Skip to content

The Greenhorn Chronicles 35: Cindy Waslewsky on the Equestrian Industry and Breeds (2)


Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Publisher Founding: January 1, 2014

Web Domain: 

Location: Fort Langley, Township of Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Journal: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Journal Founding: August 2, 2012

Frequency: Three (3) Times Per Year

Review Status: Non-Peer-Reviewed

Access: Electronic/Digital & Open Access

Fees: None (Free)

Volume Numbering: 11

Issue Numbering: 2

Section: E

Theme Type: Idea

Theme Premise: “Outliers and Outsiders”

Theme Part: 27

Formal Sub-Theme: “The Greenhorn Chronicles”

Individual Publication Date: January 1, 2023

Issue Publication Date: May 1, 2023

Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Interviewer(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Interviewee(s): Cindy Waslewsky

Word Count: 3,578

Image Credits: None

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN): 2369-6885

*Please see the footnotes, bibliography, and citations, after the interview.*

*Interview conducted January 2, 2022.*


Cindy Waslewsky went to Stanford University and competed on the Varsity Gymnastics and Ski Teams. She earned a B.A. in Human Biology in 1982. She earned a Diploma in Christian Studies at Regent College in Vancouver, and a BC teachers’ certification from the University of British Columbia in 1984. She was the President of the Squamish Valley Equestrian Association. She is a certified English and Western coach. Waslewsky is co-owner of Twin Creeks Ranch. Waslewsky discusses: common human made problems; approximate mental age of an adult horse; different breeds of horse; the Canadian landscape of horses; operational business; standard procedure in the industry; the council in the township of Langley; particular bylaws; and industry as a whole in the Lower Mainland.

Keywords: adrenaline, Bold Ruler, breed, Canadian, Cindy Waslewsky, dressage, eventing, furlong, horse, hunting, iPhone, jumping, maturity, mental age, reiners, riders, Samsung, Secretariat, Western pleasure.

The Greenhorn Chronicles 35: Cindy Waslewsky on the Equestrian Industry and Breeds (2)

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: What are some of those common human made problems?

Cindy Waslewsky: Okay. A simple one; people throw their saddles on their horse and then they tighten up their girth for English, or a cinch for Western, and they’re worried about the saddle sliding. So they do it nice and tight and the horse starts to get what they say ‘girthy’ or ‘cinchy’; you’ll see people bring their saddles on the horse and the horse’s ears go back. They even make aggressive gestures toward the rider as they’re tightening up the girth and that is created by people when they tighten the girth too much. Otherwise, you put a saddle on. You snipe it up just a little bit to hold the saddle on. You finish picking hooks or whatever. You lock them into the arena, then you tighten it again, then mild, then tighten it again. So, in other words, you don’t just suddenly sort of squeeze them tight because they learn to tighten the muscles in their sternum enough to split across their right behind the front legs. They can tighten those muscles to expand, so that you go and now the girth is really loose. So, they learn to do that. However, they are called girthy or cinchy; meaning, they get crabby, cranky, and can get aggressive when people are tightening up the girth or cinch. And that’s created by people doing it too hard or too fast instead of gently tightening it as they get ready to ride like put the saddle on, snug it, then go and tighten it up just a hole and then maybe one more hole later, so it’s not just all being put on at the same time. That’s just one example.

Other examples are, I was teaching a student today that when you’re turning the horse. Horses are followers, so you’re the leader. You are in charge. I use the example with students that it’s like their substitute teacher walking into a grade 7 classroom. You have about 30 seconds to take charge and be fair, firm, and be the leader. Tell that horse just like you would a student what is acceptable behavior; like, you can’t swear to teacher. You can’t make comments to other people. Soon, you have spit wads on the ceiling in a classroom and the same with the horse. If you don’t right away say it’s time to report now: Ask, tell, demand, get going forward, do it firmly, have tools and techniques to make sure the horse is doing what you need it to do without being cruel and understanding horse cognition, which is, again, a new thing along with these trials and studies being a little delayed from horses when you compare it to other livestock that we often eat, right?  Then you look at horse cognition. Studies are now coming out where they get in a PhD on learning, which manure pile does the horse sniff first. Believe it or not, they sniff their own first. Then they sniff the dominant horse next. How many seconds does it take for a horse to change from fear to inquisitive behavior because horses have the largest amygdala of any domesticated animal, in other words, amygdala processes fear. The most fear-based domesticated animal that we deal with is a horse, and we ride it.

So, what we have to constantly think about is when something scares or concerns that horse, they typically need 12 to 15 seconds to switch from fear to inquisitive. Let’s say they go by a tarp, and you start whacking on them to get closer to that tarp; I would question that. I would say I’ve changed how I ride, so if my horse is like bulging off the wall, I might go back to that spot and stop them and wait those 12 to 15 seconds. You will see horses drop their head, lick and chew, relax and stretch the nose out to whatever’s concerning them specific just to kind of investigate. They poke it with their nose. When they’re relaxed, I carry on, and then when I come back to that spot in their trail. I’ve already given my horse a chance to relax instead of beating them past it and making it a higher anxiety location. The other thing or techniques such as you’re coming to some spook zone in the arena where they tend to suddenly bolt away. For example, I was on a trail ride. There was a dog that looked like a bear, so the horse I was on had got just past the dog and scored ahead trying to get away from the dog. So, I asked the owner and if I could just go by there a couple of times. So, as I started to pass the dog; just when I started to pass, I stopped my horse and I waited. How long? 12 to 15 seconds, my horse relaxed with that dog and then walked on. So, the flight zone is right as they’re leaving the object they’re fearful of.

You might be leading horses out to paddocks. You’re going to be handling some of these horses and when they’re excited or hot, if you have fast feet for a long time equals fear for a horse. So, if you can slow their feet down, relax yourself, and slow your heart rate because horses’ heart rates match ours. When they put heartbeat monitors on horses and riders, they match each other. It’s interesting. So, we kind of have to relax ourselves to be the herd leader, but, if we get nervous, they don’t think we’re nervous with them. They think we’re nervous about something in our environment. And we need to let them know there’s nothing in the environment needs to concern you. But if we express fear of our horse, that’s going to translate to the horse that my rider who is my herd leader is concerned about something around us right now, so I better be worried too.

And they’ll do things like you can scratch the wither of your horse and their heart rate lowers and they did that with heart rate monitors. So if I’m going to reward my horse, I don’t slap the neck like how they pat horses on the neck and sort of slap them on the neck. That’s not much of a reward in the horse’s mind. But if you scratch or itch or massage the wither just like horses mutually groom each other, their heart rate actually slows. So, you would go lead a horse. You go to catch them. You scratch their wither. It’ll also lower their head a little bit, which is another long-necked animal. When a giraffe lowers its head, then the heart rate lowers; otherwise, you get head rush. Head goes up and it has to increase its heart rate. And so, a horse is the same, so when we lower their poll. That’s the area between their ears, to the same height or lower than their wither, then their heart rate autonomically slows. They don’t control that. It’s autonomic. So, as you lower a horse’s head, you’re actually relaxing them and lowering their heart rate and keep getting them to be a little calmer for leading out on a windy day or something. These are things people are just getting into now. The horse has been viewed a little bit like a motorcycle to get on a ride, but, now, we know for our own safety and for a humane treatment of the horse; we need to learn more about horse cognition. We need to do a little better.

Jacobsen: What is the approximate mental age of an adult horse?

Cindy: In terms of comparing to people, if you multiply a horse’s age by three, that’s going to give you an idea of maturity. In other words, a one-year-old horse is like a three-year-old. A two-year-old horse is typically like a six-year-old child. So, in terms of reasoning and training and teaching, they can start to link things up on conditions to what we use with horse training. I have a horse here that is 30 years old, that’s like a 90-year-old. She still did lessons. If she wasn’t doing that, she probably would really seize up. So, arthritis and everything would just really bother her. So in terms of mental maturity, I sort of try to link it to a human age, so that we can think what this horse can do physiologically and what is a fair workload for a 20 year old horse. And I think I’m 61, I can do just about anything back home, I can ride a horse. I can hike tough mountains with stuff if I stay in shape, but there are other 61 year olds that aren’t in as good a shape or if they’ve had some injury that really impedes them. So, if I look at a 20-year-old horse, and if it’s a healthy 20-year-old horse, they can still do they can still do some like jumping, they can do dressage, they can do lots of trail rides, they can work well, and they have maturity. They’ve got some experience. They’re a reliable horse, probably a safer horse for most people. They may have had a variety of exposure to different situations. But if you have a three-year-old horse, that’s like a nine-year-old. They’re kind of still learning a lot of things are still new to them…  “Oh! What’s that? Oh, that’s a dog! Oh, that’s a plastic bag!” or “Oh, that’s a different horse trailer than the last one I got in” or “I’m going on a trail!” “What’s that big block?” So, you really expect to have to explore different things in a very calm and relaxed way.

Jacobsen: It gives a comparative answer to human beings to give an idea about the maturity and the ability to think of horses themselves.

Cindy: And what kind of physical demands you can make on them too.

Jacobsen: Absolutely.

Cindy: So, even as they age, you don’t want to just throw them out to pasture. That’s actually not a good retirement for a lot of these horses.

Jacobsen: How do different breeds of horse deal with different types of professional performance, whether dressage, hunting, jumping, or eventing?

Cindy: They’re all different even within a breed you will see different horses that are well suited conformationally to certain things. As a former gymnast, I would say I look at a body type, fast twitch muscles and flexibility. And then there’s a mental ability to do things. Some of my gymnasts were very timid and others were very bold. Some have a need for a little bit of adrenaline. Some are very driven. Some were not. You see that in horses as well. So, we didn’t breed just to generalize. You’ve got the quarter horse, which was named the quarter horse because it excelled in the quarter mile. It’s a sprinter. If you imagine human sprinters with big glutes and very strong muscle, quarter horses have very strong hind ends. They can sprint well. They can run fast, but for short periods of time and they keep their muscle tone. Let’s say they don’t get worked really well or they didn’t get ridden for a little while, they’ll keep their muscle tone better than a thoroughbred would. They tend to keep their weight on a little better.

So, you have the quarter horse. The mind was bred for cattle work and trails. So, you see them in the Western world.  Everything from reining, working cow, cutting, western pleasure, trail classes where you go over all kinds of obstacles that could really freak out some horses. They learn to go over rivers, over bridges. They do teeter-totter bridges and all kinds of things that these horses have been known to do very well. They make a great all-around horse. Now, their neck ties in conformationally within the quarter horses. You would see different quarter horses and some are more capable of certain jobs. Some of the reiners are very able to collect themselves, meaning to lift their backs up kind of like doing a pelvic tilt and squat on their back legs a little bit. That’s what I would say I collected. If the horse is actually squatting on the back legs a little bit and lifting their back, lifting their wither, and stretching and telescoping the neck out, they’re not just bringing a chin into their chest. That’s a misunderstanding of what collection is.

So, when you compress these horses as compressing them like a spring and creating them with more energy and more athleticism, you’re also increasing the longevity of a horse being able to be worked because their musculature and the skeletal system is better designed for pulling a sled, pulling a plow. That kind of thing more than carrying a rider on its back. So, that’s why you’ll see all the disciplines of looking at collecting horses or compressing their body and lifting up their backs because then they will last longer and their gaits are better and are more athletic and more able to do everything. So, a quarter horse can turn on cows, a quarter horse can jump, a quarter horse can do some dressage. Do you really want to do the higher end dressage? You start looking for a horse that has a longer stride length and shoulder and then you look at thoroughbred, which was designed or bred to do the furlong or the mile. So, think of your distance runners, the long legs, the leaner build, they can really reach out. They have a long stride. Thoroughbreds have bigger lung capacity, so you see them in cross-country jumping a lot because they have to have the stamina for that. So, they have what they call their lung capacity and their nostrils are actually able to flare open wider than the quarter horse. They’re elongated and can open up. Equine dentists will say it’s easier to do the teeth of a thoroughbred because when you open their mouth there will be a bigger throat to work on their teeth because they have to suck the oxygen in to really do that at high speeds. And so, you have your thoroughbred.

Now, they’re called as a more hot-blooded horse. It’s a little more thin skin, the flies bother them a little more, could be a little spookier, and a little more temperamental. They are not quite as hardy a horse, not an easy keeper; meaning, they need more feed to keep their weight on. If you don’t use them consistently, they start to lose their muscle tone, especially along their back. Their topline we call it. And then what you can do is, you can breed a draft horse, which is great. Calmer horses that we use for usually pulling wagons and people do ride drops, but they’re a little bit wide for most people, especially women’s hips. They’re pretty big. But you can put a draft horse and say, “Oh, they’re so calm and good natured.” Ad then we have the thoroughbred, that’s so athletic, but a little bit slidy. So, let’s put them together. We have a cold-blooded draft and a hot-blooded thoroughbred. Most of the times, it’s one-quarter draft, three quarters thoroughbred. You get this lovely horse that’s usually a little calmer, still athletic, good muscle tone, and has that reach, the long stride of the thoroughbred to do some very nice dressage movement. It can also do some good jumping as well. So, you’ll see a lot of people pivoting to these warmbloods, who go into all kinds of various warmbloods.

It’s just a blend of the horses, and then you have the Arabs, which are small originally from, of course, Arabia. They have a little point to their ear, very pretty head, somewhat smaller. They have one vertebra less. So I think they’re very difficult to ride in a very collected frame. They would not be my favorite. For endurance riding, you can’t get a better horse for an endurance ride – small, hearty horses. And people who love Arabs love Arabs. They jump Arabs. They do pleasure. They do Wester. They do English. There are specialized Arab shows just as there are specialized paint shows. Paint is a color, but it’s actually a breed. So, you can say pinto for a color and paint is breed. So pinto is a color that you could have on a warm blood or something. But either you have paint; it’s a specific breed that has thoroughbred in it, quarter horse crossed with the thoroughbred. So, you can have a quarter horse thoroughbred cross. Great combination because you have the calmer mind of the quarter horse with more muscle tone of the muscly quarter horse, and then you put it with the thoroughbred. So, what other breed have you come across that you’re curious about?

Jacobsen: Well, I’d be curious about the Canadian landscape of horses as well in that regard. I mean, what breed of horse do Canadians work with the most, the riders, generally?

Cindy: It depends on what discipline you want to be in. We’re unusual in the barn that we have Western and English together in one barn. Usually, as you’ve seen, there are a hundred jumpers, then there’ll be Western. And they’re all divided up. Now, these ones in an Arab barn just do Arab shows and there’s paint here. This one’s just a Western pleasure and some trainers specialize in just one area. That’s, typically, because it’s a big spectrum. There’s a lot of time to think of another analogy. It’s hard to think of something that splits up as much as this does. Because when you think of horseback riding, you think of it as being, “Oh, you’re right. One rider can talk to another rider”, but there are so many different disciplines for riding, and so the horse excels at different disciplines. Some horses can cross over to be a nice all-around horse, which a family might purchase. So, I see a lot of people buying quarter horses because of their temperament, which is great for younger people to get into; fairly safe and yet they can still do all these different things.

Now, conformationally, their neck ties in a little lower, so they’re not perfect for jumping. The thoroughbreds will be able to out jump a quarter horse, typically. Yet, it depends on the build. I have two thoroughbreds. They’re built differently. One thoroughbred is “very upright”. I’ll call it. The other one’s built a little bit downhill if that makes sense. So, one’s kind of more laid back. That one’s a Secretariat lineage – Bold Ruler, really good lineage for racing, but he never won a race. He just laid back. He’s great; perfect for me for lessons. The other one won his races, but had a bowed tendon, so even as thoroughbreds go, these two are built differently because their confirmation was a little bit different, you ride them just a little differently. So even as riders switch from one horse to another, like people like to own their own horses, but you actually gain a lot of experience riding different horses.  Do you have an iPhone or a Samsung?

Jacobsen: I have an iPhone.

Cindy: So, what if I say, “You know your iPhone well.” You’re good with the iPhone. I’m going to give you a Samsung. You know that Samsung is able to do all the same things your iPhone can do, but the buttons are in slightly different places. It’s a little frustrating. It doesn’t build your confidence. But if you’re ready to take on the challenge, and if you learn that Samsung, you now know cell phone’s better. You can do an iPhone; you can do Samsung. Now, you’re pretty conversant with your phone because you know both of them. My daughter who was a business major did that. She turned on both phones. She had a Mac and a PC because she needed to be conversant. She knew some programs are better one than the other. She wanted to be conversant with both because you never know what office system they’re going to be using. So, just saying, that horses vary even within the breeds. I have a quarter horse at 16.1. That’s on the bigger end of a quarter horse. She’s very nice for lessons. And then I have another one that’s 15.1, quite a bit smaller. They’re very different too. They teach my students different things because they’re good at different things. The one has a really good stop. He does this, does that. He can do some small jumps, but he’s never going to be a great jumper. But he can do some really good Western turn backs and maneuvers, but he’s a good all-around horse. Then when I get to my thoroughbred, they’re more specialized. They can do jumping. They can do some dressage, and then I do take them out on trails. They’re a little bit more lookie-loo at things on the trails, but the quarter horses are more relaxed on the trails. We put them in the front of the trail and thoroughbreds follow them. So, those are breed things, but within a breed; you’ll see variation.






American Medical Association (AMA 11th Edition): Jacobsen S. The Greenhorn Chronicles 35: Cindy Waslewsky on the Equestrian Industry and Breeds (2). January 2023; 11(2).

American Psychological Association (APA 7th Edition): Jacobsen, S. (2023, January 1). The Greenhorn Chronicles 35: Cindy Waslewsky on the Equestrian Industry and Breeds (2). In-Sight Publishing. 11(2).

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. D. The Greenhorn Chronicles 35: Cindy Waslewsky on the Equestrian Industry and Breeds (2). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, Fort Langley, v. 11, n. 2, 2023.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (17th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2023. “The Greenhorn Chronicles 35: Cindy Waslewsky on the Equestrian Industry and Breeds (2).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 11, no. 2 (Spring).

Chicago/Turabian, Notes & Bibliography (17th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott The Greenhorn Chronicles 35: Cindy Waslewsky on the Equestrian Industry and Breeds (2).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 11, no. 2 (January 2023).

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. (2023) ‘The Greenhorn Chronicles 35: Cindy Waslewsky on the Equestrian Industry and Breeds (2)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, 11(2). <>.

Harvard (Australian): Jacobsen, S 2023, ‘The Greenhorn Chronicles 35: Cindy Waslewsky on the Equestrian Industry and Breeds (2)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 11, no. 2, <>.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 9th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. “The Greenhorn Chronicles 35: Cindy Waslewsky on the Equestrian Industry and Breeds (2).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vo.11, no. 2, 2023,

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. The Greenhorn Chronicles 35: Cindy Waslewsky on the Equestrian Industry and Breeds (2) [Internet]. 2023 Jan; 11(2). Available from:


In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Based on work at


© Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing 2012-Present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, or the author(s), and In-Sight Publishing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees and authors copyright their material, as well, and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: