The first horse I refused to train by Stacy Westfall

For many years I accepted any horse for training. Maybe they were bred to be famous or maybe they were unregistered and abused. Either way, I would take them. 30 days, 60 days, three years. All were possible if you just paid your bill.stick n string

Until one day….

A man called and asked if I would train his horse for 30 days. I said ‘yes’ and we set the date for the horse to arrive. I asked him some general questions about the horse, which was a two year old, and about his goals, which was to ride it.

I gave my general disclaimer about ‘30 days of training doesn’t equal a broke horse’ (the real speech is five minutes or longer) but he made it clear that money WAS an issue and he only wanted 30 days.

I thought, ‘OK, I get it. Money is an issue and I will do my best…but I am not sure he ‘heard’ me when I explained the horse won’t be solid after 30 days…..’

So I made a mental note to give the ’30 days speech’ again when he dropped the horse off.

He arrived in the evening, after work, after dark, with his horse. I gave my speech again and this time it was received even more poorly. He was only paying for 30 days and I needed to get my job done.

Understanding financial pressure and trying to size up what he wanted to achieve in 30 days….aside from ‘rideable’….which is a matter of opinion in many cases….I began asking more goal oriented questions.4H

Frustrated at dealing with my many questions and clearly irritated that ‘riding’ could mean more than ‘riding’ he finally stated that he was planning on having his son ride the horse in 4-H that coming summer.

So I gave the ’30 days’ speech….again. He didn’t appreciate it.

Jesse was finishing things up in the barn for the night and I decided to work the horse for just a few minutes in the arena. I knew I needed to accomplish a lot in 30 days and the sooner I started the better. The horse led decently down the isle and into the indoor arena.

I attached a lunge line and picked up a stick and string. The horse seemed quiet enough and I began rubbing him all over with the stick and string. It went well and the horse didn’t mind at all. I began to relax.

I lead him to the middle and asked him to lunge around me. He walked out and began to  trot a circle around me…maybe someone had done some work with him.stick n string off side

One circle, two circles and then he turned toward me and charged, ears pinned. Stunned, I jumped to the right and swung the stick to make contact with his neck. He swerved to avoid me like a pro and headed back out to the circle.

“Jeesssse!” I yelled to my husband as the horse circled me. I felt like a mouse being circled by a hawk. ‘Yeah?’ he responded as the horse dove at me again.

‘HELP!’ That brought Jesse running.

With no time to explain and no ‘good’ spot to stop in sight I asked him to join me in the circle. He took the rope, I took the stick and in two more circles when the horse dove in again, ears pinned, I was able to stand my ground and hit his left side of his neck several times. Finally he stopped facing us at the end of the line seeming to contemplate his next move.

I filled Jesse in and after a few minutes rest decided to give the horse the benefit of doubt. Maybe this was his first time and he was just testing me out. It sure felt like he had done it before but….

We, Jesse and I, went several more ‘rounds’ with the horse; who did improve but never lost the hawk like study of us. We found a ‘good’ place to end (horse not charging us!) and put him away.

And I started thinking. Not so much about the horse…but about the owner.

The owner wasn’t listening already, was not open to my thoughts and ideas. He was just upset that 30 days and rideable wasn’t clear enough. Would he ‘hear’ me when I explained his horse was tough? Would he care? Who had taught this horse to charge? Didn’t he say he wanted his son to ride this horse? When I say this horse is not kid safe will he listen?

He hadn’t ‘listened’ up to this point so I had no reason to believe he would begin now. And now there was a child involved.

No. I wasn’t willing to be involved in this.

I called the owner…and he was mad. Mad isn’t strong enough. He was HOT!

The horse stayed at my house less than 24 hours.

Let me be clear here. I have dealt with worse horses. ‘Bad’ horses don’t bother me….I find them exciting and interesting.

Owners who won’t listen are a losing formula. Things are hard enough if the owner is in agreement with me…but when they are not, no one is going to be happy.

For me, this was a turning point. I moved the ‘goal setting’ conversation to the beginning of the process….well before the horses arrived. If the owners goals didn’t line up with what I was willing to do, or participate in, then the horse didn’t come.

If more trainers, and owners, would draw a line in the sand based on their values the world would be a better place for horses.

PSP.S.-Oh, in case you are wondering what became of the horse….

I ran into the owner at the county fair in the fall. He was still REALLY angry but made it a point to let me know his son HAD shown at the fair on the horse. Yes, he had shown and he had been dumped three times during the fair that week. But he had shown.

I walked away knowing that the owner felt glad that he had proven me wrong.

I felt good that I had NOT participated in the craziness. If your child being dumped three times at the fair is your idea of success…I don’t want to be on your team.

(also…the horse in the photos is NOT the horse I refused to train)


Update, March13, 2017. With over 230+ comments this topic clearly resinated with readers. Occasionally the comments will turn toward the breed mentioned. I only mentioned it because I was attempting to have you visualize the experience. The breed could have been swapped for any other breed because the breed wasn’t the point…the owner was.


  1. Rosalie on June 17, 2021 at 12:27 pm

    You are so talented. I want to be a vet for all animals including horses and I hope that I can

  2. Annette Traband (Lizzy Traband's mom) on December 18, 2019 at 11:31 am

    Stacy, this dialogue is so relevant in our industry and also to a current challenges I am currently facing. God may work in strange ways, I am rarely on the internet and was somehow directed in very short order to your site and this post. Just a few days ago I had a discussion with a very heated parent at my farm over events that had started a few weeks prior after dropping his daughter down to a lower fence height at a competition out of clear concern for both the welfare of both horse and rider. My calm response to the parent was that if their behavior makes me start to reconsider my actions, communications and ultimately decisions that I ALWAYS make with the horse and riders safety always being, my first and foremost concern……..I can not continue to train their child! I am a people pleaser, but as hard as it can be at times, I too have learned that sometimes you absolutely have to draw the line in the sand! It can definitely be a struggle to educate people that have a strong attachment to goals that may need modified and lack of true understanding of the resources required and inherent risk in what we do. This was affirmation that some things should just NOT EVER be open to compromise. Thank you for sharing this story! Our pathes have not crossed for years. Hope you and your family are doing well. I was thinking of attending one of your workshops in the spring… are and have always been a HUGH asset to our industry….amazing trainer and even more amazing person …..would be nice to reconnect! Annette Traband

  3. Juanita Welsh on March 23, 2017 at 11:41 pm

    It is a wise woman who knows when to say no.

  4. Sue Mulhall on March 20, 2017 at 11:26 am

    Great post!! I still would love to have you train my Appy gelding next summer!! I know that you said it wasn’t too probable… but I dream BIG!! LOL Have a beautiful summer…maybe we’ll meet on the Mohican trails sometime this year!! 🙂 Sue

  5. Sarah Marsich on March 15, 2017 at 12:27 pm

    This is how a horse should be trained (by owner/breeder) especially if final destination is to be a child’s companion! Here is one of my 2 yo’s being mounted for first time, by a child who has never ridden a horse before! Green + green shouldn’t = black + blue, it should = a hell of a lot of fun discovering together. I blame the breeders for not giving their horses a good start!

  6. janet. on March 14, 2017 at 1:43 pm

    I was at a barn when the owner and her husband came to pick up their horse. The trainer spent time showing the woman what the horse had learned and how to get the best response. Everything went very well. The trainer left for a moment and the husband said “now ride normal”. Game over.

  7. Sandi Ann on December 31, 2016 at 2:51 pm

    You are cool Stacy. You are exactly who I wish I would have ended up being, had I not come from an unsupervised, dysfunctional,family from the wrong side of the tracks (literally~I’m from Dogtown Hillyard in Spokane Wa. And like most Hillyardites..proud of it.) With an abusive, often estranged Father, a preoccupied, tired Mother, and 5 older sisters with no intention of guiding me down any path that was any better than the paths they choose. And sadly rushed to trip me up whenever I found a good one myself. Nobody could steer me from horses though no matter how hard they tried. I just never had the means to do to much more than local gymkhana and what-not. I always dream of doing something amazing like what you did for your Dad. I still hope to God I get the chance to dedicate something like that to my amazing Son. And also my parents now that they would be interested and so very proud to see it. I’m not even sure if they know I could do it. Anyways, good call on that situation. And please consider meeting me if you’re ever looking for a right hand man. I have lots of horse sense, but I’m always ready and willing to learn something new. Especially from a cow girl like you.

    Also, I was on my way to rent a local indoor arena for the day and my saddles and tack got swiped out of my truck while I was in paying for gas (I’m red in the face just writing that.) It wasn’t easy for me to save up for them saddles but here I go again. What I’m getting at is if you or anyone else has or knows of a preferably “too good to be true” type deal on anything, and you aren’t going to grab it up for yourself please send it my way. I would be much obliged. And again, thanks for being an inspiration to many. God bless.

  8. Nikki Buenemann on May 11, 2016 at 1:22 pm

    Love this! Can you share some info about your “30 days does not equal a broke horse” disclaimer. I met with you at your equine career conference, if you remember I’ve recently started training horses for the public and would LOVE some tips on how to get this point across. Thanks!!

  9. Maria Hillegas on May 5, 2016 at 3:13 pm

    Enjoyed this post immensely. Good point – a good relationship and open (and receptive) communication go a long way. Really enjoy the your style of writing/blogging as well.

  10. Darren on January 27, 2015 at 3:36 am

    I’ve been around horses all my life (50 years) and brought / tested hundreds of horses for my riding school and had to make quick dicisions whether the horse was good / sound for the riding school , private sale or dogger pen..I train horses to do many things …I always know what / who the owners are because of the horse becoming a blueprint of their personalities.. In this case you are right in not handling this horse because not all owners are suited to a certain personality ,given the horse had no medical problems it sound like the horse has lost all REPECT just like the owner. I’ve had horses that owners couldn’t handle and turned out to be highly educated. If solid leadership is lacking the intelligent horse can tell , some horses just can’t be helped it’s rare but true. If an owner refuses to listen or change to the necessary queues for the horse to understand then it’s a waste of time and a liability.

  11. Nicole on December 8, 2014 at 11:25 am

    Thank you, Stacy!! This is great advise for me as I start my own horse rehab business. I will stand my ground! If the owners goals do not line up with my own as far as what’s best for the horse, then I can’t help the horse… Thank you for your words of wisdom and experience!!

  12. Anita on December 6, 2014 at 7:58 pm

    Great read…..some horse owners just don’t get it until someone gets killed & then they will blame someone else or the horse. No good wasting your time with someone that doesn’t listen. I guess the one that loses out here is the horse. 🙂

  13. Charlie on December 6, 2014 at 6:44 pm

    Smh..I did take a 4 yr old running quarter mare straight from the range and rode her without incident in the pioneer days parade after 4 days of trading..ain’t telling how and don’t train anymore.
    Either your a trainer or your either know horses or ya don’t..should have helped that horse to hell with the owner..obviously his needs were minor..the horse that is.

    • Stacy on December 6, 2014 at 11:53 pm

      I guess if you are saying I am not a trainer by your standards…I can live with that.

  14. rachelle on December 6, 2014 at 6:39 pm

    I got my horse Abbey out of someones yard. She was 13 and never trained, the previous trainer had spent 30 days on her and quit when he couldn’t make any more progress. I got her only as a favor to my mom who fell in love with her. Gave her some time to figure things out by the end of the year we were jumping and now almost 2yrs later she is the best little cross country jumper I have every ridden and a blast for trail rides. She just needed more time and they would have had a great little horse..but I got her instead =)

  15. katzarr on December 6, 2014 at 4:20 pm

    AMEN Sista; NO amount of money is worth working with a horse that the “owner” has a bad attitude. OH, and by the way, I don’t care how a good “horse” trainer/teacher/rider, YOU ARE, do not believe ANYONE who says/states, they can train a horse in 30 (thirty) days, that is a bunch of Cra_ , that is not going to happen. No such thing as “stupid” horses, just stupid PEOPLE <3 God Bless our horses.

  16. Monica Lory on December 6, 2014 at 4:11 pm

    People should not even have young, green horses if they are that clueless. If you can’t have your young horse leading, lunging, changing gaits, yielding etc you shouldn’t ownone. It’s utter bullshit to take a horse you don’t know about to a ‘trainer’ to ‘fix it’. The most a trainer should be doing for you is backing the horse and putting some finesse o it. If you can’t get it to a stage where it’s ready for that, you will ultimately fail. The horse industry is so frustrating in this respect. My general feeling is if you can’t get the results yourself, you are in over your head

    • Gayelene Cocks on September 17, 2020 at 10:59 pm

      We have a 10 year old mare who has only ever been handled as a foal we are trying to get a rope onto her but it’s proving to be a very difficult thing to do . She also wont walk up you can walk up to her and rub her face her neck can lift her front feet right side much better left side not so much . I went into the ring today and she followed me. And walked up to me once . She took 2 steps toward my hubby and then stopped . Her ears are back all the time she is also not very inquisitive which makes it a bit harder do you have any advice we are on a timeline as she has really bad feet and we need to get a rope around her for the bet

  17. Diego Solís on December 6, 2014 at 3:59 pm

    The Owner is more crazy than The Horse . Hard to tell who, but probably himself by wrong technique turn The Horse That way.

  18. laura on December 6, 2014 at 3:03 pm

    Hi Stacey, good for you! If I ask someone to do something with my horse i expect a Spanish inquisition and I try to answer everything truthfully. There is no point beating about the bush with trainers. I try to get owners to be as truthful with me as they can about their horses. I have no problem dealing with difficult horses but if they are difficult i would like to be prepared. Often the most open owners who give you a huge list of problems or things they don’t like, are the ones with the best behaved horses that don’t do half the things they say they do. Quiet owners can mean the worst horses.
    I also try to be as truthful as i can with owners, i don’t overstate my abilities and never promise results, I can only promise to do my best and will pass on the work if i think someone else can help them better. I had one lady who asked me to work her horse for exercise. The saddle DID NOT FIT I’m not an expert saddler but I can tell a very bad fit when I see one, she didn’t ask me to exercise it anymore, adamant that the saddle fitted as it was bought for the horse new only 2 years ago and the lady at the shop said it should fit… Had she of asked me to ride the horse again I would of refused anyway. I’ve also advised a client to sell an unsuitable horse, i explained I’d be happy to continue riding it several times a week as I’m young and enjoy quirky horses (and is easy money for me) but an unpredictable tb was not a good choice for a 65yr old novice happy hacker!

  19. Linda Oz on December 6, 2014 at 3:01 pm

    Stacy, You did the right thing. Had you kept the horse, this man would have blamed you for all the problems he had the day he was dropped off at your place.

  20. Lil Hunkele on December 6, 2014 at 1:02 pm

    I feel sorry for that horse but I feel even more sorry for his children. What kind of father is this? I’m sure he doesn’t listen to his family either. What a jerk and someone is going to get seriously hurt because of his “I have to be right” attitude.

    • Patricia woodruff on March 23, 2024 at 8:10 am

      Yes I totally agree. The owner has a terrible attitude. He thinks he knows it all!

  21. Val on December 6, 2014 at 11:03 am

    I can completely understand refusing a horse. I wish more trainers were more clear about what the owners can expect of them. I have a difficult horse (was neglected and feral until I rescued as a 2 year old) that I’ve been trying to train. I’ve had a lot of experience training young horses under the direction of a pro. But until now have never been faced with the challenge of a horse that was previously wild, all of my horses have been handled since birth and the training process has been much easier. This one is now 6 years old and can’t be ridden. I’ve had her in training off and on for about a year. I left her in training for 3 months with a natural horsemanship trainer and she never accomplished anything more with her than what I had already done at home (loads and loads of groundwork). Her groundwork was excellent when I put her into training. I understood that the trainer would spend more time on groundwork to be sure she was ready to ride. But she never made progress and just kept saying, “I think she’s close to being ready” when in reality she wasn’t. She convinced me to bring her back into training several more times, and I just brought her home last week and will not bring her back there again. I feel the trainer was not honest with me. If she feels the mare can never be ridden, or is beyond her personal comfort level for riding I wish she would have told me. But to this day she states she was really close to being able to mount the mare. Honesty is appreciated from both sides! I hope one day I can get the mare under saddle so I can find her a job and permanent home, but I’m afraid she may live out her days as a pasture ornament! Good thing she is cute!

  22. Lora Hawthorne on December 6, 2014 at 10:41 am

    I have a big, beautiful, powerful, Palamino gelding who is so sweet and smart and I have been ground working, him ponying, ground driving; anything and everything I can think of. He is great on the ground and with everything I introduce he gets over really quick and relaxes. Except when you ride him. He will be fine and then just start bucking out of no where with no warning. I’ve had him vet checked, teeth floated, chiropractor checked and so far no explanation. After he throws me… he walks over to see if I’m alright, which I usually am and get back on and he’s fine. It’s like he tests me and is playing with me. I don’t want to sell him I would hate for him to end up at auction but I also don’t want to get hurt! I do have patience and time, so what I’m asking is what’s your insight or do ya have any ideas, should I start him over, maybe I missed something.

  23. gill on July 5, 2014 at 4:58 pm

    Someone said earlier, “the saddest part is his child” etc, I think the saddest part is that this little horse will never get the opportunity to have a fulfilling relationship with people and will be subdued by pain and domination until he truly is ” broken “, it isn’t hard to imagine the scenario that someone had already had a go and didn’t have the skill, talent, compassion ( whatever trainers rely on to get through the sticky bits ) and left this dangerous situation while they still could, it could be seen that the owner set you up, either to get hurt or to get his pound of flesh by leaving out some rather critical information regarding his youngster. You are self employed you can chose to work with people who want a better relationship or be used by people who have stuffed up and need you to fix their messes, without the courtesy of being upfront with what they are actually wanting from you, or the humility to ask for help when the problem started. Unfortunately even if you had taken the horse and dealt with his issues you would still have had to send him home to an owner who lacks the level of integrity that he deserves.

  24. Selina Iddon on March 5, 2014 at 4:18 am

    so great you shared this Stacy, it’s a tough choice and a great example of wisdom.

  25. cowgirlchiq on February 1, 2014 at 11:50 pm

    Wonderful call Stacy! I wouldn’t want to be involved in that either. Our children get so mad at me because, well, none of our horses are ‘bomb proof’, and the kids don’t want to do the work and pay attention when given lessons. One of the girls ‘knows how to ride’. “I’ve ridden horses before.” (with that sassy teenage girl tone)
    My response? ‘Just because you’ve ridden before, doesn’t mean we have 1 single horse on this farm, that you can get on and ride on the roads and trails.”
    We have a group of what I like to call ‘spirited horses’. They all take intermediate to advanced riders, with a strong personality to keep them in line.
    They can stay mad at me forever. But until they prove they can control our horses, they’re not riding outside of the round pen!

  26. bitsandpiecesintx on January 5, 2014 at 7:27 am

    I read this with a big smile/cringe. Way back in 1998 I was a 20something “trainer” in upstate New York. I was a pretty good hand and had put some time in with some well known trainers. The job market was awful so Ifell back on training, one client had a three year old “green” horse.. He would NOT do a circle to the right and when pushed, he’d get mad and sneaky and charge me. Not willing to say, “thanks but no thanks” I figured I’d get him to come around. Needless to say I now sport 8 pins and a plate in my knee from said colt. When the owners came to visit me after 8 hours of surgery, they asked what the next move was……in my drug induced stupor I simply stated, “Alpo”…… I basically said the horse was a bigger fix, I felt he was dangerous and not fit for a family horse. They didn’t listen, and tried to find him a job, (pleasure, reining, trail, team penning) nothing seemed to make him happy and you could never trust him. Aftef he ended up breaking the wife’s pelvis, they finally sold him….to a woman who was considering herself a trainer. She did ok with him, til he threw her into a fence and shattered her collarbone. At a show. After she’d won two classes. I found out later, the colt had been sold to my clients because he was dangerous and unpredictable. But he was represented as a show prospect for amateurs and youth. Although it was a crappy way to learn, I learned it’s ok to say no to protect myself and others. I now train and sell horses, and I will NEVER make a sale that I think won’t work. We as horse people have a moral obligation to protect the people who may not ‘ve as knowledgeable!! Cheers! ! 🙂

    • Lisa Layton on January 5, 2014 at 4:32 pm

      My feelings exactly. and now adays I am not afraid to voice my opinion. There are to many good horses that like people to try to ”re-hab” a dangerous unpredictable 1000 loaded missile. I tell people right up front if I don’t think the horse is suitable, and I have done the same even if I bred the horse.No sale is worth it. I breed Arabians, and more often, the people aren’t suitable to the horse, then the other way around, the horses are so smart and gentle, the wrong person can ruin them,

  27. Madeline C. on December 19, 2013 at 12:43 pm

    Kudos for you for saying no. 99.9% of the time it’s not the horse, it’s the owner. If the owner is willing to do what is necessary, any horse can find a purpose… Obviously he was just not willing to do what he needed to do. I feel bad for the horse, and the guy’s kid. Good for you.

  28. Susan on December 19, 2013 at 8:27 am

    Unfortunately as horse trainers we run into these situations all too often, Fortunately not often to the extreme like the man you describe. More than likely he created the problem with the horse as he seems to have anger management issues. With many people it is already hard enough to get them to understand that that ‘Green + Green = Black & Blue’ and you can’t produce a finished horse in 30 days.
    In this age of self entitlement where people are looking for instant gratification and money should be able to buy them anything, I find it increasingly difficult to get them to understand the horses’ needs and understand a whole program. And there are always trainers out there that will take their money and tell them what they want to hear. As true horsemen/women we are about trying to understand what is going on in a horses’ head and why, but these people want a magic button.
    I am working with a stallion right now that seems very similar to the horse you described. He reminds me of the stallion in the movie Buck. I have made progress, but especially as a stallion it has become obvious that all of his behavior will never completely go away and will always require a very experienced hand.. With this horse it is obvious that he was the spoiled baby that never learned boundaries, like a spoiled child, and learned to challenge rather than a case of abusive handling.
    But the other situation I am encountering more and more is the horses have training issues due to pain and many veterinarians are not proficient enough at diagnosis as many of these pain issues are not related to simple leg lameness. Often i know by an owners description, when they bother to tell me all the issues, that it is a pain issue. I always start with ground work with a new horse and can identify the pain symptoms in this ground work. These symptoms can be as simple as ear pinning, girthiness, not going forward, uneveness in the gaits, a little buck in the canter or transition and as extreme as rearing, bucking, and bolting. Some with proper work and strengthening will overcome many of these symptoms. The most frequent cause is spinal arthritis and many veterinarians are not familiar with this issue or can properly diagnose and treat. Careful with EPM diagnosis as well, most cases it is actually arthritis. I was very fortunate to meet an excellent vet who is an amazing diagnostic wizard and at the forefront of his field. And he continues to educate himself which most of your vets in the filed don’t have the time or take the time to do. Try to explain to a client that their horse has an arthritic condition when their vet says there is nothing physically wrong with the horse. Many times they can recognize the symptoms but not the source.

  29. Joanne Andrews on December 18, 2013 at 12:24 pm

    Thankyou for posting this!!!

    I have been training and teaching Classical riding, not in a big way, since 1968.

    My friend fb posted this so that people in our area could see it. Perfect timing for me, too! I helped my ‘friend’ of 20 years get a special-needs horse, whose owner had died, and had five horses needing to be re-homed. She knew, for months, that this otherwise kind, decent, gentleman of a horse would not be one whose education could be rushed, before she got him. She has been consistently good and patient, with six previous horses, since I have known her. We were finally making great progress, overcoming his issues with fear, hunger, and poor handling. Suddenly, she hired trainer new to this area, because she wanted some ’30 day’ results! The horse was lame, when it got to it’s new location, but that didn’t stop this trainer. A believer in Monty Robert’s throwing things at horses, she put back the fear. He doesn’t come when called, anymore. Five weeks of education on a sore foot, with lower rations, and having been kept in a small, grassless paddock, and the joy in his lessons that he had learned, are gone, too.

    But, his owner is pleased, because this trainer got on him, riding at a walk and trot, stiff legged and above the bit, in a round pen. She will continue with this trainer, because ‘she got the job done’!

    I’ve put a long, fat, line in the sand!

  30. James Rathburn on December 18, 2013 at 11:29 am

    Stacie, I have a few similar stories…
    A lady in Houston, TX. bought a horse from a local adoption place…the horse would stand to be brushed, blanketed, saddled, lounged, washed, trimmed..etc. She said it started bucking with her and her sons…so she called me, I came to see her and the horse, I worked and rode the horse for 2 days…at the end of which I told her that she needed to give the horse back and get another one…she did as I requested and now has a good horse for her and her family to ride…as for the rescue horse, we made a video of him and it aired on Clinton Anderson’s Down Under Horseman T.V. show…the one time in my career that I couldn’t fix a horse, that Mr. Anderson was kind enough to helped me. To this day I am not sure that you can trust that horse…I understand having to take what you get to start your career…but after 20 + years, I too am getting choosy about what horses are worth taking in for training.
    Stacie Westfall, you are an inspiration to a lot of people, me included…it’s an honor to know you as a friend, a competitor, and a Professional Horsewomen…

  31. lifegamer on December 18, 2013 at 7:33 am

    You are a wiser woman, Stace…Sometimes we peeps get so angry with our situations & the states of our society, and a few of us go nuts with this frustration…Horse is no different. Now is a fine time to move away from such crazy-ness & keep plugging for Change as best we can.

    I live by a motto, “I send you nothing but Angels.” Obviously those of your scenario reflect the human condition, and with great truth of the matter. So many of our-kind are rising up, stomping our feet, & screaming “Enough is Enough!” Nature has Her speakers, too.

    Blessings to Horse, Dog, Cat, Bird, who have put up with Us for so long…Sorry that some of you must ‘snap’ to make us See other-‘wise’.

    Blessings to Us humans who hold the relations of All Nature near & dear…to those who See that other-‘wise’-ness.

  32. Sandy on December 18, 2013 at 1:01 am

    Kudos to you! The owner sounds like he is abusive to his animals, family and probably everyone he comes in contact with. I can’t imagine having to work with this guy, much less be a family member. You inspire me.

  33. Anna-Leigh London on December 18, 2013 at 12:35 am

    Dear Stacy,
    I am a retired horse trainer and I am happy to say that I have had an incredibly meaningful and very successful career spanning nearly 4 decades. I am so happy that you turned down that owner. In March of 1995 I took in a horse against my better judgement, and the owners were both inexperienced as well as foolish. I was pressured by them to ride their mare before I thought she was ready, because most of the horses I work with come along quickly. I was care-flighted to the trauma hospital. Sadly the horse killed the lady who owner her as she was offering her carrots, and her husband shot the mare as she continued stomping the poor woman’s body. It was the most tragic, and avoidable situation, because their vet ( who was also mine) had warned them before they brought her to me for training that the mare had a rare brain disorder and should be put down before she kills someone THEY DID NOT TELL ME THIS!!!, I was a single mother with three children. I had ten broken bones, ripped my left arm off and had several surgeries to save it. I punctured a lung and had a traumatic brain injury, kidney damage from being in shock.Sprained my neck broken ribs internal injuries and three years of physical therapy. Now eighteen years later I am going for two revision surgeries on my shoulders I will likely be laid up for another 6 to 12 months.Surgeries are in January After I pick up my Horse Solana’s Horse of the year Awards in Kentucky! A little communication would have been most respectful and appreciated.
    As for the nut case that you turned down….Personally I believe that parents who allow their children to get repeatedly bucked off a horse, well that is called “felony child endangerment” it’s one thing when accidents happen, but as responsible adults we try to minimize those risks. I hope his kid was wearing an ASTM SEI helmet.. Keep up the good work.
    Anna-Leigh London

  34. Penny Mallow on December 17, 2013 at 10:25 pm

    I think you made the right choice.. He would have blammed you and spread rumors… I only wish in my dreams i could get horse training from you ! I would be honset to you and hope you would be honest with me. This story is about the child and the parent who seems to be looking for a quick fix, not the right fix, with no concerns of the safety of the child. Good insight to the situation.

  35. Sabrina on December 17, 2013 at 9:07 pm

    People just don’t get it , 30 days is NOT a broke horse , 30 days is a STARTED horse, to me 30 days simply means that someone that knows what they are doing should be able to trail ride that horse , not fully broke just has a clue and most bucking / rearing should be stopped if it was an issue, and they should stand for tacking, and do basic steering , go and whoa . no matter how smart or gentle there is just so much that can be see and experanced in 30 days , there is just not enough hours . there is just no way that one can be “finished ” in 30 days , and it has to be a very special horse for me to even consider putting a child on it at that time , maybe after 90 days but never
    ~ also good for you , as soon as they said they wanted their child on an aggressive horse in 30days , no way would I want a part of getting a kid hurt

  36. Sarah DR on December 17, 2013 at 8:46 pm

    Recently, I spoke with an acquaintance, M, who commented on the abilities of a particular rider/trainer. This rider/trainer, let’s call him “A”, is the only person I would trust to work my horses, except myself. He is incredibly sensitive, kind and soft in the hand, and puts the horse’s welfare first – ALWAYS. He has european certification and credentials, but does not make a big show of it. He is also 47 years old. He did some work for M, surprising me with how much he had been able to accomplish and tolerate, since I know full the conditions she can create. He rode her stallion, beautifully, and worked with a few young horses. M’s complaint to me was that A wouldn’t get on a particular horse – which, in her view, made him “afraid of horses”. He told her the horse was dangerous, as it was 8 years old and had never even worn a halter – because no-one had been able to halter it. He was not willing to risk his body and livelihood. So, M sent the horse down to a “cowboy-style” guy in Tennessee, who got the horse broke. BTW, the horse has been backed & bitted, but is still not being ridden. He is just not trustworthy.

    The sad part is that M is very well-known within particular Warmblood circles. I have no doubt that she might mention this “afraid” thing to other folks – when all A was doing was looking out for his own safety. Any trainer I know, including myself in my stupid younger days, would take one look at that horse and refuse to get themselves or an assistant hurt. It’s just not worth it.

    Why is it, then, when a trainer says that a particular horse is not something they feel comfortable training, or that horse may not meet the owner’s expectations in the given time period, or may simply be wrong, unsuitable or unsafe for the intended job, some people feel that the trainer is weak, unqualified or stupid??? Even the best horses can be dangerous, unpredictable beasts. A trainer takes a calculated risk and should not be expected to risk their life or future livelihood.

    • Anna-Leigh London on December 18, 2013 at 12:48 pm

      Nicely said Sarah 🙂

  37. Lynne Jones on December 17, 2013 at 7:15 pm

    I once told an owner with a similar horse that I wasn’t going to be responsible for putting his kid in a wheelchair for the rest of his life… Or worse. That SORT of got his attention.

  38. Lori on December 17, 2013 at 7:03 pm

    I enjoy problem solving so just a quick suggestion to mull over.

    A waiver form indicating all the warnings you give the owners about timeframes for training. At the bottom, you could indicate your recommendations: ready for any age ride, ready only for experienced riders, needs more work on a, b and c before riding. You could check off which level or write a more personalized recommendation. Both owner and trainer sign before horse is released at the end of the time that the owner is willing to allot.

    Would protect you from liability when you know the horse is not or may not be ready for the owners goal but ensures the animal has the foundations from someone reputable and skilled rather than a hack or abuser.

    Best wishes,


    • Donna Smith on December 17, 2013 at 7:18 pm

      That is a great suggestion.

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