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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)

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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.

245 Comments

  1. Anonymous on December 16, 2013 at 4:13 pm

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  2. Terry Peckham on December 16, 2013 at 4:12 pm

    Totally agree with your decision. John Lyons was in Florida and woman with a big warm blood gelding that had been an orphan, cornered John wanting John to work this horse. He finally agreed to round pen. The horse was fine for the first couple of minutes and when John pushed on the horse a little, the horse charged John in much the way your horse did. He boxed the horse away from him and round penned the horse a few minutes more and was done. His advice to the owner was not welcomed. His advice was that the horse would need an experience trainer and may not ever get to the point of being trusted. The woman later was laughing about having a kid safe horse, sad. We found out later in the month the horse was put down as it had become more dangerous. To many time people have un-realistic goals for these animals. So happy you were upfont and real with this owner.

    • Lara on August 14, 2014 at 6:58 pm

      That horse probably didn’t have a thing against humans when he was born but taught by people to be that way. So many people feel sorry for orphan horses or rescues and treat them like frightened children when another horse would just treat it like a horse. The petting, treats and pushing all seem cute when their little and it only leads to big horses with the same behaviour. This horse then has issues when it’s sent to a trainer because no human has ever told it what to do or to have respect for our bubble. Once again it’s a horse with people problems and the horse suffers for it. Not saying that all orphans or rescues are bad but I can almost guarantee the bad ones are coddled.

  3. Pam on December 16, 2013 at 4:12 pm

    I agree. Everyone has to be on the same page. Too bad the horse is the one suffering. Owner’s attitude may end up having the horse destroyed needlessly.

  4. Nat on December 16, 2013 at 4:03 pm

    It would be good if that guy has read this but even if he did would he understand? Highly doubtful. Thank you for being who you are Stacy, the world and especially the horse world is better for having you in it.

  5. Cathy Trope on December 16, 2013 at 3:59 pm

    I couldn’t agree more with what you did. I have had chargers and the problem is, you can fix them for YOU. You can’t fix them for the owner who created the problem because you can’t fix the owner – because typically they won’t take guidance! I had someone say, but won’t punishing him when he charges me make him angrier? *headdesk* That poor horse needs a new home and I hope he finds it and not a kill truck. And I hope the boy is not hurt in the meantime.

  6. paige macfarland on December 16, 2013 at 3:58 pm

    people are just plain crazy and in denial. i see it every day in my hair salon. not that i’m comparing hair to horse training but rather peoples state of mind when they get into the denial process and refuse to listen. i’ve dismissed many people from my chair and i would dismiss a crazy horse owner alot faster.

  7. Barbare Nielsen on December 16, 2013 at 3:54 pm

    I feel so sorry for the horses in these instances for they are the ones that don’t understand and get abused for it. Certainly agree with Stacy in her choices and also admire Stacy’s horseman ship

  8. Sharon on December 16, 2013 at 3:44 pm

    We took in an “American Warmblood” mare here at our rescue. She was the most spoiled horse we have ever encountered and the first day she tried to run me down in the pasture with ears back and teeth showing. I stepped aside and cracked her with the rope in my hand as she flew by and then as she slid to a stop turned toward me and started to charge, I got away under the fence as she turned and started kicking the fence down to get to me or express her issues. I would never send a horse like this to a trainer so they can get hurt? Or put her up for adoption stating that she needs a little work – ever. Dangerous horses need to be euthanized. Glad you didn’t get hurt by that guy!!

  9. Dawn May on December 16, 2013 at 3:43 pm

    I totally would have done the same thing Stacy. Reminds me of a time when a guy in his 60 s brought me his 5 year old recently gelded TB. He had owned this horse since he was 3, and he was nothing but a big spoiled brat. This was back when I was much younger and appreciated a challenge haha, so after my speech (which I had to add to regarding the age of the horse, and the fact that he was a beginning rider!) He agreed to give me a couple days with his horse, and right before he left I hollered, “You should really consider getting an older broke horse to ride!” I called my cousin, a big, brawny, cowboy who roped and did the wild horse race at local rodeos.(Need I say more? Notice I said cowboy, not horseman LOL) I just had a feeling this horse was not only going to buck, but buck hard! I worked with the horse in the round pen that evening, and the next morning. He was pretty good actually, better than most. He was relaxed and joined up with me in the round pen fairly quickly. He had horrible manners at first, but he accepted whatever I did and learned quickly. I sacked him out and got the saddle on him and the side-pull. My cousin got there and messed with the horse for a little bit, then he slowly got on. Well before I end up writing a novel here haha yes, that horse blew and yeah, things got western pretty fast! I called the guy and said come get your horse. I tried talking to this gentleman one last time, but he drove away mad.

    Fast forward a few years, and at this time I don’t have a round pen, but I DO have a 2 year old gelding that I’m starting and STACY, I am enjoying your videos so much and I’ve already learned so much! God bless you and your beautiful family!

  10. Michele Simpson on December 16, 2013 at 3:42 pm

    And the child will probably have a deep seated hate for horses for the rest of his life. People are much harder to handle than horses and I think you did the right thing.

  11. Christina Savitsky on December 16, 2013 at 3:37 pm

    Stacy, you ROCK! I <3 that you called Jesse in, and that you wrote about it, good husbands are AWESOME aren't they!??! & good for you for standing your ground, I'd pick your team anyday 🙂 Thanks for the blog & the inspiration

  12. Dennise Brown on December 16, 2013 at 3:26 pm

    Good for you Stacy! Too many trainers do a quick fix and all that accomplishes is problems down the road.Wonder what the owner would have thought if his child had gotten SERIOUSLY hurt in those falls/dumps?

  13. LKJ on December 16, 2013 at 3:26 pm

    I feel for the son involved. How sad.

  14. Shannon Jo Arritola on December 16, 2013 at 3:20 pm

    Thanks for sharing Stacy. As an experienced trainer, it is very frustrating to see people all around who could really use some help with their horse(s), but they are too cheap to pay for it. They wold rather to to the cheapest trainer they can find, than pay a little more for a better job. I feel sorry for these horses; they deserve the best we can give them.
    Again, thanks for sharing… I hope it encourages people to think a little more clearly about their own situation.

  15. Laura Glascock on December 16, 2013 at 3:11 pm

    I had a 2yr old filly that had been raised as if it were a pet dog for a 5year old girl. The owner stopped by our farm and asked if I would come out and look at her because she had loading issues to start with. She had never been off the farm or out of the field let alone halter broke. They had simply fed her in a loafing shed and loved her over the fence when she wanted treats. The 1000 pound pet had a soft eye about her when she was doing her own thing. I stepped into field with her and she was curious about me from the start. She remained arms distance until the treats came out. You could feed her one but she wasn’t going to let me touch her in return. I informed her owners that this was not going to be a child safe horse for quite some time. I explained that if they wanted a horse for their daughter that I would gladly help them find one but this horse needed at least 90 days training for starters. I agreed to take her because they said that they needed to get the horse started and they felt confident that I could get the job done. I also explained that someone would need to continue on with this horse that was experienced with young horses after I was through. I in turn told them that I thought their daughter who had never ridden in her young life needed riding and general horse lessons. The lessons learned by her parents were priceless….. She had no desire to do anything with a horse at all. She didn’t want to do basic care- brushing, picking a stall, feeding or watering. She just wanted to pet them and be done. I got the filly going which I know was a total waste of their money because no one would ever ride the horse when I was done. I expressed the need for the horse to continue with an experienced rider and her family said that was understood. This filly has never in all these years been more than a lawn ornament. They still own her at the age of 16. I guess I did save her parents from spending money on another more suitable horse but I find it sad to see good horses wasted. I would rather give a horse to someone that I know will use it than see it standing in a field going to waste. We did that with our granddaughters horse last year. Social life became her prime interest and a totally kid safe little mare was going to waste. We donated her to a program in our area that allows children to lease horses for the local 4-H groups with the thoughts that we could visit anytime. She has wonderful home and we check in on her regularly. The kids love her and she loves all the attention. It warms our hearts to know she still remembers us when we walk in and that she is loved by so many wonderful children. She deserves this!

  16. J2B on December 16, 2013 at 3:09 pm

    You’re the only clinician/trainer I follow because your willing to admit things like this. We would have sent him home too. I have declined potential clients this year because one asked me how far along we could get her 2 yr olds in 30 days and I told her they will go home riding quiet, knowing leads, soft in the body and backing up. She informed me her last colt starter had hers riding like a reiner in 30 days…. I said we don’t do that to 2 yr olds.

    • Dawn May on December 16, 2013 at 3:18 pm

      Right on J2B 🙂

  17. Donna Kraemer on December 16, 2013 at 3:08 pm

    Wow. I really feel sorry for that poor kid and that confused horse. Not sure what kind of man subjects others, let alone his own child to harm. It must be so hard to remain neutral in these situations with unruly owners. Sounds like you did a great job Stacy!

  18. Denise Watkins on December 16, 2013 at 3:07 pm

    TOTALLY AGREE WIT YOUR DICISION..HOPEFULLY THE CHILD NEVER PAYS THE PRICE FOR THE PARENTS STUPIDITY

  19. luposine on December 16, 2013 at 3:07 pm

    If only more trainers thought like you…..!!!
    Chapeau, Stacy, couldn’t agree more!

  20. Sara on December 16, 2013 at 3:06 pm

    I would have done the same. Some aren’t worth it.

  21. Darian on December 16, 2013 at 3:05 pm

    The age of the child would make a difference is my desicion. Also the experience. The whole point of 4H is for the kids to excel with their horses not kids having their horses trained by someone else. Maybe you could have made that horse sound enough in 30 days for a teenager to work with the rest of the time. Although the mans attitude in the first place prob would have been enough to turn me off.

  22. Regi on December 16, 2013 at 2:59 pm

    Sounds like you did the smart thing and went with your gut instinct 🙂

  23. Beth on December 16, 2013 at 2:58 pm

    I run a rescue,and agree totally. We have a sanctuary horse who is a gorgeous foundation bred QH gelding, now 9 years old, who ‘didn’t make progress’ (beyond a trot in the round pen) with one trainer (over 9 mo), then did ok, until he totally exploded in bucking like a rodeo horse on the second (after which he had 9 mo off, full vet check, dental, chiro, massage, etc) and the third, with a FULL disclosure of the events prior and my worries about this mental ‘on off switch’, gave her 30 day eval that he was ‘not right, and not predictable’… and that was when he came home to stay. I have considered euthanizing him as he did have one episode like you describe of charging my daughter, but have not done so yet. but he will never go from us, as someone will say ‘how pretty he is’ and put someone on him… and rides 1-9 will go well, then #10… someone gets hurt…? well, not on my watch.
    not worth it.
    Or they label him dangerous, and blame us, or our trainers… well… nope.
    good for you.
    you have to be willing to get them trained well enough to be a good steady trail horse, or they are forever at risk of going down the auction, slaughter pipeline…

  24. Elizabeth Cowling-Jones on December 16, 2013 at 2:58 pm

    You are a great person and you help horses and people, it was a battle you would never have won. (with the owner that is). I am short of money and have a really difficult young horse that needs training, I have no experience with young horses (and he is a stallion). Although not for much longer I know when I am beat on that one. I have saved money and sold stuff and I know that it will take much longer than three months, i am realistic. I really admire your stamina and your techniques and you have enough to do without fighting people. I just feel so sorry for that horse, if only he would have listened and let you take the time with the horse, it is not only the kid that gets a difficult life a difficult horse with issues also will end up miserable. I live in germany so will never be able to ask you to help me, but I have found a really good humane trainer who also trains people… at the moment I am getting help with the basics so i can train in the round pen at home, until I have saved enough to ensure my horse gets the full training he deserves.
    I love your blogs they keep me sane and help no end with my little problems.

  25. Ricky Cummings on December 16, 2013 at 2:58 pm

    Your knowledge sets realistic expectations and this experience is far too common for good trainers that are honest enough to set a limit. I like your ability to walk away from this man, though the horse needed you. Whoever initiated 30 day schedules for training was obviously one of those trainers lacking knowledge of horses. So many bad trainers are stuck in this kind of mindset, and the horses suffer for it. Many of the problems are brought on by high expectations of humans that are lacking knowledge and experience. The end result is high disappointment for them, and a tougher life for the horse not having a chance to learn on its own schedule.

  26. Cindy McDonald on December 16, 2013 at 2:56 pm

    You know your horses and are clearly a person dedicated to the safety of horse and rider. Feel sorry for the boy and the horse. In fact that whole family.
    Was the horse in the photos this horse. I raise paints and just wondered.
    I have seen you preform at Congress in person and think you are a pleasure to watch.

    • Stacy on December 17, 2013 at 9:34 am

      Cindy-It was a paint, but the photos are not of that specific paint. Also, I love paints and it has nothing to do with the breed (some others are talking)….the owner was the major issue.

      • Susan Riedy on December 6, 2014 at 11:00 am

        I love how people think you can make 30 days into a broke horse..(NOT)..good for you to send it home…

  27. Stacy on December 16, 2013 at 2:56 pm

    He didn’t prove you wrong, you proved how stupid of a horse owner he is, what parent let’s his child ride a horse that is obviously not broke and dangerous? He’s extremely lucky that his child isn’t in the hospital paralyzed.

  28. Jeri Kunkel on December 16, 2013 at 2:54 pm

    That’s a great story for life in general. Unfortunately, animals are the innocent ones. People need the fixing. Taking a good look at ourselves and every opportunity to learn from life lessons will help us in the long run. Hopefully, that man will see that his anger will hurt his family and himself most of all.

  29. Cliff Swanson on December 16, 2013 at 2:54 pm

    Stacy, II have been traininig horses and giving clinics all over the globe for 40 years now and have come to learn, you did the right thing. Bad horses and bad people are a no win deal and always will be. Tell me why they always seem to end up together?

  30. Amy Brandt on December 16, 2013 at 2:53 pm

    I would of done the same thing. That owner needs to set his pride aside and look at reality. When children’s safety is a concern and you cannot afford the training then sell the horse!

  31. carol natasha stanley on December 16, 2013 at 2:50 pm

    Good thinking — I sent some young horses to a trainer for 3 months while I moved to another state. One of the colts I took with me and the other was sent to the racetrack in southern Illinois/St.Louis. When the horse got there, they called me and told me he was barely broke, if at all and would have to be retrained before getting close to the track. But those trainers in Lexington, KY area took my money – and did not deliver anything! Since I was moving, I had little time to check up on the colt’s progress. He was not a bad horse at all – he was just green-green-green. I ended up not paying those people in KY for the last month – once I found they had done nothing with my colt – and had to pay for new training at a distant place. I definitely regret sending my horse babies out at all!! at that point in time – It all went wrong from the beginning –when Brookledge showed up with a high ramp box trailer – my babies were never going to load on that.!! I should have waited and just worked with them myself – I would have done a much better job of gentling them by myself —Another jolting lesson learned!! Lots of regret…….it all ended poorly…..the story gets worse….

  32. Flo Browne on December 16, 2013 at 2:47 pm

    “Owners who won’t listen are a losing formula”. No truer words were ever spoken!

  33. Nikki Schleppe on December 16, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    I agree with you whole heartedly! I have trained and owned horses all my life that no one else wanted. I have a mare who, after 10 years of me riding her will never be a child’s horse. What if his son was seriously injured? Not only would you feel bad but would he try to hold you responsible? You have to be able to live with yourself when all is said and done.

  34. Dexter Burt on December 16, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    Some people just simply SHOULDN’T own horses. Good for you Ms. Westfall.

  35. Tina Ghilotti on December 16, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    Agree Stacy. It always surprises me that folks don’t listen to experienced professionals such as yourself. Safety has to be first.

    • larin wallace on December 16, 2013 at 5:55 pm

      People who grew up around horses automatically are experts sometimes in their own minds. I always told them that they could have high hopes if they wanted but the horse was going to have to decide to be great and I would just try and keep it fun and stay out of the horses way when he did.

  36. Eddie Davis on December 16, 2013 at 2:44 pm

    You are so right, I don’t want to be on that team either. It is because of this we have kept our operation small and only sell what we have trained. We have the policy that we will sell it to you at any stage of training, for instance if you are competent enough to complete the training and we make sure the owner is, but in general we don’t sell a horse that hasn’t been trained and you haven’t had a check ride on it with a lesson to explain what has been done, that way we have a clear conscience and that is worth a million dollars to me.

    • Lisa Layton on December 16, 2013 at 8:08 pm

      I agree with you Eddie! to take it one step further, baby horses are like a child, with special needs to grow and prosper. I never sold a weanling, until the year I broke my arm. I had a couple that came, talked the talk and sounded legit.Normally I grow them out to at LEAST four, and train them before I sell them, but I made an exception because we were trying to cut numbers, so I sold them a 2 yo and 2 very nice weanlings. They killed both weanlings with-in months. I also have to take them to court for failure to pay off the balance. Lesson learned. Never again will I entrust one of MY babies to anyone else.

      • Bobbie Jo Dawson on February 17, 2015 at 1:59 pm

        Wow :'( So very sorry for your loss.. Both of my girls are rescues and the thought of them ever being in that situation again scares the beegeezus outta me. Years ago, I was a partner in a large Arab breeding barn and understand that sometimes you sell when your heart says not to. I’ve also done my fair share of court dates for those that think my services are free and that the board I provide to their horses somehow doesnt’ cost me anything..
        As for the comment above above about “no surprise it was a paint”..are you kidding me?? For 1, Stacy said she brought the horse straight in to work for a minute and her husband was elsewhere.. I seriously doubt that she has a photographer on hand 24/7 or had the time to have someone come snap a couple pics for her..2. one of my mares is a paint–she has been through hell in her 7 years..she came from a herd of 20+ horses and every single one of those horses starved to death and were left where they fell in the field AND THEN the P.O.S. ‘owner’ tried to burn their bodies right there.. to say my mare arrived traumatized is putting in mildly..it took 6 months to gain her trust enough to let me brush her without her trying to kill me or herself trying to get away..fastforward almost 2 years later and she is the best mare around. She ponies my 5 year old around like she’s been doing it for years.. She is the first to greet me when I walk into the barn and is now 99.9% bomb proof (bc we all know no horse is 100%)..
        I know that this is years late, but just had to let you know that I feel for you and your loss and get that off my chest about the whole statement about paints..
        I train as well, but wont even get started on the amount of less than intelligent clients I have had.. like someone earlier said..You cant fix stupid!!

  37. Cathy on December 16, 2013 at 2:40 pm

    I refuse to work with man killers. I have nothing to prove. I was assisting at a demo. A man killer was in the round pen with me. The ground school was going well. I was told to escalate. I said the horse was not ready. I was told again to escalate. Reluctantly I did. The horse went crazy. The sun caught my eye and the mare took advantage of that split second. She spun around and I was facing her rear. She was preparing to kick my head off. Thoughts were racing through my head. I knew I couldn’t get away quick enough. I also knew the closer i am to the horse the better. She let me have it with both feet. She kicked me clear across the round pen and I fell on my back onto hard rocky ground. My head bounced several times. What saved me was that for the first time ever something told me to wear my riding helmet while working this horse. I tore up the inside of the helmet. The mare kicked me in the breasts. Straight on. She damaged my left side. My right side happened to get protected from the horseman stick I was holding. The stick took the blow. My mistake was not saying no when asked to escalate as I knew that we had accomplished enough with the mare. It was a badly abused rescue horse.

    As for people, I had a student who refused to do as we asked. This was the first bad student. She told me it is her horse and she can train it any way she wants. My thoughts were…then why did you pay us to teach you the program. I asked her if we are done. Yes. So, we will not take students who refuse to ‘get with the program’. It is one thing to not get it. But when a student pays us and thinks we are to teach them their way, we’ll, that doesn’t work with us.

    I guess we all have to learn the hard way sometimes. It is too easy to not say no or to honor what you know is best.

  38. Patti Nagy on December 16, 2013 at 2:39 pm

    Same sort of thing happened to me. A horse came to my farm, rideable but untrained, that the Owner wanted for his son to ride. I liked her very much and I thought she had alot of potential, so I agreed to do what I could for her. I explained to him that it was going to take some time to get her “solid”, but she would do fine. I work during the day, but enjoyed this little mare so much that I was excited to get home and get to her. So I did. Every day for 2 weeks. I made great strides with her. Nice and fun little mare, but a challenge… Then, on Saturday, 2 weeks into this, when all the kids were getting ready to leave for a show, the man and his son showed up with a trailer to go to the show with us. It was the first time I had seen him or his son since I started working with his little mare, and here he was, loading her up for a show! Geez! I talked to him and told him the mare wasn’t ready but he was determined to take her along. I told him if he took her along, it would be for exposure only and his son would have to stay on the ground and not get on her. Even made him leave his tack behind….Well, we get to the show and things were fine until the boy decided he wanted to ride too. Some little teenage girls lent him some tack, and next thing I know he’s in the pen warming her up! It took less than 5 minutes and that boy was on the ground. Then one of the little teenage girls decided she could do better, and 5 minutes later she was on the ground too….(no injuries to either of them) Of course, everyone at the show witnessed the festivities, and of course they all knew she came from my farm and I was working with her….I had some explaining to do! The bright side of this is since then, the man has abandon the mare, so she’s mine, and next season, when I take her out to a show, all of those people that witnessed what occurred will see what time and work will do for a horse….

  39. Chris R. on December 16, 2013 at 2:38 pm

    He was more interested in proving you wrong than his own son’s safety, Father of the year! I feel sorry for the horse but even more sorry for his son.

  40. Wendy Russ on December 16, 2013 at 2:37 pm

    Good call..can’t fix stupid!
    Feel for the horse and kid though.

  41. Doreen Paul on December 16, 2013 at 2:31 pm

    Wow. That’s incredible. It’s amazing how some people/parents are. Good on you for not taking the horse sounds like it would have been a loosing prospect with owner never happy. Would hate to be his kid.

  42. Jean Ettinger on December 16, 2013 at 2:29 pm

    The saddest part of this story for me is that you cared more for his child than he did. Worse yet, it is a miracle that the child only got dumped 3 times versus being attacked by such an unsafe horse. Shame that the horse, the child and this man learned lessons that they never should have i.e., you can get by using short cuts. Good for you for standing behind your training and beliefs!

  43. Marcie Grenard on December 16, 2013 at 2:24 pm

    I agree 100% why would someone act that way? Putting the horse through all that then putting his son in a position like that he should be brought up on charges for child endangerment. Thank you for using your head!

  44. Deb Pierson on December 16, 2013 at 2:24 pm

    I would of had the guy pay up front and do the 30 days of course before getting the money have the guy sign a contract that says you do the 30 days and results aren’t guaranteed. Work the horse and who knows he may have came around after a couple days and turned out fine. Unfortunately, we have no way of knowing what a horse can really do until you try it. What you did is about the only option available and a good one. I agree but my curiosity would have made me try anyways.

    • bitsandpiecesintx on January 5, 2014 at 7:46 am

      Curiosity killed the cat, or broke my leg, in my case!! Lol

  45. CeCe Calli on December 16, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    People(horse owners) just don’t get that “You can’t make Chicken Soup our of Chicken Poop”. This man proving a point at the expense of his sons well being is a very dangerous combination. Sometimes the best thing to do is walk away. Time “is” money, safety is priceless…….

  46. Candy Haasch on December 16, 2013 at 2:22 pm

    No surprise it was a paint.

    • Jen Kosegi on December 17, 2013 at 8:32 am

      What’s wrong with paints?

      We have a 27-year-old tobiano Dutch warmblood gelding who has been there, done that, and is the cornerstone of our lesson program and the most beloved horse in our barn. He’s the gentlest, most patient horse we’ve ever seen, and he teaches EVERY beginner rider in our program how to canter. Oh, and he’s also voice trained. And my boss gets offers on him from USEF AA-circuit judges every time she takes him to a show–but turns them all down because he’s priceless to us.

      FYI, it’s neither wise nor fair to make sweeping generalizations.

    • Jenna on December 18, 2013 at 6:00 pm

      I’ve got a paint he is 17yrs old (had him since he was 4). He doesn’t have a mean bone in his body. He’s used routinely for pony rides because he’s bomb proof, and follows me like a dog so the kids think “they’re doing it”, but still a great barrel runner too. HE has even gone as far as protecting me from a loose stallion to “adopting” an orphaned foal. He’s pretty great and an awesome ride and I wouldn’t trade MY PAINT for the world!!! He’s not the only paint in our barn we have a herd, and their all great mannered horses, I think it all comes back to their humans and what they’re TAUGHT.

      So don’t paint a picture with one brush

      • KD on December 19, 2013 at 2:27 am

        I agree, I have 2 paints, Mare and gelding and they are the best. Soft, gentle, trusting.

    • Lin Bro on December 18, 2013 at 8:35 pm

      Gotta say something about the paint comment. My little tobiano mare is the easiest horse in the world. She is kind, patient, and safe. I love her.

    • Nic on December 29, 2013 at 4:11 am

      Just because there are photos doesn’t mean they are of the horse in question!

    • bitsandpiecesintx on January 5, 2014 at 7:45 am

      What an ignorant thing to say. Horses are like people, good and bad comes in all colors….just sayin’.

    • Lisa W. on March 10, 2014 at 3:26 pm

      What do you have against paints? My 18 yr old mare is a paint and she is the best darn trail horse you could ever ask for. She is brave, gentle, sensible, sure-footed, and always takes care of her rider…any age and ability. My paint mare is off the Navajo Indian Reservation and she has taken me into the desert, into breathtaking canyons, stunning badlands, across the 50 ft high sand dunes at White Sands National Monument, and above 10,000 feet into the rugged, steep mountains of New Mexico. My paint is my best friend and I can’t imagine trusting another horse like I do her.

      Paint horses are awesome horses! Ask yourself why Native Americans chose paints and pintos as their faithful, trust-worthy, tough, and sensible mounts!

      • Lisa on March 10, 2014 at 4:43 pm

        Paints did not exist ”back in the day”, but pinto’s were selected for MANY reasons. Paints, as I learned the hard way, are colorful QH’s, which are also a relatively ”new breed” by mosern standards. The most difficult horses I ever worked with were a couple of Paints, and some of the nicest horses I ever worked with were a couple of pinto’s. A good horse doesn’t come in a bad color.

      • Patti Young on August 20, 2014 at 7:51 pm

        Catching up reading some of these threads and saw your comment about Paints. I, too, have a Paint mare (15 yrs. old)… stunningly beautiful tri-color Tobiano and sweet and sensible as they come. She is careful, considerate and, like yours Lisa W, she also protects her riders. I used her at a charity event doing pony rides and one parent insisted on putting her under 2 year old child on her. Well, even tho the parent was holding on to her and the little girl was holding the horn with all her life’s worth, Missy would not walk a normal walk…. she was so careful and slow looking at me as if to say “do you not see that little thing on my back?”… I love my Paint girl and always will.

        • Lisa of Asil Arabians on August 21, 2014 at 2:52 pm

          Patti, my Arab stallion is the same way. Although I have had some unfortunate experiences with Paints, I have known a couple of sane ones also, but for taking care of riders and sanity? My all time lifetime achievement award must go to Arabians. My stallions have been absolutely incredible! The mares JUST as good.

      • Carol d on May 3, 2016 at 4:27 pm

        The native Americans only had Pintos to choose from.

    • Marian on September 9, 2014 at 3:28 am

      Obviously I am not the only paint owner who bristled a bit at that comment, but I also have to pitch in. I have an eight year old paint that I trained when he was three years old and ended up buying. He is the most incredible horse I have ever ridden. When he was three, you could control his gait and the speed of it with voice only. He trusts his rider absolutely and will tackle any obstacle on the trail if you ask him. He loves to run, but if he needs to be calm for the sake of other horses/riders, he settles and is very professional.

      I’ve ridden and worked with more horses than I can count and I’ve never met another horse to rival him. Wouldn’t trade my paint boy for anything.

    • CoolCo on December 6, 2014 at 10:37 am

      How do you know the horse in the picture is the same horse in the story??? Nowhere in the story does she ever mention any details about the horse other than that it was a two year old! You can’t stereotype a breed, color, or sex of a horse that acts like this; it can happen with any type of horse! And not all stories written necessarily correspond with the pictures shown…

    • guitar man on June 14, 2015 at 2:08 pm

      After 75 years of living on a ranch, I have rode and broke lots of horses. Certain breeds have certain traits. Percentage wise, the following is true. Certain breeds and bloodlines show certain characteristics. Here we go. Arabs are flighty and are prone to run off with you. Paints are prone to buck more than other breeds. Appaloosas don’t like you, if you don’t like them. Thoroughbreds don’t take to a lot of correction. A blood bay QH is most usually the best horse to ride. More of them are good minded and structurally sound if they have good conformation. Certain bloodlines can give you problems. Doc Bars, Depth Charge Roan Hancock and Pacific Bailey lines are sometimes problematic. Gaited horses are sometimes nutty acting. Most color breeds produce earlier blindness. I guess I’ve probably angered some horse owners, but these are my observations from years of experience.

      • lynn on December 10, 2015 at 11:39 pm

        The one thing I have found, is that the prettier the color or pattern of the horse, the higher likelihood of the horse being messed up. It’s not the horse’s fault, or his color’s fault — it’s that most clueless people tend to gravitate toward the pretty horses, most often by spoiling them horribly and/or rushing them in training and causing pain. The plain old blood bay QH tends to get broke after the prettier Araby faced palomino pinto pasture mate, and doesn’t tend to get spoiled as much.

        • Jessi on May 3, 2016 at 12:08 am

          Yes. This.

    • Carrie Crowe on May 2, 2016 at 3:03 pm

      She said in the article the horse in the pic wasn’t the horse she refused to train. She never gave details of the horse other than she wasn’t given enough time to do what the owner wanted done, so she chose not to do it (i don’t blame her one bit for that either)

    • Kenda Sebren on July 2, 2016 at 11:55 pm

      Stacy stated the horse in the picture is not the horse in the story. Nowhere in the story does it say its a paint. I have 3 paints and they are awesome gentle horses.

  47. Karla on December 16, 2013 at 2:17 pm

    Thanks for this. It really set my mind at easy. I recently turned down looking at a beautiful horse to some what of a situation. The person was trying to get rid of him was told first he was a 14 year old gelding well trained. What I was looking for. As things went on they said they didn’t want him to suffer any more, lights started going off in my head, but I was still willing to look at him. Then they started pressing me to make an offer on him sight unseen. I refused it kept on they wanted a offer. The next thing I knew this 14 year old well broke gelding went to a 14 year old stallion that was green broke and not been ridden since he was 3. That changed everything as I am not set to handle a stallion any more nor do I want to deal with a green broke older horse. I already have two green broke horses. I tried to make it clear I was no longer interested and up until last night they were wanting to know when I was coming to get this horse I never said I would take. Never wen made it to look at him after the stories started changing. Thanks.

  48. Danalynn Bishop on December 16, 2013 at 2:14 pm

    amen he would just sell the horse after you fixed it…he stated the son to get more training out of you hopefully and if he didn’t he would blame you..you saw all the signs and your are here to tell the story.. that parent should be turned in..for sure.. someone took time with it and probably gave up after you did… its what we all have to do in business…Ive had very few ..I simply turned down to show property to or write something on…my one thing is ..if they don’t understand the paperwork…I can be sued…those I let go..the other type is when I work with a seller and they want to low ball it…I will send them directly to another agent… They have been glad… You did the right thing and that man cant blame or sue you for what he wouldn’t accept…I applaud you for your guts
    Danalynn Circlestarfarms.net

  49. Jimmy Driver on December 16, 2013 at 2:13 pm

    The owners can be the most difficult part of working with horses as you and Jessie have learned too. Hope you have a Merry Christmas

  50. Missie on December 16, 2013 at 2:11 pm

    I agree. Not worth the 30 day $ for one horse.

    • debbie kevins on December 16, 2013 at 8:34 pm

      Bought a green broke 3 year old 8 years ago. A beginner rider…the horse was a bully and did some of the scariest stuff ever including charging, teeth chomping, and cow kicks. I learnt a lot over these years and he is a good boy now helping me learn dressage but so much has happened along the way including me having to control my fear and fear induced rage, I am better for the experience but I wouldn’t wish it on anyone! Still, for me personally it was in many ways a challenge for my “inner” growth as well as a benefit for him that someone had the time to take it slow. Also had many pro’s helping and giving advice! Feel sorry for this horse as he will probably end up hurting someone and get a lot of that fear rage turned back at him.

      • Christy on May 11, 2016 at 11:30 pm

        Very much going through a similar situation. 35 years working and training horses and my newest horse is the first one to ever scare me … Not enough to back down but enough to have a very keen understanding of his ability to learn and plan and understand what he would like to happen. In the end I do believe will will be a great team but we are both paying our dues

    • Liz Wyatt on December 16, 2013 at 11:32 pm

      Stacey, i have messed with my fair share, but no where near as many as you. Being a horse seller, i usually pick up everyone’s rejects at sales or horses with issues. Most have turned out to be person error but i have had a few real challenges. I worked for a man who would buy every horse in a sale that acted up in the ring BC they were obviously cheaper. Horses are the easiest to deal with, owners not so much. I know in my heart not all horses are what we as humans consider “college graduate material”, and also a lot are barely “high school graduate” material. Some have physical or mental limitations that are no fault of their own. Some have issues from early on, and i have had the opportunity to deal with a gaited mule that was seemingly born innately hateful. He hit the ground and after imprinting still was pissed he was in open air and had to mind humans. He left the farm as a very deceitful gelding and i have all ideas even after how ewell and stern we treated him hes like that still today. I applaud you for continuing with “public training” and know all too well the “speech” and how people want you to make sunflower horses from the crap they leave you in 30 days BC of finances. I try to get people to come the last week or during training to learn to work with their horses and learn the new cues, but often times even that is a hassle and they just expect them to go home “broke”. You my dear, keep on keeping on with the awesomeness you are, and with the gift you have. I know now and am comfortable knowing I can never please everyone 100% of the time, but i can sure try. And trying is the best you can do. Happy trails, Liz Wyatt

      • Lori B. on July 1, 2014 at 6:22 pm

        Well said Liz Wyatt!!

    • Robin GREELY on December 16, 2013 at 11:47 pm

      I would have saved that horse from that owner if it was me . Wouldn’t you have wanted better for that animal?

      • Liz on December 20, 2013 at 4:20 pm

        Unless one happens to be incredibly independently wealthy with unlimited pastures and stalls, saving every horse with a crap owner is just not an option. Pretty soon you end up out of money, out of room, and no hay in the horses’ bellies. I wouldn’t judge her taking a pass on that one.

        • Lisa Layton on December 20, 2013 at 7:23 pm

          I absolutely agree, because I did that to myself, and it is a dark spot I would never go back to. Stacy made the right choice. I feel for the mans child, and the horse, but there is only so much each person can do. You just can’t save them all.

      • Tracy Johnson on December 6, 2014 at 11:24 am

        Robin i understand where you are coming from but with due respect, i have to disagree with you. Being a Trainer, is a gift given by god and if Stacy was to rescue this horse, how many horses would she have ended up with before she drew the line in the sand and said no, i have no more room to put another rescue. This horse was a real challenge and with a child involved too, she did the right thing in saying “no, I can not and will not be a part of this. There is a lot of danger in training horses as well as working with them on a daily basis. If the horse threw the boy three time then he is still a challenge. You have to know where to draw the line.

      • Claire James on December 6, 2014 at 7:12 pm

        doesn’t sound like the owner would have been prepared to sell. So saving him wouldn’t have been possible anyway.

      • Cristina de la Fuente on September 19, 2015 at 11:18 pm

        He would just replace it with another one and do the same thing all over again. Its the owner that needs to change. He sounded abusive

      • L P on May 2, 2016 at 2:17 pm

        Saved who from who? If she had taken the horse and not trained it near as far as the stupid owner wanted, then he would have slandered her all over saying he was at her barn being trained by her and all she did was take his money bc the horse wasn’t a show champion bc he “paid” her to make it champion……. The bad minded horses require so much work to undo so much damage and it takes much more than 30 days, try a year.

      • Carrie Crowe on May 2, 2016 at 2:58 pm

        on top of what everyone else said, the horse might not have been up for sale in the first place. It sounded like the owner (after not getting his way) threw a 2 yr old tantrum and wanted to prove Stacey wrong and possibly discredit her awesome work and reputation.

      • Ellle on May 3, 2016 at 2:26 am

        Clearly you need to work on your own listening skills.

    • Loretta McCloud on May 3, 2016 at 7:22 am

      I am so glad you posted this story,
      I have had the same situation, the horse wasn’t dangerous, but 30 days was not enough training for for a 4-h, kid safe, “broke” horse, after 2 weeks of talking with the parents, they pulled their horse out and took it to get bred!! Long story short, kid got a broken leg, and bucked off, and they still kept the horse, as a lawn ornament!!

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