October 19, 2011 - Viv Bransteter set a goal to regain her confidence when she learned she would spend a day with champion reiner and clinician Stacy Westfall as the winner of Buckeye Nutrition's "Spend A Day With Stacy" Sweepstakes. And, according to Viv, who traveled 123 miles from her farm in Celina, Ohio to Stacy's training facility in Mt. Gilead, Ohio, she met her objective.? "I showed poles and barrels when our family raised American Quarter Horses," Viv said. "I started showing when I was twenty, but stopped riding in 2006 after I suffered a head injury during an automobile accident. It wasn't until last year that I climbed back on my 17-year-old gelding to begin rebuilding my confidence."? Viv hopes to become confident enough to return to the show ring astride Sheza Redneck Woman (Mary), a 3-year-old bay filly sired by Redneck Jet, sire of the 2010 AQHA Junior Pole Bending Champion, Redneck Daisy. Mary had some earlier groundwork and Viv hauled her to shows and started her on barrels and poles?but the pair never competed. She hopes Stacy can help her increase her control of her filly and offer tips to successfully run patterns.? "I had never met Stacy but watched her championship run at American Quarter Horse Congress on YouTube?when she rode bareback and bridle-less," Viv said. "I knew she was fabulous."
The July 18th morning began at 8:30 with Stacy asking Viv to saddle up so she could watch her ride. According to Stacy, the approach was different than she usually employs with clinic participants, who typically start with groundwork.? "I spoke with Viv earlier and learned she had been riding for many years," Stacy said. "I wanted to see how she handled her filly and determine how the horse responded to her."? Viv has been riding since she was three.? "My family had an old paint mare and when she lay down, I would climb onto her back," Viv recalled. "People passing by on the road often commented, ?there's that little girl on that horse again.'"
Do As I Do
Mary, as a three-year-old, is 15.3 hands, with long legs that seemed to go everywhere. Stacy recommended working on exercises to help collect the filly?and help Viv gain a more confident seat.? Stacy began by explaining and demonstrating each exercise on her own horse so Viv could see the steps involved and observe how the horse should look when the exercise is performed correctly. Viv started with counterbending to help collect Mary and get control of her shoulders. She progressed to riding around obstacles such as cones at a walk and trot.? "I saw a change in Mary in just 15 minutes," Viv said. "It was like taking her back to kindergarten and teaching her the basics so she could perform more advanced maneuvers later."? The basics also included riding with a loose outside rein and lateral flexion. After lunch at a nearby caf?, Stacy and Viv moved on to groundwork to confirm that Mary understood certain cues, such as how to move away from pressure. Viv saddled up again late in the afternoon to continue counterbending and improving how Mary moved and handled obstacles.? "Mary had trouble standing still and Stacy taught me how to flex her to get her attention and stop her from moving around."? Stacy also helped with Viv's 17-year-old gelding, Dees Boogie Man, who liked to charge out of the trailer backward.? "I learned to stop him at different points as I backed him into and out of the stall so he didn't feel trapped," Viv said. "By the next day, he was backing out of the trailer quietly and stopping when I cued him."
Lessons for the Future
While the principles she learned from Stacy improved Mary's performance, Viv said what she appreciated most about her day with Stacy was discovering new ways to handle and train her horse. She feels she can use these skills other horses in the future?including her yearling Quarter Horse, Stomping Out Fire.? "I understand how groundwork builds a foundation for a horse to perform under saddle," Viv said. "I'm also a more confident rider because I know how to get control of my horse."? Employing her new training and riding skills, Viv has set her sights on competing with Mary this fall. She recently hauled the filly to a Quarter Horse show in West Virginia where she trotted and loped around poles after classes were finished for the day.? "Several people complimented Mary on how nicely she moved," Viv said. "She is a much more responsive and collected horse after I spent the day with Stacy."? "Viv was a quick learner," Stacy commented. "She understood the principles and was able to apply them to her own horse. It was fun to watch her change in attitude as she began to enjoy riding again."
As the first place winner of Buckeye Nutrition's "Spend a Day with Stacy" sweepstakes, Viv received a $500 voucher to travel to Stacy's training facility, a year's supply of Buckeye Nutrition's Gro ?n Win? ration balancer nutritional supplement and Stacy Westfall and Buckeye Nutrition merchandise, including several of Stacy's training DVDs.? The sweepstakes' second place winner, Susie Kramer, Cave Creek, Arizona, won a year's supply of Buckeye Nutrition's Reasons? healthy treats, and the third place winner, Karen Walling, Puyallup, Washington, received a six-month supply of Reasons healthy treats.
For more information about Buckeye Nutrition's line of nutritional products, visit www.buckeyenutrition.com. Stacy Westfall serves as the company's spokesperson.