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Train Your Own Horse with Stacy Westfall

Jan 9, 2019

I get a lot of emails and comments from people who are afraid that they are giving their horse the wrong cues. They are afraid they will fail their horse by not keeping their commitment to riding. They are concerned about reading their horses body language wrong. They fear doing the wrong thing. They feel like they are letting their horse down.

When I read these, I wonder where your failure line is.  In my mind, I have a line drawn that is where I would consider would be failing my horse. Don't leave failing your horse as a vague idea. Consciously decide where that line is drawn. In this episode, I share my clearly-defined failure lines with you, I'll be discussing failure lines and disappointment lines, because it is important to separate these in your mind.

Show Notes

[02:38] I would be failing my horses if they didn't have adequate food, shelter, and a basic level of health and enjoyment. This is where I define my failure line.

[02:58] They need access to clean water, safe hay, and enough nutrients that their body scores around 5. They also get their hooves trimmed regularly, dewormed regularly, and a vet called in an emergency.

[03:24] If I couldn't provide these things, I would be failing my horse. I do absolutely aim to go above this line.

[03:44] My horses see a dentist regularly, have massages, sometimes they have chiropractic work, and some wear blankets.

[04:27] There is a difference between my disappointment line and my failure line. I could be disappointed in the quality of the hay but as long as it's safe, it should be okay.

[04:43] This also gives me the freedom to treat horses more like individuals and give them the individual care they need.

[05:17] The basic failure line for training is that the horse has a fundamental understanding so that I can hold that horse for the vet or the farrier.

[05:28] I'm not aiming for the failure lines. They are fairly low. The lines I stack above the failure lines are what I would label as disappointment lines.

[06:59] I often see people drawing failure lines as something that I would see more as human disappointment.

[07:22] If you're running into problems where you feel things aren't safe for you or the horse, then you should probably get professional help.

[08:38] People often ask too little of the horse as opposed to asking too much of the horse.

[09:35] Picture a kid and a pony and how happy and confident they look. This is a good place to aim for.

[10:16] People often judge themselves, but the horse isn't judging them. The horse is just trying to figure out what they want.

[12:22] Horses aren't judging. They are just asking questions and following along in the conversation.

[13:00] The lack of clarity between the horse and the rider is just a chance for them to learn.

[14:28] Horses can become very smart as to where each person is drawing the lines.

[14:48] If you're holding yourself to a really high standard while you're learning and you label it failure, it can be really crippling.

[14:58] While you're learning be really clear about what you are calling failure and about what you are calling disappointment.

[15:32] If you are in a situation where all you can do is keep your horses healthy and fed, you have permission not to feel like a failure.

[16:53] if you're not actively harming the horse, it's not as big a deal as it may feel.

[17:14] Professionals get to set their own standards.

[17:52] It's important to understand what we label as disappointments and what we label as failures, because the words we use and how we speak to ourselves affects us.

Links and Resources:

The First Horse I Refused to Train