Episode 99-HELP: My horse REALLY connects to other horses when trail riding…

A listener calls in with a question about her horse who gets very worked up on trail rides with too many other horses. She describes how the horse seems to connect with another horse, flicks its head up, and walks as fast as possible.
This podcast breaks down four different ways to look at the things that could be happening here. This includes looking at the events the horse and rider frequently practice, techniques that could be used, and ideas for increasing the rider’s effectiveness in communication with her horse.

Full Transcript

Episode 99-My horse REALLY connects to other horses when trail riding….mp3
Announcer: [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.

Stacy Westfall: [00:00:23] Hi, I’m Stacy Westfall, and I’m here to teach you how to understand, enjoy, and successfully train your own horses. This is Episode 99 of the podcast. Next week is 100. Be sure you tune in and check out social media or my website also because I’m going to be doing some special things to celebrate Episode 100 and you’ll want to find those so you can participate. But today I’m wrapping up the trail riding season of the podcast by answering another listener question that was submitted. Let’s go ahead and listen to that question.

Caller: [00:01:03] Hi Stacy. My name’s Rose from Queensland and Australia. Have spoken to you before. I’m a relatively experienced rider. I just have a horse that is very well schooled in many ways. Well, you know, not–not a top dressage horse, but, you know, he can do jumping, eventing, cross-country. He does working equitation to do things. But as far as trail riding with other too many other horses. His brain, it just goes–I don’t know and I don’t know what–what happens to him. But this–I just on a four day ride with some friends and the last day he was just–his head was looking up, looking up, looking up. We had to trot for a while to get the energy out. We’re going up steep hills, down steep hills. But he just gets a connection to another horse. That’s what it seems like. And he just can’t you know, he can’t break it. But he becomes obsessive. He’s just got to walk as fast as he can. You know, um– I’m trying to think what else I can say. I’ve tried, I’ve done your groundwork with him. When I first started doing the whipping around, if–if anyone had done a whip before, he would have disappeared in the paddock. He stands fine for that now. He is because emotions are under control as far as that part. But there are other things I think aren’t right. So I just wanted–do you have any–I’ve looked at your suggestions because that’s why I’m ringing now, because I’ve seen your last podcast all about the trail riding and Connie’s question. And I just want to–can you help me with anything else? I mean, look I was being careful thinking about how I was riding. I don’t think I spoke a great deal to lots of people on the ride because I was busy concentrating on my horse. Literally. And, you know, in parts, he went really well.

Stacy Westfall: [00:03:00] Thanks for the question, Roz, and sorry about the recorder cutting you off there at the end. But the good news is I think I’ve got the idea. Now, one thing that you mentioned is that your horse feels like it really connects to another horse while you’re out on the big group trail ride. And I’m definitely guessing that you’re on to something here, because what I see a lot of times is that oftentimes horses in a situation like the one that you described, they’ll either connect with one other horse or they’ll feed off the group energy. And sometimes that can be a little bit tricky to try to figure out which one’s happening. Sometimes they are hyper-focused on one particular horse and other times it’ll almost feel like their brain is bouncing around from horse to horse to horse when you’re in a really big group like that. And the other one that can sometimes happen is it can almost feel like all 3 are happening. Like, they’re super focused on one horse and then their brain is jumping around. And sometimes that involves jumping back to you, jumping to other horses. And then I visualize smoke starts coming out their ears because they kind of short circuit. And none of that is really fun for the rider. And I don’t actually believe it’s all that fun for the horses either, because it’s a high level of stress. So let’s look at a few of the things that could be going on here, and I’ll give you some different ways to look at things and then you can decide if any of this feels true or useful for you.

Stacy Westfall: [00:04:40] I’m going to go ahead and use the 4 square model. If you’re new to the podcast, the first 4 seasons of the podcast were each one of these 4 sections: the rider’s mind, the rider’s body, the horse’s mind, the horse’s body. Because I find that when we break it out into these 4 different quadrants that we can oftentimes look at it a little bit differently and that can be helpful. So I’m actually going to go in a different order. I’m going to use the horse’s mind first because of a few of the things that you listed in your question. So when I listen to your question, one thought that I have is what exercises would you be using in a controlled environment that would bring your horse’s energy level up high, as high as you feel it going when it’s out there on the trail, when the smoke’s coming out the horse’s ears in my little visual? When that’s happening out on the trail, what would you equate that level of work at home or in a controlled environment to be? And in addition, when you bring that horse’s energy level up like that, what are you doing or what does it take to be able to bring that horse’s energy level back down in that controlled environment? So, some of the things that you listed–and again, we’re talking about the horse’s mind, but because we look at them so physically to read what’s going on in their mind–I want you to look at some of the things you listed. You listed jumping, eventing, cross-country, and working equitation. And when I look at that grouping, there is to me a fair amount of speed that tends to go on with quite a few of those. And then also that focus of–last week I talked about kind of a three way focus. But this almost–some of these–like let’s use jumping, for example–actually all of these work for it because they actually all involve the obstacle work. But I want you to think if there is a triangle here like I talked about in last week’s podcast. And there’s you, the horse, and the other obstacle. So let’s let’s put a jump out there as what we’re talking about. What you need to think about from the horse’s mind, from your horse’s perspective, what could be going on in their mind is you may be practicing a lot of things that send the horse’s mind out there and there isn’t that 3 way connect. So an example of that would be like if we’re having the horse go over the jump, this could actually be about any obstacle. So you’ll see it in groundwork when you’re doing horse–with horses. Also, when you’re sending them over anything or, you know, up to a bridge or over a jump, any of the stuff. When the horse starts getting into their mind that the answer is go jump this thing, sometimes what you’ll feel is you’ll actually feel them kind of almost like receive the order from you. And then they take over for, let’s just say, the last 10 feet before the jump or the last 30 feet before the jump or the last hundred feet before the jump. You see where I’m going with that? So on one hand, it can look helpful that the horse is kind of on autopilot. Like, you know, you–you point them towards something and they say, yes, there we go, here’s what we’re doing. But what you have to watch is that in that dance of creating a connection and that that loop of communication, if you point the horse and send their brain 30 feet out and they take over and they don’t check back in with you, then for that 30 feet or 50 feet or 150 feet when they’ve kind of like received the order and then gone, they’ve also left you behind in a way like they’re no longer participating with you. Now, this is definitely one of those things where what I would suggest, the way that I view it, I find it useful to look at it again, like the teeter-totter. So there are times when I do want to send my horse out there, but there are times I want to be able to bring my horse back to me. And I want to make sure that that that cycle is working, that that 3 way cycle can be working. What I suspect could be happening with your horse on the trail ride is that if this horse is used to jumping and eventing and cross-country and working equitation, all of which kind of send that horse out to do a task, if the horse gets really, really good at being kind of pointed and taking a lot of responsibility and going, sometimes they’ll take so much responsibility they won’t check back in with you. And then that lack of checking back in with you becomes a disconnect in the communication with the horse. And so you really just end up having to slow things down and rebuild that foundation again because it’s, again, like rocking that teeter-totter for sure. I want to still be able to send the horse out ahead of me in certain situations, like a–like jumping. It–it’s great. There are a lot of situations where I want that horse to be using its brain fully, but it would be super nice if it was checking in with me also.

Stacy Westfall: [00:10:45] So if you think this resonates with you and your situation, what I would suggest doing is that you go back. And so, for example, you can watch videos of people that are training barrel racing horses, and that is a speed event where you are essentially sending the horse out and around the barrel. But at the same time, you can find many, many, many professionals in that industry that will tell you that slowing it down and making sure you have the body control and the speed control so that you can go faster, but you can also regulate it, come down, and–and work on the positioning. You’ll find that is true in many industries. And for sure, the one that I come from in the background where there’s a lot of reining in the background of what I do. And again, that–that one really is like, stay with me as we are going really fast, stay with me as we are doing all of these different things. So that’s a thought that I have for the way I’d like you to view what might be happening, where it might be that your horse is taking some of your regular work and and applying the theory that their brain goes out there and they’re making a lot of the decisions. If you cross that over into the trail riding, it kind of overlays really nicely where this horse could be in that same situation where instead of checking back in with you on the trail ride, they feel like their brain is sent out there ahead of, you know, it’s having an out of body experience, by the way, like the horse is ahead of of their brain, is out there ahead of you, and the horse’s physical body on the trail and is bouncing around. And it’s trying to take in all this information. And the gift you can give a horse that is doing that is that when you can bring them back to you, oftentimes it will bring them back to their own body and back into that cycle. Because, again, I don’t want to rob the horse of the that 3 way experience, that triangle of, I want them looking out to the outside and having an awareness of what’s going on. I don’t want them just pinging back and forth between you, horse, the rider and the horse, the rider and the horse. I want that horse seeing the surroundings. But I suspect that might be a piece of this puzzle.

Stacy Westfall: [00:13:15] Now we’re going to jump over to the horse’s body and a couple of things that I want to bring up here are that you mentioned that you did some of the groundwork and the whipping around. I love that you made the connection that the horse, you know, would have left town when you first started doing the whipping around and then the horse made that transition to being really good with it. That is a great observation because it tells us something about the horses mind because we can see it reflected in the body. So the horse’s mind and body would have left and now the horse is choosing to stay. So we’re seeing that this horse is very trainable for that. I have a couple ideas inside of this category. And one is that the whipping around that is often demonstrated, even on a bunch of my own videos, is done at a standstill. And one thing that you’ll want to double check is that you can also do some of this stuff in motion and a ridden version. So basically, when–when I’m standing there and I teach the horse to stand still while I’m whipping around it, ideally that horse is focused on me, looking at me and kind of accepting, almost ignoring the whipping around. Like it’s not really ignoring, it’s more that they’re looking at me and trying to decipher, wait, she’s not talking to me. She’s just making a lot of noise. OK, wait. Now she’s moved her hand and she wants me to turn and trot a circle counterclockwise. So I want that focus. Now, I want you to try figuring out how to do some exercises in motion. In groundwork, so maybe the horse goes up to a canter and you’ve got a bag tied to the end of a lunge whip and you can drag it on the ground in a circle around you while the horse is cantering. So some interesting things like that will kind of it might trigger more of the horse’s flight mode or that anxiety mode if they’re in motion when you’re doing some of the emotional control stuff. One thing I’m going to bring up that that we do as a side effect of what happens in the reining world–and I’m also seeing it in dressage also–is, so we do a lot of large, fast to small, slow circles. That is another great example of a way that you can take the energy level up so the horse’s body can go faster and then need to transition down slower. And that kind of transition is useful in training. It’s also useful in dressage. And dressage is useful in several of the events that you listed there. So focus on that ability to do those transitions inside of a gate. So canter collected to canter bigger to canter collected again. And that could be that you canter bigger for one or two circles like a reining horse would and then slow down, or it can be more like a dressage horse would, and that could be for a half a circle and then back or half the length of the arena and then back or three strides forward and three strides back. But any of this where you send that horse’s physical body into a bigger movement and then call the horse’s body into a physically smaller movement, you can tie those together, oftentimes into the body, communicating to the horse’s mind. And the horse starts to learn how to regulate the emotion of getting excited and then coming back down.

Stacy Westfall: [00:17:16] So that’s one of those things to consider with the horse’s body. Now, another thing to consider with the horse’s body is you mentioned that on the trail ride recently, the horse’s head was flicking up, flicking up, flicking up. And that is an interesting thing to notice, because whenever you get into a situation where you have a distinct type of feedback from the horse–we could call it a resistance, we could call a feedback. But when we see that horse’s head flicking up, flicking up, looking up. There’s a lot of times you can unpack that quite a bit. You can look at it and one of the things that comes to mind is where else would this be happening? Where else can you see smaller versions of this? So, again, let’s say that you’re headed towards a jump or an object obstacle. Do you have moments where that horse’s head is looking up, looking up, looking up? Because 90 plus percent of the time you can find it somewhere else just in a smaller version. And the awareness of that being, the horse’s go-to is typically something you can go work on somewhere else. So let’s take you back to groundwork. A lot of times horses that have that reaction when being ridden, when you start whipping around them, they will also flick, flick, flick, flick their heads, which is interesting to notice because it just starts to give you the feedback that that’s one of the moves the horse is comfortable doing. But you can actually start training that even during the groundwork to making sure you reward the horse when that’s not happening. So you can start to break that cycle. The horse thinks there’s something in it for them. Which brings up another point, which is, maybe there is something. So is, for example, are you trying to slow the horse down? So you’re essentially riding the brakes and the horse is trying to flick the head to try to get release from the rein. And that is super common, and the number one thing that I recommend for that is the hug. I’ve talked about that on several different episodes of the podcast, and I’ve shown a video on YouTube where I want to be able to close all of the aides. So if I’m riding on a horse and I’m headed down the trail and I want to put this into use on the trail, it would feel like, OK, the horse is walking. The horse is walking faster, faster, faster. The horse is now too close to the horse in front of me and is–I want to back off. When I go to slow the horse down, even though the horse is amped up, I make sure I close my legs and my hands at the same time and hug that horse back. And yes, you do have to play with the balance between the two, but you’ve got to make sure that you train that horse, that that leg and hand, you will be coming together because that will actually be a more powerful communication to the horse than if it’s just your hand. So if it’s just the hand, to me visually, it always is like when I look at a horse that’s locked in a stall. They’ve kind of got their face pressed against the front bars, like somehow pressing against the front bars is going to make that go away. I mean, think about it. If they stood 3 inches back or 6 inches back or a foot back, it’s the same thing as if they pressed their head against the bar. But apparently it’s not the same thing because when they really want out, they really press against that visually. When I see a rider that’s using the hands heavier than the legs then what I see is the horse tends to have that pushing, leaning on the hands visually, versus, if when the hands close, the legs also close and you put that horse into that hug and they shorten their stride for a step and you lighten up all the aides. And usually the thing that gets into riders is that they don’t want to lighten up because they know the horse is going to make the same mistake. You’ve got to do it anyway. You got to take hold, collect them, let go repeat 998 times and then you’ll see a flicker of recognition and then you get to go repeat it another 732 times. It’s a bunch of times. But the good news is when the horse starts to get those moments of recognition, you’ll actually get a really cool shape and that horse will stop pressing up against the bars or pressing up against the hand because the realization that the legs come with it will actually help bring the horse into balance because they won’t just be getting lighter and lighter off your legs and heavier and heavier in the face.

Stacy Westfall: [00:22:24] Wow, I’m covering a lot of information. This might be a listen to it twice or take notes. We do put the full transcripts on the website. So if you want to do notes by opening up the transcripts and kind of looking down through there, the full transcripts are over on the website. So now let’s jump into the rider’s mind. So some thoughts that popped into my mind when I was listening to your question were again, this idea of how do we get this 3 kind of connection where there’s the horse, the rider, and the world happening out there. And right now the world happening out there is really big for your horse. And so oftentimes what will happen that I see is that in that situation, the rider then becomes hyper-focused on the horse. Sometimes the rider will become really focused on themselves. But usually if that triangle kind of thing is out of balance, usually if the horse is kind of out there and reacting to the world, the rider usually responds by focusing a lot on the horse, a little bit on themselves and almost not noticing the world. What I’m going to recommend to everyone listening is that when this is happening, ideally you’re able to see all three parts separately. You, what you’re doing, your horse, what they’re doing, and the world, what’s happening around. If you have enough riding experience and the good news, Rox, you said you have quite a bit of experience. And so this is good because if you have a riding experience, it’s kind of cool when you can go out there and ride and you can keep working all 3 of these points of this triangle that are being created, especially what’s going on in the world when you can be riding in. This can happen in the riding arena. This can happen literally every time you go out interact with your horse. I am constantly playing this game of realizing what’s happening in the arena without focusing on it. The best way that I can describe this to you is if you drive a car, then you probably if you’ve been driving it for a few years, you probably already know how to do this. It’s having an awareness of your surroundings without being hyper-focused on one thing. So in the car example, you can be aware of the deer and aware of the people and aware of the other cars and still be aware of your car and aware of your GPS and the road and all this stuff. And so you kind of hold the soft focus on the world. Hopefully, as I say this, I realize there are more and more people out there in the world that are not doing this. They’re just focused on their smartphone while they’re driving, which is terrifying, especially if you’re trail riding near them. So anyway, ideally when you’re riding your horse, ideally, any time the horse has a reaction to an outside thing–you should automatically already know one of my favorite places to do this is when I take my horses to a horse expo and I realize most people don’t get to do that–but if you go to a horse show where you go on a trail ride, it’s all the same thing. But when I go to an expo, it’s very fun for me to be riding the horses around, talking and teaching to the crowd and hearing what’s going on loosely so that when somebody drops something and my horse’s ear flicks over that way, I know why the horse’s ear flicked. And I think, again, it’s just something that you have to practice doing. And it’s it’s harder than it sounds. And, you know, this is hard. If you again, you learned how to drive a vehicle because you realize that when you were learning to drive the vehicle, you probably got hyper-focused on the vehicle. Which one’s the gas? Which one’s the brake? How do I steer and then hyper-focus on the road and not even aware of, like, a lot of other things? And that’s the way it works when you’re learning, as you gain more experience. One thing to become quickly, as quickly as you can safely become aware of, is that awareness of your surroundings. Because when the rider hyper-focuses on the horse, a lot of times this will cause paranoia on the horse’s part because the rider starts getting really, really focused on them. And why that might seem like a good thing if the horse isn’t used to the rider being hyper-focused on them, I think that it’s kind of it’s almost like the horse takes it as a little bit creepy. Creepy’s not exactly the right word. But can you imagine if you weren’t used to having somebody focus on you and then somebody was like really hyper-focused on you and it makes you a little paranoid in that same kind of way. I see this happen to horses when the rider kind of out of the blue is like really focused on what’s going on there. And then the horse is like, whoa. Actually, this just happened with me a little bit when I was recording one of my first world show videos with Presto. And this is a great example actually of that hyper-focus, because when I went to record the video, I became hyper-focused on where I was riding in the arena, how I was turning down center line, how I was going to look on the video sitting up straight. You know, I’ve got on the chaps and I’ve got all of the stuff. And so, yeah, the hyper-focus definitely fed Presto. And he was like, whoa, I do not understand what’s going on here. That’s what I’m suspicious of possibly being a little bit present here. And if not for you, Roz, somebody out there listening has had this experience. So what I want you to do, if you’ve had that experience, is I want you to practice in less hyped up situations. Understanding all the little things your horse is constantly getting feedback from when I’m riding my horses. I love that their ears are so good at flicking around and pointing out things so very often, the horse will flick a left ear and look at something and then flick a right ear and look at something else. And then both ears will flick forward or both ears will flick back and be focused on me. And that’s the kind of physical feedback I’m taking from the horse that is helping me train myself to look around and realize that he’s pointing out the neighbor who just pulled out the lawnmower or he’s pointing out the cat that just climbed up the ladder, or he’s pointing out the there’s so many little things. And so start training yourself to do that, because that habit of doing that three way communication, that triangle of, you know, having the horse, the rider and the world happening out there, part of you bringing that horse back to you when you’re headed towards, you know, on an obstacle or something is that you’re going to need to feel that moment when the horse kind of flicks away from you.

Stacy Westfall: [00:30:13] And so. Let’s talk about the rider’s body for just a minute. And I–and I hope you guys can hear how intertwined these are, but also how interesting it is to break it apart into 4 different chunks. Sometimes I think it feels a little bit mechanical when I break it into the 4 pieces, but there’s also a clarity to that mechanical-ness. So when we look at the rider’s body in this, the first thing that comes to mind for me is how important following aides are. Following aides and the hug. They’re both really, really important in the situation that you’re describing and in the training situations when you go back to a more controlled environment. So following aides would be if you’re holding a light contact in the horses walking on the trail, that your hands need to move forward and backward with that horse’s head. So instead of having the horse walk the entire trail ride in essentially a collected walk, which is a very difficult move for the horse versus like a medium-walker walk where their head is allowed to move up and down. If you want that head to be able to move up and down, you’re going to have to have really good following aides. And really to me, the hug is actually kind of a version of following aides if we’re doing it in motion and half halts, if you wanted to look at it like that. But it’s really important that you’re able to have that elastic contact and that that kind of an idea that when you take hold, that you’re hugging that horse, re-balancing that horse, and then softening but not dropping them completely. So one thing that I see, especially when people head out to trail ride, is that they’ll have this vision of an ideal trail ride. And oftentimes the vision of an ideal trail ride involves a horse and rider walking along, the horse is on a loose rein, it’s at this ideal pace. It’s not running up the rear end of the horse in front of it. It’s not jumping left and right. It’s just walking along at this perfect, ideal pace. And I think part of that image is that really loose rein. But if the horse is having a reaction like yours was, then you’re going to need to have contact and be communicating and yet not be putting the horse in a headlock where they’re trying to wrestle their head away from you. And so the idea a lot of times that people have is that I’m going to give them a lot of rein, and this is going to go better. But a lot of times when you give them a lot of rein and they’re not used to it–again, I’m going to go back to the examples that you gave–tend to all be things that would have more contact; jumping, eventing, cross-country, working equitation. And if we look at the ratio of what the horse has learned in those versus going on a loose rein, we’re going to see that this is going to be a new learning curve for most horses in that situation. And so dropping them completely actually almost makes a lot of horses feel lost if they haven’t been specifically trained to do that. That is something that we train the reining horses to understand how to go on that really loose rein, and how to respond when we pick up. And that is one of the hardest transitions to teach a horse is to go from loose rein, to contact. It’s actually easier on the horse if you’re having a light contact with following aides, if that’s easier, than completely loose rein to that first contact. And that’s just because there’s a lot of stuff that can go poorly in that moment with the horse’s reaction, the riders hands, the speed, and the fact that the horse could have been mentally disconnected when they had the loose rein. And then they kind of snap back and they have a reaction. So that’s a trickier move than most people give it credit for. And so that importance of the following aides is going to really help your horse understand and will also hopefully help get rid of that head flicking, flicking, flicking. I think that when I look at this and I–and I think about how to explain it. One thing I like to do is think, what would my ultimate goal be? And when I listen to your question again, I really like that you identified that your horse was reaching out and connecting like with another horse or connecting out there with something. And the cool thing about that is it tells me the horse is looking to connect. And my ultimate goal is that my horse really connects with me. And I think that’s something that a lot of riders want. They want that connection with the horse and they want that horse looking to them. And a thing that I would like you to consider is, look at all the places where that feels like it’s happening for you and look at all the times it feels like it’s not happening. And I think sometimes people are a little bit challenged by that because maybe 2 things happen. Maybe when they look for places where they feel that connection might be happening, maybe they’re looking at simply just getting a task to happen, like going over a jump and going over a jump. You’ll notice if you go over an obstacle, any obstacle 50 times, you’ll start to notice that they don’t all feel the same. So that, to me, is sometimes they’re going over and they’re feeling connected to you and listening and sometimes they’re going over and they’re not feeling connected. So you need to start being really aware of when it feels like there is that connection and when it feels like there’s not. And I think sometimes it’s challenging because sometimes people are maybe afraid to admit that there’s not a connection during that moment. Like you can have a horse being obedient but not necessarily feeling connected. Those are two separate things. And and I think that’s OK. And it’s going to be so much faster if you admit when it feels like a connection to you and when it doesn’t. Because I think developing that kind of a relationship is actually more of an art form. And have you ever noticed that sometimes when you meet different people, sometimes you connect quickly with one person and then there are other people where it takes longer to build that kind of a connection? And then you’ll even notice that there are certain situations where maybe you feel more connected or less connected. That’s something that can be shifting because of you. That’s something that can be shifting because of them. And so that’s an interesting thing to ponder, because horses can be like that, too. I believe that at this point, I know the connection I’m looking for with my horses, and I know that not all of them jump on board really quickly. Some of them jump on more quickly. Maybe they get a little wobbly later. There’s always a wobble as you’re building the relationship, and it always takes approximately forever. OK, maybe a little less than forever. It takes a long time to build the connection that I know I’m after. And that’s where the more clear you can get with your ultimate goal and defining it and labeling it and not judging yourself or the horse as good or bad when you’re doing that can be so beneficial. Because, you know, horses are–they’re alive and they’re thinking and they get to have good days and bad days and they get to have opinions and thoughts. And all of this impacts how the connection that we build with them is growing. And even as I say all of this, I realize that when I’m recording things like the podcast or when I’m out teaching, I am aware that sometimes the action steps feel a little bit vague. It’s actually pretty easy for me to describe the pure cue system, the pure physical response, which would basically be like the rider’s body or the horse’s body. It’s easy to describe a physical cue system, it is much more complicated to describe the interconnected pieces that are going on with the rider’s mind and the rider’s body and the horse’s mind and the horse’s body and that’s OK. I like this more complicated version, but I hope sometimes that you guys can hang on because here are a couple other ways I want you to look at this.

Stacy Westfall: [00:39:19] Years ago, I had a poster that I used to sell when I went around to expos. And I had this quote put on it, it’s Benjamin Disraeli and it says, “The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches, but to reveal to him his own.” And what I hope for this podcast is that it gives you information that you can use to compare and contrast with your own experiences. So I hope that when you’re listening to the podcast, you find yourself asking new questions about your relationship with your horse or how you approached something you did last week or last month or last year or something you’re coming up to do next week or next month or next year with your horse. I hope that these podcasts feed you in a way that you actually come up with new answers, not because I gave you the answer directly, but because something I said made you remember something or connect something or verbalize something that you’ve been feeling. Here’s another quote that I pulled up: “All learning is remembering. A good teacher causes the student to remember what they already know.” Thanks for listening, and I’ll talk to you again in the next episode.

Announcer: [00:40:50] 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:

Demonstration of ‘hug’ at a halt: Episode 3- Teach your horse a stand still cue


  1. Jan on December 22, 2020 at 11:30 pm

    I chose this episode to comment on because for me the trail riding episodes brought together everything I have learned and am working on from your Podcasts and your neck reining course. I love trail riding! My big breakthrough has been “the Hug” – connection. In one of your podcasts you said “wrap your legs around your horse & connection with your reins you have a dance partner”. – I love this! I know you have talked about the hug and connection in several podcasts – but still would love it if you did a deep dive into the hug. Thank you Stacy and am looking forward to many more episodes in 2021.

  2. Michele on December 18, 2020 at 3:33 pm

    I’ve really enjoy listening to your podcast and it has helped me understand myself and my horse so much better. Of course I want to comment to win your free giveaways but, truly I am overdue to giving you a huge thank you. I have a conversation with you when I’m driving & listening but you don’t know it & that’s okay, haha!

    I listened to your trail riding Series & advice to listener questions and with your trail riding experience with your young horse on the trail When I recently rode my horse on our #2 & #3 trail rides with friends, I rode as you suggested as if we were in the ring, In working frame between my legs and hands. He only got nervous once or twice and went into a trot that I did not ask for. I did a little inside leg to outside rein and got his attention back without emotion and after that I felt like he looked to me for leadership on the trail & not to another horse for leadership (for he buddies up easily). He was calm and so was I LOL! We enjoyed ourselves and it built our confidence (or at least mine :)).

  3. Laurie Taylor on October 24, 2020 at 12:03 am

    I have listened to all your podcasts. I’m a little slow at understanding things. But, this podcast has really hit home for me. I think I know now what I have been doing with Gracie that causes much of her anxiety. I am too heavy with hand aids. I need to balance the leg and hand. I have been practicing using a giving hand, but ideally would like to go to a loose rein. I also need to be more aware of our surroundings and less focused on Gracie when she reacts on the trail. Your quote, “And usually the thing that gets into riders is that they don’t want to lighten up because they know the horse is going to make the same mistake. You’ve got to do it anyway. You got to take hold, collect them, let go repeat 998 times and then you’ll see a flicker of recognition and then you get to go repeat it another 732 times. It’s a bunch of times.” is me to a Tee. This, I believe, is the piece the puzzle that was missing in my understanding of what Gracie needs from me. I think this will get that connection I’ve been looking for. “A good teacher causes the student to remember what they already know.” A good teacher also explains things in a way that her student can have that breakthrough that she’s been looking for too. Thank you, Stacy, for that break through. 🙂

    • Stacy Westfall on October 26, 2020 at 11:17 am

      I’m so excited for you!!! Yes, you can hear something many times and then one time you finally ‘hear’ it. I’m so glad that you stuck with the learning long enough to have the break through!
      Now, onto the 1,730 repetitions! (exactly where I’m at with Willow on lead changes, Gabby on cantering and Presto on many things!)

  4. Gretchen Ruffin on October 8, 2020 at 3:50 pm

    Hi! Just listened to this podcast.
    I’ve not missed one yet and I learn from every one. Thank you!
    I’m wondering about the “Hug”.
    In this podcast it sounded like a half halt. Other times it sounds like a request to halt.
    So u use it for both?
    I’m looking forward to next season.
    Thanks much!

    • Stacy Westfall on October 10, 2020 at 9:24 am

      I would describe it as the idea that you are ‘applying’ aids during the downward transitions.
      It is more of an idea than one cue for one specific thing.
      So it can be used during a halt…on the way to a halt…when slowing inside a gait…when slowing from one gait to another…

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