learn all the time. That’s why it’s so great to have a friend who owns a tack store. I hope you enjoy my conversation with Trish Campese owner of The Stagecoach West. Stagecoach West is a family store started by Trish’s Dad. Next year, the store will be 40 years old. Show Notes: [02:45] There are many different halter options. At Stagecoach West, they would ask you different questions about your horse. Pictures are helpful too. Then they would try to help you with sizing. They would also get information like if the horse is stalled or turned out or both. Then on to the materials. [03:41] Current halter trends include bright colors and breakaway nylon. [04:52] They have almost every color imaginable of lead ropes. Polypropylene is the number one material. There are stamps, chains, and even bamboo. [08:59] Pictures are helpful when determining the right halter. [10:04] In my barn, the first thing I'm going to touch is some version of a halter and lead rope. I have a quick catch halter, rope halters, nylon halters, and leather halters. [10:36] I use the leather halter the least. [11:45] I use the nylon halters more often. Both are a wider flat fit. Nylon can be soft and comes in different colors. [14:40] I use the rope and quick catch the most. The only adjustment on the rope halter is the crown piece. [15:46] Flat halters distribute pressure over a wider area. [16:31] The rope halter has a more narrow pressure point. It's a go to for function and feel. [17:51] I use the quick catch halter a lot too. It's good for leading horses from one place to another. [20:45] I would use the flat nylon or flat leather for hauling horses. [22:28] I like the poly lead rope, because it doesn't pick up sawdust or dirt when I drop it. [23:22] When it's time to work the horse I use one of the training ropes. The big difference is that these ropes have a core and don't tangle easily. [27:34] You need a quality stick and string that has enough weight to make noise and be easily controlled. Get the one with the nice heavy core. [30:43] You have to practice with your tools to get good at using them and working with your horse. [31:29] Use the tools that a lot of trainers use. Once you know how to use them, they have a better feel and will benefit you. [33:50] In training, it's about clarity. When your horse has a lot of training the halter doesn't make much of a difference. [35:47] Stacy shares a story where they used loose tie rings at a facility that actually taught the horses to pull. [37:45] I'm not a fan of flat web lunge lines. [38:06] Stacy shares a story about a woman who was lunging a horse with a flat web lunge line, and the horse bolted and her fingers were tangled, and she was dragged by the horse and smashed into the rails of the arena. She lost her four fingers and was permanently in a wheelchair. [40:39] If you have a piece of equipment that's tying itself in knots, it's a warning that this material is more likely to cause injury. [41:04] It's important to know how to use your equipment, but it's also important to train your horse to understand how to respond under pressure. Links and Resources: WestfallHorsemanship@gmail.com The Stagecoach West Use the code Stacy for 15% off your entire order excluding saddles. The Stagecoach West on Facebook The Stagecoach West on Twitter Quick Catch Halter Flat Web Lunge Lines 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!
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. Show Notes: [01:53] Stacy has moments of balance, but she doesn't really view life as a balance. She looks at it more like seasons. [03:22] Fall makes Stacy want to lay down in the grass and have a nap in the sun. [05:35] Ginny thinks balance is more like a mindset. There is no one solution. [06:01] Stacy talks about how daily balance isn't possible when training horses. [07:33] Sometimes when training horses everything has to be deconstructed and taken all apart. If you have balance, you wouldn't want to take anything apart. [08:48] Stacy has been buying Fringe journals. She writes more carefully in her nice journals, but her notepad is for messier thoughts. [11:35] When you're on a horse with no stirrups you have to be able to adjust yourself moment to moment. The stronger rider you are, the easier it is to rebalance. [13:04] Balance is really more of a mental balance, even if physical balance is a great analogy. [14:49] Ginny had to have the mental ability to adapt when her house burnt down. It's not really balance, it's adapting. [17:39] Ginny lost her dogs in the fire, and she had to open herself up to getting new dogs. [20:05] We really don't have control over anything. Our brains seek certainty, uncertainty is certain. It's healthier to learn to adapt than to try to control everything. [25:36] Grieving can happen for the death of a dream. [29:27] We talk about avoiding things when you don't want to fail. Ginny took her own journey of self-awareness. [31:34] After a loss, we are forced with decisions of whether to take a safe path or to put ourselves out there again. [34:48] We have to take chances and allow vulnerability. Negative things can also happen after success. [41:05] Why do we feel like we have to force ourselves to do things we don't want to do? Why do we discount what we are really feeling? [47:45] As human beings, we practice incongruence, because we don't want other people to feel uncomfortable. [53:49] We have organic conversations, because we are congruent with who we are. [54:58] We are always trying to help our clients take information from horses and use it in a useful way. [01:02:20] If we ask our horses to step into uncertainty, it's only fair that we do the same thing. [01:07:44] Ginny is doing her graduate program for her not other people. She is being congruent on why she is doing it. Links and Resources: Loko Bean Konmari Fringe Journal The Collaboration Partners 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!
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, und
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 know your horse is smart. Do you know that your horse is smart? I hope you do, because today I'm sharing something that will be incredibly useful to you if you think your horse is smart. If you're not sure if your horse is smart, you can always go back and listen to episode 22 where I explain my views of going beyond prey versus predator.
I received a listener question about how to bring up a horse's energy level. If you have a question you would like answered hit the tab on the right side and leave a voice message. This listener has a thoroughbred who is very obedient but lacks exuberance. She wants to up the energy but doesn't want to punish the horse.
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.
One of the number one issues that I get questions about is improving a lope or canter and doing it safely. I use the four square model of the horse’s mind, the horse's body, rider’s mind, and rider’s body to illustrate some safety precautions for improving your lope and canter. To explain the issues people have and a common remedy, I kick the show off with a call from one of my past clinic participants named Bob. I asked Bob if he’d be willing to share his experience with everyone, and he agreed. After my conversation with Bob, I have another guest named Michelle that had a horse with very serious metabolic issues and laminitis. I remember things better when they are wrapped in a story, and I’ve never had a horse with these issues. Michelle shares her story of trying to get a diagnosis for her horse, and the treatment that finally helped her recover. Michelle hopes that her story will help others be advocates for their horses. Show Notes: [01:53] Bob came to one of our clinics, and he lives close enough to us that he's been able to take lessons with Jesse. [02:13] His question was about getting a controlled rhythmic lope that he's seen a lot of other people accomplish. Bob's lopes were frantic and even scary at times. [02:35] Bob's main assignment was to lope more for longer periods of time. [03:01] After increasing his time, his horse will now rhythmically canter. [03:41] Bob thinks that the horse was thinking that if he went fast he would get the stop. [06:10] Bob's question is one of the most common questions. [07:19] The improvement has really made a difference in Bob's mounted shooting. He rides about three to four days a week. He works his horse for an hour. [08:26] He works on things in the outdoor arena and on trail rides. [09:26] Let's use the four square model and begin with the horse's body to talk about safety when working up to your lope or canter. [09:36] You may need to improve your horses physical conditioning to improve his lope or canter. You can do this by lunging more on a lunge line or in a round pen. [10:03] You could also lunge over poles at a canter. [10:37] You also need to take a look at your horses mind. If you're unclear about your horse's body or mind, get a professional opinion to put you at ease. [11:39] Another square in the model is the rider's body. What is making you physically uncomfortable about writing more? [12:23] You should work on your trot to improve your confidence before you work into the lope. [13:47] You can also improve your physical strength outside of riding a horse. [14:06] When you go to the fourth quadrant of the rider's mind, a great exercise to do is write down all of your fears on a piece of paper. Then find a solution for each thing that is holding you back. [16:45] I believe in analyzing what is going on with the fear rather than just forcing yourself to work through it. [19:54] Michelle bought her horse when it had just turned three. Her horse was a healthy Tennessee Walking Horse. [20:35] When Michelle's horse was seven, she began having acute lameness. It took awhile to diagnose it as laminitis. [21:25] Some symptoms that the horse had included breaking out in hives then becoming acutely lame. She acted like her front feet were sore, but there was no visible injury. [23:47] With x-rays at the veterinarian, they were able to see the rotation and the sinking in her feet. [24:48] After treatment, every six weeks for a year. The horse fully recovered. She still wears special shoes and goes to the vet once a year. [26:13] She also started medication to boost her metabolism. The lab work did indicate a metabolic issue. [27:58] The horse is also on a special diet and takes supplements. She is 11 years old now, and she has fully recovered. [30:23] Michelle followed up with lab work, because the numbers tell you what is working. [33:34] The horse is now on Metabarol and vitamin E. Links and Resources: Stacy Westfall's Video Vault Episode 1: Fear vs Danger: Riders Can Improve If They Know the Difference Rood & Riddle Equine Podiatry Equithrive Metabarol $50 Rebate Program 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!
Have you ever been trail riding and realized that your right leg was passing very close to a tree? Have you pulled the reins to the left, and the horses neck went to the left but your leg still hit the tree? This is because horses don’t always follow their necks. They follow their shoulders. Most of us have learned that if we want the horse to go to the right, we pull on the right rein and if we want the horse to go to the left, we pull on the left rein. Most of the time, the head and shoulder will go in that direction. In this episode, I'm going to explain the foundation for improving steering. This involves becoming very aware of shoulder control. I'll explain the idea that horses don't always follow their heads, and I'll give you an exercise to help improve your timing with this new awareness. Show Notes: [03:46] Horses don't always follow their heads, but they do always follow their shoulders. [04:21] It's easy to think horses follow their heads, because that's one of the first things that riders and horses are taught. [04:36] Today, we're going to embrace the idea that the horse doesn't always follow the shoulder, and we can move the head in one direction and the shoulder in the opposite direction. [04:44] The only way this is possible is if the horse comprehends it and the aids are applied in the right manner. [04:58] The same method that was used to train the horse to follow the shoulders, can have different timing and make something different happen. You can look at this as untraining or adding another layer. [05:27] When I coach riders with horses at the elementary level, I often see steering problems. [06:04] If a horse lacks a higher education, a rider might release out of self-preservation and the horse starts to see Grandma's rules and does what it wants. [07:46] It's very fascinating what we can teach these horses on accident. When you realize how much can be taught on accident, you can really follow the line of thinking and start seeing how the horse is applying this. [08:41] Sometimes riders don't notice subtle steering problems, because they don't ride specific patterns. [11:34] Arena work helps horses see a pattern and think logically. [14:39] Spiraling out is the horse bending to the left and going to the left. The right rein gets pulled towards three o'clock and the shoulder goes to the right. [15:29] In neck reining, the right rein means to go to the left. This sounds confusing, but we are still moving the horses shoulder to the left. It's about the shoulders. [15:56] Go in a small circle to the left. Your horse is going to ask a lot of questions. [17:50] Whatever you release on is going to matter. [18:31] Pay attention to the front feet. Think about where they are going. This will change every three or four steps. [19:32] You can start to feel where you can have the timing to influence the horse. [21:39] In elementary school, we teach the horse to move their shoulder in the direction that we pull the rein. [21:57] In high school, we spiral out and ask the horse to bend in one direction and move the shoulder in the opposite. [22:21] Eventually, we get to a point where we can neck rein. This means the horse will move the shoulder and bend to the direction of travel. [22:47] The first exercise is one rein and both legs evenly. Ride in a circle to the left. Using one rein, the rider starts to experiment after a while. [25:18] Riders start to realize how effective their legs can be for driving the horse forward and in a bigger circle. Links and Resources: Equithrive Use the code STACY for 10% off Tennessee Equine Hospital Tennessee Equine Hospital Facebook Episode 38: Rewarding Physical and Mental Changes in Your Horse Episode 18: Improving Your Aids When Riding Your Horse Episode 19: Your Weakest Aid When Horseback Riding Episode 20: The Hierarchy of the Riders Aids as the Horse Advances Episode 36: 3 Reasons to Do Groundwork With 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!
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!
When we become very familiar with a term, it can sometimes lose meaning. when I talk about a horse having a lack of forward motion or needing more forward motion what I'm actually talking about is the horses first response without resistance. If I ask the horse to go forward, his first response without resistance is forward motion.
There are times when you may need to make an emergency stop with your horse. One way to do this is to disengage the horse’s hips. This is something that I do not do in my training, and today, I’m going to tell you why. First, I’m going to explain exactly what I mean by disengaging the horse’s hip. I’m also going to discuss the difference when riding and doing groundwork. When learning about horses, I encourage you to look at many programs including other people’s. When watching other programs look at the form to function and see if what they are doing falls into this category or something similar. They may not use the same terminology. I also have an interesting and forward thinking discussion with Dr. Monty about deworming. Show Notes: [00:58] What I mean by disengaging the horse's hip is that the horse should plant its front feet and swing its hips to the side when doing groundwork or riding. [01:19] You could also think of this as a turn on the forehand during groundwork. [02:01] During ridden work it's when the head is pulled around to the rider's leg. [03:11] The interesting thing when discussing engaging versus disengaging is that it can be different, so we need to get really specific with our definitions. [05:27] Disengagement is going to have the front end of the horse planted and engagement is going to still have forward motion. [06:31] I have said for years, that I don't teach my horses to disengage. I only did it as a requirement for a test. [07:19] I don't teach my horses to disengage during riding, because it's going to slow my training down, and it's counter to everything else I do. [07:54] It's easier for a horse to disengage than engage, so I'm not going to teach something easier right at the beginning. [08:12] I use disengaging for groundwork, because I'm using it to get the horse to turn and face me. [08:32] I also don't use any disengaging moments at higher speeds. [10:49] Sometimes disengaging and engaging will look similar, because they both have forward motion. Maintaining motion is the hallmark. [12:25] I teach disengage on groundwork limited to the walk and the trot. I don't use it exclusively. [14:32] When riding, I teach the horse to bend and freeze its feet. [17:22] Having a horse disengage is uncomfortable, because it's not very well-balanced. [18:01] Use a one rein or emergency stop by bending the horses head around, so you can jump off. [20:48] Dr. Monty and I discuss deworming. [22:45] The old school way is to deworm every two months. [23:23] The latest thinking is to take a yearly fecal test and then determine what level of parasite load the horse has and then make a proper deworm plan. [24:03] You won't be able to keep your horse from parasites, but they do have a natural immunity. [25:05] Horses with a low parasite number are dewormed twice a year. A horse with higher numbers is dewormed every 90 days. Really high numbers are dewormed and then checked in two more weeks. [25:44] There will be low numbers, medium numbers and high numbers. [26:07] Get a fecal test done and treat your horse appropriately. Links and Resources: Stacy's Video Diary: Jac-Episode 1-First Day-Part 1-Evaluating Jac Episode 39: The Two Most Basic Cues When Riding a Horse 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!
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.
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!
In this episode, I'm going to explain the first communication I developed during groundwork. I'm also going to talk about the difference between leading versus drawing. In my final segment with Dr. Monty, we answer a listener question about increasing exercise tolerance versus overworking.
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!
Welcome to Season 4 where it's all about the horse's body. In this episode, I'm going to give you three tips to use when reading your horse's body language. I also answer a listener question, and I share a new segment that's coming up in future podcasts. If you remember from Season 1, I used the four square model to break down the concepts and divide them into the rider’s mind, the rider’s body, the horse’s mind, and the horse’s body. The horse’s mind and body are connected, because we see what is going on in the horse’s mind by watching the horse’s body. This is why it’s so important to break things down into three steps when trying to interpret a horses body language. I break down those steps in this episode to help you better understand how your horses actions convey what is going on in your horse's mind. Show Notes: [01:42] When we discuss the horse's body, we physically see what our horses are doing. We see their mind reflected in their body. [02:08] Trying to separate the horse’s mind and the horse's body is kind of like trying to separate two sides of a coin. [02:27] When becoming a student of body language, it's important to take a few extra steps and break things down. [02:42] We can read a lot of different things into body language. Here are three tips to help read the horse's body language. Number one is observe the horses actions factually. Number two is observe your actions factually. Number three is to walk away and then draw your conclusion. This is where you would figure out how to modify the behavior. [03:23] I think there's a lot of similarities between the dynamics of people being in groups and horses being in groups. [03:45] Observe your horse just by reading its actions. [05:27] Try to differentiate between the actual facts of what's happening and the story you may have in your head. [07:50] My mind and body is having an influence over the horse's mind or it's pretending not to and allowing the horses mind to do what it wants. [09:16] If you like that your horse protects you, you are going to project that and allow that. [09:32] To modify a horse's behavior it first has to change in your mind, then your body, then your behavior influences the horse's mind and the horse's body. [09:56] In this podcast, we are going to discuss how to influence the horse's body as we recognize that there are a lot of different layers to this. [10:31] Observe the big picture of the whole ride and long-term patterns. As you notice the patterns, you can break down whether something is happening in the horses mind or the horses body. [14:11] What makes breaking down the horse's body the most difficult of anything is the lingering question in the back of your mind is your horse lame or sore. This is where a long-term view becomes helpful. [15:06] A lot of questions in a rider's mind revolve around if they are riding their horse too hard or too much. Not wanting to hurt your horse comes from a good place, but it can creep into the horse's mind when they sense your hesitation. [15:45] A listener question about routine care for a horse's health. I don't always feel qualified to answer questions about a horses health, but my new sponsor, Equithrive is going to bring a new segment to the podcast called On Call where I get questions answered by different vets. [16:56] Equithrive works really closely with veterinarians, and they've lined up some of the top veterinarians in the country to join me on the podcast to answer your questions about your horses help. Links and Resources: Episode 1: Fear vs Danger: Riders can improve if they know the difference Equithrive 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!
I am answering a listener question about repetition and learned helplessness which was a response to my newsletter. The definition of learned helplessness from Google is a condition in which a person suffers from a sense of powerlessness, arising from a traumatic event or persistent failure to succeed. It is thought to be one of the underlying causes of depression. So the definition is somewhere between a traumatic event and persistent failure to succeed. The question involved trotting in 10 circles, so it's definitely going to be more around the persistent failure to succeed model. The main concept of this podcast will go back to the four square model of the rider's mind, the rider's body, the horses mind, and the horse's body. Along with, the concept of what you believe about learned helplessness with people. Show Notes: [05:16] My response is going to be based more on the definition of a persistent failure to succeed. [06:14] This is where the four square model really shines. We have the rider's mind, the rider's body, the horses mind, and the horse's body. [06:51] As a person, you're going to have a lot of experience between where you think that line of persistent failure to succeed may be or stretching your comfort zone. [07:09] When I think of learned helplessness with people I think about kids going to school. Kids often ask if they really need to go to school or having to sit in a long meeting. [08:41] The rider's mind connects to your body and how you show up with your horse. This will be reflected in the horses mind and body. [09:32] Horses do a good job of reflecting us. [10:15] Horses are going to move with whatever is allowed. [10:32] If a rider believes that 10 laps are negative, they will reflect that back to the horse. [11:44] Horses pick up on your mind and your body. [12:32] Breaking down the four square model is super important. [13:44] There are places where you still have to do a lot of physical work, and this is where the rider's body and the horse's body comes in. [14:15] I choose to believe that Willow is capable of more than what her natural reactions are. [15:41] I decided that Willow would be my best bet to train for traditional dressage. I signed up for my first traditional show in February, and Willow had never have the saddle on. [16:30] I trusted that I would be consciously competent at some point. [16:43] I also trusted in episode 10 about making mistakes in the right direction and episode 14 where there's a lot of muscle memory and habit building on my side. [16:58] I also believed that I was adding layers like an episode 31 and episode 22 where horses move beyond predator and prey. [17:22] Willow and I just learned our bronze medal in dressage. The bronze is the first of the three levels that signifies your competency level. [17:56] It wasn't easy or mistake free. We completed all of these levels because of belief and trying. [19:11] What you believe will become evident as you play out your actions. [19:42] Figure out what you believe about learned helplessness with humans and then think about applying something similar to horses. [20:34] Next week, we start Season Four: The Horse's Body. I'll also be announcing my first sponsor, so stay tuned. Links and Resources: Starbucks Pony Espresso: Riding My Horse Thru the Drive Thru Norco, CA Horsetown USA Trail to the Western Dressage World Show Episode 5: The Four Stages of Competency Episode 10: Make Mistakes in the Right Direction Episode 14: Muscle Memory: habits & experience can improve your horseback riding skills Episode 31: Listener Question: Untraining a Horse or Adding Layers? Episode 22: Beyond Prey vs Predator: You’re Underestimating 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!
In this episode, I'm answering a listener question about peaking a horse for a show. The question is how do you keep your horse from peaking before you go to the show? The listener is a week away from a cowboy obstacle racing show. She exercised her mare yesterday, and the mare was spot ready. She doesn't want to overtrain her horse if the horse is at its peak. To answer this question, I ask some questions about getting the horse to peak, how long did it take, and how long did it last. Since, I’m not on the phone with the listener, I’m going to run through some different scenarios about these questions that will hopefully help her gain clarity. Also, if anyone is interested in recording a Q and A phone conversation with me, let me know. That could be a really fun podcast. Show Notes: [02:10] How did you get your horse to this peak? How long did it take? Have you had her at a peak like this before? How long did that peak last? What do you think brought her down from that last peak? [03:05] Keep in mind as I run through these scenarios, we are trying to bring the horse into the zone, but it's kind of like that teeter-totter we've talked about previously. [03:42] How did you get her to this peak? If a horse is going to peak quickly and then fall off the other side I need an awareness that it's happening. [05:17] With a very responsive horse you need to realize what the breaking point is and where they start to tip over the edge. You might want to peak this horse right before the show or learn how to extend it afterwards like rocking the teeter totter. [07:24] You should be trying to figure this out at home when you don't have a show. [08:17] With a really relaxed horse, you want to start to sharpen them a week before the start of the show. With a horse like this ask how long the last peak lasted? [10:13] Why doesn't the balance last? At the lower levels it's achievable. It's very possible to get a horse balanced in a state where you have a level way of being across the board. [10:53] When you start taking horses to a higher level, you have to start thinking about getting into the zone. When you're operating at a very high level, you are asking for a very high level of mental sharpness which can cause a certain amount of stress. [12:03] As the zone moves higher, it's a different conversation than the balanced teeter-totter. [12:27] Think about how much you are taking the horse out of its comfort zone, and its ability level. [13:09] Horses who have to max out physically are pushing the edge of mental. [14:15] I love showing, because it brings up my awareness about the subject. These things happen everywhere where you work with your horse. [14:44] It's important to remember when you work a horse at a high level, you are bringing a certain amount of stress, so it's important to also bring the horse down from that level of stress. Links and Resources: WestfallHorsemanship@gmail.com 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!
Is your horse’s behavior caused by mental issues or training issues? Today, I have a listener question from Italy. The listener has a 10-year-old gelding that is still exhibiting the same behavior or training problems that he had when she got him at four and a half years old. She is wondering if some horses have trauma that makes it impossible to fix certain issues. I’ll be answering this question by discussing what constitutes mental issues and what constitutes training issues. Then I’ll share my idea that is 10%, 80%, and 10%. Show Notes: [02:52] The truest mental issues I've ever seen with a horse makes me think of a chemical imbalance. [03:25] Studies have suggested that aggressive dogs don't have the same amount of serotonin in their bodies. [03:53] Have you ever heard the expression are you loco? Animals can eat locoweed and experience symptoms and signs weeks or even months later. Altered and aggressive behavior is often observed. [04:43] This includes a violent reaction to routine practices like putting a halter on. Horses also experience more severe neurological effects than cows or sheep do. [05:05] Removal from exposure to the plant can help with some behavioral changes but some may be permanent. [05:18] There is evidence that there are things that can affect horses mentally that can last for a very long time. [05:44] Out of all of the horses I've observed, I've only seen two who I thought were in this case. [06:31] If the horse is truly having an imbalance type of thing, you are going to see changes across the board. [07:09] The undiagnosable horse I was talking about would become unnecessarily violent. [07:42] The vast majority of issues I've seen with horses over the years are training issues. [08:28] If you put training issues on one side of the teeter-totter and mental issues on the other side, there is a whole spectrum of issues in between. [09:25] My observation is that there are about 10% of horses who are exceptionally good. They just have a golden temperament. [10:08] We could maybe go as high as 10% of horses out there who really need an expert. [10:47] The majority of us deal with that 80% that's in the middle. These horses are greatly influenced by how they were handled. [11:26] 90% of the horses out there are really good horses with the potential to do great things. [12:59] Horses that have a temperament to be creative, work the system a little bit more. Don't let your horse know that you are swishy, because if they figure it out it's a bad thing. [15:24] There is a good chance that this horse has learned different rules between groundwork and ridden work. Because he only acts up in one area, it's a clue that he has learned a different set of rules. [16:46] The bigger question would be how retrainable is he? [17:39] Horses often change according to the handler. [18:05] It's a really big topic of whether it's mental issues or training issues, and it's really worth pondering. Links and Resources: Locoweed 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!
This week I'm answering a listener question. First, I'm going to answer with the theory, and then I'm going to teach you all how to become a detective. The listener wants to know if she can ‘untrain’ the horse’s desire to run full speed during mounted shooting competitions. She wants the horse to slow down or give her more control. Some of the questions I ask incluse: Is the trigger only at shows or can you trigger a low level version of this at home? When he gets amped up…what aids does he get resistant to? Do you take him to practices? Does a practice amp him up half way between a shoot and at home? Can you set balloons off of him? This episode is a great look into the horses perspective and adding layers to his training. Show Notes: [02:21] Thank you for the question and congratulations on reaching level three. [03:07] The first thing I would like to start the conversation with is adding layers. Instead of training the horse, start adding layers to his training. [03:48] This also brings up habits versus control. Habits are usually some version of anticipation. [04:29] His habit of being asked to give his all is affecting your control over him. This is very common with speed events. [06:43] People sometimes overlook that horses can have an adrenaline rush and enjoy the racing. [08:09] At the end of the day, when we add all of these layers, and say habit versus control, I want to feel like I can turn my horse up and down like using a dial. [09:02] I have to do a lot of work to make a +7 horse a -7 horse. [10:50] Here are the questions that I would ask for the detective work. [11:28] Is the trigger only at shows or can you trigger a low level version of this at home? When he gets amped up…what aids does he get resistant to? For example, very sensitive to your legs, pulling/rooting on the bit, rocking horse lope, sideways movement…how does he express himself. [13:26] If a horse doesn't relax into the hug, then he is resisting. [13:58] Do you take him to practices? Does a practice amp him up half way between a shoot and at home? Can you set balloons off of him? Does he recover outside the ring or in the ring? Or once he gets ‘up’ does he have trouble coming back down? [15:40] I go back and retrain my horses all the time. I go all the way back to the basics, because things can become untrained without use. [18:26] When you become a detective and are able to do all this kind of stuff you will realize which aids he is leaning on and what he might be resistant to. Links and Resources: Stacy's Video Diary: Jac-Episode 13-Training Cycles in horse training: Physical and Emotional Teaching a horse to handle stress. Episode 4: The Trail to the World Show 4 Steps for Training a Horse for Mounted Shooting 3 Steps for Introducing a Horse to Mounted Shooting 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!
Let's talk about the idea of correcting a horse for behavior that we don't like. I'm going to share three examples of corrections, a different way to think about corrections, and a story to help you remember it all. How smooth are your Corrections? If your horse anticipates your correction, does it make him better or does it make him worse? I'm going to share some examples of corrections that I want you to ponder. Take the time to think about what these corrections would look like from the horse's point of view. The ultimate goal is for the horse to get better as a result of just thinking about the possible corrections. Show Notes: [02:03] Stacy kicks the show off with an extreme correction example that she saw when she was in college. [03:36] It's really important to think about it from the horse's point of view. Does the correction cause the horse to anticipate it and get better or worse? [04:08] A horse can't make the leap of the rider's mind. The anticipation of the correction can cause a problem. [05:20] You don't want to send your horse confusing cues. If you can't get forward motion, stop backing your horse up. [06:10] Horses running backwards is very dangerous for you and the horse. [06:23] Keys for good corrections includes slow hands and a stair-stepped progression. Coupled with the release of the queue on the desired response. [07:53] Try a light tap with a rhythm. A hesitation in the rhythm is a noticeable difference. Rhythmic tapping can be much more effective, because the reward is much more noticeable. [08:53] Clarity is required for your horse to figure out the pattern of the queue. [09:33] Your correction should be smooth and clear and if the horse anticipates it, they should correct themselves. [10:21] It becomes a beautiful thing when your horses understand your smooth clear corrections and start correcting themselves. [10:46] Stacy shares an example of using horse training techniques with her kids and the power of anticipation. Where the correction helps get the outcome. Links and Resources: Episode 29: 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
How do you know if your training routine is dead? Last week, I talked about how horses can “learn how to learn.” This week, I'm going to take that concept a little further and explain how I use training cycles to influence the horse both physically and mentally. In episode 25, I talked about anticipation in a positive and negative way, and "the horse anticipating the end of the ride.” Some people may take this as the horse doesn't enjoy being ridden, but actually the horse anticipating the end of the ride is such a clear reward. It's that clarity of the reward that gives the end of the ride such draw or pull. You can actually create that draw at multiple points inside your ride? By getting on and off of the horse, it will latch onto the clarity of those kind of endings. When horses “learn how to learn” they are pulled towards that draw, and it can be instilled throughout the ride. Today, I’m explaining how this can be a powerful training technique. Show Notes: [02:43] Think about your training cycle as physical work followed by an emotional cycle. [04:33] You can get a lot more done when you use cycles, because you are putting the horse through more cycles, and you are taking advantage of the physical and emotional. [04:46] The first cycle can expend a lot of their energy and then the other cycles won't be as physically demanding. [05:33] It's a little bit different with an older horse. The emotional cycle will look more like a rest break, because the horse has learned how to take advantage of these cycles. [06:47] If your horse isn't in a balanced emotional state, it won't take advantage of that break time. [07:07] When the horse doesn't take advantage of the break, it must be stressed and is asking for guidance. [08:30] Using the training cycles helps you gather more information about your horse. [09:11] I often see riders get on and ride and then be done without any clear cycles in between. Try visualizing a heart monitor. Work cycles need to have ups and downs daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly. [10:35] The question to ask is has your training cycle flatlined. [11:34] If you ride your horse at the same intensity day after day, your training cycle may be flatlined. Links and Resources: Episode 25: Is Your Horse Anticipating? Episode 27: Horses Can ‘Learn how to Learn’ Teaching a Horse to Handle Stress. Episode 4: the Trail to the World Show Stacy's Video Diary: Jac-episode 13-training Cycles in Horse Training: Physical and Emotional
How horses learn and why it matters is an interesting topic that we will be talking about today. Horses are really interesting, because they are excellent at detecting patterns. They look for patterns when they are speaking and communicating with other horses, and if you observe horses in the field, you will see a lot of questions being asked and answered. When horses learn to communicate with humans, you will see a lot of the same patterns. There will be a lot of questions, answers, and repetition. Once we understand the patterns that our horses our recognizing, we can use these to teach our horses to learn faster. Show Notes [02:57] Horses can learn how to learn. When a horse moves up to college level, and this means that they are really good at some advanced stuff. [05:31] Presto is a great example of a horse that did not learn how to learn early. [06:17] Justice had more language skills with other horses than Presto. [07:24] Presto was lacking in natural reactions, but he still picks up on patterns. [08:00] His interaction with Popcorn really helped him a lot. [08:43] Now I've noticed that Presto is actually looking for patterns. He starts to ask questions earlier, because he is seeing the patterns. [09:33] You may see a horse teach a human how to do something. [10:57] Not all college-level horses have been trained through the method of learning how to learn. Some have been trained to be reactive. These horses don't necessarily enjoy the learning process and will be more reactive or have negative anticipation. [11:26] Avoidance anticipation is the opposite of learning how to learn. [11:57] You want your horse to enjoy the learning process not be trained in a way that he wants to avoid learning. [12:40] There's a disconnect for horses to learn a lot of things in a short amount of time when they are worried about avoiding discomfort. [13:35] I'm very intentional with paying attention to the patterns that I use when I work with my horses. I'm consciously making decisions to recognize and know what patterns are happening and what the side effects of these patterns are. [14:01] Pay attention to any patterns you have with your horse. A simple one to pay attention to is feeding time. Links and Resources: Introducing Orphan Foals to New Horses Orphan Foal: Pasture Turn Out With Adult Horses Episode 25: Is Your Horse Anticipating?
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
Anticipation is one of those ideas that is a double-edged sword. Is it a friend or Foe? At first glance, people think of anticipation as negative, I think it might be more positive to think of it as something we can balance on the teeter-totter. Sometimes, I call it trying too hard.
This podcast is in response to a listener question. She asks, “what do you mean by a creative horse?” This is a great topic as we continue our season on the horses mind. I’m very specific when I describe horses. I may say a horse has questions. or a horse is creative. I don’t want to describe a horse in a way that will pass judgement such as calling it a problem horse. A creative horse can be a horse that would traditionally be described as a problem horse, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Show Notes [03:16] Imagine you are a teacher asking questions. You will see a pattern in answers, but there might be some different answers from creative thinkers or people who see the question from a different angle. [04:19] Trainers typically get the same answers from a horse. If a horse does something unusual, that's creative. [06:28] I've been consistently using creative as a problem horse. Yet, I want to encourage creativity in my horses, just not misbehavior. [10:54] Stacy shares how Presto used creativity to get a large equine ball under his belly. [12:43] It's important to let the horses be created because that is where their brilliance is found. [12:51] When you see a horse do something amazing, it means someone has allowed the horse to express their own brilliance. [13:31] I teach horses to roll blue activity balls. They usually use their nose or their feet. [15:16] Popcorn wants to be a kicker, but he holds the ball with his chin and knees, so no one can steal it. [16:43] When you're watching your horse, ask how is he creative. Links and Resources: Why riders often experience fear, frustration, confusion with their horse. Clever Horse Does Something Amazing - Removes Electric Fence Hooks Episode 23: 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
Welcome to season 3 where we are going to talk about the horses mind. There are two things I'm going to talk about today. The first one is that you might just be underestimating your horse. The second thing I'm going to talk about is moving beyond the prey predator model. Do you think you underestimate your horses mental capabilities? As a kid, I remember people talking about horses mental abilities in a limiting way. The more I understand horses, the more amazed I am at how much they understand. I explore this and the prey predator model in this episode. Show Notes [02:51] I think we underestimate horses, because someone else told us that their mental capability might be limited. [03:12] The more I understand horses, the more I'm amazed at how much they actually do understand. [03:29] Last weekend, I had Willow at a dressage show. I noticed a judge comment that said use more seat and less hand. [04:43] Willow remembered something that I didn't, and we came to a sliding stop. [06:03] Don't confuse underestimating your horse with failing your horse. [06:54] People might underestimate their horses because someone told them to. They may also want to think their horses need more care like a small child. [07:31] Sometimes people may underestimate their horses, so they don't have to step up their training and learn more complex ideas. [08:07] The idea of prey versus predator. I believe horses can move beyond the prey predator model. [09:09] Part of my training with horses is taking them up through an educational system that goes from kindergarten up through college. [09:23] The goal is to move them away from the highly reactive state of mind that we could label prey predator. [10:26] My job as a horse trainer is to take a horse beyond prey predator, but I have to believe that they are capable of going beyond that. Links and Resources: Stacy Westfall YouTube Episode 8: Failure vs Disappointment Surrounding Horses and Riders
It’s time to wrap up season two on the rider’s body. I covered a lot of ground on the last two seasons. We talked about the rider's mind and the rider's body. I'm even more excited about the next two seasons which are all about the horse. I play a preview of some of the questions I’ll be answering and share how you can ask your questions. There is one thing that you can do to improve your riding and that is is to focus on this last season which was the riders body. This is consistently the weakest link that I see out of the four different areas of the rider's mind, the rider's body, the horse's mind, and the horse's body. Show Notes [01:26] We are all super excited to talk about horses in the next two seasons. [01:41] A rider can change their mind in an instant. They can listen to a podcast or read an article and instantly change a belief that they've held for a long time. [02:07] Your body takes work and a ton of commitment. As you age, you can feel your body changing. Exercise will pay you back a thousand fold in every area of your life. [02:30] I use horses for my motivational area, because I love to ride. But it’s awesome to feel better in other areas of your life. It's just more enjoyable. [02:55] Riding is not a balance, strength, and flexibility training. Strength and flexibility is exactly what we want in our horses. It's what we need in ourselves. [03:18] When training in dressage, I can feel my old muscle memory conflicting with my new muscle memory. [03:57] I'm not interested in losing my old muscle memory and skill, I'm just interested in adding to it. [04:23] Adding layers of muscle memory is something that we're going to talk about in the future. [04:32] There's a difference between consuming and applying things in your life. I'm honored that you're listening to this podcast. However, it's consuming. [05:09] You'll know you've applied something that you learn to your mind when people notice a difference in what you're doing. [05:53] Decide to do something everyday to improve. If you felt resistance to that keep in mind it only has to be 10 or 15 minutes. [07:22] If you dedicate to doing something that will take you in the direction you want to go, even for 10 or 15 minutes a day, you will be amazed at how good it feels. [07:54] The next season is all about the horses mind and I share some of the questions that I’ll be addressing. [08:39] If you have any questions about your horse, please call in and maybe I can answer it on one of the upcoming episodes. Links and Resources: Stacy Westfall YouTube
Riders will need to use different riding aids differently as a horse progresses through the different grade levels. In episode 6, I compared the horses progression to the progression of kindergarten, grade school, high school, and college. As the horse and rider progresses, the use of different aids is layered on. We always start with the basics. If the basics aren’t down, it’s a good idea to go back and reinforce those cues before moving on. In this episode, I talk about what a horse would learn in my training program starting with groundwork and emotional control before advancing up the grades. Show Notes [01:15] Things a horse would learn in my training program. [01:17] I would begin with groundwork and emotional control. [01:31] I will start riding my three-year-old Presto in about a month or so. Before riding I do a lot of groundwork and emotional control stuff. [01:53] When I first get on and ride, I'll keep it very simple. [02:57] When I'm not riding the horse, the lunge whip would be in place of my legs. [03:18] When riding, the leg cues will be simple, and I'll use an inside rein. I'll spend more time in arcs of circles, because I don't want to get into wobbly lines. [04:29] I can add more gas pedal with my legs. [04:55] After about thirty days, he'll understand how I've connected the reins to his shoulders. [05:10] Left rein means go left, right rein means go right, legs mean go forward. [05:14] To stop, I'll bend him and bring him around to a stop. [05:26] On the next level, I'll start to build the bridge where he'll learn to follow the right rein out. [06:01] Then we'll move to more advanced things. [06:57] Once he learns to follow the inside rein and the outside rein, I'll exaggerate both. [09:54] Counter bend improves control of the shoulders. Horses don't always follow their head, they do always follow their shoulder. [10:34] This improves the level of control that we'll need when moving up to higher levels like on a lead change. [10:47] It's important that your legs are being used evenly as a gas pedal. [12:19] If your left leg is the only way you can drive the horse to the right, you'll get stuck on lead changes. [14:09] It's important to independently control the shoulders with your hands and the hips with your legs. [14:16] A lot of people get confused, because the stages before this and after this are slightly different. [15:10] Conflicting aids can happen when the rider doesn't understand what to do when a horse doesn't respond to a request. [16:43] It's conflicting if the aid causes a misshapen misalignment of the horse. [18:08] You can't move on until you get the horse to respond to the basic aids. [18:36] Keep it clean and simple with a younger horse. [18:54] You can go back to the basics and clarify things before moving on to more advanced stuff. [19:45] Going back to the basics is not a sign of weakness or failure. It's where the foundation is. Links and Resources: Episode 6: The horse’s path of learning is NOT the same as the rider Stacy's Video Diary: Jac
When being a balanced rider, you have aids that can assist you. These include your right hand, left hand, right leg, and left leg. Today, I’m talking about these rider's aids. Do you know which one of your aids is the weakest? Do you know which one of your aides you are over using? Last week, I talked about the rider's aids and the rider's willingness to use those aids. When you understand how to become effective using all four of these aids, you will become a more balanced rider. Today, we will be talking about using aids when riding in a circle because it requires more balance and more navigation on your part. Show Notes [02:43] Picture yourself riding your horse in a circle to the left, but not in a round pen. [04:09] You have four choices of aids. The inside rein is the most common aid. The other would be the outside leg. [04:41] The two weakest are the outside rein and the inside leg. [06:17] We need to keep the bend to the right, but keep the horse going left. [08:33] You need to use a combination of aids. [09:07] Imagine riding the 50 foot circle, and the horse is bending to the inside just enough to shape it. Think about which aids you would be using a lot more or lot less. [10:06] Riders tend to use their inside rein a lot. If you allow a bend change the outside rein becomes the inside rein. [11:03] The inside rein tends to be the strongest aid and the outside leg is the second strongest aid. Then the outside rein and the inside leg. [11:34] It can be really eye-opening to do this exercise. [12:05] One aid could be doing more than it should or be out of balance. [13:16] The training level of your horse also matters with how you are going to use your aids. [13:44] Even if the plan is to use both legs evenly, you still need to question whether you are doing it or not. [13:43] The awareness cycle is constantly happening. [14:08] It's fascinating to double-check how in balance and aware you are of the four aids as you are using them. [15:02] If you do a lot of trail riding it's difficult to figure out if you're using one aid weaker or stronger, because it's very common to switch the bend when you're heading straight down the trail. [15:45] You don't establish an inside leg and an outside rein when riding straight. [15:56] Find a flat spot and try the circle exercise. The weakest aid is usually the one your horses going out through. Sometimes horses point towards your weakest aid because they are taking advantage of it. [17:04] An advanced rider can ride a 50 foot circle, and then lighten an aid and see what happens. [18:00] In dressage terms we are looking for something called self carriage. Bridleless riding is also in this category. [18:37] Ride around and lighten each aid for a count of four and see what happens. If you notice a big difference that may be the aid that you are overusing. The opposite one may be the weakest. Links and Resources: Stacy's Video Diary: Jac-Episode 17- Colt starting: Ground (line) driving and dressage whip training
Today, I’m talking about how the rider's mind and the rider's body are both equally required for improvement. I'll be talking about balancing your aids and your mindset. A listener asks about allowing something to flow and making something happen. This is all about balancing. You need to have a mindset where you can back up the requests you make. I explore this topic with listener emails, my own experience, and what I’ve observed watching horses and people. Show Notes [00:49] A listener email: James asks about the catch between allowing something to flow and making something happen. [01:21] The rider needs to be able to make a request followed by a willingness and an ability to back it up. [01:46] Think of a teeter totter and the balancing point in the middle of it. [02:09] The mental part is the willingness to make the request. The ability to back it up is what we are physically required to do. [02:18] Four different aids that we talk about a lot. These include the rider's hands, legs, seat, and voice. [02:39] The hands are the first thing people think about using to control the horse. The second is the legs. [02:51] The seat and the voice fall into the category of a please. The hands and legs have a way to backup the request. [04:28] When you can add pressure you can also add release. [04:54] Most riders are willing to make a request, but it gets a little fuzzy when it comes time to back it up. [05:15] Stacy shares listener emails. Also, have your horse checked out by a vet if there are issues. [06:39] Horses sometimes draw a line of what they are willing to do. [08:30] Stacy shares varying degrees of pressure with her legs as backup queues after requests. [09:18] People are afraid to hold horses accountable when there's a physical aspect to the training. [09:56] When horses communicate with each other they make a request and have a willingness to back those requests up. [11:02] Pressure can feel firm without feeling like punishment. [12:42] Horses have different tolerance levels and that can create tension when riders make requests and the horses don't willingly follow it. [13:46] Part of balancing your aids is you mentally accepting that the aids are okay and that you're willing to use them. [14:10] The horse will figure it out if it bothers you to use your hands or legs. [14:52] The tension in your mind can affect how you use your hands or legs. Hands can be used fast or slow or light or firm. [16:08] People struggle with how firm or fast or slow they should use their hands. [16:57] A lot of horses won't pay attention to a really light request. [17:24] Reflect back on the idea of what you think is changing how you ride. [17:49] The middle of the teeter-totter feels like allowing something to flow. If necessary, I step in and make things happen. [18:15] I started this podcast because I really have a desire to help people understand what's going on with their horses. [18:21] I never promised that it would be easy to execute. [18:47] The mindset you have towards using your aids or hands and legs is the key to going forward. Links and Resources: Stacy's Video Diary: Jac-Episode 17- Colt starting: Ground (line) driving and dressage whip training
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. 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. Links and Resources: How Clear Intention Leads to Clear Aids and Prompt Results
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. 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. [22:27] Practice dropping the stirrups on your Western saddle to begin learning bareback. [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. Links and Resources: Stacy Westfall Championship Bareback & Bridleless Freestyle Reining with Roxy Popcorn and Stacy Westfall Mounted Shooting The Stagecoach West: Horse Tack & Saddlery
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. 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. Links and Resources: PIxio Move N See Personal Auto-Follow System
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. 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. Links and Resources: Muscle Memory
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. 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. Links and Resources: Charlotte Dujardin's World Record Breaking Freestyle test at London Olympia Yoga DVD Couch to 5K® - Run training #EquineCrossFit
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. 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. 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
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
Today, I discuss why riders should make 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. 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. Links and Resources: 12 hours at a horse show with Stacy Westfall and Newt Horse spontaneously stands on box, but why?
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 a horse doesn’t feel pressure the way that you do, and the right pressure will allow your horse to learn and grow, can make you a better rider. 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. [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. Links and Resources: Stacy Westfall on YouTube Tamarack Hill Farm Stacy Westfall Championship Bareback & Bridleless Freestyle Reining with Roxy Top 5 - Valegro & Charlotte Dujardin
I get a lot of emails and comments from people who are afraid that they are giving their horse the wrong cues. They are afraid they will fail their horse by not keeping their commitment to riding. They are concerned about reading their horses body language wrong. They fear doing the wrong thing. They feel like they are letting their horse down.When I read these, I wonder where your failure line is. In my mind, I have a line drawn that is where I would consider would be failing my horse. Don't leave failing your horse as a vague idea. Consciously decide where that line is drawn. In this episode, I share my clearly-defined failure lines with you, I'll be discussing failure lines and disappointment lines, because it is important to separate these in your mind. Show Notes [02:38] I would be failing my horses if they didn't have adequate food, shelter, and a basic level of health and enjoyment. This is where I define my failure line. [02:58] They need access to clean water, safe hay, and enough nutrients that their body scores around 5. They also get their hooves trimmed regularly, dewormed regularly, and a vet called in an emergency. [03:24] If I couldn't provide these things, I would be failing my horse. I do absolutely aim to go above this line. [03:44] My horses see a dentist regularly, have massages, sometimes they have chiropractic work, and some wear blankets. [04:27] There is a difference between my disappointment line and my failure line. I could be disappointed in the quality of the hay but as long as it's safe, it should be okay. [04:43] This also gives me the freedom to treat horses more like individuals and give them the individual care they need. [05:17] The basic failure line for training is that the horse has a fundamental understanding so that I can hold that horse for the vet or the farrier. [05:28] I'm not aiming for the failure lines. They are fairly low. The lines I stack above the failure lines are what I would label as disappointment lines. [06:59] I often see people drawing failure lines as something that I would see more as human disappointment. [07:22] If you're running into problems where you feel things aren't safe for you or the horse, then you should probably get professional help. [08:38] People often ask too little of the horse as opposed to asking too much of the horse. [09:35] Picture a kid and a pony and how happy and confident they look. This is a good place to aim for. [10:16] People often judge themselves, but the horse isn't judging them. The horse is just trying to figure out what they want. [12:22] Horses aren't judging. They are just asking questions and following along in the conversation. [13:00] The lack of clarity between the horse and the rider is just a chance for them to learn. [14:28] Horses can become very smart as to where each person is drawing the lines. [14:48] If you're holding yourself to a really high standard while you're learning and you label it failure, it can be really crippling. [14:58] While you're learning be really clear about what you are calling failure and about what you are calling disappointment. [15:32] If you are in a situation where all you can do is keep your horses healthy and fed, you have permission not to feel like a failure. [16:53] if you're not actively harming the horse, it's not as big a deal as it may feel. [17:14] Professionals get to set their own standards. [17:52] It's important to understand what we label as disappointments and what we label as failures, because the words we use and how we speak to ourselves affects us. Links and Resources: The First Horse I Refused to Train
It's the start of 2019 and time to talk about goal setting. I'm going to talk about SMART goals or goals that you have control of and accidental goals. These are goals that you can't control the outcome of but you can set yourself up for success with them. I explain what a SMART goal is and how it applies to horse training. I also share how a goal setting mindset shift resulted in how I look at competing in horse competitions. Breaking things down into measurable things that you can control can lead to surprising success. Show Notes [01:12] SMART goals are specific, measurable, actionable, relevant, and time-bound. [01:35] Set specific goals and then leave room for magic to happen. [01:45] Non-specific goals are things like improve my riding and build a solid relationship with my horse. These pieces of goals aren't broke down far enough to be SMART goals. [02:20] They aren't specific, measurable, actionable, etc. [03:22] You can't control the outcome, but you can set yourself up for success. [03:47] My 2018 smart goal was running or weight training 3 times a week plus yoga 2-3 times a week. This goal was specific, measurable, actionable, relevant, and time-bound for me. [05:05] This also left room for an accidental goal, and I ran a 5K. [06:21] I set daily and weekly goals that point in a specific direction for showing my horses. I can't control where my horse will end up, but I can set goals of where I will train him five days a week. [07:01] There are a lot of things I can't control, so I really need to focus on the things that I can control when showing my horses. [08:08] I share how I almost quit being a professional horseman because of setting goals with outcomes that I could not control. [08:57] Being devastated by leaving out a maneuver was actually a turning point for me and dramatically changed my view on goal setting. [09:26] By releasing the outcome of the judging, I was able to make it a specific SMART goal. [10:58] I had freedom after releasing the things that I could not control. [12:04] By breaking down goals into SMART goals, you have a good chance of reaching those goals. [13:54] Break things down into measurable and obtainable things that you can control and then leave the things you can't control. [14:49] I would challenge those that are interested in the training industry to set specific goals. Such as doubling ads as opposed to getting a certain amount of clients. [16:01] If you want to ask me a question or leave a comment, you can hit the voicemail button on my website. Links and Resources: Stacy Westfall 2003 NRHA Futurity Freestyle Bridleless Reining
It’s important to understand that riders and horses don’t follow the same path of learning. I talk about the straight line progression of a horse’s learning process. I also talk about the best stage of the horse’s progression for a new rider to begin learning on. I talk about how everything can’t be learned at once, but how an experienced mentor can help speed up the process. I also talk about how it’s important to understand and accept what stage of learning that you are at instead of getting frustrated. Show Notes [01:02] Paths that a horse follows while training is pretty straightforward. It's like the path from kindergarten to college. [01:23] When I start training a horse they are starting kindergarten and the progression of their learning goes up in a straight line. [01:40] Riders do not follow the same path of learning that the horse does. [02:05] As I said in my book Smart Start, the safety line where it's safe to get on a horse and ride is somewhere around third grade for horses. [02:20] All of the basic groundwork is before that. [03:04] A rider should start learning on a horse that has moved up to the high school level. The odds of something going bad with a horse that is really green are higher. [03:15] If a horse has made it to the high school level, it means that they steer pretty good and they are generally easy to move around. [03:56] The side effect of a person learning to ride on a horse that is at the high school level is that they feel like they are lacking on both ends. They have a horse that they can start, stop, and steer, but they don't truly understand the base work that went into that. [04:42] It's the same theory as learning to drive a car. You don't begin in a Ferrari. You begin driving in a nice functional safe car. [06:12] Frustrations can be not knowing what to do next, not knowing when enough is enough, when to back off or when to push through and ask for more, and not knowing when to push an exercise to the next level. [07:05] When you are in the middle, it makes sense not to know what to do next. [07:59] There's a difference between feeling frustrated and understanding that you're in a certain stage. [09:11] Knowing when to push through or knowing when enough is enough comes from experience. You need to ask for help when you're not sure. [09:18] Finding someone who's already been through it is a wonderful way to to learn and gain experience. [09:39] Recognize when you're in a certain stage and don't judge yourself. [11:25] Have fun and there is no shame when you are learning. [11:44] Hopefully understanding the difference between the rider's path and the horse's path is helpful. [12:36] Start with a horse that is in high school don't do the green green thing. [14:05] A lot of professionals actually specialize in different disciplines. Then they focus on different stages within that discipline. [14:58] Understanding the whole spectrum is a big big job. Links and Resources: Smart Start: Building a Strong Foundation for Your Horse
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
In episode 3, I talked about the three stages that riders go through in their horsemanship journey. I also discussed a little bit about responsibility. In today's part 2, I'm diving a little deeper into how I think responsibility and accountability fit into the three stages. Show Notes [01:04] I send out a weekly email and get a lot of feedback. I received some helpful feedback when it comes to explaining responsibility. [01:21] The dreaming phase is when people enter owning horses and they just expect it to work. I called this my Disney phase. [01:40] The learning phase is nuts and bolts. It's how things work. [01:57] The balance face is when you can hold on to both ideas the dreaming and the learning. And move back and forth between the two. [02:07] There is some resistance to responsibility in people who are unaware that they are afraid to give up the dreaming phase. [02:21] Feedback from people who are afraid of being mean to their horses. [03:39] You can have both phases at the same time. [04:45] In the dreaming phase, the responsibility is always with the horse. People think things are magically going to work. [05:07] When we move into the learning phase, the responsibility shifts over completely to the rider. The rider feels like they are 100% responsible for whatever happens. [05:30] In the dreaming phase the horses have no accountability. They have us hoping, but if it doesn't work it just doesn't work. [05:46] In the learning phase, we are responsible, but we're not sure what that means as far as holding the horse accountable. [06:41] Natural push back from a horse makes people reluctant to set a boundary. People worry if their horse will still like them. [07:10] Think about whether it's possible even in human relationships to have great accountability breed more trust. [07:33] I know of a high school teacher who sets very high standards for their students. This teacher ended up being the most respected person there. [07:48] Somewhere in the mix of responsibility and accountability, we breed this storm of respect. [08:00] When you are working with your horse you are each 100% responsible. [08:25] You will have to work out the consequences inside your relationship. [08:58] Stand outside the pasture and watch and see how your horse reacts and what emotions they are going through. [09:23] Horses that challenge lines are telling you something about who they are when you go to work with them. [09:32] Stop and think about how you are interpreting the things that I am saying when I talk about the dreaming stage, the learning stage, and the balancing stage or when I bring up words like responsibility and accountability and respect. How do these words fit in with what you are experiencing with your horse?
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?
Today's topic walks the line between the mental idea of leadership versus the physical execution of leadership. I’m tempted to talk about the physical side of this topic, but season one is about the mental side. I want to break everything down into the four-quadrant model, so we can get clarity before we put everything together and use it. In this episode, I’ll be talking about how leadership is different from just getting along and how it impacts the way we show up with our horses. Show Notes [00:54] The four square model is a really simple tool for breaking down complex problems. [01:29] In this season, I'm focusing on the rider's mind. [01:31] This episode is about the idea of leadership and how it is different from simply just getting along and how this idea impacts the way that we show up with her horses. [01:48] The interesting thing about this topic is how it walks the line between the mental idea of leadership and the physical idea of leadership. [02:22] Horses are hardwired to look for a leader. If they don't find a leader, they are compelled to step into that role. [03:13] Some horses are more mild-mannered and some are more strong-willed. [03:44] Jane shares an email about how her horse won't go around the ring. [04:27] Natural horsemanship came out with the idea that horses have emotions. If we recognize these emotions, we can use them to change the horse. [05:10] Some people have used this idea as an excuse to just "get along". [06:06] There's nothing wrong with wanting a relationship with your horse. [06:38] You can have an element of leadership in your relationship with your horse while still knowing them as who they are. [07:28] Leadership is about actually taking the responsibility inside that relationship. You are responsible for your horses safety and what happens with your horse. [08:03] An email from Amy about her new horse. [09:46] Grandma's rules. Between human relationships, there is a distinct difference between what different adults will allow. If children can determine this, so can horses. [11:12] Guilt can affect riders and what they are willing to ask for. [13:12] If a horse's state of mind is going to impact the training a lot, we have to admit that some horses are more strong-willed. [13:54] What is your first gut reaction when I say you need to be a better leader? Do you show up feeling guilty when you ask your horse to do something. [14:40] Are you trying too hard to be perfect and not giving the horse any responsibility? [15:50] Your challenge for the week is to write down one place where you have really great leadership skills and one place where you need to improve. Links and Resources: Natural Horsemanship
Welcome to season one of the Stacy Westfall podcast. I'm Stacy Westfall, and I'll be teaching you why horses do what they do and action steps for creating clear confident communication with your horses. In this first season, I'll be discussing issues that frequently affect the way that riders think. I use a tool called the four square model. The purpose of this model is to simplify complex problems and break them down into smaller actionable pieces. The four quadrants include the rider's mind, the rider's body, the horses mind, and the horse's body. Season one will focus on the rider’s mind. Today’s episode is about fear. I talk about how it is different than danger and some of the ways that it affects riders. Show Notes [00:34] Season one will be about issues that frequently affect the way riders think. [00:47] One of the tools that I use is the four square model to simplify complex problems by breaking them down into smaller actionable pieces. [01:05] The model is created with four quadrants which include the rider's mind, the rider's body, the horses mind, and the horse's body. [01:43] This first season of the podcast will be focusing on the rider’s mind. Today, I'll be discussing fear and how it is different than danger and some of the ways that it affects riders. [02:30] Fear is something that you experience in your mind. Danger means that you are actually in physical danger. [02:59] Melanie writes in about having a fear of riding. [03:51] Think about having fear and anxiety about riding. [04:21] Fear in people's minds is frequently because there isn't a guaranteed outcome. [05:08] There's no guarantee that your riding experience will always remain the same. [06:11] Letting fear hold us down guarantees we won't achieve what we want. [06:14] An email example about another horse owner not riding because of fear. [07:18] If you really want to do something, don't let the fear of not having a guaranteed experience stop you. Otherwise, you are guaranteeing pain. [08:57] Even when you have fear, you will live through it and at least you know you tried. [09:45] One of the greatest ways to learn is by making mistakes. [10:51] Other people are also experiencing fear. [11:07] We literally teach our horses to face their fears, because we want them to know that not all fear equals danger. The same thing is true for you. [11:34] What is one step you can take to face your fear? [11:54] Sharing your fear in a comment can be one small step towards facing it.