Championship vs Horsemanship written by Jesse Westfall

I’ve heard it said that the highest level of everything has a dark side. Whether you’re talking about athletics, business, government or the horse industry. The can someone be a champion and a good horseman?greed that we have as people is a sad thing to witness. To achieve something and show the world what we are is important to us and to do so leads lots of people to running over someone or something else to accomplish something. It might be winning a championship or gaining wealth. Trying to gain or achieve fame and fortune can be an ugly thing to witness.

I’m in the horse industry so that is where I see it the most. It could be someone trying to get someone else’s client to send them their horses or it could be just the general abuse of the animals in order to win. It could be a popular clinician taking a lesser known clinicians idea and putting it on their television show and claiming they came up with it. The list goes on and on. Can someone be a champion and a good horseman? I think the answer is yes but the championships won’t come as often and it’s a fine line to walk.


  1. jk karrman on March 19, 2015 at 4:13 pm

    This is well stated. It is a topic many shy from and pretend either it doesn’t exist or give tacit approval. It is refreshing when one sees another who is living a principled life with passion that they are able to make work, especially in Western Society…..thank you for beautiful thoughts.

  2. marla2008 on December 30, 2014 at 9:55 am

    High competitive goals means high pressure and many people will use any means to get to an end. It’s a sad and horrible thing. Reason why I kinda stay away from competition myself, last time i went to a Reining championships I wanted to smack some riders across the head within 5 minutes of watching the warmup arena. I’m a hobbyist photographer so took a bunch of pictures of the horses during the show itself, and it’s NOT a pretty sight….

  3. Nicole on November 9, 2014 at 3:47 pm

    This was highly inspiring and very intriguing, but way too short. It reads like a prologue to an exciting book.

  4. Bonnie Braden on November 5, 2014 at 6:32 pm

    Yes I’ve experienced the downside of a trainers greed. Actually crippled several of my horses over a 3 year period and over $60,000.00 in fees and I trusted him until I showed up unannounced and witnessed on of my stallions ( boonlight dancer) 2 yr old shaking from fear..after being beat. This stallion was an in your pocket bashful stallion. I also had a topsail Whiz stallion that this same trainer had crippled from over corrective shoeing after thousands of dollars lost to prepaid futurity fees. Yep I took them both home the same day side by side in a straight load trailer. I’ve not been able to afford any kind if showing after that screwing!

  5. Lori B. on November 5, 2014 at 4:07 pm

    Especially when it comes to abuse (go to the barn at 2:00 a.m. and look at what’s going on!) I hope the people who are ‘winning’ because of it will sometime recognize it is a hollow victory, and stop! I would also wish there was more reporting going on…

  6. Gwen Quon on November 5, 2014 at 7:59 am

    Encouraging to hear words of wisdom. An excellent standard to follow. Thanks for the example and honesty.

  7. ordinaryripple on November 5, 2014 at 5:32 am

    If anyone is following the “Big Lick” controversy and the attempts to get the PAST Act into reality, will know that the situation with the Tennessee Walkers is now a poster child for this exact issue. Where the horse becomes a tool whose only purpose is to feed the human ego. Some unenlightened individuals are prepared to do serious battle to protect their “right” to abuse horses. It’s frightening.

  8. Luke Gingerich on November 4, 2014 at 9:26 pm

    Wow this is so so true! So refreshing to hear this from somebody who IS at the top! Thank you!!

  9. Anne on November 4, 2014 at 8:34 pm

    It’s not about the ribbons. It’s about personal growth and bettering your horse.

  10. Ron Nelson on November 4, 2014 at 8:12 pm

    Pretty simple when you put it down on paper, every word so true!

Leave a Comment




100% Private - 0% Spam

Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

No one taught you the skills you need to work through these things.

Riders often encounter self-doubt, fear, anxiety, frustration, and other challenging emotions at the barn. The emotions coursing through your body can add clarity, or can make your cues indistinguishable for your horse.

Learning these skills and begin communicating clearly with your horse.

Click here to learn more.



Join the newsletter

Subscribe to get the latest content and updates by email.