Thelma is the lovely silhouette on the left…
Sunset comes to Red Bell Run. Talco, Jim, Lacey, and Thelma have arrived and are enjoying peace at the sanctuary.
Sunset comes to Red Bell Run. Talco, Jim, Lacey, and Thelma have arrived and are enjoying peace at the sanctuary.
A Special “Thank You” came from Zuma’s Rescue Ranch, a rescue with whom we are SO BLESSED to partner year after year.
Pictured are Jodi Messenich, owner and operator of Zuma’s Rescue Ranch, Elaine Nash of Fleet of Angels, who provided us with untouched mustangs for this years Trainers Course, and Miss Anna Twinney herself.
What might a personalized plan for a session with a ROTH Certified Trainer actually look like? Join one of our most recent additions to the ROTH fold, Lani, as she works with Thelma, a Belgian Draft mare who is staying here at Reach Out Ranch. Thelma joined us a few months ago from a feedlot and was terrified of all things human. Her progress has been notable! Read on and discover why Thelma deserves three gold stars for her week with Lani Salisbury!
11/6/17 ( 4:00 – 4:45 pm) Haltered, Groom, Leading practice, Head drops, Neck yields, backing.
A short session with Thelma reviewing what she had been practicing. Working toward more fluidity in walk, changing of speeds, and walking more next to us instead of slightly behind. As we practiced leading we incorporated stops, backing, and neck yields which she has improved on greatly and gets about half way on both sides. We also practiced head drops which still need focus. She would give slightly. Her backing is much improved and she is going off minimal pressure. We ended with grooming which she enjoyed. We planned for her next session to be pushed forward.
11/8/17 (3:15 – 4:20 pm) Haltered, Leading practice, Neck yields, Backing, Stopping, Turning, Change in speed, Leading next to us, Desensitizing
In this session we began with haltering. I brought the halter in with me right away which I personally haven’t done. I asked her to stand while I put the horseman’s rope over neck and moved to the haltering. I practiced being more casual with her haltering. She stood solid. We then moved into desensitizing after I brushed her mane. We desensitized with a survival blanket (silver, crinkly blanket). We started small. She was a little concerned with it at first but after we started and I let her see it and rewarded each try she became absolutely perfect with it. We expanded it getting bigger and falling all over her, making it noisy, flapping it, throwing it over her, and walking with it on her back. We spread it out as big as it could get and walked around her pen. We then practiced leading in and out of her pen, around the larger pen again practicing getting more fluid movement. Also working with her beside me. We changed speeds, stopped, backed, disengaged, neck yields. We then went back into her pen and I practiced with my hands around her front legs and hooves. Investigating what turned out to just be a rub of her hair. She was fantastic with the desensitizing and leading. We plan next session to bring more tools to desensitize, continue with picking up her feet, and bring in a few obstacles to practice leading.
11/10/17 (4:25 – 5:10) Haltered, Leading, Desensitizing, Small Parachute on ground, Backing, Picking up front feet, Oils
In this session knowing it was getting dark soon we started with desensitizing to the small parachute. We started with it small and Thelma was only slightly concerned. She didn’t mind at all after a few rubs with it. We expanded quickly on both sides and walked with it at various parts of her body at different sizes. We also threw it all over her body, making it noisy, fast, and slow. We then played it on the ground to see how she felt with putting her feet on it. She was a little worried about it at first but very little. She started by putting one foot on then two. She was a little sticky at first on it but after a few minuets she was walking over it and stopping with all 4 feet on and backing over it. She enjoyed this! I then picked up her front feet twice. She needs more practice but did pick them up quick, needs work holding up. Once it was dark we continued by showing her some Oils. She LOVED it! She chose Peppermint, Ylang Ylang, Grounding, Peace & Calming, Believe, and Magnify your purpose. She liked a lot of them very much and would interact with her mouth, wiggling her lip and grabbing at the once she liked. She really enjoyed the and felt a little more personality come out. Her all time favorite oil was Magnify your purpose.
Our next sessions plan: Set up an obstacle course and bring her over obstacles (tarps, Parachutes, Poles, corridor), more desensitizing to more objects, prepare for heath checking, picking up feet/farrier prep, head drops.
And Thelma’s work the following session reflected all the hard work Lani has put into working with her!
Thelma Obstacle Course:
Tarp, Corridor, Poles, Noodles
Thelma rocked the Obstacle Course! She did every obstacle on the first try. We improved on our leading and more fluid and speed. We stopped on each obstacle and backed off the tarp. Her back is still a tad sticky, but she is willing. We did obstacles from each direction and she enjoyed it.
With her feet: We worked on picking up all four feet. I could mostly pick up her front and hold them for a second. Her hind feet we used the arm to pick up and hold up. She was able this time to hold her hind feet up longer without pulling away.
Head drops still need some work.
We also used the arm to desensitize her around her hind and tail area.
These things will help prepare her for her travels and new beginning!
Lani and her mom, Jill, have both been doing a phenomenal job facilitating Anna’s work with our herd of three. We are proud to call them ROTH Certified Trainers! They embody important pieces of the ROTH mission: meeting the horse where they are, going at a pace that is unique to each individual, clearly communicating, and above all else, loving their work! Great work, ladies!!!
It is with tremendous pride that Anna and Reach Out to Horses welcome our newly certified trainers to the fold. They have worked tirelessly, some since as far back as 2006, to develop their passion for and mastery of the Reach Out to Horses practices and methodologies. To Dora, Ben, Lani, and Jill, CONGRATULATIONS on your accomplishment! Your dedication and persistence have certainly paid off! Welcome to the ROTH family and we are so pleased that we get to continue to watch each of you grow as you go out into the world and bring the ROTH flavor of Natural Horsemanship to the horses and their people!
A Trainer’s Exam Kind of Wonderful Day!
On Sunday, October 29th, Reach Out to Horses brought our day of Holistic Horsemanship to a number of interested folks as we watched our trainers strut their stuff! Hosted by Zuma’s Rescue Ranch, the day was a great success as our four trainers demonstrated the types of things they had been working on throughout the week. With Anna narrating it was much easier to note the subtle pieces of communication being exchanged between the horses and the trainers. All of the proceeds went to Zuma’s Rescue Ranch, particularly to care for their two newest editions, the Hallelujah Horses, Ariel and Saphiel.
Elaine Nash, of Fleet of Angels and the Hallelujah Horses, was in attendance to see how the two mustangs had progressed over the week. Hoping to find them homes through the event, all of the proceeds went to Zuma’s Rescue Ranch to support in the effort. Pictured here are Jodi, our most lovely host at Zuma’s Rescue Ranch, Elaine, and Anna. The Rescue was supported, the mustangs received critical training to help better their chances of finding a forever home, and our ROTH trainers had excellent horses with whom to work as they honed their skills and learned to truly capture the whisper. A win for everyone!
Reach Out to Horses would like to thank everyone who attended the event and who supported our trainers, the Rescue, and the Hallelujah Horses. We also want to thank those who shared with us their four-legged companions so that our trainers would have an excellent experience and horses/burros who would help them develop the subtle skills that are such an integral part of everything ROTH. We want to thank all of our supporters as this event was a hit! THANK YOU!!!
Did you miss this year’s Trainers’ Exam Day? Join us next year, same place, same time, for yet another year of astonishing horsemanship, kinship, and compassion! Sign up for our newsletter, Diary of a Horse Whisperer, and have the event details sent directly to your inbox!
Annual ROTH Trainer’s Demonstration Event
In a largely oversized and muggy indoor arena, the wide eyes await. They sense our intention. They sense our presence. They sense the start of something big. Some are fresh starts and some are restarts. Either way it is a new beginning, both for the people facilitating the learning and new for the wide eyes alike. What brings us all to this quiet place on the hilltop is life’s inevitable inertia; or rather, our desire to shift and change as we continue on our unique trajectories. It is the need to be dynamic – ever learning, ever seeking something else, ever seeking wisdom to grow. What we knew is that some of these wide eyes were already used to moving, that is to say that some were used to moving until an opposing force of some kind moved them backwards, or even sideways, or caused them to halt indefinitely. Some of them have never moved before at all, and we begin fresh with a clean slate on their behalf, which is an ideal situation.
The people at Colt Starting are similar in this way; some of us were moving and then we hit a block where we got stuck, and perhaps we even got scared. Some of us are fresh and have never really experienced much moving at all, and maybe that earnest quality will save our hides. Maybe the ignorance of what can go wrong and not knowing what bone-crushing pain is actually keeps us safer than others because we can manage our congruencey more adeptly, and we aren’t focused on the negative possibilities. Either way this is no easy task to learn to gently move the previously unmoved, and for some, the still unwilling to move, but fortunately for our Colt Starting course we have an ace in the hole; her name is Miss Anna Twinney.
Anna’s primary focus is to keep us all safe, horses included. She is not a babysitter and she will not simply do it for us. She is a collaborator, a facilitator, and a developer of souls, techniques, and ideals. Anna will look into us and ask what we are feeling. When we can’t decide on an answer, or if we answer dishonestly, she’ll look us over and purse her lips as she squints a little and then she’ll ask us again. It’s important to know these things, for us, for her, AND for the horse. It’s important because the horse is a reflection of our energy and our emotions at any given time. If we don’t know what we are feeling it makes a muddied water for the horse that makes it more challenging for them to succeed. When we are starting or restarting colts and horses there is no more unsafe and unfair way to proceed.
It’s most important to be in touch with feelings because it’s the difference between a reaction and a response, a cloudy cue and a clear communication, and a partnership vs. a dictatorship. It’s how Anna knows if we are ready to do the hard things: to look at ourselves, to be honest about our capabilities and our intention, and to know if we are ready to ground ourselves and focus on the work at hand. Knowing how we are feeling is the basis of all this work, and most significantly, it’s how Anna helps us help the horses. Therefore, to be confused, in denial, or unwilling to be honest with ourselves or with others, that is the cardinal sin of Natural Horsemanship. It’s a problem because it hinders our awareness and it causes an imbalance the horse can feel. It causes us to become misaligned with the truth of things, and hence the truth of our own reality, of which the horse is an integral part. We can’t very well move a horse who exists in the truth of a present reality when we are in the falsehood of our own illusions or past misconceptions. Some horses are much more forgiving than others, of course, but most of those who are totally forgiving are called “therapy horses.” They are there to help the human begin to understand the truth of their alignment and awareness, or lack thereof. These are not those kinds of horses just yet. These wide eyes are looking to us to be the leaders, the truth tellers, to assure them we have their back and their best interest and safety at heart. These wide eyes need clear, soft eyes who can show them what a kind, congruent leader and human looks like.
The trick in all of this is not just getting the horse to do what we want them to do. The trick is in allowing them to see they have options and choices in their growth process and helping them to feel safe with us. All the while we are showing them we are capable of leading them well. Then, when they want to follow us and they trust us to make good decisions, we can co-create a life of endless adventure with them. A life where we always learn about one another and one in which growth and creativity are cultivated and not smothered like an unwanted flame. This is the foundation work for all future horse-human relationships. If we rush the horse into a panic, we fail. If we allow three experiences in which the horse develops a behavioral issue, we have created one where none previously existed. If we are not present and aware, we could get hurt or killed, or get someone else hurt or killed. This colt starting is serious stuff, but there are benefits that go beyond words in this experience. There are changes to our hearts, minds, and souls that only observers of subtlety can detect and appreciate, and that is where the gold lies.
Early mornings, late nights, and summer heat aside, one by one, day by day, we worked in comfort. The comfort of good company, that is. We worked alongside our partners and buddies, both human and equine. We shared a growth experience with like-minded individuals who were the most willing group of people I have ever met. If something was needed, all we had to do was ask and people jumped left and right to pitch in. We worked together on softening, slowing down the mind, being wholly present and aware during the work, being equally responsive in thanking the horse for their try, learning the silent language, using our body language effectively, understanding what we can tell from the eyes, and discovering how we can similarly use our eyes, weight, and breath to share our requests, our intentions and to offer reward. We shaped the lessons for the horses so as not to overwhelm them, but to help them learn to cope with discomfort and to experience success as they learned to trust us to add pressure to their lives. We helped each other with suggestions, epiphanies, and in great and lengthy periods of varied experimentation. Just as with people, every horse is different and what works with one may not work with another. We were fortunate to find those who were willing to give us ideas, to help us problem solve, and to offer solutions and comfort when we feared we had exhausted our options, our patience, and our efforts. Truly a lasting bond was formed and the camaraderie of colt starting developed and lingered like a silent partner, waiting in the byways and walls of the arena, always there with a smile and a pat on the back, reassuring us we had given it our all and done a good job.
In a very early impression it felt like the success of a week of starting colts would be measured by the number of colts under saddle on the final day. This was such a misconception. That is not to say that we didn’t have amazing numbers as result of all the hard work because each colt was saddled by the end of the week and all but three, I believe, had been ridden. Rather, the measure of a good colt starting course is in the daily experiences; it’s in every obstacle on the obstacle course we can finally cross and in the joy that comes from approaching a wide-eyed one and watching them turn into a soft-eyed one around things that were of tremendous concern at the beginning of the week. The success is found in the round pen, in reaching out, and in creating the contract. It’s in the close connection, the love lessons, and the successful breakaways. It’s in the liberty work, and in the long lines that we might never have thought we could use on a particular horse. It’s in each girth tightened, and each saddle pad that finds its way onto the horse’s back, and in the stirrups that clang and bounce against the horse’s side as he forgets they are there and focuses on the communication and direction of the human instead. It’s in every parachute dragged, every dummy draped and slung, and every noodle and flag wiggled and waved throughout the week. It’s in every head drop, every deep breath and sigh, and every lick and chew. It’s in every eye that was once distant, hard and wide, that now is only soft and presently attentive. It’s in every curious exploration of an obstacle or a pocket, every smile, and definitely in every laugh of this process.
Colt Starting was not about the end result at all – not about the product, not about the final polish. Instead, it was about the safe opportunity for some to start over and to learn to trust again, and for some to just be started gently and effectively so they will never have to be restarted ever again. It was about affording us a space, an environment where learning could take place, and where ideas could be safely shared and exchanged. Colt Starting was truly about the start of the possibilities of each individual there, and to see that there is limitless potential that can be tapped in all of us, despite our somewhat active resistance to that process. It was about opening up to trust-based leadership and compassionate communication, or TLC, as Anna calls it. It was all about the beginning and the journey to the next beginning, which starts now for each and every one of us.
The success of Colt Starting is also in the future of the horses whose lives we may now touch on any level. Sometimes we will only be able to offer a compassionate sigh and knowing glance when we see that they are frustrated or confused. If we are fortunate, we will have our hands on to help gentle them to saddling ourselves, applying all that we learned over the course. It’s in the potential of each observer who might see us doing something differently, with compassion, and think to themselves, “I need to ask them how they do that so gently and with such patience, and how I can learn that too.” It’s in every connection with every horse in our futures, and their people, as we become the ROTH mission at work in our daily lives. It’s alive in each and every instance where the human mind entertains the thought, “maybe there is a better way.” I had that thought and after much exploration, I can assure you, there IS a better way: the ROTH way.
They said colts was the most difficult course that Anna teaches, and I could see why that might be the case. We are taking big steps with horses who may have some negative programming already in place about the process, and who may or may not react, possibly even violently. But after watching pair after pair succeed in achieving their daily goals, I was encouraged that it was not quite as trying as I had perceived it might have been. I was lucky to have my gelding there, who had been ridden before, but after an accident we had backtracked quite a bit. So my experience was much tempered compared to those who were truly starting a horse for the first time. Still, the challenges are only where we perceive them to be, and I perceive that this course was a wild and total success for each and every student and horse who attended.
It is with good reflection upon this recent experience, and in preparation for the long journey to all of the next beginnings, that I note one most important piece of practice that struck me, in particular, and that I need to apply hourly: that is to relax and to smile, because if I am not smiling, I am not breathing. To all the people who helped me smile or laugh along the way, my gratitude to you. Here’s to the limitless beginnings and starts, to a future of moving, to the potential of us all, and to the glorious necessity of breathing.
To a mentor and boss who shows me that only I can limit my true potential, and to her husband who is there for me when I need to share silly things and ask about life’s difficult questions, my deepest gratitude to you both for putting up with my growth spurts. Your eternal patience with me is most appreciated. All my love to you both for the sacrifices you make on a daily basis on behalf of the mission and the animals. There are no two like either of you anywhere in the world. May you always find the energy to shine on, ROTH style.
All my love,
ROTH’s 2017 Colt Starting Crew at Zuma’s Rescue Ranch in Littleton, CO
Do you want to watch our sessions? Anna live streams on her courses to bring the world along with on the journey! Follow the link below to videos from this year’s Untouched Horse Course.
Anna spent a week August at the Wild Horse Sanctuary in Shingletown, CA, sharing the methods and the wisdom behind developing trust and a bond with the wild ones. Students were each assigned a wild horse with whom to spend the week and with whom to develop the partnership that is so necessary in safely gentling wild horses.
Sharing space – a profound moment of connection!
We can share space with one another through “being” and not “doing”, through meditation and through a practice of animal communication. We can remove all agendas and intentions allowing the flow of a conversation to foster a partnership built on the horse’s rituals, built on mutual trust. One which takes out the pressure, allows for reading of the horse’s energy, language, personality, and individual learning. This is not bribery. It is a magical experience for us to blend our energies becoming one, which naturally brings forth a bonding time. It’s the foundation and introduction to pave the way for our relationship.
Sitting silently we watch the horses and come to understand the ROTH way; a way based on the true nature of the horse. Many watch but few see. Through education, a keen eye, and in-depth understanding, Anna interprets the horses’ communication and dynamics, explaining how she bridges the gap in the gentling, and incorporates the whole horse within the methodologies.
What we can learn from the horses themselves is truly invaluable! We learn to be receptive to what they can teach us about how to be effective communicators in a language that they understand.
Do you want to be included in next year’s mustang course? Or do you simply want to stay up to date on all Anna shares about her journeys, including the tips and horsemanship help that can be found in her videos and live streams? Join our newsletter, Diary of a Horse Whisperer, and let everything come to you in a neatly packaged, bimonthly email!
The signup link is here: http://www.reachouttohorses.com/contact/register.php