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.
[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. Today, I’m answering two questions that were left on my voicemail line over at StacyWestfall.com. 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. Let’s listen to the first question.
[00:00:56] B Stacy. I’m so loving listening to your podcasts and learning more about your journey through multiple disciplines and just the way you approach training and teaching with such clarity. I grew up riding competitively on breed show circuits in Western pleasure and Hunter Under Saddle then stopped competing about 10 years ago. And I’ve since realized that my values don’t exactly align with the way that I saw horses treated or required to move in the top levels of those disciplines. And I focused more on natural horsemanship in general, riding and training recently. But I really miss the competitive side of riding. I’ve always loved watching reining, especially watching the athleticism of the horses. I’ve started thinking of getting into it, but I’ve also heard from a lot of people how hard it can be on horses, especially big maneuvers like spins and sliding stops. I so respect and value your opinion on training and how horses move, and I’d love to hear any thoughts you have on training as a discipline and how it affects the horses or any common pitfalls or issues you see with the reining industry at the moment. How have you walked the line of doing reining in an ethical but competitive way? Thanks so much. I am excited to hear your response.
[00:02:10] Thanks for the question. And I have walked a very similar road at one point in my life, so hopefully I can offer you some things to think about. One of the first things I heard you talking about were your values and I had a similar experience where I got deep into showing horses and realized that there were some things that I didn’t agree with. And first of all, I think it’s really great to actually realize what you do believe in and then be able to ask the question about, like, how can this fit in and what am I going to do with this new information? Because especially, you know, when I was coming up through and learning, I was learning about training and showing. And I think especially at the age that I was there, is that but I’m not 100 percent sure it’s age related, but there is that like I’m trusting the person that I’m learning from and, you know, this is the way it’s done. So you have that as a stage of learning. I’ll say that maybe more than an age. And when you get through that stage of learning. Personally, I like it when both people and horses start to question me, because when they question me, first of all, it allows me to get to know my belief system better. But it also shows me that they are comfortable interacting with me and that they’re starting to have questions about what they believe.
[00:03:39] And I think that’s a good thing because it’s important to know where you stand. So I’m actually kind of excited that you’ve had that revelation there. And I’m also very interested that you are you know, you’ve had that revelation, but you’re also still curious. And that points to something in the way that you’re processing things that you’re like. There are things I don’t like, but there were things that I did like and how could this possibly work? And I like that open mindedness that you’re exhibiting just by asking the question. So for me, you know, that competition did have some things to offer. I did not, If you’ve listened to some of the other podcasts, I really did not like a comp. I liked competition when I was young, when I was at home with my mom, a teenager. Then I went to school, became a professional and the equine world, and really didn’t want to compete because of all the external pressures that I felt. And then some of what you’re talking about with the values that didn’t line up. And so there was a lot of stress around that. But even though I had that stress around there, what I will say is that competition has some really, really beneficial things to offer. For example, you know, it’s great for goal setting and measuring the outcome of that goal and the challenge and the precision.
[00:04:57] And a lot of those things sound a little bit like, well, why would you want to do that if you can go trail riding? Because I love trail riding. But the reason why is because sometimes you don’t notice the wobbles in the steering until a major thing happens. So you might be trail riding and then all of a sudden you’re like, wow, I don’t have any brakes. Where if you are doing something a little more specific and measurable, goal setting wise, like, let’s say you’re going in and showing in like a green reiner class, which is an entry level class, then you’re going to notice that you’re not able to get stopped at this specific area. So you’re going to notice things because of the the challenge and the precision. And so competition has a whole bunch to offer. And I’ll touch on that a little bit more as we go down this list. But I’m glad that you are walking that line, because I’m telling you, it’s not an easy line to walk. Sometimes when you think when you think of the extremes that are possible, meaning people that are way over to one side of the teeter totter idea and they’re really sold completely on competitions. And then you can have the other opposite extreme where people think competition is evil and there’s a lot of room in between.
[00:06:16] And that’s what we’re kind of talking about here. Now, another thing you mentioned was the physical and mental demands on the horse, specifically in reining and reining as a discipline. So what I’m going to say here is that, you know, if you if you want to talk about physical and mental demands on the horse, I think you put physical and I added mental there when you just put the demands on the horse. And, you know, some of the biggest things I see would be people that rushed the training. And so, you know, you can teach a horse to do these maneuvers or movements very quickly and rush through it. But that’s not going to have the same result as taking your time and going over time. That’s going to also have a different effect on the horse. Mentally, you know, being rushed through the training process and physically, because depending on the level that you plan on showing, the horse at the horse is going to need to build muscles for doing specific things like let’s just say a sliding stop or a spin. So you might be able to teach them the footwork really quickly. But there is a lot to them learning and muscling themselves and getting the balance. And then also enjoying the process. So even the word rushed doesn’t sound like a process that I would want to be in.
[00:07:41] So those will be some of the things that I see when people say it’s demanding on the horse. I go into the two different camps of like, physically demanding, mentally demanding. Commonly I see horses that are rushed, which causes both. It’s causes that mental stress in the horse. But there’s also the physical stress that the mental stress has and the physical stress that not having the time to be able to physically adapt has. So that’s gonna be like a huge thing that I tend to see, because a lot of times if somebody sends a horse to a trainer and says, you know, I have the money to pay you for, you know, 60 or 90 days worth of training, a lot of times one of the cycles that will happen is the trainer trying to be nice to the customer, tries to train the horse as fast as they can and get as much done as fast as they can. And the client, the person who owns the horse, who’s paying, you know, wants to get the best value they can. And so at the end of the day, if that cycle’s not done well, the horse is the one that kind of takes the brunt of both of those well, meaning people trying to do this. And so I think that’s one of those real common things.
[00:08:48] When you talk about the demands on the horse specific to a raining, I would say, you know, footing and shoeing, you know, because something else you brought up was the idea of, you know, movement and understanding the different disciplines. And so talk about footing for just a minute. I was thinking, I wonder if there is a discipline that is pickier on their footing than reining. Reining has to be right at the top of picky footing people because of the demand of what we’re doing. So if you if you ever get to a chance to to watch a horse doing a sliding stop, I mean, you can go on YouTube and you can see it. But really, if you see it in person, I think you get that that second level of of of authenticity, of really seeing it happen because you could walk up and you can actually see the ground where the horse has done the sliding stop. And what you’ll see if you walk up there is the horse will be running and let’s say they’re running it like 80 percent of like full speed. And then they put both hind feet down and kind of lock in that position and they trot to to a halt. And so the front end is trotting, but the hind end a sliding well, when you look at the ground, it’s going to be like the sand has been split and blown outside of both of these tracks… This perfectly smooth slide track.
[00:10:19] Hopefully that might last, you know, anywhere from 10 to 20 plus feet, like much longer than that. I mean, there’s some that can really slide. Let’s just say 20 feet for fun. So there’s this, like, empty slide spot there. But the reason that the horses can do that is because, number one, they have a sliding shoe on. So this is a little bit like the whole idea of figure skating, like you can pretend to figure skate in your boots on a pond. But if you put figure skates on, all of a sudden it gets a lot more accurate. So these horses have special shoes on to be able to slide like that, which actually helps them. It’s less physically demanding because the shoes are allowing that. And then the footing needs to be really correct. So poor footing that didn’t have that smooth base is going to cause the horse to struggle to do that movement and is also going to make it more physically hard on the horse. Because if the base of the riding arena is bumpy and the horse tries to slide along, and that’s going to be like trying to ice skate on bumpy, rough ice. And so it’s just not gonna be conducive. So to keep things and maximize the the the… I guess I should say reduce the physical demand on the horse is by actually like maximizing taking advantage of the best footing you can. So we’re very particular about whether or not we will ask our horses to do certain movements, in particular footing.
[00:11:54] And there are times that people will pull in and be like, sorry, the showground doesn’t have a good enough footing and they won’t even go. So it’s that picky because it matters that much when you put this much training in and you’re respecting your horse. So I think that if you keep all that in mind, that’s going to be one level of, yes, there’s a demand, but there’s also ways that you can help that because it’s been really interesting with a, let’s say, the spin. So the sliding stop is kind of like an obvious one. But the spin my husband always would argue that the horses needed to have their sliding plates on to do the spin. Well, it was kind of fun when I was doing all of the other training. So I was doing dressage in and doing some different things. So I didn’t always have sliding shoes on my horse. So it gave me the ability to question and and test out his theory on what difference the shoes make for the spin. And sure enough, he was correct. So if you think about it, when the horse does a spin, a really fast spin, especially if they’re they’ve got an established pivot foot, then it’s way easier for them to spin. If they’ve got that sliding shoe on that has very low friction and they’re in good footing. So it just zooms right around there. And that does actually make a huge difference. And it was really fun to experiment with that during the time periods that I had my different shoes on the horses and be like, oh yeah, it does feel a little bit like being stuck in the mud.
[00:13:21] So it’s interesting how it all kind of goes together there. But another thing you brought up was the idea of, you know, speak to reining as a discipline and, you know, I guess what I’ve come to for a conclusion there as I’ve jumped around to all these different disciplines is that, you know, in life, one of the reasons I use the idea or the image of the teeter totter or this balancing of scales, kind of a feeling when I’m talking about so many of the different ideas in training is because almost all the time you can find two extremes inside of whatever you’re talking about. And then you’ve got all the room in the middle. So if we want to just, you know, make sure everybody on the same page following me with this, you could have one extreme as people that believe horses should never be shown. And then on the other stream, you could have people who think this showing is really, really, really good. And that’s what we should be. We should do a lot of showing. And they don’t see any problems with showing everything’s all all good. So you can get a couple different extremes going on there. Well, that’s a very broad way to talk about it, because even inside of a discipline, you’re going to have different people with different values. And that doesn’t matter if you’re talking about reining or dressage.
[00:14:41] It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about parenting children. Doesn’t matter if you’re talking about eating or exercise. You find these extremes on either side. And so you find this. There’s a lot of room in the middle and that goes back to the original thought of you finding your values. And so when I look at reining, there are a lot of similarities in that. Can you find problems with it? Absolutely. You’re gonna be able to find problems with it. And can it still be beneficial? I believe so. Could you find people that would argue that it’s, you know, too much, too hard? Yes. You’ll find those people, too. So I tend I think I find myself kind of more in the middle there. And the reason being that, you know, some of the things that when people look at reining that that maybe it’s like how much work is too much work and people have trouble answering that for humans. Like one human to another. But when we start involving horses, it’s like, so how much work is too much work? Where’s the line? If there is such a thing as too much. So, you know, when you ask the question about what could be hard on the horse about it, it’s like, well, you know, if you’ve got a trainer that thinks, you know, sliding the horse five times every other day is ideal. And then you have somebody who’s thinking sliding 50 times a day is ideal.
[00:16:07] You can hear just in phrasing it that way. There’s going to be different physical demands based on those those trainers beliefs. And there’s a reality to the fact that just like in human sports, some people have a bigger range of ability and a maybe they could do the ten times higher.
[00:16:30] Makes me think of Michael Phelps and like how much he could do, but not everybody is that. And that’s one of the most common problems that I see, is that maybe people think about or they find, you know, the top best of the best and then they compare or aim for that. So going back and using that same idea, you know, you watch what maybe Michael Phelps eats and does for a workout in.
[00:16:56] And all this different stuff that, you know, when he’s getting ready for the Olympics. But that’s probably not what it’s going to look like if you’re on a high school swim team or, you know, you’re getting started. It’s not like, OK, you’re on your first swim lessons. So we’ve got to make you on the same training schedule as Michael Phelps. So, you know, I think I’m saying that and it sounds obvious when I say it, but it doesn’t feel as obvious when people go to execute it because you without thinking about it, riders and trainers will find an ideal, which tends to be this unusual athletic horse and make that the the ideal that they’re aiming for.
[00:17:37] And that’s not going to be realistic for all horses. And so that brings up another one of your questions about some of the common issues that I might see. And probably one of the common issues I’ll bring up here is, you know, trainers that are going to look at the horses physical ability and disregard the mental if that’s going on there with the horse. So this is why sometimes show horses will have that reputation of getting burned out. And I think that’s because of the emphasis on the horse physically performing a certain movement or maneuver. But there’s a little bit of a some trainers will have a bit of a disregard for the mental side of what’s going on. And so they might overlook some of the small signs that the horses, you know, reaching its. Breaking point and needs to plateau for a while or, you know, before it can go to another level or that there just isn’t any more left, you know, meaning that, you know, I’ve got physical limitations as far as how high I’m going to be able to jump and somebody more athletic than me will be able to jump much higher. I will actually at some point hit a limit. But if you don’t recognize that, you might just keep pushing me to jump higher, jump higher, jump higher. And that’s not going to work. So, you know, I think it’s that a lot of trainers, if they’re not very aware, we’ll look at the physical progress and disregard the mental progress. Sounds like you are exploring more of that that mental side, which is what I hope people think of when they think of natural horsemanship.
[00:19:12] And so that I think is is important to bring in there. And then probably another really common issue I see is that, you know, with a lot of horse shows or people that trained for horse shows would be a lack of cross training, in my opinion, which is what we’re talking about, in my opinion. And that would be the lack of cross training, both physically and mentally. So sometimes you’ll find barns where you know and it sounds logical. It’s like I’ve got this really high dollar horse and I’ve got all these years of training in it and I don’t want it to get hurt. So I don’t want to turn them out and I don’t want to go on a trail ride and I don’t want to do all these other things. And so at some point, though, I end up saying, you know, like at what point does it become an actual physical damage that they’re only ever in this one particular footing? So they don’t have the different stresses of walking up and down hills or walking in different footing. And you can find lots of evidence that says that those physical changes of the cross training would be really good for them physically and mentally. And so those would be some of the issues. And you probably saw some of those in your former show career. So I’m guessing that’s going to have a familiar familiar, you know, ring of truth to it or recognition to it. But I think I might love the last thing you asked the most, which is how have I walked the line?
[00:20:41] Because I was like, oh, that’s a really interesting thing, because. You know, there’s a couple different ways you can look at it. First of all, I decided not to play heavily in any one sport. I don’t make my living as a reining horse trainer. I don’t make my living as a dressage horse trainer. I don’t make my living as a whatever, fill in the blanks for a trainer.
[00:21:04] And now I’m going to make sure I really want to make sure I’m clear here. I could make my living in any of those disciplines and stay within my values. So we’re going back to this value idea of value ethics, what you’re willing to do? I’m not saying that I don’t train those for a living because I couldn’t do it and keep my values. I absolutely could. And that it’s crystal clear how if I wanted to train all reigning horses and I had a clear set of guidelines of what I won’t do, all I would need to do is be really clear with my customers and find customers who share those same values, which is actually what I did before I shifted away from training for other people. And I train my own horses now. And so but it was it was actually really easy because it was not difficult at all to find people that wanted to have a horse that they could trail ride, that they could let their kids ride, that they could do, you know, groundwork with that. They could, you know, enjoy being around.
[00:22:13] I can’t even tell you how many horses I could still currently sell all the time that just have to check the boxes of sound, sane, easy to be around in the barn to lead in and out of the pasture, to load on the trailer, to go to a horse show and just beat average solid citizen. Nothing special. That horse is like has a huge, tremendous value over and over and over again because of some of the things we just talked about where maybe trainers don’t value the groundwork and the being around them and turning them out. So people buy these horses and they get them home and they’re like, holy cow. Like, I can’t. I turned out and it’s like it’s crazy in the pasture and it doesn’t know how to get along with other horses. It doesn’t know how to. So it’s really interesting. But I chose to walk the line by training. I’ve accepted the fact that, first of all, I train for myself now, but I’m also very willing to train for a long time because I enjoy the process.
[00:23:15] And then I go to the shows with the horses that are ready to go there. Let me illustrate that a little bit more clearly. So my husband loves breeding, riding horses. So most of the horses that I ride, we bred and raised or a customer, you know, that my husband was running the breeding program for. He is also basically they’ve all been like bred for training, so it’s easier for them. So when I was first going to college, when I went to the University of Findlay, I brought my horse from home with me. And he was not bred for training, but I trained him to be a reiner and he was an average reiner. But it was much more demanding on him to be average than any of the horses I ride now. So all these horses right now are just more well suited for it. It comes easier to them. So there is some of that that can factor into how much demand it puts on the horse. And, you know, I’m I’m just I kind of have more fun with it. And and then the ones I happen to have some really nice horses so I can be having fun with it. I can be cross training and I go so that I can go to the horse shows and I go so I can learn something.
[00:24:33] And it sounds a little bit contradictory, but I go to the horse show so that I can improve the training sometimes early on. And I think you could see that with the trail to the World Show stuff that I did last year on YouTube. There were times that I went to shows like with Gabby and didn’t didn’t win, didn’t place it like some of the ranch shows and stuff like that, because she needed experience going. And being in that environment. So I wasn’t going there to win. But I am going there to do the best I can. And at some point after we’ve, you know, done the seasoning, stuff like that, I’m going to go and try to find the best crossover where I spend my money wisely and I go with the goal of always learning, but also having an idea that maybe it’s, you know, a good value because I might actually be able to be in the placings there that actually is very individual and depending on the person. I’ve done a lot of showing, so I’m past a lot of the the reason to season me is different. So they’re seasoning the horse. They’re seasoning the person. There’s so much that’s showing. To offer. And I want to make sure a circle back to that one more time.
[00:25:50] They’re one of the things that most people are going to overlook is how many levels there are in most of these things. So in training you can watch and of course, if you pull it up on YouTube, you’re going to be probably like me where I wanted to look at dressage. And so I type that into YouTube. And of course, I’m going to get like the Olympic winning horses. Well, that’s not all the levels of dressage represented there. Well, that’s the same thing in reining. There are many, many levels. So let’s just use the horses in my barn that I keep talking about. Well, you know, for Gabby, the reining is going to come fairly easy to her. She’s like stacked in the bloodlines in that way. And, you know, same thing with Willow. It’s gonna be fairly easy. But let’s say I decide I want to take Presto and make him into a reining horse. Well, if you’ve seen any pictures of Presto, he’s like 16 one plus. I haven’t measured him recently, but I’m sure he’s grown since 16 one when I measured him last. And he’s got super crazy tall legs. He’s not built for it. He’s not bred for it. To ask him to go do basic reining, I could actually do.
[00:26:54] But he’s going to struggle more, too. So when you walk into a training show, can you walk in with a score of 70 and then your score either moves up or down, depending on how you do? Well, Presto is going to walk in and he’s going to actually have to work to mark a 67 like he’s going to have to work to be below where we started. He’s going to lose ground there. Where with my other horses, I believe that they would be able to go in and in to achieve that more. Just 70, just kind of staying there. They could go in there and do that much, much easier than what Presto could because of the how easy it would come to them. So that’s one of the ways that you can look at it as if if when I’m starting to wrap this up, if you want to explore this, I totally think you can explore it in. Not necessarily take the first swing at being, like, ultra competitive. Go explore it and figure out, you know, what level makes you happy for finding that that crossroads of challenging yourself, challenging your horse, still enjoying it, still being within your values and major thing. Don’t rush it. Look at it like adding another layer to the training.
[00:28:13] And, you know, I think it’s always fun to say, like.
[00:28:17] What if you were the change? What if you went out there and represented the change you want to see in any industry that you want to see some change in? So what that means to me is, you know, it is that whole idea of of being the change you want to see. And so could you go represent somebody who is having fun and enjoying and maximizing you and your horses potential? Not necessarily where it’s going to be winning, but it’s actually really attractive to people when they’re at the show to see somebody who’s enjoying the whole process, horse and human. That has been one of our biggest. I’m not even sure how to label it. I’m gonna say like it’s like not even word of mouth because it’s like eyeballs. People come and want to ride because they see our horses at shows and happy and that is an awesome thing because it’s not common.
[00:29:16] So sometimes you can just go out there and be and be the change. So thanks for the question. I hope it helps. Let’s listen to the next question.
[00:29:24] Hi, Stacy, this is Lynn and I am one of those riders you’ve mentioned before where I got my lessons because of a pretty bad fall off of the horse. And I went, I’m thinking I knew about riding to thinking I know nothing. So since then I’ve been taking lessons. I started actually on the ground with some amazing round pen work that worked mostly on what you call the riders mind. And then I graduated to Being in the saddle and mostly Western. I do love reining and I’ve ridden a couple of Reiners just in circles. And then I’m now also taking lessons English and I’m getting some contradictory information, I think. So since I know you’re doing both, here’s my question. What do you do when the instructions in one saddle and in one discipline like dressage in English contradict or at least seem to contradict what I’m learning Western and really more for trail riding m.a. Maybe. Maybe some training. And here’s a quick example. When I’m stopping on English, they get after me for having my legs out too far in front. And also just feels like the sea in English is more up on my set bones and in Western is more sort of back on my pockets. Love to hear your thoughts. Thank you.
[00:30:51] Thanks for your question, Lynn. And thank you for sharing your journey. I’m really excited that you found somebody to take lessons from that took you back to round pen work and groundwork and the riders mind kind of stuff, because I think it’s very, very useful and I hope it’s something that we continue to see increase out there in the world and among trainers. And I also find it really interesting that you’re taking lessons in both disciplines. So that is also exciting to me because I love the variety. But it sounds like your question is a lot about what I do when I see the contradictions and I’m going to break it down into three different things that I look at. So, number one, big picture. Number two, I become curious. And number three, I become excited. So on the big picture, I try to look at the look at it and say things like this. I say big picture. OK. Do I think that among Western riders, I would find what would appear to be contradictions inside of this. So I can look at this whole really big picture of one like Western and can there be contradictions between five different people that are all teaching reining? And we’re gonna be like, yes, for sure. And that’s interesting. And then, you know, are there can I find differences in their dressage world and can I find an. And is there overlap? If I find five different opinions in the reining world and five different opinions in the dressage world, can I find a place where those seem closer together? The outliers on each one somehow get closer to each other.
[00:32:36] So those are some of the things that I think about. But when I say I see a contradiction and I will talk more specifically, you know, I do become curious. I go I say something like, I wonder why this sounds different in these two different things. So, for example, you go back to your stop cue. So I wonder why the people in the dressage lessons are really getting after me for moving my legs forward? And I wonder why the people in the trail riding or reining are having me move my legs forward. So there’s this curiosity that comes up in me when I find something that looks like it’s a contradiction and then that allows me to become excited about all the extra layers that I can see. One thing that I have to say is that it’s been really, really fun to take one horse and do multiple disciplines. I think it’s one thing to be a rider that does multiple disciplines, but I think it’s even more interesting to have a horse that does multiple disciplines, because what I’ve learned from the horses that I’ve done that with is that even though I’m the trainer, I honestly think they’re better at remembering all of these things, sometimes better than I am, even though I’m the one training into them. And so I just remember for sure, like a perfect example, that you use the stop. I just remember showing Willow in the dressage classes, traditional dressage early last year, and I remember coming down center line to stop at the end of my test.
[00:34:13] And so it’s like trot down center line and stop. And I defaulted back to kind of my reining stop. So that meant that even though I was at a trot, I kind of let my hips. I let my hips kind of rotate back. I opened up my legs a little bit, even though they didn’t move forward. And Willow had a little baby slide there, which on your dressage test will be written as a comment as ‘abrupt with a slight loss of balance’, which is also interesting. I had that happen more than one time. So I got really good at reading like how they’re going to write that up. A little baby sliding stop is written up in dressage as ‘abrupt with a slight loss of balance’. So that starts to actually become a clue as to how they’re viewing it. So then you go like, how are they viewing it? And why are they viewing it different than a reining horse or a trail horse? And so then you start thinking about things like, OK, when I hold, if I can have her halt without that abruptness, if I can ever halt without that that little bit of slide and come to this perfectly square stop. Is she more ready to do the next movement? Like, why are these dressage people looking for this? What are they reading into it? And in the reining world, why are they wanting my legs to come forward? Well, a lot of times in the reining or trail world, it’s coming from the idea that if I’m going to do a sliding stop, a lot of times my legs coming forward are going to help me be able to keep myself from flying off over the handlebars.
[00:35:59] All that force that was running is now going into the slide. And a lot of times my lower leg coming forward is so that I can take that weight. That’s going to be my force that’s moving forward. And I can send it down through my hips, down through my knees and down into my strips that are out in front of me slightly, where if I stayed perfectly upright and up and down, which you did mention that you’d notice the seats are different if I stayed that upright during that really abrupt stop the fighting stop in the Western world, I would naturally rock forward in my upper body if I didn’t compensate by changing my hips. So I think what you can hear me saying in a roundabout kind of way is that the use for what is going to be used for it has like different uses. So that sliding stop and ability to roll back and get out of there was developed originally so you could chase down cattle. And so you got to be able to like, you know, slide, wrap around, turn and go off the other direction while you’re trying to maybe, I don’t know, rope it or drive it somewhere where with dressage has, you know, that background of coming from from being a a higher form of riding.
[00:37:17] But it actually comes from, you know, back when they were teaching the horses to they were used as part of like war and they were doing sword battles from on horseback. And they needed to. I’m going to guess, stay balanced with all their armor and, you know, abrupt and sudden and all this different stuff. I don’t know. It’s kind of interesting. Can you see where that curiosity can come in there and help you chase down some of the origins of this? And then for me, it’s been fun to experiment with, you know, what I’m going to say would be these minor or major things that you can you can discuss. So, for example, the seat position to me, it might feel major, but I’m gonna call it a minor difference, because the reason I’m gonna call it a minor difference is because it’s like fairly easy for you to you’ve already observed that you you can feel more of an upright seat in the English world and a more of a back, you know, as a sitting back kind of a feeling in the Western world. So if I’m calling that a minor difference, then you can actually play with that fairly easily. You can ride around and you can you can sit yourself more upright and you can move your legs and your hips and everything into that position.
[00:38:41] And you can feel what that does to your horse as you do different things. And so I would call that a little bit more of a it’s a minor difference. And you can. You can. It might sound more than minor. On your test results, but I’m just saying it like that. Then you can look at something that might be a more of a major difference. And let’s just use the level of contact that riders tend to have on the reins. That can look like a lot more of a major discrepancy between the two different disciplines. And so that one’s been fun for me to explore because I ride horses at different levels, meaning I start colts’ and this is where I say elementary school, high school, college. And for me, a lot of times what I have been able to unwind and I think it’s a little less confusing for me because I have a lot of experience across training a horse from the first ride all the way to a very high level is that I can see some of the things that look confusing or contradictory actually happen because of the different. Levels of training, elementary school, high school, college level trained horses, and I use those descriptions, those words, because most of us recognize those from our own schooling and that there are differences the way elementary age kids are treated versus college age level kids. And so I see a lot of the differences that look like contradictions are actually maybe coming across the different training levels, too.
[00:40:25] So that’s a whole nother thing to to look at. I know the inside of my own training program. So when I was creating the improving steering and teaching neck reining course, I recognize that it looks like contradictions. So when I was laying out that course, I did the same exercises on different level horses. So you can see an elementary level horse doing the same exercise. In the next video, you can see a high school level horse and the next level. Next video, you can see a college level horse and you can see how the level of the horses understanding makes the exercise look different. And there are things that look contradictory, that are happening inside of one common arc. So let me give that an example. So what you can see in the neck reading course are when I’m training a horse, is that the first let’s say, the first 10 rides? It’s more than that. But the first 10 rides are very much inside Rein, for steering and not going to get on unexpected neck rein,. But it’s inside rein, only when I’m first steering on those first few rides. But then I take a horse that’s in college and it’s outside Rein, only. Can you hear how that looks like a total contradiction. Even though it’s completely congruent in this arc of the horse’s training throughout my program. And that’s a great example of how it would look like a contradiction, even though it’s just happening because of the different levels of the horse’s understanding.
[00:41:57] Then you’ve got to remember that you’ve got different levels of understanding going on inside of there. So it definitely can look kind of complicated. But I will leave you with this idea.
[00:42:08] I do have a rule when I’m out there and I’m exploring, because if you’ve been watching, I love to try different disciplines. And so I remember learning to do a shooting and taking up traditional dressage and doing ranch riding. And this means I go and I take lessons from people. Well, here’s my rule. If I don’t understand something, I’m not going to push for it. So if it’s something minor, like changing my seat, like sitting more upright or sitting back, that’s not really something that I would consider like pushing. It’s like if the rider says if the instructor says sit deeper or sit up more or put more weight on your insides, stir up or put more weight on your outside, stir up or ask for a little bit more bend. None of those feel like really like a like a big deal. But if the instructor asked me to do something that is really confusing, I’m literally having trouble either following along or I barely can grasp the following along. But physically, I just feels like trying to, you know, pat your head and rub your stomach at the same time. If it feels really like I’m not going to do it, then I’ll kind of play around with it at the lesson. I’ll ask questions and I’ll say, Can you demonstrate? Can you show me? Can I watch another rider?
[00:43:22] I’ll really try my hardest to understand it, but I won’t put my horse through me really, really fumbling badly. Because let’s say that you wanted to. I haven’t tried that for a while.
[00:43:34] You know, the whole tapping the top of your head and rubbing your stomach at the same time you could train yourself to do that. But it’s like, does it need to be a timed event inside of one riding lesson if it feels like that to you? And my answer is no, because my timing is going to be terrible with my horse if I’m really, really struggling to get my own body parts under control. And so I will try my best to understand it and I will execute it very slow or I’ll ask if I can get often executed on the ground or I’ll do whatever I can because I’m trying to get hold of that that concept that they’re trying to get me, but I won’t push through it. So, you know, for just to make up something, if if it was like if you didn’t really understand how a lead change worked and and you showed up and I started coaching you through like, you know, move the shoulder and move the hip and OK, this looks like you’re able to do this and you’re able to do that. If you got to the point where you were like, I kind of think I’m following you, but not really.
[00:44:30] To me, that’s where it’s like instead of pushing through there, I want it to. I like slowing down and being like, let’s make sure you understand it and let’s see if we can find one way to do it in a non-threatening way. But I think the big thing I’m saying here is like just be really aware, because if you don’t if you really, really don’t understand why something’s happening, then then I think you should ask questions. I think you should dig for that deeper understanding where if it’s more like, well, you know, this from this instructor’s asking me to, you know, open up my legs and tap the horse in the shoulder with their feet to ask laws to back up. And this is a you know, and then I go to the English world and I take my dressage lesson and they’re like, what are you doing? Like, what I want you to understand is that to me, those are actually just like a sliding scale of, like, refinement.
[00:45:23] So my horse had no trouble going to the more refined, like less opened leg, like just the barely shifting of the seat. But I think it was helpful to my horse that we had done the the the other level, the tapping with my feet to ask the horse to back up the swinging my legs forward. That was more exaggerated. So I enjoy the fact that that I’ve got all these different layers. And that is what I mostly want you to be curious and excited about, is look at all the layers. And I absolutely just crackup when Willow can remember more of these than I can, which is exactly what happened when we executed the sliding stop from the trot is my body defaulted to twenty years of reining and I just wanted to be done. And so I just kind of collapsed myself a little bit and she went just a little siding stop. And the very all I needed to remember to do was ride at different. And she executes it different. And that cracks me up and shows how truly intelligent these amazing animals are. Thanks again for joining me.
[00:46:30] If you want to leave a voice mail, jump over to Stacy, Westfall dot com. There’s a big orange tab on the right hand side. You can click it and leave your voicemail there. And thanks again for listening. I’ll talk to you again in the next episode.
[00:46:47] If you enjoy listening to Stacy’s podcast, please visit Stacy Westfall dot com for articles, videos and tips to help you and your horse succeed.
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