"I'm not looking for someone who has everything, but someone who has time to spend with me more than anything."

Passing by a stall at the horse show today something caught my eye. I went back to check it out and found a girl sitting in her horses stall. It was such a I'm not looking for someone who has everything, but someone who has time to spend with me more than anything.beautiful picture, both literally and figuratively, that I ask to photograph her and now I am writing about it.

The image took me back in time over twenty five years and gave me a glimpse of a much younger me. Me, when I knew that my happiest moments were with my horse. Me, back when I believed that my horse also felt this way.

Fast forward to my early adult hood when I was told, through actions more than words, that horses didn’t really care…that horses were just horses and that if I imagined anything more,  it was all in my head.

So much of the other things I was learning from these people were true; they could train a horse to do flying lead changes on command…they must really know the horse. Very slowly my young girl dream faded, discolored…and almost died.

This was happening inside me. Belief is a powerful thing. As I lost the belief that the horse enjoyed time with me…a part of me was dying.

I thought I had it all; I was a horse trainer, I had a big barn, a big truck, a big indoor arena. People paid me to ride…and I was miserable. Miserable because the sacrifice I had made to get there was to give up what I knew about horses.

Like most things in life, hitting rock bottom makes the direction to move next more obvious. I decided that I would rather quit being a horse trainer, get a ‘regular’ job and own a few horses on the side. I would do this horse thing my way…even if that meant that I no longer could have horses as my profession. If I had to choose, I would choose the relationship over the job.

I cut back on horses…what could it hurt? I was willing to leave the business anyway. I spent more time with the ones I did ride. I laughed more, cried less, enjoyed more…and achieved more. To my shock I didn’t have to give up my business, I just had to define how I was willing to do my business and accept that the result might even be needing to get a new business. Within months I did my first bridleless freestyle….I had found the marriage between what they had taught me and what I had always known.

So today, when I saw this girl spending time with her horse, and her horse, obviously enjoying spending time with her…it was an amazing gift to me. A gift given by a girl who had no intention of impressing anyone but was simply doing what she loved.



  1. horsehavenabc on October 3, 2014 at 12:17 pm

    Stacy – thank you so much for sharing this story. It has helped me remain committed to the horsemanship program I ‘want’ to have and not what others think I ‘should’ have. Blessings.

  2. Terry Bass on August 26, 2014 at 12:25 am

    Ilove everything you said. I believe horses can love people. I volunteer at a barn for 2 days a week, it is for handicaps rideing with 2 side walkers. We had a mare for a while she was a so beautiful a paint black and white. I went in her stall to put a halter click on the lead line lead her out of her stall to the cross ties she followed me with her eyes everywhere I went. The woman who is in charge of the horses wae so surprised that the mare didn’t give me a problem, she was amazed. We clicked right away. Most people would not go in her stall because they were afraid of her. She was a handful. But if you do anything you expect the horse to behave and they do respond. Most of the time confidence is the key

  3. Linda Wilson on August 25, 2014 at 11:40 pm

    A tear fell. Thank you for keeping the dream alive.

  4. Fay Christie on August 25, 2014 at 5:05 pm

    Ah, sigh: finally … we get back to authenticity … thank you so much for giving quality to my “Day” the definition of which is: “irradiance of light” ~ gentle directions on how to proceed from here. 🙂

  5. Mary on August 25, 2014 at 2:03 pm

    Lovely Stacy
    I am criticized as well for not riding and have been made to feel badly for not doing so. I wonder how many horse owners give up horses just because they are made to feel bad. Mine are healthy loved and are Barbie Dolls and I’m good with that. I just love spending time clicker training brushing and washing them. Thanks Stacy for sharing!

  6. Lisa on August 25, 2014 at 1:15 pm

    Your words made me cry. I spent so many years wanting to be around horses, but listening to the wrong people. People I thought were experts. They weren’t. Now I’m almost 50 and they are still giving the bad advice, but I just go ride my sweet Haflinger mare, WHO LOVES ME ALMOST AS MUCH AS I LOVE HER! And no one can tell me differently!!

  7. T Geiger on August 25, 2014 at 11:39 am

    Horses love us, and time we share with them. It is just so hard to give time to all of them that connect with us, especially when they have had trouble with other humans and are looking for that love & connection. I see that there are many good people who love them here, it makes me very happy ~ Never change, Love them, give them your heart and your time, ~ Love them, and never stop.

  8. melody on August 25, 2014 at 11:15 am

    In my little world you have to do what you love. I don’t listen to people most of the time, unless it is good advice and positive. I am sorry but horses as all animals have FEELINGS they enjoy our company. Yes maybe it is in my head but I have seen it as well. I am manic bipolar and the horses, cats and dogs have pulled me through some rough times where the medical soceity would just as soon locked me up. Life is a rollercoaster we never know when that next big hill is coming and hopefully the ride will be smooth but if not, I know I have four legged friends to get me through.

  9. KellyAnne on August 25, 2014 at 10:54 am

    This was so eloquently written! I am so glad I stumbled across it. too, have a lifestyle blog and it would be awesome if you would check it out. Keep your head high and keep reminding your readers that the things they love to do can not only be fun but also be therapeutic.


  10. flyingfoals on August 25, 2014 at 10:53 am

    How totally true your comments are! Horses do love us – very much – especially if they are treated well – with respect and trust – they talk to us all the time – they have a wonderful spirit – it is there to treasure – throw the watch away, the schedules, etc. it all comes around again – but this time from the horses point of view:)

  11. Elyssa Doner on August 25, 2014 at 10:28 am

    Stacy, this is an awesome post. It’s so apropos for where I am right now – developing my own business on my terms, knowing that there is a fine line between working your passion and being “success-driven,” and, most importantly, always coming back to this one simple truth: the joy is not in the “success” we have in our business, or in the accolades that we receive from others. The joy is in doing what we love with a partner who simply wants to BE there with us. Thank you for this reminder. <3

  12. Vicky Daniels on August 25, 2014 at 10:21 am

    Such a beautiful story about real freedom! Freedom to do and act from out your beliefs. And that is, for me, one of the most important message from the horses. Freedom in heart and soul. Thank you Stacy for your sincerity. I love the way you live your life!

  13. Trina on August 25, 2014 at 9:24 am

    Fantastic post! LOVE this…

  14. Joanne on August 25, 2014 at 8:19 am

    I disagree that horses don’t love you. I have had mine for 16yrs. as I always promised her I would take care of her no matter what. We grew together as partners. I did things with her that people laughed at. i was with her when she lost her best friend of 10yrs. i played with her in the field to try & make her happy again. After a month she finally one day just came to life again. So don’t anyone tell me they don’t have feeling & emotions. When I go to get her out of the field where I keep her & whistle her head lifts & she comes running to see me. It is not a routine as it is different times & not always every day. So I beg to differ for those out there who say horses don’t know & love you. If you care for them & love them they will love you back. My horse was rescued from a farm when she was just under a year as they were not feeding them much. I have had her ever since & we are the best of buddies. She follows me around like a puppy dog. I have done the ground work & played with her. i don’t always ride but we always walk together as you would walk a dog.So we do love each other. Those that say horse don’t care have never taken it
    to that level I guess is all I can say.

  15. Leah on August 25, 2014 at 5:51 am

    I love this post Stacy, you took me back 40 years. I never had a horse as a child but always dreamt of owning one. My dog was my best friend. We would spend countless hours sitting in the paddock content to be in each others company. I always longed for my human relationships to be so uncomplicated. Fast forward to 6 years ago and I would finally own a horse. A nervous, anxious highly strung 29 year old Welsh pony. In the early days all I ever saw were the whites of his eyes. They were so big and I wasn’t sure he would ever trust me. Over time we learned to love each other. Neither of us asked for anything and we were both content with what we received in return. He always whinnied at me when I brought his food and would give me a little nudge in appreciation. When I scratched his whither his bottom lip would drop and vibrate, he would elongate his neck and push into me. I would let him out each day to wander our property. He would come to the gate as soon as he saw me. On exiting his paddock he would stand awhile with me as if saying “Hi, its good to see you”. He had a stroke a month ago and while he was disorientated and unable to walk he relaxed as I stroked his neck and told him how beautiful the sunset was. In my heart I knew he trusted me completely. I miss him terribly. I feel sorry for people who have never experienced the unconditional love of an animal.

  16. Savannah Keen on August 25, 2014 at 1:37 am

    This was very encouraging to me. I’ve been dealing w/ a similar struggle. Thank you for taking the time to share!! <3

  17. Elizabeth J Nadow on August 24, 2014 at 11:44 pm

    So very true, and I’m sure you’re not the only one to discover it! Thank you for the reminder. When I was younger, spending time with my horse, even if we weren’t doing something, was my therapy! I can’t tell you how many times I cried into a name, or questioned life while grooming him. Best therapy I know of!

  18. janelle on August 24, 2014 at 10:59 pm

    So true. Some people will be upset with this story but I don’t care.
    My daughter used to go and sit in the paddock with the horses and read. One day I went down to the paddock and there she was with 3 of our horses were lying down on the ground near her. None had to be there, it was a large paddock.
    Apparently she had been sitting with 2 of the younger ones when the 3rd came and joined them.
    To this day, 10 years later that 3rd one chooses us over fellow horses.
    She will stay with us (no halter) till we leave her.
    If anything scary happens e.g. bush fire, she runs and hides behind me.

  19. Debbie Kiggens on August 24, 2014 at 9:51 pm

    I’m not a horse trainer but I do have ears and I too listened to those people. Today I have found what I’ll listen too, one is my horse and the second is a man with a philosophy that works for me, John St. Ryan. He showed me a website, International Society for Equitation Science, a not-for-profit organization that chiefly aims to facilitate research into the training of horses to enhance horse welfare and improve the horse-rider relationship. I love learning!

  20. sheilamorlas on August 24, 2014 at 9:44 pm

    My heart says the same thing… I treasure the time spent with my horse..

  21. John Turowski on August 24, 2014 at 8:34 pm

    I just want to say thank you, when a tragic time in my life hit I slept ate and cried with my best friend. Thank you Miss Stacy. jt

  22. Terri on August 24, 2014 at 8:29 pm

    Beautiful! I too am trying to be the person I was before the ‘World’ told me who I should be! It’s a mostly good journey so far.

  23. Sharon on August 24, 2014 at 7:53 pm

    Beautiful story!!! Horses helped heal the wounds I received from a long childhood filled with pain and sexual abuse. It happened one night around midnight or so when my pain was so fierce I just had to get away.

    I went to the barn where my daughter boarded her two paints, crying and in need of companionship. All the horses were milling about, some sleeping, others watching over them. As I stood looking for my daughter’s horses, the horses parted and one horse stood alone….Connie.

    Connie was not much of a people person, typically walking away when someone wanted to pet her or just simply walked by. Yet there she stood, alone in this sea of horses. I really did not know what was going on and at that point really did not care if I got trampled to death because then I would hurt no more.

    Connie looked at me and slowly walked toward me. My throat closed, a fresh sea of tears streamed down my face and I waited with my eyes closed for my life to end. I felt her head rest on my shoulder and heard a little bicker from her throat as if to say “it’s ok. I am here.”

    I wrapped both arms around her thick neck and cried till there were no tears left. She stood there patiently waiting with her head resting on my shoulder. When the tears began to subside, I petted her neck. Ran my hands all over her body, her stomach and even her legs. She did not move.

    This lovely paint named Connie saved my life. Through this time she gave me not only the will to survive but the will to teach myself to ride at the age of 50. I did it alone because of Connie and when I learned she was a retired lesson horse, we rode into the pasture as one.

  24. Denise on August 24, 2014 at 6:48 pm

    This is so well said. I started with horses late in life, but this reflects how I feel about my time with my 5 boys. Thanks Stacey!

  25. sue jackson on August 24, 2014 at 6:43 pm

    I wanted to believe my horse cared, but never believed it until I was forced to let her go on a free lease after 9 years together. wWth in 2 months she coliced badly, had endotoxemia and upon her arrival to Cornell University Animal Hospital they thought she would need to be put down. Within 15 minutes of my arrival to their ICU, the vets commented on how much she had relaxed and started to respond since I got there. 5 days in the ICU legs backed hoof to top in ice and 4 days in the hospital, minus 350 pounds, she came home with me and I won’t let her leave again.

  26. Christine on August 24, 2014 at 6:37 pm

    Stacey, this entry almost made me cry because I’ve been in that place where part of me is dying for a long time and decided I need to work with horses on my own terms and handle only a few so I can give each one the quality of time and care they deserve but have been heavily discouraged by people who think you can’t make it without the big numbers of horses, and it’s just really good to know I’m not the only one who’s felt this way or made that choice.

  27. Blessed Granny on August 24, 2014 at 6:36 pm

    Wow. This has to be one of my favorite blog posts. In our rush and hurry world where we’re constantly reminded that possessions and physical appearance is everything, it’s too easy to overlook the value of spending time “growing” oneself; thinking, seeking, learning, then applying that to our lives. This post is relevant to all relationships I believe, spiritual, family, friends and animals. Thank you Stacey for being so honest and vulnerable. You have my prayers and respect as a person and as a horse trainer.

  28. Peggybryan on August 24, 2014 at 6:24 pm

    Stacey there is a video going around that looks like you wearing white top and pants at liberty and to me it looks just like one I thought you did long time ago! Can you clear this up since this one is not attributed to you. It may be someone else but they say this women cannot hear or speak so will you clear this up by showing your video!

    • Stacy on August 25, 2014 at 1:40 pm

      Yeah, someone started it as a rumor. I wrote a blog in 2011 trying to stop it, here is the link.

  29. Bonney MacDonald on August 24, 2014 at 5:46 pm

    Those are true words. Thank you.

  30. Janine on August 24, 2014 at 4:13 pm

    I recently sold my mare I’d had for six years and was very bonded with. When a friend and I went to visit her in her new home, she heard us talking and walked right over to the gate to greet us, leaving a hay pile and the other horses. She knew who we were, and I am honored to receive her recognition as a trusted friend. No one will ever convince me that a horse and a machine are the same.

  31. Carroll Sweet on August 24, 2014 at 4:00 pm

    I think that a lot of horse/human interaction has to do with motivation and trust. My horses tolerate me and know that I will not put them in harms way. One mare, who is the one that I ride most frequently, will seek me out when she is anxious. After my return from being gone for ten days I haltered her and was walking through the corral and stopped to watch someone working a horse. My little mare put her head against my shoulder and stood stock still for at least ten minutes. I definitely feel a connection. I don’t for a minute believe that a horse will do something because he or she loves me but with some the connection seems real. Of course that little mare had no hesitation about breaking my collar bone a couple of years ago.

  32. Cher Golden Lago on August 24, 2014 at 3:21 pm

    Amen. I am a 69 year old woman married 45 years to the same man, mother to two adult children and grandmother to two wonderful boys Colt 4 and Logan 4 months, two dogs and two horses. And I still find that my time spent just having breakfast together, Bow and Georgie with their hay and me with an English muffin and a travel mug of coffee, is a very tranquilizing way to gather my thoughts in preparation for my day.

  33. cissyblue on August 24, 2014 at 3:13 pm

    I was thinking of horses all morning, really once again yearning to be with them, and I felt my heart quite heavy. Was I the only person in the world who believed they are magic? thanks Miss Westfall for this beautiful and illuminating piece. It is quiet and short, and it says it all. My heart goes out to all horses here in Texas on this very hot Sunday afternoon. I hope you all have a sweet girl with a big heart to look after you! <3

  34. Tracy Johnson on August 24, 2014 at 3:10 pm

    After reading your words i fond myself after over thirty years going back to Horses, after being told i wasn’t able to work again my Anxiety attacks were crippling me and i was terrified to go out of my house for about 18 months. This was not me. this isn’t the person i am. i have always have a love for horses and i felt a strong pull back to them. So my daughter came with me and the rest is history. My love of horses helped me get my attack under control and i feel at peace when i am with them. I have a new best friends who owns the horses and i help out as often as i can at the stables. I ask for no payment for my help, and it helps me out so much going there. If i am not there for more than a couple of days my attacks come fast and furious. I have Fibromyalgia so i am in pain all the time, some days are worse than others but getting exercise is what the doctor ordered and that is what you get working with these majestic creatures that i have loved all my life. I have a horse there that no one is allowed to ride but me. Whizz is an ex race horse a pacer who only has one eye, he has been that way since he was two years old, he seems to understand me and is very protective of me. I fell in love with this horse before i even rode him. He is my inspiration to carry on we have a lovely conversation when we are riding and he always nods his head and nuzzles into me and we cuddle for a while i spend time in his paddock with him and again i feel safe and at peace. this horse was going to be destroyed not once but twice and i am glad he is still hear today. My love of horse has grown so much since i had the courage to take a step out of my house and go to the stables. I have been made part of the family there, and the horse i feel so much love for are my sanctuary. Stacy you have this love too or you wouldn’t do what you do with these majestic creature. You have shown to us how easy it is to love and care for these horses. I want to wish you continued success, in your field and i hope you will continue to work with these horse for years to come.I would like to hug you as the piece that you wrote brought me to tears, it was beautiful. I think we all need to understand these creatures and become one with them, for then we have found true love.

  35. cissyblue on August 24, 2014 at 3:09 pm

    Reblogged this on ephemeral spirit and commented:
    This lady has it right, and this is a beautifully written story of her struggle to be herself– to honor what she knew was right in her heart. If you love horses, you know this is true. And if you don’t believe they are cognizant, you should definitely read this.

  36. Lindsay on August 24, 2014 at 3:08 pm

    I absolutely love this! I really needed to hear that. I bought my first horse two years ago but lately we have been hitting a couple snags. And the trainer told me to “like all of them, but love none of them”. That statement really resonated within me in a negative way. It’s comforting to know there are like minded people that believe in a horse’s capacity to have a relationship. Thank you Stacy.

  37. Mindy Lightner on August 24, 2014 at 2:57 pm

    I’ve been told much the same, that horses don’t have souls, don’t feel, don’t love. Perhaps the best argument to this was given to me by an old timer who explained to me once, “Horses don’t read books.”

    Horses will give to us what we give to them. They don’t read books, or scientific studies. They simply offer a return on our investment, whatever that investment may be. If we love them, we will get that love in return. That’s the beauty of the relationship.

    Thank you for sharing this photo, and the thoughtful message.

  38. Jessica Berry on August 24, 2014 at 2:50 pm

    This was me as a teen(and now when I get a chance). For years I had enjoyed a carefree life, owned horses, ridden horses, and never had opposition. Until I married and had children. Now there is an impenetrable force holding me back from what I love and what I want to do. Is there a way for me to share the sheer joy and feeling of fullness horses bring me with my family? Especially my husband? Thank you 🙂

    • Blessed Granny on August 25, 2014 at 10:13 pm

      Jessica Berry, I too have dealt with much opposition to my horsekeeping in my 30 years of marriage. I just want to encourage you that even though we are married, we are still individuals and still have hopes and dreams and personal goals. This is not wrong but is a healthy part of being human. Find a way to start small. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised how exciting even something simple will be at this time. Then with a kind and loving but firm attitude, let you family see that it’s OK to be yourself and OK to ask them to respect who you are and what brings you joy. Hugs from a fellow horse lover and granny. 🙂

      • Jessica Berry on August 26, 2014 at 1:09 am

        Thank you! Your kind words mean a lot!!!

  39. peg4x4 on August 24, 2014 at 2:47 pm

    Please don’t listen to what “they” say. Watch,learn from them,but never,never give up your core beliefs.

  40. Rebecca Fetterman Vensel on August 24, 2014 at 2:43 pm

    That is so beautiful, Stacy. Another professional horse trainer often combines his love for horses with his love for God and writes short devotions. He likens God’s desire to have relationship with humankind to the relationship we as horse lovers long to have with our horses. I recognize that you also understand this relationship. Continued blessings on you, your family, and your horses!

  41. Joani on August 24, 2014 at 2:42 pm

    Loved this!

  42. Theresa Lawton on August 24, 2014 at 2:36 pm

    Love this story… so close to my heart.

    • Fred woodard on August 25, 2016 at 7:20 pm

      Beautiful story!also encouraging to all hourse lovers.

Leave a Comment




100% Private - 0% Spam

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

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

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

Learning these skills and begin communicating clearly with your horse.

Click here to learn more.



Get the free printable guide

    Download now. Unsubscribe at anytime.