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Stacy do you let your geldings run with mares in open pasture?


“Stacy do you let your geldings run with mares in open pasture?” Thank You, Loretta D.

Yes, my geldings and mares run together. We currently have 4 horses. In the past I have separated some because of personality issues and smaller pen sizes. I find that temperament is what I separate for not the sex and they have usually worked out to be mixed sex groups.

I love watching herd dynamics. I recently turned out Popcorn, my gelding, with my friends horses in her pasture. Her buckskin gelding always considered himself to be the keeper of the mares. This video makes me laugh because of two things, first, Popcorn never changes his motions and second, the buckskin seems to be threatening and wondering at the same time.

I think Popcorns pokerface is what kept things from escalating. Watch it again as see how Popcorn never so much as changes his chewing speed, he acts as if they don’t exist. Popcorn gets along well in groups because he isn’t a bully and he doesn’t respond to threats (like this one). At the same time Popcorn will defend himself if he is actually attacked.

The look on the buckskins face as he walks away make me laugh. He seems to be threatening and watching as he walks away but he almost seems to be thinking “I wonder if that guy believed me?”

I love watching horses together in pastures.

Have you known of any horses fracturing their pelvis?


“Hi Stacy just curious as to your thoughts on this…. I traded a nice Gucci mare for her 1st foal which was born may 2013…I would visit her every week and at the 4 week old mark I noticed her right hind was hurt..she would walk on it but hold it up at the trot & canter…I told the barn owner and had to keep asking and he finally had a vet out…vet palpatated her and she was sore and had a slight temp so she thought growth plate infection and prescribed antibiotics & stall rest. I continued my weekly visits and kept asking barn owner how she was doing and when would she be off stall rest (I had no vet report to go by) he said she’s about 85% that the vet was out again which later on I found out was a lie :( my filly’s name is Paris and they weaned her at 4.5 months and I immediately picked her up. I had my vet Dr. J come look her over to check for worms & physical exam. He noticed her right knee with a bump and watched her go and wanted to xray it…he did….2 knee fractures!!!! So he consulted a surgeon and no surgery was required just stall rest…. That ended up being 16 weeks after several xray checks on the healing progress. I told Dr. J about the back leg as it was still weird but due to the knee it got pushed aside as we though it wasn’t anything to worry about. Well after all this time & money the knee healed fine but the hind end was still funky…I had exam & chiro done a few times with no results. Finally I had an opportunity to take her to the equine hospital and she had stifle X-rays which were clean then we did hip X-rays and results were she fractured her pelvis at around 1-2 months of age! The surgeon could tell by the break & healing it’s done the approx time frame. I had Paris boarding at a facility and decided to take her home to lay her to rest. Vet said she may be pasture sound but said most cases as they get bigger & heavier they become painful and often get put down :( have u known any horses fracturing their pelvis? Does the barn owner have any responsiblity to help with the expenses I’ve endured since picking her up? This is so sad” :( -SRW

This is a very sad story. I know many breeders and although the majority of times things go well, I have seen many odd ball cases over the years.

I know of one other foal, at about the same age as yours, that came in from the pasture one night lame. The owner called the vet when he noticed the foal was lame…and that foal also had a broken pelvis. The vet recommended euthanasia and the shocked owner agreed. There were no outward marks on the foal, no evidence (mud, scrapes, etc) showing any impact or fall. How the injury happened remains a mystery.

Lean With Me recovered from a pelvic fracture, winning a World title!

Lean With Me recovered from a pelvic fracture, winning a World title!

I have read the amazing story of an older horse, Lean With Me, who fractured his pelvis at the age of three. He was a show horse before the injury and, miraculously, he returned to showing AFTER his fracture…winning a World title. To read Lean With Me’s full story, click here.

Regarding the knee, I also knew a filly, just months old, that somehow chipped her knee. The location of the chip near the joint made it too risky to do surgery. The vet recommend letting her grow and looking at her again when the joint was bigger. If the chip was still floating then the vet would remove it. The chip did not remain floating but instead it calcified to the knee. This caused much of the knee joints to fuse also.

I took the mare to her follow up appointment. The vets did a lameness exam and reported that she had a limited range of motion, but that she didn’t appear to be in any pain. They gave me the OK to ride her as long as she remained comfortable. Before leaving the office they wanted to also do x-rays. Upon reading the x-rays the vets exclaimed, “If I had seen these x-rays first I would have said this horse was crippled and would be completely unsound.” She went on to win many events and has never been lame.

The story of your filly is a sad one. It is tempting to say that the barn owner should have known, or the first vet, or the second vet but generally things aren’t that clear. I am sure that if you had believed that something was major that you would have had the vet out directly. The first vet saw an elevated temp and soreness and likely went with a diagnosis that was either more common, more fitting or quite possibly also true. The second vet also had to make the decision to treat the most pressing issue, the knee.

Medically treating horses is always difficult because they cannot talk. The mare I described above with the knee issue would have been proclaimed a cripple by her x-rays…yet she is sound and happy. It sounds like your filly was a trooper and the emotional pain and financial costs are both depressing but try to remember that you did the best you could each step of the way and I’m sure Paris appreciated it.


The Worlds Smallest Horses


Have you seen these mini-mini’s? These are the tiniest of the tiny. There also seems to be a bit of a ‘tiny-contest’ to hold the record of the smallest equine. All of the following hold records of their own. I have teased the boys saying that, as each of them leaves I’m putting a mini in their room and naming it after them…I guess it really could work!

Which is your favorite? Do you have issues with horses being bred this small?

The smallest Foal In The World: EINSTEIN

Einstein: The Smallest Stallion Has A Ball

I know that dwarfism is a real problem…but he is so cute!

Thumbelina is the Worlds Smallest Horse


Stacy’s Video Diary: Jac Review – Questions about teaching a horse to lie down


Hi Stacy Westfall, regarding Episode 36: Is there any ‘age limit’ or health concerns such as arthritis, that would cause you to refrain from teaching a horse to lay down, regardless of how much it may benefit the horse’ s attitude?

I have barrel horses that can sometimes be pretty hot & was wondering what your thoughts were on getting them to lay down. They seem to be very nervous when I try to do it with them but I’m really just starting trying to get their foot up. Love watching you work with Jac.- Lisa Marie B

I consider both the bow and teaching a horse to lie down to be advanced groundwork. This means that your basic groundwork should be very well established including teaching your horse to: lead, turn on haunches, turn on forehand, back up, trot in hand, lunge easily at all gaits, sack out with ‘scary’ objects, stand quietly while whipping with stick n string, etc. Teaching liberty work, working your horse without a halter or lead, should be in the same category as bowing and the lie down.

Newt likes laying down on the job.

Newt likes laying down on the job.

By the time you have taught your horse all of the basic groundwork skills listed (and more) you should know your horses temperament very well. This will tell you a lot about how your horse is going to handle the process of learning to lie down on cue. Naturally quiet and submissive horses tend to be the easiest to train. These are the horses that are fine with you walking into the stall while they are napping.

Horses that are more naturally jumpy and nervous tend to be more difficult, which makes sense as they are often making plans on how to leave if things go bad. These horses can be taught to lie down but they require a very solid foundation in the basic groundwork skills. They should be so solid in the basics; whipping around, being sacked out, loping one circle on the lunge line and then standing like they are bored, that they should look like they are NOT hot or nervous. These horses also benefit from learning at least some of the basic liberty skill, off line in a round pen, as shown in Episode 14.

I think that the idea that laying a horse down will change its attitude is largely a myth. I have seen horses that were forced to lie down with ropes and although some of them do get up with a shocked look, I have not noticed it to be a look that I want in my riding horses. I do think that the longer, slow process of teaching the lay down does have a positive effect as you will invest more time getting there.

Someone asked me once how young a horse could safely be taught to bow (without force) and I asked a vet. His opinion was that young horses are more flexible and, as long as it wasn’t forced, would be excellent candidates. If I were working with an older horse I would only do what they were comfortable with. If your older horse has arthritis bad enough to negatively effect his ability to lie down on his own in the stall or pasture then I would personally choose to skip teaching that horse. Many vets recommend that horses with ‘some’ arthritis stay active. I have some arthritis and it is recommended that I also stay active. The best thing to do is to ask the vet who diagnosed the horse for their opinion regarding training the horse to lie down.


Some basic liberty skills shown here:

Tips on teaching the bow:

Stacy Westfall Video