Episode 139: Teaching high energy horses to wait and low energy horses to be ready

Are you naturally a low energy or high energy person?
Is your horse a naturally low energy or high energy horse?
How does this impact you training the horse?
Sometime people solve this issue by buying the ‘opposite’ horse.
High energy person=low energy horse
Low energy person=high energy horse
Some people solve it by buying the matching energy horse.

What if you…and the horse…both learned to be both?


Stacy Westfall: Hi, I’m Stacy Westfall, and I’m here to teach you how to understand, enjoy, and successfully train your own horses. In this episode, I’m discussing high energy, low energy, people, and horses, as well as the energy that blocks or disconnects riders and the energy that horses are drawn to. Let’s listen to the question.

Caller: Hi, Stacy listening to podcast number 138 in the UK today, and I’m just listening to what you’re saying, and I get the aides and all the understanding, and then I realize that a lot of it is actually about controlling myself and my energy. And when I was younger, it was always keeping my energy down so that I wasn’t revving a horse up. But now I feel that I need some way of, as I get older, of explaining that I’m getting my energy up to the horse. So any help with how you would actually in yourself, control your energy levels and not throw too much energy at the horse, but also learn how to bring it up in your body a little bit more for the horse’s benefit.

Stacy Westfall: Thanks for the question. The first thing I would like everyone listening to consider are these questions: Are you a naturally low energy or a naturally high energy person? Is your horse a naturally low energy or naturally high energy horse? When I listen to your question, it made me think about how sometimes people solve these issues or answer these questions by buying a horse that fulfills one or the other. So, for example, sometimes a high-energy person will buy a low-energy horse because when you mix those two energies together, you get more of a medium energy. Or sometimes a low-energy person will buy a high-energy horse because, again, when you mix those two things together, you get a medium energy. Now, sometimes people will buy a matching energy horse. They’ll be a low-energy kind of person and they’ll buy a low-energy kind of horse or you’ll have a high-energy kind of person buying a high-energy kind of horse. So I think when I listen to your question, one of my first questions back to you would also be what were you doing when you were younger? And did that discipline value high energy, low energy, medium energy? And how did the horse you were riding play a piece in what was coming out in you? And what’s interesting to me is that at the end of the day, I want to learn and practice and be a rider that can be either high-energy or low-energy. So I highly value being a rider that can dial myself up and dial myself down depending on the situation and what’s needed. Interestingly, I also like to teach my horses to be able to become either horse. So when I look at Willow, who’s naturally higher energy, naturally more reactive, or I look at Gabby who’s naturally lower energy, I actually want to teach them how to do the stuff that’s a little bit not so natural to them. So I spend time teaching Willow how to act like and be a lower energy horse. And I teach Gabby how to act like or be a more high-energy horse, and that’s where it’s stretching them and training them is different than just working with the energy they come with. Let me go ahead and put this into an example where we can kind of examine a little bit closer like something like a lead departure. So when I see a lead departure, I’m imagining a horse walking and the rider then cueing the horse to take a lope or canter departure into the left lead. So when I’m imagining riding this, I imagine riding a high energy horse and I’m walking along and I prepare myself and I prepare my horse to do the lead departure and the high energy horse, after you’ve done that, let’s just say you’ve done it 50 times. The high-energy horse, after you’ve done it a few times, they start seeing the pattern of what you’re doing and they want to anticipate they want to get ahead of you. They want to go before you ask. They want to avoid the aide. They want to–some days you’ll hear me say about Willow, she wants to help me out. So say I’ve done over the period of a week or two I’ve done 50 lead departures. If I am moving her hip and sitting there with a certain amount of energy and lifting my body into a certain amount of energy and moving my leg in a certain way, when she begins to see that pattern because she is a more high energy horse, some people would say she has a good work ethic. She will start to see the beginning of that and she’ll say step five is a lead departure. So why don’t I go on step two, which is actually before she’s really prepared correctly, but she doesn’t mind that. So what happens is that naturally more high-energy horse tempts the rider into using less leg. Or sometimes I’ll see riders that try to sneak the cue in. So now a horse like Willow was walking along and let’s just say that there were five different steps to setting up that lead departure and asking. They’re going to say, well, geez, when I set up all five, she starts guessing quicker and quicker. Why don’t you just go from walking to, sneak there it is. Or the sneak is kind of interesting because a lot of times when people are trying to sneak the cue in, what it looks like is–is funny because I want to hold my breath. Like, they’re like holding their breath, ready, ready, but they’re not really doing much and there’s all this tension in their body and then they go like, surprise! Lead departure. All of which, on a horse like Willow, makes Willow even more like, what’s going on here? Like first my rider’s holding their breath and then they’re quickly like, boom! Asking for that. Ah! So Willow gets even more amped up if the rider is tempted to start using less leg and sneaking and surprising. Now we look at a horse like Gabby. And when you are riding a horse like Gabby, she’s a naturally low-energy horse, so I do 50 lead departures on a horse like Gabby and she sees the cue coming. She in her mind, she’s like, OK, we’re walking along OK? She’s moving my hip over, OK? I sense the change in her energy. OK, here it comes. But is she serious? Like, is she really serious this time? Maybe this is the time where she’s just doing one of those ones where she sets me up, but we’re really not going to go. That’s probably it. We’ll just go with that one. So she doesn’t really go. And so sometimes with that lower energy horse, what that means is that Gabby’s kind of constantly guessing. This is probably one of those prep times, not the real thing. Let’s just wait a little bit longer. Sometimes what happens with this horse is that the rider is then tempted to using more leg. So they set the horse up. And Gabby is like, no problem. This is probably not the real thing. So we’ll just quietly walk. I’m sure this isn’t going to be one of those times she really wants me to lope off. And then the rider, maybe they’re a little bit frustrated because they feel like they’re working really hard on this and Gabby’s just not really get it. So then the rider’s tempted to using more leg. And a lot of times when the rider uses more leg, they–they pull that leg off and they’re like, it’s kind of like a bam, bam, bam or something like that if they’re frustrated which is interesting because on a horse like Gabby, if you do that, instead of having more reaction, she actually if she feels you kind of pull your leg off to do that, she’ll actually kind of like brace against it, like–like lean into it. Like she almost acts like the rider’s nagging if you help too much and then if you try to get after her, if you’re not–if you’re not clean in how effective you are, she’ll almost lean into it. If I watch her in the pasture. She’s really interesting because when another horse goes to come at her, she doesn’t duck or dive. She almost braces and leans into it. That’s what I’m saying about who the horse is. And so that lower energy, confident, quiet horse that Gabby is, she’ll almost lean into something if she doesn’t understand it. So that gives the rider the impression that they’re going to have to work harder and harder. The riders get really tempted to nag or to over-cue and— and then the horse, like Gabby, leans into it. So it’s kind of fascinating that if you take something like a left lead departure and you have the two different horses, they can have really different reactions. But at the end of the day, what I’m trying to do is I’m trying to balance the horse out, which in turn is going to balance out the rider and the–that response that the rider is having. So what I mean by this is with Willow, who gets a little bit too amped up because she’s higher energy, I’m trying to do things that make her act like a little bit more quiet, naturally low energy horse. And with Gabby, I’m trying to do things that make her act like a little bit higher energy horse.

Stacy Westfall: So I’m going to play a little game with you right now. What I’m going to do is I’m going to tell you the cue system and then you need to answer which horse this is for. Is this for the little hot Willow or is this for the quiet Gabby? So here goes. So it’s going to be the rider is riding along very subtle. Cue the position for the lead departure, but they don’t depart. Then they position for the lead departure again, don’t depart. Position for the lead departure again, kiss once, don’t depart. Position for the lead departure again, kiss once, kiss twice, do depart. Does that sound like the better scenario for Willow or the better scenario for Gabby? Now, let’s look at the other one. The other one is riding along the rider’s being subtle, they position for the lead departure, don’t depart. Position for the lead departure, kiss, kiss-kiss, and then tap. Which horse was that one for? Now, here’s the interesting thing is the first set that I gave you where there was positioned for the lead departure, don’t depart, position, don’t depart, position, kiss one time, don’t depart, position, kiss once, kiss twice, do depart. Can you hear how there’s a desensitizing that’s going on with that? Because there’s a lot of the positioning but not a lot of the going. And then when we look at the other one where there was the position and don’t go and then the position and then the kiss, kiss-kiss followed with the tap if necessary, then what’s interesting is those are two different examples of rocking the boat back and forth. Now, what that means is that more often with Willow I’m going to do the one where it’s got more desensitizing going on, where there’s a lot of setting up, but not a lot of going. And with Gabby, I’m probably going to do a little bit more of the setting her up and then going ahead and following through. Kiss, kiss-kiss, and go. But I do both with both because I’m trying to show them the system. There’s the positioning for the lead departure, there’s the verbal–verbal cue on top of the body positioning, and then the verbal cue isn’t just one cue it’s a little system of a single kiss, followed by a double kiss with that little bit of a squeeze or a little bit of a cue from my leg, depending on what I’m doing there. And so it’s the system that I’m trying to show them because it’s not really fair to either horse to just surprise them because they’re all going to do better if they can see the system. Now, Willow’s more likely to anticipate the system. But the same thing that makes Gabby not necessarily anticipate but brace is also the reason why she still needs to see the system. It’s just that I can afford more follow-through moments with–with Gabby, where it’s like this one’s really go. This one’s really go. This one’s really go. Because she’s sort of her brain being the quieter horse defaults to, this is probably one of the don’t go ones. Where Willow, her brain defaults to, this is probably one of those go ones. That’s where the temperament comes in. So I think when you’re looking at these things, it’s interesting to factor in the–whether that’s a high energy horse or a low energy horse. But at the end of the day, there’s a lot of similarities to the training. There’s just difference in the execution on the number and how you’re reading that horse, whether they need a few more repetitions of–of the system really being broken down or whether they just need to see the system in its basic form. Either way, they need to see the system. The surprise is not great for either horse. That will still cause reactivity, just a braced reactivity in Gabby or a launching reactivity and Willow. So this is a very interesting thing when I look at it too because the high-energy horse like Willow benefits from learning to be quiet. So when she learns to basically kind of ignore or wait during those earlier cues, she learns, OK, being super reactive to the lightest first cue that I come to isn’t necessary. Oh, OK. There’s a little time for breathing in here. There’s a little time for thinking in here. And that’s what lowers the stress level on these horses like Willow, who appear to have a high work ethic but can also be really stressed about it. Now, the lower energy horse like Gabby, it’s easy to think she’s just kind of cruising through life without any worries because she’s low energy. But the reality is, most of the time, those horses if they’re not being handled real clean, actually experience riding like nagging. Because a lot of riders try to help a horse like Gabby by doing more and more and more of the work for Gabby. And they feel–the rider feels like they’re doing all this work and Gabby feels like they’re just nagging. So what’s interesting is that low energy horse doesn’t necessarily have a better experience because the riders are willing to nag them. They actually look at it like nagging and they get a little bit, you know, you get the little I’m pinning my ears, by the way, if you can’t see, like, I’m kind of squinting my eyes. Have you ever noticed that when they–when they do their ears, their little eyes kind of squint and they kind of make this type face with their lips and stuff? And so those low-energy horses, they still don’t–just because they tolerate nagging doesn’t mean they enjoy it. So holding them accountable, it actually has a benefit because then they’re like, oh, I thought nagging was just like the way of being but now I see there’s a clear pattern here. I can do that for you. And that’s what’s surprising is that a lot of those lower energy horses, when they can see the system, they really kind of excel at it just as well as the high energy horses that see the system, because the low energy horses don’t love being nagged. But they just were so kind of quiet, they didn’t jump to the gun to try to figure out the system. So it’s the same and different when you’re teaching them both that there’s this pattern of repetition. Both horses need to see what I’m going to call like the pre-cue or the setup for something like the lead departure. They need to see the positioning and wait, but be ready. Gabby has a little too much wait, Willow has a little bit too much ready. But at the end of the day, I want them to both see the pattern and wait, but be ready. One has more wait, less ready, the other one has more ready, less wait.

Stacy Westfall: Now, circling back to your question again, typically with riders, I see this as less of an energy requirement issue and more of a which aide is the rider more comfortable with? So someone who’s really uncomfortable with holding a horse like Gabby accountable. Let’s just say accountable in this example is by using the dressage whip after you’ve done the whole system, given the aide. And she’s been like, yeah, I don’t think this is the go one. And you have to remind her this is the go one. Now, if a rider is uncomfortable with holding a horse like Gabby accountable with something like a dressage whip, then the person will struggle with the horse like Gabby because of the thoughts that they have about pressure and using a dressage whip. And that same person might initially think that they’re really, really happy with Willow, who naturally needs to be desensitized frequently. So it feels like I’m desensitizing Willow a lot. Person doesn’t want to use the dressage whip, so they feel like that Willow would be a better fit so there they go. Now what’s really interesting, let me see if I can say this in a way that you can follow. Ironically right now, Gabby actually understands forward motion better than Willow because Gabby had so many questions about forward motion that I’ve worked on it a lot. So Gabby actually understands forward even better. When I am working with Willow on something higher level, like a lead change, that’s where I start running into the fact that she doesn’t really understand the go-forward cue, because early on, that little bit hotter horse, it almost instead of feeling like you’re stepping on the gas pedal, it feels a little bit like you’re letting them go forward versus stepping on the gas pedal. So Willow doesn’t really understand stepping on the gas pedal. But as I advance, as I go up the levels of training, when I go past elementary school and I’m in high school and I’m moving up and I’m doing college stuff, what happens is at some point I’m going to end up working on enough things with both horses that they’re both going to get balanced out. So with Willow now, Willow is much higher up and this is where she’s learning about forward motion, where Gabby had to learn about it earlier. So these these these concepts are there, it–it’s almost like depending on the temperament of the horse and the–and let’s just assume they’re all going to go to college level, the temperament almost determines the order of training. But if you’re taking them up to a college level, you will end up dealing with this at different times. So now that I’ve trained a lot of horses to a high level, the key I see is advancing their understanding and their ability up into that, you know, upper high school college level, because inside of that, you do enough that you’re not just kind of riding on their natural instincts. You’re actually teaching them to be more balanced out. So let’s go back to that lower energy rider who doesn’t want to hold Gabby accountable so they pick Willow. Here’s how that story plays out a lot of times. They are a naturally lower energy rider, they–they would rather do desensitizing than holding Gabby accountable. So they get on Willow and they’re like, this is awesome because you don’t really have to hold her very accountable because she has such high work ethic. You move your legs, she goes, it’s super easy. It’s very responsive. Now, what’s interesting is that as you do those light cues, light cues and a lot of desensitizing, the Willow eventually would start to detect just a little bit of that sense of a lack of accountability. You know, it’s like maybe she’d make a little bit of a mistake over here or maybe she’d make a little bit of a question over there, or I’ll tell you about the robot lawnmower in a minute. That would come up. So somewhere in here, there’s going to be this moment where—where Willow’s is going to start to see that there’s this, like, lack of accountability. Because remember, this rider picked Willow because they didn’t have to hold them accountable like they had to Gabby. And so eventually what happens with Willow is that then that lack of accountability would be taken by Willow as a lack of guidance. So, yes, Willow won’t take advantage in the same way that–that Gabby would where she just would be like, yeah, no, OK, we don’t have to move now. But Willow will take it as a lack of guidance. And then that lack of guidance when she detects that and starts–starts looking around and questioning a little bit there, she would start to see that lack of guidance as a lack of a plan. And then as she starts to see that lack of a plan, she’d start to question the leadership of this rider. And the funny thing about Willow is Willow knows she’s not a leader. Willow is not Gabby, who’s like, if you don’t got this, I got this. Willow’s like, if you don’t got this, I don’t got this. We got to leave. And so Willow knows she needs a leader. And if she starts detecting that lack of accountability and the lack of guidance and the lack of a plan, then she’s going to start to show her more naturally hot or insecure side. That, ironically, would then require the low-energy rider to deal with hot, reactive questions. So surprisingly, holding Gabby accountable feels like pressure, but also being very clear with your aides, with Willow feels like pressure because the rider who thought that they weren’t going to have to hold Willow accountable because she was always so light to the aide will now see that as Willow becomes overly responsive and starts to become reactive and now needs to be sacked out, but she doesn’t want to be sacked out because she’s naturally reactive, you’re going to find that that level of work is very similar to the level of work that was required to get Gabby to go. When I listen to the question, the other thing that comes up for me is that the–the energy that I bring to the table as a rider is often more stuff like clarity and determination and a willingness to rock the boat, a willingness to ask Gabby to stretch herself and become more responsive. I keep calling it hold her accountable for forward motion, things like that. And then for Willow, I’m also willing to rock the boat and ask her to stretch herself and become more willing to wait because that willingness to wait when there’s five things that are building up to the lead departure and she sees that system coming and she accepts it, that is a–that is another version of desensitizing or balancing out. So she’s not just getting hotter and hotter. And so both of them require this accountability, which for the rider means clarity and a determination, a willingness to do the repetitions, a willingness to rock the boat and ask Willow to be a little bit something different and Gabby to be a little bit something different. They both have to be able to see the pre-cues and wait, but be ready.

Stacy Westfall: So when I look at the idea of not throwing too much energy at the horse, to me that’s more of a stage of training. It’s more that in the beginning, when you’re educating the horse, there can be something as too much energy because the horse doesn’t understand what to do with that energy. Great example of that is when you take a stick and string and you start whipping the ground around the horse and the horse assumes it should run away because high energy means get your energy up and go, get away. And that’s just an untrained thing. Now, as you start training the horses, Gabby is more likely to be like, oh, I see. This isn’t run away. Totally good with it. And then she starts questioning, do I have to move from energy? And Willow is more likely to be like, I don’t know about that much energy. And you show her and she stands, but she stands with a little bit of tension. And so you have to keep working on it until she stands and is actually relaxed. So to me, that too much energy idea fits in kind of that first half of the training where we’re teaching them what to do with the energy and then it moves more into the cue system and it moves into them understanding. Because what’s fascinating is horses really understand energy really well. They also really understand confidence. And they can tell in the pasture who’s a bully, who’s fearful and who’s truly a leader. When I watch horses and riders, the emotions that I see hindering riders, a lot of times it’s not so much this energy thing in general. It’s this self-doubt and frustration and fear. And so the way that that ends up messing with your energy. Let’s use frustration, for example. A lot of–a lot of times what happens is people are really frustrated with themselves about something like being afraid. So now you’ve got frustration and fear or you’ve got frustration and self-doubt. I’m never going to get this. I’ve been practicing. I’m not getting it. I’m really frustrated with myself and beating myself up. I don’t think I’ll ever get it. So I’m in self-doubt. These are the energies that the horses misread. And so you take a horse like Willow and you expose her to a lot of frustration and the tightness and things that come with it. She assumes it’s about her and she’s like, oh, I got to get out of here. This is a weird energy. Not comfortable. Gabby, when she’s around frustration is more like, OK, let me know when you get that worked out. I’ll be making my own plans. Until then, just get with me when you get a chance. She just kind of checks out. So to me, it’s more of the horse’s training level so they understand what to do with energy because Willow is now a horse that is a hotter horse but totally understands what to do with energy. What’s interesting about this, let’s stick with Willow for a minute. She–you would think on the surface that she would avoid strong energy. But Willow doesn’t avoid strong energy. Willow is drawn to strong energy because she’s not a naturally confident horse. And strong energy when you are comfortable with it, actually is something that you want to kind of get behind. So here’s my great example I referenced a minute ago. My neighbors got a robot lawnmower. Actually, they got two of them. And so if you haven’t seen them, the robot lawnmowers are a lot like the robot house vacuums that come out go around and vacuum. But this is going with the lawn. So the first time I saw it, I was getting ready to head up the trail with Willow. And I was riding by the neighbors and I thought it was an animal creeping around because from the angle we were approaching, it happened to be ducking behind some different bushes. It was actually mowing in a pattern, but it was kind of coming and going behind these bushes. I thought it was like a sick raccoon or something. I thought it was something creeping along. Willow noticed it at the same time and we were both like, weird. I wonder what animal that is. But then as it came out across where it came into the open, I was able to identify it as a machine. But it’s so quiet. I’m telling you, it’s more quiet than my robot house vacuum. So quiet that Willow was unable to identify it as a machine because most machines that she’s been around are kind of loud cars, trucks, lawnmowers, weed whackers. This thing is totally silent. And Willow is like, we have to go now. But I was able to be strong. Strong in my own like, we’re staying here strong in my aides the way I wrapped my legs around her, strong in the way that I closed and hugged all the things together and said, no, you’re not leaving. And so that was an example of me adding pressure to a pressured situation. And she gained confidence. Now where she totally relaxed? No, but did she turn roll back and run to the hills? No. She stood with me and I was on her back. So she was there with me and she stood because I told her to. Now, here’s where I think is really fascinating. A few days later, I had Gabby and Willow turned out together in the pasture closest to the neighbors where this lawnmower keeps running. And I was out in the barn doing something and I heard the horses take off running. And I like watching them when they run, when they’re playing. And so I stepped out and I looked, but I quickly realized they weren’t doing the normal running for joy because they kind of ran away from the neighbors. And then Gabby circled like a–like a J shape kind of half-circled back towards the neighbors. And now she’s standing right in the middle of the pasture and she does that big majestic, you know, head up in the air. And she makes that blowing noise with her, with her, with her nostrils. And she’s standing there boldly looking in the direction of this lawnmower. What was the most fascinating is that the gates in the barn are the opposite direction of the lawnmower. So by all rights, you would think Willow would have just run all the way to the furthest end, to the gate, furthest away from the lawnmower, and gotten as far away as she could. But she circled, mirror image, and I mean pressed right up she was within inches of Gabby’s side and dropped slightly back by her shoulder. And she was standing there at attention too. Because what Willow knows is that Gabby is strong and powerful and Willow knows that she wants to be close to the powerful one. She doesn’t want to run and be far away from the powerful one. She wants to be in with, she wants to be supported by she wants to hide behind the powerful one. So if you are a rider and you ride a horse like Gabby, Gabby totally understands her own power. She’s determined, she’s confident, she’s powerful. And she’s going to look for that in you because she understands it. And if you ride a horse like Willow, she totally understands power, too. And she’s seeking it. So either way, you benefit from becoming the most powerful, the most balanced version of yourself that you can.

Stacy Westfall: When I’m coaching people, I wish I could snap my fingers and magically have people stop feeling something like frustration. Some of these negative feelings that we have. And what’s interesting is that I have experienced much frustration, which is why I know how my horses handle frustration, because they’ve been around me when I’ve been frustrated and I’ve learned a lot from it. And one of the things I’ve learned about it is that a lot of it is self-inflicted. I’ve learned that when I’m frustrated with something, I’m often applying some kind of pressure, some kind of expectation to myself. I’m judging myself negatively. I’m doing these different things. And another thing I’ve learned is that when I’m around other people that are doing the same things that I’m doing, it can be really helpful. So I was at a horse show this last weekend. So as I’m working on things with Willow and the sliding stops aren’t always going great, it’s easy to look around and see that other people are also having trouble with sliding stops. So I’m in an environment where I can see other people learning the same things and my brain then doesn’t run away with me, making it seem like I’m the only one having this problem. Because if I’m home alone and I’m working on it and it feels like my brain starts saying something like, you’re the only one, you’re never going to get it, you’re having this problem, this is just too much, or whatever the story is in my brain, that’s when the problem starts to seem bigger and bigger. So when I’m around, like at a horse show and other people are having struggles, I can see it. And then I can remember when I watch them struggling that this is just part of the natural cycle of growth. Willow’s learning something and every horse I do it with, it’s a teeny bit different. So what’s interesting about this is that I’ve been able to take this knowledge and take it into my online courses. And I think that one of the most powerful things that I’ve done is that in my online courses, I’ve had students submit videos of themselves learning so that other students can watch and realize that they’re not the only ones having that challenge. Just in this last editing of this–this collection course, it was so funny when I posted the walking turn of the forehand individually. All the different riders like what in the world is this? And so then when they got to see the group edited video and they’re like, oh, I’m not alone. That’s what confirms to me that it goes from feeling like, oh my gosh, I’m watching this. And I can’t figure it out to, oh, I’m in a group of other people and I can see the different challenges and I can see how the hotter horse has a different challenge than the colder horse and all these different riders that are–that are demonstrating. So I think it’s really cool when you can put yourself into these situations so that you can then know that your energy requirements, when you’re asking your horse to do something, are kind of coming from a clean place. Like, oh, I can see that a horse like Gabby needs to be held accountable. I can see another rider struggling with that. I’m feeling a little bit more comfortable bringing up my energy with that kind of a horse. So if you want to see any kind of examples of this, I’m actually putting a link in the show notes and you can go watch a free video that’s 23 minutes long of several of the students in my course that are riding their own horses at home and I’m giving feedback. And what’s really cool is it’s talking about bending and counter bending and steering. And by doing this, if you go watch it–totally free–you can see which horse and rider you identify the most with. And there is a horse and rider in there that I say, you’re not ready for this course. You need to go back and do the other one. And there are other ones in there that I’m like, this is what you need to work on, but you’ve got enough control. You only need to be at a B- level. You don’t have to be at A+ to move on because that A+ comes as you move on. So in those videos, you can actually see an example of what the shoulder control should look like before you move on to collection. So like I said, I’ll put a link to that in the show notes and it’s over on the collection and lead change course underneath the title, Am I Ready? I think putting yourself into these situations where you can take the stuff that I’m teaching you here on the podcast and look for visual examples of it and check in with yourself and say, hey, was that horse that I was riding when I was younger, was that an actually hotter horse? Higher energy horse? And now I’m riding a naturally colder horse, a naturally lower energy horse? Which part of this came as me changing as a rider? And which part of this came because I changed horses? And then what would it be like to be a rider who knew the answers for both? Thank you for listening and for submitting your questions. I’ll talk to you in the next episode.

Announcer: If you enjoy listening to Stacy’s podcast, please visit stacywestfall.com for articles, videos, and tips to help you and your horse succeed.

Links mentioned in podcast:

Want to watch the FREE student review video on ‘Bend & Counterbend’…Click here and scroll down to video


  1. Sindy on October 17, 2021 at 12:39 pm

    This podcast was fabulous! When I started with my horse he had a lot of energy. But with more training he moved towards calm. Now we can “turn the energy on and off” (he still loves to go full speed).

    And watching the video really helped!!! Huge thanks to all the riders. Now I can’t wait to get back into the saddle and check what we need to work on in our counterbending 🙂

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