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Buddy sour horses, western dressage & why I show: Episode 8- The Trail to the World Show

What do you do if the horses are pawing when tied up? What do you do if they whinny and call for each other?
This is the first time I’ve hauled Willow and Gabby together. Willow is always a bit insecure at horse shows and Gabby hasn’t been hauled very much (less than five times).
Gabby is a more confident horse in general but she still has questions about all this new stuff. Willow is more insecure and having Gabby around has made her worse.

Instead of avoiding this issue, I will haul them together and work on it.
I don’t stress when they are calling out but I do require them to respect my aids. When leading, they are not allowed to invade my space or otherwise disobey. When riding, they are not allowed to ignore my reins, legs or other cues. If the horses don’t respect my aids, I look at it as an opportunity to practice.

The most viewed video on my YouTube channel is Roxy and the bareback & bridleless, Live Like You Were Dyin’ ride. People often wonder how I developed the relationship I did with Roxy. The answer is…a little bit at a time.

My goal in this video series is to show you the slow, steady progression of training. At times I’m tempted to say that horse training looks boring. As our communication becomes more refined the progress is more subtle. Good horse training isn’t very exciting on a daily basis but it is what makes the final exciting ride in the show pen possible.
All of these experiences I’m signing up for will stretch me and my horses out of our comfort zones. They will test us in ways that I cannot recreate at home. They will reveal our weaknesses and show us where we can grow.

When I show, I appreciate the ribbons and the feedback but they are not my end goal. I want to develop a better understanding of each horse and ultimately I hope they become an extension of my own body…of their free will.

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In case you’re new here: In 2019 I plan on showing two of my horses in Western Dressage with the goal of showing at the Western Dressage World show in October.
Along the way, I am also training and showing in traditional dressage, reining and ranch riding with my quarter horses.
I’m going to be sharing my journey so anyone who is interested can learn along with me.

5 Comments

  1. Chris on June 7, 2019 at 12:56 pm

    Thanks so much for your quick response. I feel so privileged to benefit from your wealth of knowledge and experience!! I feel confident with my skill level, tools and commands from the ground. I am by no means a fearful rider but not as confident in training a young horse in the saddle. What are the techniques you use in saddle if your horse becomes buddy sour and less responsive during a ride. He is not fractious or dangerous to the point that I need to dismount and do groundwork. In fact I don’t want to reward him (if that is a thing) by dismounting when he becomes disconnected mentally from me. I would like to stay saddled and make him work until he becomes less agitated. Is lateral work something that may help?

    • Stacy Westfall on June 11, 2019 at 8:18 pm

      Any work that brings him into focus will work. Preferably work that he will yield to. It can be as simple as trotting a circle with precision. If he will respond to lateral cues without tons of resistance then it can work. Generally, the ‘work’ needs to be something that is simple and solid.If you’re having trouble it is not a good time to do something the horse is not solid at. Lateral can work if the horse is very solid there already. Otherwise, pick something more basic.

      • Chris on June 12, 2019 at 9:51 am

        That makes sense….something that he does well and will not get more anxious about doing something difficult Thank You!!

  2. Chris on June 7, 2019 at 11:22 am

    I love that you are sharing this journey with us!!! You mentioned that you don’t react to the buddy sour issues if they are not invading your space and they are still listening to your aids. Can you describe what actions you take when those things begin to break down and they stop responding to your aids. Thank you!

    • Stacy Westfall on June 7, 2019 at 11:55 am

      Sure! It actually turns into the training I do at home. A great place to see this at work is in these videos: https://youtu.be/XjflKp4-ggQ
      It really depends on how much they push into your aids.
      I look at it like school. If I go to the show and think they are in high school…but they start throwing tantrums…I must go quickly down to that grade.
      If a horse invades my space, I use my stick and string to back them out of my space. Generally, by the time I’m showing, they don’t invade enough that I carry the stick and string…but if they went down to that level I would go to that tool.

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