Journal on the Road

Freestyle Reining in Ohio

October 15, 2011

AQHA Professional Horsewoman Stacy Westfall wins the freestyle reining competition at the 2011 All American Quarter Horse Congress.

By Larri Jo Starkey

Stacy Westfall and TSW Can Can Vaquero

Stacy Westfall rides TSW Can Can Vaquero bridleless in the 2011 All American Quarter Horse Congress freestyle reining competition. (Journal photo) To see more photos, scroll to the slide show below.

Expectations were high as AQHA Professional Horseman Stacy Westfall entered the coliseum October 15.

Stacy made her mark with a bareback bridleless freestyle reining routine at the All American Quarter Horse Congress’ freestyle reining competition on Whizards Baby Doll, aka “Roxy.” Since then, Stacy has moved on to a new horse for her freestyle routines, TSW Can Can Vaquero, and a new challenge from an old friend.

“My friend Ann Reusser, she kept teasing me that I was doing many “man” routines, because I like to do the dusters and I like to do the old cowboy thing, and she said, ‘You need to do a girlie one again,’ ” Stacy said. “In February, I went to Road to the Horse, and I needed to do a freestyle demonstration there, and since I knew it would be all men competing, I thought it would be a good time to break out a girlie routine, because most likely Pat Parelli, Clinton Anderson and Chris Cox weren’t going to wear dresses. That was my thought. We started kicking around songs, and I joked for years that the only bridleless song I could think of was the ‘Titanic.’”

It’s hard for a bridleless rider to decide what to do with her arms, Stacy explained, and the characteristic arms-back stance from the movie would give her something to do with them. Plus, she thought, a black dress would complement the bay “Vaquero’s” black points.

Dressed in flowing, glittering black gown that draped across her horse’s rear end, Stacy entered the arena bridleless October 15, then spun, slid and circled to the swelling strains of Celine Dion’s voice.

“You could say that he was the ‘pro,’ and I was the ‘motion,’ ” said 2011 Adequan Select trail world champion Steve Gunn of his partner in crime, Motion By Pro. Make sure you check out the photo of Steve’s war whoop in “Gunnin’ to Win” in the October 2011 issue of Journal Plus.

Her performance brought the crowd to its feet and the judges to mark a 238, good enough for the open win.

“During the spins, I was thinking, I have no idea how many I’ve done,” she said. “I’m like 1, 2, zoom, stay on! I have been saying the only two ways I haven’t been disqualified yet are falling off or falling down, and (as fast as) the spins were going, I thought we might fulfill the falling off one. And he snapped back through his rollbacks — but he was so good to go so hard and then just be quiet in the rundowns.”

TSW Can Can Vaquero is a 2005 bay gelding by Topsail Whiz and out of Can Can Lena by Paddys Irish Whiskey. He was bred by James Fanello of Lucas, Ohio. Can Can Lena was one of the first horses Stacy attempted a freestyle routine on, she said, making the horse special. Vaquero was gelded in January to make traveling with Stacy more comfortable for both of them, she said, pointing out that many children want to pet her horses, and it’s easier to allow that if she’s on a gelding.

For those who know E Gaffney, AQHYA Region Eight director, it doesn’t come as a surprise that he’d go on to great things. Read about this inspiring young man and his part in the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show at Disneyland Paris in “Trail Blazing” in the October 2011 issue of Journal Plus.

Second place in the open division went to another AQHA Professional Horsewoman, Heather Johnson of Ringgold, Georgia, on crowd favorite Doublenotyourreeboks with an emotional tribute to September 11, 2001. Heather was third in the inaugural Kentucky Reining Cup freestyle competition in spring.

First place in the non-pro division went to Stacy’s friend Ann, who also lives in Mount Gilead, Ohio, and also performed bridleless.

For more photos from the finals, see the Journal slide show below. Click on each photo to read about it.

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