Saturday, May 25, 2013
BY JOHN HALECorrespondent
SOUTH CHINA -- Stacy Glidden Westfall, who was raised in Palermo and South China, got her first horse, Misty, when she was just 6 years old.
Stacy Westfall, who was raised in Palermo and South China, is seen during a bareback bridleless ride with Whizards Baby Doll — aka Roxy — seen by millions on Internet during a 2006 championship ride at the All American Quarter Horse Freestyle Competition.
Today, at 37, Westfall is a nationally respected trainer of horses and their owners.
Westfall, who now lives in Ohio, will be inducted into the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame at a luncheon on Oct. 25, along with three other women who are 2012 inductees, at the Will Rogers Center in Fort Worth, Texas.
"It was surprising to have it happen so soon," Westfall said. "They said it might take 15 or 20 years, and it all happened so fast. They kept asking for more material on me, more video, and it all happened in a year. It's an honor. It's shocking; it doesn't seem real."
The National Cowgirl Hall of Fame is part of the National Cowgirl Museum, which honors women, past and present, whose courage, resilience and independence have helped shape the American West.
The three other Hall of Fame inductees this year are Mildred Farris, a leader in the sport of rodeo; Sunny Hale, the highest-ranked woman polo player in the U.S.; and Barbara Schulte, an author, trainer and clinician with horses in Texas.
Westfall's mother, Sherri Glidden, is manager of the China Dine-Ah on U.S. Route 202 in South China. Glidden said Westfall competed in the Riverside Horse Show in Augusta and the Silver Spur Horse Show in Sidney when she was a girl. She did barrel racing, in which the rider tries to make the horse cut in opposite directions around three 55-gallon barrels set out in a triangular course in the fastest time without knocking any of the barrels over.
Westfall attended Erskine Academy, graduating in 1993. She had been competing with Misty and another horse named Bay in horse shows and barrel-racing competition as a girl. One day her mathematics teacher asked all his students to declare what they were going to do after high school.
Westfall said she wanted to do something with horses, but added, "You can't go to college for that."
Her teacher sent her to the guidance office, where she discovered that there were indeed colleges where one could study horsemanship.
The two leading colleges offering degrees in equestrian studies were Texas A & M and the University of Findlay in Findlay, Ohio.
Westfall chose the University of Findlay, because it was smaller and closer to home. She graduated in 1997 with a bachelor's degree in equestrian studies and a concentration in equine business management.
It was in college she met another horse lover, Jesse Westfall. After they graduated, they got married and moved to Mount Gilead in central Ohio to start a horse training facility called Westfall Horsemanship. "Mostly what we do is teach other people to train their horses," Westfall said.
Westfall moved from barrel racing, where she had been a champion, to freestyle reining competition, which she compares to freestyle ice skating.
"Reining competition shows the athletic ability of the horse that would be needed if it were herding cattle. I'm famous for my sliding stops and spins," Westfall said.
Westfall also attracted notice by competing in reining, first without a bridle and reins and then without bridle and bareback. "It had never been done before," she said. In 2003, she won the National Freestyle Reining Competition without a bridle on her horse.
She said there is pressure for freestyle reining to become an Olympic equestrian event. It is done in costume and to music, and has been called "Western dressage." This year at the London Olympics, it was a demonstration event.
(Continued on page 2)