Riding Tips

Letter to My Rookie Self: Stacy Westfall

stacy westfall forever horse
Written by Stacy Westfall

Equestrian Advice: This is part of our Letter to My Rookie Self series, an open letter equestrian reflection project. Learn more and/or submit your own letter here.

Dear Rookie Self,

This will be a strange letter for you to read.

You’re graduating from high school and headed off to an equine college, and you’re so excited.

Part of you can’t believe this is happening.

It seems too good to be true.

And that’s because it is.

Don’t get me wrong. You made a great choice.

But it won’t be easy.

stacy westfall road to the horse

You know that feeling you have?

The one where it feels like just around the next bend, just one more day from now…things will get easier?

Well, it will…and it won’t.


Before you stop reading this, remember, you’ve done some hard things in your life already.

Your best friend died, you’ve had your struggles at home and in school. But you have found the strength to go on…and that’s good to know because you’re going to have to draw on that strength again.

stacy westfall and roxy

I’m telling you all of this because I know you have a tendency to keep looking up the road to the next thing. Right now it’s college, then it will be marriage, and then it will be kids.

It’s a blessing how far you can see ahead…but please also remember to slow down.

(I know you hate that phrase.)

You have so many things you want to do. Trust me, though, it’s the little things that you want to pay attention to.

Please don’t overlook what you have today while you look forward to tomorrow.

stacy westfall english horse

You know that feeling you have…the one where it seems like you never quite fit in? The one that only disappears when you are riding a horse?

Trust that feeling.

It’s ok to not fit in.

Many years from now, you’ll understand what I’m trying to tell you. For now, just know that what makes you unique are the same things that make you different.

The more you try to fit in…the less you will be YOU.

And the whole point of this life is to figure out what YOU bring to the mix.

You’re going to have some crazy ideas. Lots of them. More than you even have now!

stacy westfall brideless

Some of them are going to turn out great.

Others are going to fail miserably. Some you won’t even try at all.

Please consider all of your ideas chances to learn.

Remember the other day when you had that idea and you shared it in class? Remember how terrible it felt when you realized no one else understood what you were trying to express?

I know it is tempting to think that you did something wrong, said something wrong, or that your idea was bad.

Instead, consider that your idea was only half-grown. Some dreams are like a young horse who stands up and runs right after they are born. Other dreams are like caterpillars that must go into a chrysalis before becoming a butterfly.

Just because other people don’t understand an idea doesn’t make it bad…it might just need more time.

stacy westfall ribbons

You know how you love the smell of fresh hay, a quiet trail ride, and a good book? Enjoy those things every time you can and take the rest of life as it comes. You’ve had some great times and some terrible times already, and that’s pretty much how it’s going to continue.

Think about your favorite book. It starts with a horse, then a sinking ship, stranded on a desert island, near death, rescue, loss, return, struggle, hope, success…and ends with a horse and some green grass.

Please stop thinking when you ‘get it right’ it will all be green grass.

Sometimes you don’t appreciate the green grass untill you’ve been stranded on a desert island.

stacy westfall forever horse

I know I’ve been a bit vague about the details of your future, but that’s because you wouldn’t believe me even if I told you!

Some people have said horses are a passing phase and you can’t make a living with them. But trust me…just stick with the horses.

Ride with Faith,

Stacy Westfall

Smart Start Book

Check out my book Smart Start

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About the author


Stacy Westfall

Stacy Westfall is an international speaker, professional coach, horse trainer, Road to the Horse winner, and Cowgirl Hall of Fame Honoree. She's also the author of Smart Start and the host of a popular equestrian podcast.


  • Hi
    I ordered your book and dvd set last Christmas Eve. I got the dvd set but I never received my book? I would really love to read it as I have enjoyed the dvds. Especially the one of your Road To The Horse demonstration.
    Thank you
    Elizabeth Stuart

    • Hi Elizabeth! So glad you’ve enjoyed the DVDs 🙂 I’m going to pass your contact email to Stacy so she can track down an answer about your book! Happy Trails.