My five year old daughter IS deaf, I know that you are not deaf Stacy Westfall, but it caught my attention.

“Hi Stacy,   I love your work and often try to implement your methods. Recently, I read that people spread the rumour that you are

Cell phone image sent to Stacy on Facebook

Cell phone image sent to Stacy on Facebook

deaf. I know that you are not deaf, but it caught my attention because my five year old daughter IS deaf. She has a profound sensorineural loss in both ears. She uses cochlear implants. I have been teaching her to ride on her lease pony since April.

She has seen your videos and she thinks you are amazing. She said she wants to BE you! Her favourite is the 2011 video with “My Heart Will Go On”. Her mouth visibly dropped open when you had your arms up with that cloak and THAT SPIN! Even my non-horsey parents were impressed.

My daughter, Lily, said she wants to learn to ride like you, I ride western myself and have promised her that her next pony we will try (she currently is learning english, I do both myself). I teach her at the moment due to difficulties as we can’t find a trainer up to teaching a deaf child. Since April she has gotten rising and sitting trot, she is cantering, steering for herself on and off the long rein, and she has even jumped 60cm (on a miniature!).

If you are ever in England, it would make her ecstatically happy to meet you.” Toni and Lily (and the boys).

Toni, thank you so much for writing to me. It sounds like you have an amazing daughter. I had never considered the difficulty of finding an instructor for a deaf child. I love a challenge so it would intrigue me to figure out the best way to achieve it. The great news is that many, many people learn by watching. My husband is one of those people. When we were first married we would go to horse shows and he would watch the practice and warm up arenas figuring out what worked and what didn’t work for horse training. I don’t know that he would have done that at five years old but when she is ready it is a great way to learn.

I think I should be considered an expert on rumors; how they start, spread and grow. I was just recently made aware of the newest form of the rumor…somehow Roxy (a mare) has become a wild stallion! I guess I should be happy though, as this new rumor gives me 6 months to have trained her vs the old rumor where I only had three weeks. In reality I had Roxy from the time she was 2 years old until you see the ‘Live Like You Were Dyin’ video when she was five years old. I had around one-thousand hours of training with just her during that time.

No one can exactly pin point how the rumor started. The best explanation I have heard reported to me is that, if you watch the video, I am moving my hands around a lot while I am standing in the in-gate while the announcer was reading the intro. Someone watching assumed I was using sign language…and the rumor was born.

Stacy Westfall, the deaf mute rumor has taken another Roxy (a mare) is being called a wild stallion

Stacy Westfall, the deaf mute rumor has taken another twist…now Roxy (a mare) is being called a wild stallion



  1. Toni Knight on August 28, 2014 at 7:45 pm

    OH my gosh. Haha, i didn’t think you’d do a blog post with my comment! Ahh i can’t stop smiling.

    Your point about watching is so true. At first Lily didn’t understand what i meant by rising trot – So i had her watch me do a really exagerrated rise in the rising trot. And she literally got on and just did it. Most of the time we have a system, because i cant get her implant devices to stay on under a riding helmet, We go over what we already know, we talk about what we are going to do and i remind her of pointers she needs to remember while riding, and every 10 minutes we stop to be able to speak verbally and go over everything and maybe add something new.

    She relies a lot on watching and feeling – She jumped for the first time last weekend and i explained a jumping position to her before we did it and she got on, the first time, she didnt get into position! so i told her she needed to get into position, and the next time she did, and then stopped and said ‘We have to do that so we go backward when the pony jumps don’t we?’ haha.

    I can’t wait to read this to her (She is at her Dads house at the moment). Thankyou so much for reading my comment and replying.

  2. Joyce Robinson on August 27, 2014 at 10:35 pm

    OMG ! I thought it was bad when I got the video and they said you were deaf and mute. But now, you trained a wild stallion, without a saddle or bridle or reins ! Wow………… are good ! LOL

  3. Donna Fitzgerald on August 27, 2014 at 7:49 am

    Stacy, I remember seeing that video on fb several years ago before I knew who you were. I didn’t realize until just now that that was you! Didn’t know you were deaf though! Jk! The things people ASSUME are amazing sometimes.

  4. Amber on August 26, 2014 at 10:19 pm

    I love these kinds of threads. I, as a coach, have instructed various levels of special people with diff-abilities, including a triple amputee (one arm, with no fingers on that arm, and legs only up to just below her knees) as well as taking trail rides with people who don’t speak my own language, and a group of 5 deaf gentlemen (no problems until they passed me, then I was glad to have horses obedient to my verbal commands!). Language is really something that gets in the way of clearer communication in many cases. A deaf child will have a lot less trouble learning than most people would think. The main thing is to teach her to be in tune with her horses ability to hear and use that as a tool to ‘hear’ what is going on around her. Good luck finding a coach and YES Stacy the rumors are rampant! I heard you were deaf just today up in Canada!

  5. Kristen on August 26, 2014 at 2:49 pm

    I also have a 11 year-old deaf child, however he is of the ‘four-legged’ kind. I have had my 11 yr old APHA gelding for 3 years now and I’m still discovering to what extent he is ‘deaf’. I write that with emphasis because he too is subject to the rumor that he is deaf. The previous owners were NOT horse people but WERE animal lovers and took him in from a family member that had to move across state and could not keep him. The ‘not-so-horsey’ owners were trying to place him and warn me that he was deaf. I took him in for his forever home. Many people I have met since that new him and his original owners, have told me they ‘heard’ he was ‘deaf’ also. I have been riding for almost 10 years and encountered many horses with ‘selective hearing’. In the last 3 years I have learned that he is of the ‘selective hearing’. With questionable consistencies in the history of his training he is more responsive to visual and physical cues than vocal commands, but he does ‘hear’ some things. I learn ASL in an after school club at my high school and have considered brushing off my signing skills to help further his training. Tell me, have you ever encountered a deaf horse? or know of any one that has had experience in training one?

  6. sandy on August 26, 2014 at 12:50 pm

    yep you know its like a small town rumors is what keep s people running their mouths by the time it gets back to you it is nothing comapred to when it startedthats why i stay home then no one can say crap lol but yeah i know how it is keeps you popular anyway they talk crap cause they don t want to look in their own back yard

  7. Jae Pietila on August 26, 2014 at 12:30 pm

    I’ve often wondered how you were thought to be a deaf mute, when you’re talking to someone at the beginning of the video who’s standing to your right….

  8. Sarah Mačka on August 26, 2014 at 12:17 pm

    Yes most people predominantly learn by watching (visual learners) and 60% of all our communication from one human to another is non verbal. Hearing is not totally essential 🙂 I had a toddler once in one of my CPR instruction class come and join I in with the adults and start to try chest compressions just because she wanted to copy what everyone else was doing. I think Lily will be just fine leaning to ride given her hearing impairment 🙂

  9. Cheri on August 26, 2014 at 12:00 pm

    My son had significant developmental delays and some language delays (a far cry from deaf, I know) but we ended up finding a young lady who gave lessons who was willing to work with his occupational therapist on techniques to teach him to ride effectively and independently. She spent hours back riding with him in the saddle.
    Be creative and ask anyone and everyone. If you find someone willing to be flexible with solutions, as a team, you’ll figure it out!

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