From: Los Olivas, Ca.
Phone: (805) 245 0274
- 2020 NCHA Futurity Finalist
- 2016 PCCHA Futurity Champion
- 2016 West Texas Open Futurity Finalist
- 2016 Summer Spectacular Open Classic
- 2016 PCCHA Open Mercuria World Series Finalist
- 2016 PCCHA Open Classic/Challenge
- 2016 NCHA Super Stakes Open Classic Finalist
- NCHA Riders Hall Of Fame
- 2014 NCHA Open Futurity Finalist
- NCHA Super Stakes Reserve Champion
- NCHA Classic Challenge Reserve Champion
Top Three Horses Trained
- CD Royal
- Jeeps Posi Traction
- Lil Bit Reckless
How I got started: Russ grew up in the northwest as a young cowboy. He was high school rodeo state champion and qualified for the finals three years in a row and was his high school state president. He worked and looked up to Frank Beard (a well known rodeo stock contractor in the northwest). He then started breaking colts for local cattle ranches. He realized he had a love and passion for a good cowhorse and an opportunity to work for the legendary Buster Welch and Russ moved to Texas.
It was then that Buster and Sheila were at the peaks of their careers and Buster was training 75 head of horses a day. Not only did he get to work for the best, but he was surrounded by other great hands and great horses such as CD Chica San Badger, Haidas Lil Pep, Doc O Leo and so on. It was an experience of a lifetime.
Russ has been a professional cutting horse trainer now for over 30 years. The Westfall’s ranch is in Granbury TX.
“I think you are only as good as who you’ve got to beat..iron sharpens iron…if you want to be competitive at a high level you need to compete with [the top] guys day in and day out…One year we drove back and forth five times [from California to Texas],” Westfall said of his recent move to Texas.
Biggest mistake I’ve made in cutting: Trying to hard, and trying to make things happen when it’s not there!
Biggest myth about cutting: There are so many ways to train a cutting horse and none of them are wrong. You have to find your own way.
Favorite quote: Never under estimate anybody.
Most memorable moment in cutting: The day my son Brandon was born.
Training philosophy: Train a horse on their individual strengths not their weaknesses. You have to go with the flow and roll with the punches.
“I don’t necessarily have a philosophy. I just try to go off of feel and work that horse. The biggest trouble I’ve ever gotten into is having a premeditated idea or plan of what I was going to do that day. That was a mistake because the cow never took me into the spots I wanted to make happen then I’m over riding the cow and telling the horse to go to a spot the cow didn’t take him.”
“I want a horse to be electric and cowy. I want the cow to mean more to the horse than anything else…I dislike a mechanical looking horse. The first thing I want is the horse to love what he’s doing and like his job. If he doesn’t like his job, then find a job that he does like.”
“If the horse likes his job he’ll be a horse that bails you out no matter what the odds. He’ll be a horse that’s there for you when you cut a bad cow or make a mistake…”
What have you adjusted in your program in the past year?
“I keep trying to be a better horse trainer all day everyday. I go out there and try to do a better job than I did the day before… You can learn from anyone. Stay open minded.”
How would you define feel?
“It’s a thing you can’t teach…It’s listening, if you are a better listener, you’ll be a better teacher…Listen to the horse and the cow and pay attention to those little details. Then you start to get feel and feel for the situation and…see what happens, before it happens.”