Murfreesboro, Tenn., March 1, 2006 -- The sell-out crowd erupted when they heard the results--Stacy Westfall is the 2006 winner of Road to the Horse, the colt-starting challenge held February 25-26 in Murfreesboro, Tenn. Westfall was the first female competitor, challenging well-known cowboy clinicians Martin Black, Craig Cameron and Van Hargis.
"This year was extraordinary," says event producer Tootie Bland. "The horses were extremely challenging and each clinician was outstanding. I also think Stacy's win is a great step forward--confirming that women can compete differently, but on the same level as men."
Westfall was excited and amazed at the announcement. She was happy with her three hours in the round pen and she was pleased with her judged ride. Still, she says she didn't know where she would place.
Competitors worked with previously untouched horses--training them for three hours, then showing off their progress by riding through an obstacle course with logs to cross and poles to drag.
"It was amazing," Westfall says. "I couldn't see what everyone else was doing. I heard Martin Black had his horse crossing bridges and laying down. I didn't know what would happen. I was happy with my obstacle course. I wanted to do everything safely."
Westfall bonded with her horse, Doctor T Tari--whom she calls "Popcorn." She offered to buy him after her first competition round on Saturday. After the competition, she purchased the three-year-old colt sired by Docs T Peppy and out of Ms Tari Babe. The horse was raised on the Cornelius Ranch, in Blountsville, Ala.
Women in the audience were thrilled with the news.
"It was a dream come true for women all over--and especially from Ohio," says Terry Shellenbarger, a Road to the Horse ticket holder from Mt. Vernon, Ohio. Shellanbarger traveled to Tennessee with a friend for a "girls only" getaway weekend to support Westfall. Westfall is based in Mt. Gilead, Ohio.
"The guys were fantastic, too, but Stacy's horse was so happy with her," says Shellenbarger. "She talked to her horse and guided it through as she performed. She had confidence in her horse and her horse knew it. She was nice and calm during the entire show."
Westfall is expected to compete in the 2007 Road to the Horse Champion of Champions event. There she'll meet two-time competitor Clinton Anderson and a yet-to-be confirmed Chris Cox.
Horse & Rider magazine is proud to be the Official Publication of Road to the Horse. For more information about Road to the Horse, visit www.roadtothehorse.com.