Self Control: You want it for your horse…but do you have it yourself?

Training should produce horses with self confidence and self control.

When I picture a great horse, in any discipline, my mind always shows me the image of a horse with great self control. Confident. Strong. Steady.

It is what I admired about the horse in the Black Stallion book and movies. It wasn’t about breaking his spirit…it was about understanding each other and both horse and human using their own unique strengths.

When stranded on the beach it was the boy’s knowledge that fed them…and the stallions strength that saved him (remember the snake?). Later on it was the stallions trust of the boy that allowed the rescue of the stallion. The examples continue throughout the story and throughout life.

I have seen horses that have been broken. They are robots. Some win at shows. Some are dumped when they fail out of the system. Some are unpredictable as they mentally jump between acting as a robot and acting out of fear…they can’t help it if they were not trained with understanding. These horses do not have self control. They are trying to survive.

The horses I admire the most have been shaped and trained but not broken. They have been shaped by knowable hands, disciplined and corrected, but also allowed to remain themselves. They have self confidence AND self control.

Which one are you more like?

Are you going through life doing what the world tells you is right but feeling like a robot? Or are you moving through life, the good and the bad parts, and becoming more confident as you go?

Or maybe it would be easier to answer this question; Do you spend more time in fear or in confidence?

Maybe now is a good time for a real-life example. Did you notice that I went missing from the internet for quite awhile? Or maybe you noticed that I wasn’t showing up as often as I did before on your Facebook feed? Or maybe you are just noticing now…

I was on a self prescribed sabbatical from the internet.

I loved blogging and posting to Facebook. I loved answering questions and receiving feedback. There was a lot that I loved about the internet.

But I also found stress. People are not always kind in their comments. I became obsessed with watching the numbers. Of challenging myself to do better. Of doing more, more, more….

Until one day I realized that I had lost my self control. Sure, it looked good because ‘the numbers’ were good…but I could feel that I was motivated more by fear than by confidence. Fear that the next post wouldn’t be better than the last. Fear that someone would write something nasty. Fear, fear, fear.

And I could feel it creeping into other areas of my life. Because that is how it works with people and with horses. Whichever state of mind we spend most of our time in, is who we become.

So I challenged myself to step away. I will not be able to train a horse to be better than I am. I must challenge myself as often and as much as I challenge my horses.

I am happy that I am more balanced again. I still have the knowledge I gained but now I have greater self control. I feel more confident. Stronger. Steady.

Go figure, self confidence and self control go hand-in-hand.

I have no doubt that I will have bad days and slip. My horses do too. But making mistakes is ok. Receiving correction and instruction is good too and it is something I enjoy.

I’m looking forward to this year! Are you?

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  1. Elizabeth on March 15, 2017 at 10:33 pm

    I love this. I stopped tuning into social media years ago and have matured leaps and bounds since then, both mentally and emotionally. I’m not suggesting that everyone abandon the internet, but it is good to step away at least once a week. Other people’s opinions are not relevant and are none of your business. I do not live for my online image and am in love with myself because I stopped caring. I hope that everyone can find the same peace and happiness.

  2. Rainee McGeehan on March 4, 2017 at 9:19 am

    It is funny that you brought the subject of trying to please others up. I have been there just a short while ago.Actually just a few seconds ago. I also have to watch myself constantly not to get caught up in something I really do not enjoy, but am trying to keep up with others in horse activities. It seems that the more lessons I take, the less I rely on my instincts with my horse. I have lost the joy of riding, and have become more fearful. I want the happiness and joy back. Now I am working on that!
    I am glad someone else is there too. I don’t feel so alone.

  3. Eden on March 1, 2017 at 6:11 pm

    Thank you Stacy! I really needed to read that. Lately I’m been trying to make my horse perfect. I expected her to forgive me when I messed up but I got all mad and out on her when she messed up. I REALLY need to learn self-control. Thank you!

  4. Brenda on February 1, 2017 at 4:15 pm

    absolutely loved your post.

  5. Evon on January 19, 2017 at 11:16 am

    Missed you! It was time for self reflection. You became aware that you were living in the “fear” mode or in the Purple (ST). This is a good thing even though it may have been painful. You will now be able to help others get balanced and become aware of where they are living at consciously.

  6. Bruce Norton on January 4, 2017 at 12:32 pm

    At my horsemanship clinics I tell my students to “ask more from yourself, your horse will follow.”

    Great job Stacey! You have inspired this old cowboy.

    Bruce Norton
    Jabez Ranch Horsemanship
    Hereford, AZ

  7. Claire on January 3, 2017 at 5:40 pm

    Missed you a lot, but understood and respected your need for detachment. As a human, I have SO many flaws. But it seems my kid and my horse get the best version of a human I can be. My colt really pushes my past my boudaries, makes me braver, more creative, more committed. With him I feel in self control. Controlling him (as in, communicating in an educated way) brought me self control. I’m not halfway as brave, skilled or ambitious in everyday life. Only working with horses brings the best out of me, it seems, because I know they won’t settle for, or deserve, anything less. As for being confident and in control, I never budged from my philosophy even under pressure of more “experienced” horse people, and sticking to my horsemanship principles have proven to be the right choice.

  8. Sheryl on January 3, 2017 at 11:10 am

    I did notice both your absence and also what you describe about social media. Keep up the good work! I sure appreciate the time to take to share with us.
    Philippians 4:13 ?
    Hugs to you.

  9. Stacey Pidgeon on January 3, 2017 at 2:07 am

    So well said Stacy I love it!

  10. Allen weston on January 3, 2017 at 1:33 am

    Stacy love reading your blogs and what you are doing,don’t worry about the negative people.

  11. Luke Gingerich on January 3, 2017 at 12:47 am

    I did notice that you weren’t on Facebook much anymore, and missed your posts! I really enjoy your blogs and insight, and have learned a lot from your training methods. Thanks for being so open and honest, this was a good message for me to hear personally. Looking forward to seeing more of you on here!

  12. Alison on January 3, 2017 at 12:16 am

    Stacey, your posts and blogs are a favorite on the news feed – you are so real and personable that you feel like a friend. Your messages are always positive, accurate and jammed with great horsemanship lessons. Keep sharing your talent!

  13. Valerie on January 3, 2017 at 12:07 am

    Thank you for letting us know what was going on in your life I was worried you were not going to share your stories anymore. I missed you. There are lots of people who truely care about you and your family and I just want to say thank you for all you have shared in the past and may share in the future. You are an inspiration to many. So true about fear and self confidence. Have a Happy New Year and all the best! Cheers to self confidence and control. To me all I have to do is watch you and Roxy to see what self control and confidence is about!!!

  14. Tasha on January 3, 2017 at 12:01 am

    I noticed you were gone for a while! You are hands down my favorite trainer because you do what works for you and the horse. You don’t try and make your program fit to all horses. I also admire you because you have a husband and kids. You love your family before your fame. And now I admire you more for your personal strength to see yourself failing and to choose to better yourself! God Bless

    • Julie Unnasch on January 3, 2017 at 11:16 am

      Well said. 🙂

  15. Jan on January 2, 2017 at 11:33 pm

    Looking forward to enjoying your blogs as always. Thank you for sharing?

  16. Barbara Tooley on January 2, 2017 at 11:31 pm

    I’ve missed you being online also! Glad you are back! Sharing your life journey with horses and your knowledge and experience is such a blessing to all of those who read. Keep your head and heart in the middle of the saddle and ignore the haters!!

    • patricia woodruff on January 2, 2017 at 11:34 pm

      It’s impossible to hate Stacy!! Just ignore the bad comments! Ride On!!

  17. Laura on January 2, 2017 at 11:30 pm

    Wonderful words Stacy. And very true. Glad you are back! 🙂

  18. Martina Braden on January 2, 2017 at 11:00 pm

    YES!!!!! I noticed you have been off the Internet for quite some time. I really missed your reading your blogs. I always looked forward to reading them!!! For the people that make negative comments–don’t they know the old saying–“If you can not say something nice–Don’t say it at all! Looking forward to reading more of your blogs. Take Care

    • Stacy Westfall on January 2, 2017 at 11:29 pm

      There are lots of nice people (like you!) which I also need to remember! Thanks for the encouragement!

  19. Patricia Woodruff on January 2, 2017 at 10:47 pm

    Oh Stacy what you say can hold true with animals and people. I work in a preschool with 2 year olds and my goal is to constantly build them up to be productive and respectful young men and women. I work on manners, eating habits, sharing and caring for their classmates.

    • Stacy Westfall on January 2, 2017 at 11:29 pm

      Very true!

  20. Jenny Cook on January 2, 2017 at 9:52 pm

    Thanks for sharing, Stacy

    You’re an inspiration ???

    • Stacy Westfall on January 2, 2017 at 11:30 pm


  21. Ingrid Poissant on January 2, 2017 at 9:46 pm

    The hardest discipline of all: self discipline.

    • Stacy Westfall on January 2, 2017 at 11:31 pm

      Oooooh…that’s a keeper! Great quote!

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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.

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