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A Q&A with Horsemanship Star Presenters Stacy Westfall

Who? Stacy Westfall

What? Wife, mother, Horsewoman

Where? Loudonville, Ohio – little cabin on a hill

Awards?

- Road to the horse colt starting (2006) – first woman to win that and held it for 10 years… until Vicki Wilson.

- Bare back bridle-less ride – the all American quarter horse congress x3 – on that streak I did 9 bridle-less freestyles in as row undefeated… that was fun. A streak of them.

- Children are now – 17, 18 and 20 – they can all ride but are not all that interested. Really good at stacking hay and cleaning stalls too...

What’s your first horsey memory?

My mom reading me books about horses… she loved horses. When I got my pony at 6 she did not have her own horse until a couple years after that. That pony I got was the same one she had learnt to ride on when she was little.

Favourite horsey memory?

So hard – I always view all … I have a diff horse for e season of my life… like trying to compare friends but they come from diff seasons. It is just the feeling of being with them . my fav ones are mundane little quirks around the barn – not around shows. Rather quirks at home. I thought it was funny roxy knew the sound me walking down the aisle way – we traveled a lot… she would cock her head sideways like a dog – she could hear me coming. She would let others know. Those little quirks – and I have had some special horses. My little stallion would take smaller bites than a human when eating carrots – but really fast like a cartoon. Little quirks that make them individual.

Best thing ever?

I do this for a living – that is crazy. I do feel blessed.

How do you describe yourself and why?

Wife mother horsewoman… I have often said I don’t think I would have been famous for what I am famous for if he hadn’t taken … I love riding any horse… I loved training my minis. I love equines… he said here train this and gave me horses w talent and directed my creativity towards a horse w a higher limit. He saw my creativity and he said here – do it with this. He has bred most of the horses I have done well on…. He picked the bloodlines and he said ride this. Realistically I have just as much fun w my minis but odds of them making me super famous aren’t so high. Personally, I like to find what the horse wants to do. I do see other talents in them – I am open and v curious about various disciplines. Not fitting into my mould – more about where they will shine. And trying to see what I can do w their potential.

First time to EQUITANA?

2011 – here as a clinician – in Sydney. Masterclass. They contacted me and I wanted to come back. I haven’t traveled as much because have been pretty active about making sure I was around for my kids. They travel w us. Two are here with us now. When the kids are all out of the house I may travel more but I have been very selective about limiting my travel. Intentionally wanted to make sure I didn’t rgret missing things w my kids… the window will close. I can see where that is closing and changing… Australia was so fun the first time and I have enjoyed it and look forward to coming back again.

What are you loving most?

The coffee – when I came to Sydney in 20-11 I was not a coffee drinker and I didn’t understand what jet lag was until I experienced it. My husband jesse said here try this (coffee) – my latte pursuits began… I went back to the states and realised all lattes are not equal. Then I found Melbourne was the coffee mecca and I have made it my mission to explore all the lattes I can here. So Aussie is responsible.

What is your best training tip?

When you look across the disciplines, look for the similarities not the differences.

What do people generally do wrong with their horses?

They feel like going back to the basics is somehow going backwards – it isn’t because a strong foundation is always a good idea. It is where the confidence in the horse comes from. People look around and think they will be judged by others if not doing something fancy – that solid foundation is where the horses get so much confidence. People struggle w when to move on and when to go back, they prefer to go forward – learning is always a challenge. No shame in making more solid foundations – may not look as glamorous but pays off in the end.

What does a normal day look like for you?

I have no normal days – what I love about horse training and what I am able to do now, I like there are seasons throughout the horses… so I like that during the winter months I can return to the basics and that might be starting colts or taking my older finished horses back to basics. Spring is a ramping up and heading outdoors and then summer is very active , outside, lots of shows and then building towards the fall when the show season peaks and then the down season comes and I love that ebb and flow.

I go back and forth (w comp and training) – I will be doing more comp in next couple of years.. I went through a season where my main competition horse died and because I only ride a very few and we breed them, I haven’t had one to step up until more recently. If the horse isn’t going to reach the higher levels I show at, I still enjoy training. Sold a recent one to a non pro because that was a better fit.

What is the most important thing people can do with their horse?

Those foundations – it is so interesting how much you can watch and learn. Look around. Look for the similarities. When you find that common thread that runs through you will really be able to start go somewhere w your horse.

Proudest moment?

Another tough … I am fascinated by the fact that you really can follow something that is a passion and have it work out in the end. You can be passionate – in the horse world it seems obvious you can make a living w horses – whenever I say what I do for a living away from the world of horses, people are still like you can do that? I think wow I am one of those that did that and it worked. It feels a little bit like wonder. It is just a really interesting – I joke around w my husband – I say my gift is that I am stubborn…. So I just always wanted to do horses. So I think it has been this – something that is magical that you really can do something with a passion.