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Horse cloning: Did you ever consider cloning Roxy?

24/10/14

“Hey Stacy! I just did a report over horse cloning, and I was wondering if you had ever thought of cloning Roxy?” -Lindsay

I would love to see some of your report, maybe you can post some of what you learned here in the comment section. It has been several years since I have heard much about cloning and I haven’t really followed it.Roxy aka "Whizards Baby Doll" and Stacy Westfall

I never did consider cloning. I imagine that everyone has their own opinion on the idea, but for me it never seemed attractive. I love each horse for its uniqueness, their personality and their interaction. I look at them so much like a friend that for me it would be like cloning one of my human friends…which seems a bit strange.

I guess another way to say what I mean is that I don’t really see the point, for me personally. When I look around the world there are so many horses that could be amazing that I am more tempted to give one of them a chance than to clone. Roxy wasn’t a horse that people were lined up to buy…until after she was trained. I also believe that there are more horses out there that could be unique and special in their own way.

Even from a performance stand point I find it interesting that the Texas A&M website states , “…as well as possible health problems associated with cloned neonates makes it unlikely that the cloned offspring will perform at the same level as the donor animal.”

I believe that horses are a bit like people, there are a lot of great ones out there and I personally enjoy the hunt.


What is your favorite horse movie of all times?

23/10/14

needed a horse movie that I could watch over and over again in the motor home…can you guess which one we bought last night? Do you have a go-to horse movie you love to re-watch?What is your favorite horse movie of all time?

I always loved The Black Stallion. Even watching it now as an adult I am impressed with how non-verbal the entire beginning is. I love it because it makes the horse/human interaction even more personal.

I try to go to every horsey movie that comes out…even if it is a movie like Hidalgo where I have to poke my husband to get him to stop picking on the movie (he wasn’t a fan of Hidalgo).

I am hoping that when I check the comments on here I will have a complete list of the best horse movies so I can make it my mission to watch them all.


Stacy’s Video Diary: How do you get a horse to relax in the lead departure?

22/10/14

“Hi Stacy, I was just curious how you get Jac easing into a lope so easily. I have a three year old quarter horse who I do a lot of ground work with and when I do ride him he tends to buck a lot when asking for anything faster than a lope. He’s my first horse to train and I know it’s something I’m doing wrong just can’t figure out what yet. He’s still young so I don’t ride him a lot but if I do I get bucked off almost everytime. Thanks for any help. :) “ -Bree H

“How do you teach a horse to relax and make their lope departure quiet and easy? Whenever I start to cue for a lope, my mare tenses up and then explodes into a fast canter.” -Amber W

In this video Al, a former Thoroughbred racehorse, is joining the video to help illustrate some of the points I made in the Jac video diary series. I borrowed Al from New Vocations, a Thoroughbred racehorse adoption program. I hope that by using multiple horses it will make it easy to see how these exercises can help the horses have a great foundation.

Teaching horses to have solid lead departures is a process that begins far before you actually ask the horse to lope. Much like driving a car faster will reveal a wobbly tire, adding speed when riding will also show you pieces that are not as solid.

If you go back and watch the early episodes of Jac (Episode 18) you can see how smooth Jac had become because of the groundwork, ground driving and consistency of the training program. This video shows how fluid Jac is during his trot circles…this is going to make a difference in his lope.

If you look at Al trotting the same circle while I am using the same methods you will see that Al isn’t as fluid. Al is actually raising his head higher and higher ‘looking’ for my hands. From his time on the track Al learned that the rider usually holds steady contact. Al feels a bit lost without that constant contact so he is ‘looking’ for my hands by using animated head movements. This will go away as he learns to carry himself more.

Jac doesn’t exhibit the same ‘looking’ for the bit head movements because he doesn’t have any prior riding experience which can lead to old habits or ways of thinking. When I start training a young horse, like Jac, my training is also a lot of prevention which is why Jac looked so smooth.

I will use the same exercises with Al that I did with Jac but Al will respond differently because of his prior experience. As Al sees the consistence he will begin to find the same rewards that Jac did and with consistency Al can learn the same lessons Jac did.

One key to having a horse be relaxed in the lead departure is to allow them to make mistakes during the transition. You will notice in the video that I am allowing the horses to go from the trot to the lope and then back to the trot. I am not making a big deal out of the transition and if they make a mistake, such as picking up the wrong lead, I am not immediately correcting them. This will help build the horses confidence and then later I can work on body position. As the rider, I am here to help guide him, not to only correct him for making mistakes.

To improve a horse like Al in the  lead departures I would focus on improving the steering and smoothness in the trot circles. Several common things people would be tempted to do with a horse like Al would be; sudden turns in an attempt to get the lead, a sudden kick or whip to ‘jump’ Al up into the correct lead, or a mechanical device to hold Al’s head down. In my opinion those options are more focused on getting Al’s body to perform a body function rather than dealing with the mental part of the training, the change of careers and training techniques, that is going on.

I would rather see Al given the chance to build his confidence in the trot and to participate in finding the ‘right’ answers instead of being rushed into a physical frame. Taking extra time now will pay off in the future much like the 20 + hours of work with Jac lead to his smooth confident look and eventually his beautiful lead departures.

As a side note, Al will be available for adoption through the New Vocations Website in the near future!


What time of day is the best for training horses?

21/10/14

Most of the time we choose to train our horses as our schedule allows, first thing on a Saturday morning, just after school on a weekday or in the hour before dinner on a summer night.

Others schedule to ride with their coaches once or twice a week, maybe 1:00 on Wednesdays or Tuesday and Thursdays at 4 pm. and they hope to do most of their training under supervised rides. But when is the best time to train?When is the best time to train a horse; Night time training

Answer: When the opportunity presents itself.

As much as we would like to make the ‘best’ training times fit into our schedules, it is often the worst times that offer the most opportunity.

Take this photo for example. This was taken close to midnight after a very long day at the Congress…but it happened to be the best time for training. I say that it was the best ‘time’ because it is the time that Newt, my horse, told me he needed to be trained. Earlier that day we had ridden in the arena but I noticed when I left the arena and walked down this alley, Newt was excited by the activity. What you cannot see in the photo is that to our left (the right side of the photo) there are horses being ridden..and their feet are at Newts eye level. It is a strange angle to view horses from…at least that is what Newt said!

When Newt got excited I chose to turn him back and ride up and down the alley until he calmed down. I even took him up into the arena for a little work. He ended up walking back to the stalls fine…but it left a lingering question in my mind. Did Newt really get over it?

So here I am, four hours later, double checking. I knew I wouldn’t sleep well without knowing the answer and I was hauling out of the show the next morning and would lose the opportunity to be in the same situation again. So I saddled up, just before midnight, to do some final training.

Turns out everything was fine. Newt walked quietly and the entire ride took only a few minutes…but if it had taken all night I would have been find with that too. The best time to train a horse is when the opportunity presents itself and I’m not one to skip that opportunity.


What stall toys do your horses have?

20/10/14

This is a salt lick that is also entertainment. Do you have any form of toys in your horses stall?