Constant ContactFacebook

Stacy's DVDs

» «

Treeless saddles for horses: pros, cons and things to consider


“Hello! I’m not sure if you’ve already addressed this at some time or another but I recently stumbled upon treeless saddles. They appeal to me mostly because I’m cheap… haha. I have three saddles and none of them fit either of my horses… would treeless be a good way to go?”- J. Rose

I don’t have any experience with treeless saddles…but not for lack of interest. I just haven’t gotten around to trying one yet. I did call my friend, Trish, at Stagecoach West to get her thoughts as she has ridden in them and her store carries them.

Have you used a treeless saddle? Did you like it or not?

Have you used a treeless saddle? Did you like it or not?

Here are things to consider:

  • How long will the saddle hold up? At some point the saddle may be resold or traded in…will it hold its value?
  • There are several types of treeless: some look like a dressed up bareback pad, others look so much like a saddle it is hard to tell it doesn’t have a tree. There are even ’flex-tree’ saddles .
  • In true treeless saddles are no bars in the saddle but the saddle still has a pommel and a cantle (front and back) which adds stability.


  • they are the ultimate lightweight saddle
  • They tend to fit well on wider, round barreled horses


  • some people question if it distributes the weight well enough
  • some people question stability of saddle-does it roll?

Some people love them, some people hate them. Trish reports that most people buying them in the store use them for barrel racing and trail riding. They are often recommended for horses that are hard to fit with a traditional saddle or traditional tree.

So…have you used one? Did you love it? Did you hate it? Anything in between? I would love to learn more. Please leave a comment below so we all can learn. Feel free to use brand names also.

P.S.-When I designed my saddle (with a tree) I chose to work with Stagecoach West because they have awesome customer service. They care about the saddle fitting your horse and are willing to stand behind what they sell. Even if you haven’t bought from them you can still call in (Phone – 1-800-648-1121) and they will gladly talk to you about saddles and saddle fit.

Top Ten Ways to Get Rid of Your Farrier


Top Ten Ways to Get Rid of Your Farrier

  1. Have your horse shod once a year, then complain to everyone you know ‘the shoes just fell off!’
  2. Do not handle your horses feet at all. Especially the young ones.
  3. Make sure your horses are loose in the pasture when the farrier arrives. The larger the pasture, the better.
  4. Read horse magazines so that you can instruct your farrier on the latest shoeing techniques.
  5. Fill the shoeing area with as many obstructions as possible. Dogs and children count extra.
  6. Be sure and feed the other horses while the farrier is working.
  7. Lead the horses through mud before bringing them to be trimmed or shod.
  8. Don’t clean your stalls and don’t use fly spray.
  9. Complain about the bill shortly after pointing out and discussing the huge price of your new truck, daughter’s horse, boat, etc.
  10. Always wait until the last minute to schedule your appointments, insist that the farrier come right away. Then, avoid paying the bill as long as possible.

How many of these are you guilty of? Have any you could add?

How many of these are you guilty of?

How many of these are you guilty of?

What steps do you take to get horses to accept their ears being touched? Jac Review Week


“How did you get Jac to accept the bridle when most colts hate their ears messed with? What kind of steps did you take to make it easier for him?”-Kathy H…Stacy’s Video Diary Jac: Episode 13

In episode 13 I talk about physical and mental training cycles, including bridling Jac for the first time. In that episode I show steps such as running the rope over Jac’s ears and using my fingers in his mouth to prepare him for bridling. Ideally this type of handling has been happening consistently during routine handling which makes the transition easy for the horse.

I find that most colts don’t have issues with their ears unless they have been taught to by people. I do find that people often expect ears to be a problem and then they become a problem. One example of this would be when I visited Jesse (my husband) at a ranch where he was working in Oklahoma back when we were dating. None of the horses, about 20 of them, had ever had their ears clipped. They were handled just enough to get the tack on for riding and a few were only halter broke. The horses had received no special time spent on groundwork but along with a lack of handling came a lack of issues caused by poor handling.

While I was visiting I decided to clip the horses. I clipped every single one of them in the same day by myself. I rubbed them all over, introduced clippers and shut them off when the horse stood still (before they even moved) and repeated. I might have shut the clippers off 20 or more times on each horse to ‘remove pressure’ and reward. Using this technique, shown on the Jac DVD, I was able to clip all of the horses, including their ears.  I didn’t expect a problem and no one had created one before me…so there was no problem.Technique is huge...but mental preparation is key. Stacy Westfall

There is a difference between preventing problems and retraining horses that already have issues but mostly the difference it the amount of time. The technique is the same but often horses who have issues with their ears have learned evasive ways of avoiding what they consider to be an unpleasant experience. That is when it is important to remember that it takes more than technique.

In the Jac episode below, Episode 11, you can see the technique I use of rubbing Jac’s body with the stick and string. I continue this same method up the horse’s neck, poll and around the ears. The biggest thing to remember though is that technique alone is NOT the key. Technique is huge…but mental preparation is key.

Keep the following things in mind:

  • Episode 11 is also the sixth day in a row that I have worked Jac
  • The training Jac has received in the prior five days has changed him mentally
  • Mentally changing a horse will lead to physical changes

Go back and look at Jac in earlier episodes and you will begin to understand that all of that training is also critical to getting Jac to accept his body and his ears being touched. I knew the technique for rubbing on day 1-5…but Jac wasn’t mentally ready. Look at how Jac is behaving in Episode 2 where he is pawing and ignoring me, or Episode 3 where he is dragging me. Each day Jac is trying new things but he is also improving with the training. Mentally, Jac is having little break throughs and each one of these is leading him closer to trusting me and looking at me as a leader. All of this also plays a part in Jac accepting me handling his ears.

The video of Jac being bridled for the first time (six minutes into video)

Here is the episode where I am rubbing his body and he is standing well after five previous days of preparation:

Here is a video where it is possible to see one of Jac’s mental break through moments…at about 6:45 into the video:


Freestyle choreography: Reining, dressage, do it yourself or hire a pro


“I have recently thinking about trying freestyle reining. One of my stumbling blocks is the actual choreography of the routine. I know some of my dressage friends hire professional freestyle dressage choreographers. How do you choreograph your routines? Do you do it yourself? Do you hire someone to help?”-Janna L.

I have watched dressage freestyle and can see the benefit of having a professional choreographer. The routines are amazing and for most of the performance the maneuvers they execute are VERY timed with the music. In general the reining freestyles are not as precisely timed to the music. The reiners also tend to pick popular songs and dress to fit the music, often ‘acting’ out their interpretation of the song. Dressage riders are more likely to mix and create the music…but skip the costume.

I choreograph my own freestyles. All of the reiners I have talked to, as well as several of my friends, have choreographed their own with input and suggestions  from friends. I don’t know any professional freestyle reining choreographers, maybe if reining makes it into the Olympics this will become a profession.

Whether the routine is choreographed by a pro or by you, here are some common themes you will see among great freestyle.

  • the tempo of the song must match the horse- in dressage they match the music precisely to the step. In reining keep in mind that a horse with short strides will probably look out of time if the music is long and flowing.
  • strong maneuvers win-you are still being judged by the maneuvers you perform-keep them clean and precise. Something may sound fun to do but if it compromises the quality of the maneuver the judge will notice. Plan how to keep the maneuvers clean and add something special as well.
  • don’t over ride your horse-when the music is loud and the crowd is excited you will be able to feel the energy in the air-it will be tempting to ask your horse to go faster and try harder which can lead to over riding. An example of over-riding in reining would be asking a horse that can do a solid set of spins to go even faster, this often results in the spins getting worse instead of better, which is the definition of over-riding.

Keep in mind that this is your first freestyle, winning doesn’t have to be your main goal. Sure, winning is nice but remember to make it a learning experience for both you and your horse.  Enjoy the excitement and have fun!

Watch how the music and the horses movement are so well timed.

This is an example of a reining pattern ‘acting’ out the song. The first time I went to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and watched freestyle Randy Paul won with this routine. I love his addition of the handlebars…lol. That is one well trained pony!


Video: How we plan on living on the road; husband, wife, three kids and four horses.


I think the nomadic idea was secretly planted in my head by my husband. It also helped that we met other people, one family in particular, that moved around with their family performing at rodeos and equine events.

Our life has slowly morphed into travel because we can serve more people by moving around both at clinics and expos. By the time our youngest son was seven he had traveled to 40 states…each time returning to Mount Gilead, Ohio. It just seemed logical to try living on the road. We also like the idea of spending more time together as a family. And we can always go back!

Now that we are in a full blown motor home we are ready to take this show on the road. Some of the goals our family has, outside of work are:

  • see all 48 states (this lead to a discussion of Alaska & Hawaii)
  • live ‘off the grid’ for a week…in RV terms this means staying in a remote location without electric, water or sewer hook up
  • trail ride in the mountains…park the motor home and be able to ride from the camping site up into the mountains

If you were going to live in a motor home for a year…what would you hope to accomplish? What questions about our travel plans would you like us to answer?


Stacy Westfall Video

» «