From our Home, Herd, and Hearts to yours!
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From our Home, Herd, and Hearts to yours!
If you enjoy our Inspirational quote cards, go here to sign up and get them delivered to you as they become available!
Once more, our lovely friends at The Horse’s Hoof have featured Anna in their online publication. We are so pleased to be partnering with them to reach more and more people who are interested in Natural, Holistic Horsemanship!
Reach Out to Horses by Anna Twinney
Horses have walked this Earth for more than 54 million years. While some do not consider them among the brightest of the animal kingdom, most are unaware that through their lengthy tenure on this planet they have created an effective non-verbal language that some have coined “the language of Equus.” This is a language that goes well beyond the unspoken. Through careful observation, humans have been able to interpret and adopt this method of communication.
Originating from the horses’ body language, behavior, interaction and herd hierarchy, humans can now speak with them through our own body language, gestures and even our intentions. This language, like any, requires patience and practice. It can be taught to anyone but fluency only comes from time spent observing and communicating with the native speakers.
Not only can horses read the body language of every member of their species they can read humans just as easily. They can, almost immediately, see your agenda and how you are feeling. They will highlight your strengths and weaknesses. In effect, they know who you are and what that means to them in a very short period of time. You can lie to yourself but you can’t lie to a horse. Therefore, it’s important that you begin every interaction with a clear mind, leaving “all your baggage” at the gate.
One place to start the conversation with your horse is the round pen. Using the round pen as your classroom can be very helpful in creating a trust-based relationship. This type of conversation is the foundation to all interaction, every ground session, ridden work and ultimately your success. A 50-foot round pen is suggested as it allows free motion for horses of most sizes. It’s also important to make sure you have appropriate footing, which is essential to maintaining health and fitness.
This is an example of a typical session in the round pen. It’s important to note that this is an overview and is not intended to be a formula or a “quick fix” to solve behavioral issues and requires dedication and commitment to learn and apply. Remember that communication takes place whenever you are together. Each gesture and motion you make says something to your 4-legged partner.
Familiarization: Horses need the chance to explore the round pen at liberty. They naturally check out their perimeters, take time to settle and to explore the vicinity through their senses. Each horse is an individual and as such will react in different ways to different circumstances. This 15-20 minute period is an ideal time to observe their character and learn to read thier personality.
Orientation: This is the official introduction and there are many important steps in this portion which include:
Communication: In a natural herd environment, hierarchy is determined through many factors, one being the manipulation of speed and direction. As mentioned in the orientation process, the handler adopts this practice in the round pen environment. The connection between horse and handler takes place before or during the orientation, with a herd of 2 being formed. Once the herd has been formed and the orientation has been completed, the handler asks the horse to leave by driving them away using body language. This is the time to make character assessments, to complete a health check, and to begin forming the partnership with the horse.
A higher-ranking horse will use his body language to communicate or punish another by sending them out of the herd. This gives a strong message as banishment is a grave risk to their survival. Through the position that the handler takes of driving the horse forward, he will retreat. This is a form of advance and retreat, also known as pressure release, and has been used by horsemen for centuries. The handler then adopts equine body language by squaring his shoulders, placing his eyes on the horse’s eyes, and advancing forward in an assertive manner. The combination of proximity, speed, movements, and eye contact can mean a number of different things.
As prey animals, horses naturally run for ¼ to 3/8ths of a mile before they stop to assess what made them flee. This distance is roughly translated to 7-8 revolutions in the round pen. The fleeing that is induced should not be through fear, but rather a request for forward motion. The handler takes possession of any area the horse stands in at any given moment, hence gaining leadership. A speed slightly beyond their natural gait is best and will often be in the form of a canter.
When it feels like the right time to change direction, the horse is asked to change direction towards the round pen wall through the handler’s body positioning. The same process of asking the horse to leave is repeated in this direction. Unlike humans, horses only transfer about 20-50% of all information from the left to the right side of the brain and, as such, they consider this to be new ground that they are exploring.
Once the horse has explored both directions he is then asked to return to familiar ground, pressure is reduced but an active involvement is maintained. An assertive walk forward is continued, while allowing the horse to reduce his speed and maintain focus and attention. The handler’s body language becomes a little softer as his intention changes. This procedure is also helpful because the horse will often reveal his history during this time.
The horse will begin to communicate his desire to return to the herd of two. He will relay very clears signs, such as reducing the size of his circle, relaxing his jaw and neck, and many other gestures that require some study for the handler to recognize. These are all desired responses that need acknowledgement through a release of pressure resembling a drop of the eyes, a relaxing of shoulders, slowing of the walk, or a hesitating in the line throwing. This is what makes it a conversation, rather than a demand or simply talking at the horse. Each try by the horse should be acknowledged in this manner. Overall, the handler is looking for a complete feeling of unity and a commitment from the horse prior to inviting them back to the herd. This will come with experience and the whole of the “Reach Out” process generally should take no longer than 15-20 minutes.
Reach Out to Horses: A suitable moment is identified to invite the horse to become part of the team again. The invitation takes the form of a sweeping motion in front of the horse and is similar to the natural gesture of displaying one’s flank, while eating. The passive nature of the maneuver asks the horse to slow down and step closer. He will choose to stay close to the wall, come part of the way or all the way to the handler. If the communication is done correctly but the horse does not return to the handler this may possibly point to a problem, issue, or habit the horse developed before the session. Ultimately, the greatest compliment is that the horse comes up to the handler and reaches out towards him with his nose.
Close Connection: An invitation to the horse is given to come into the heart space where he receives lots of reward and reassurance – creating a close connection. A rub on the forehead will reinforce his positive behavior. The ultimate reward for a horse is the release of pressure, which translates to walking away. Horses naturally move in arcs and angles so, when the time is right, the handler walks away in a clockwise direction to perform a figure 8. The qualities of a leader are displayed to bring the horse back to the center of the round pen, which becomes a familiar comfort zone.
Reaching out to your horse is the foundation of all communication. It can take on many forms and will allow you to learn to read and communicate with your horse, while building a trust-based relationship. It is the beginning to all success and will aid in improving existing relationships, embarking on new partnerships, and assessing character and health. From here, you can lead into starting young horses, problem solving, improving ground manners, teaching to lead & load, eliminate kicking, biting, and rearing, just to name a few. Creating this trust-based relationship with your horse can be a magical experience and the moment you feel that true partnership is a moment you will never forget.
ROTH Certified Trainer and student Instructor, Katie Dixon of Renegade Equine in Bend, OR, received the following review from one of her local clients with regards to Escaping Tradition. Please enjoy as the trust-based methods continue their reach far and wide.
I am the mother of a 12 year old girl who has fallen in love with horses. Our whole family loves all animals and are very sensitive to their individual personalities. Bits, Spurs, whips and other methods of training horses was just not working for my daughter (or me) mentally or emotionally. Luckily, I found the book Escaping Tradition and knew this was the training philosophy that would work for my daughter (and me!).
The goal of establishing a relationship out of respect and love works as a training method. Fear based anything for anyone is not a “true” relationship or training tool that should be used. These animals have a language and they have opinions and curiosity about us and the environment we put them in. How can we expect them to be successful and learn if we don’t listen to them? Why should they only have to listen to us? This book explains just that. The stories shared by individuals in the book, shows us a way of thinking about horses as equal partners and gives them the voice they need.
The personal experiences shared in the book are examples of what horses can do for humans on a much deeper level than performance. This book points out the “real” fact that all horses are different and we need to understand them and listen to them so we can have a rewarding successful experiences together. Trust is the foundation for all successful relationships. Why would it not be the same for horses. Would you trust someone who inflicted pain, or asks you to do things you do not enjoy, or worse never listens to you? Most humans would not trust or continue to work with someone who treated them that way. So, if we are to raise the next generation of horse trainers, owners, and advocates, then they must agree with this philosophy of training.
I can only hope the book gets into as many hands as possible. Vets, trainers, breeders and the young equestrians to be. The young people have not had years of training to unlearn, they are also much more open and sensitive to animals if allowed to be.
Thank you for writing it and I’m happy to promote it.
If you have visited us here at the Reach Out Ranch, you have undoubtedly had the pleasure of meeting the smallest and yet most notable member of our family, Joseph. Each day we nurture his sixth sense and encourage his natural abilities to talk to all creatures great and small. I hope this newsletter gives you some ideas on how you can do the same for your little one.
Precocious, gregarious, and a teacher at heart, like many kids of his generation, Joseph has a light in his eyes, a song in his step, and an infectious smile that extends far beyond the edges of his body.
Joseph is not just a free spirit, he is very well-educated in many topics. From dinosaurs to bugs and other species of animals, he has an insatiably inquisitive mind. And, like any respectable wizard, he is well versed in the ways of Hogwarts and muggles.
Always creative, “Jojo” can make an adventure out of anything. Whether he is a wizard, a superhero, or Coyote Joseph (the character he plays while emulating his favorite YouTube wildlife expert, Coyote Peterson) he explores the bounds of the ranch and his imagination.
Nature is his classroom and the animals his teachers. The outdoors provides him with life-altering experiences and imagination is the key to expanding the mind and making the impossible possible.
He loves making videos and has begun creating educational videos of his own to document his exploration and adventures. It’s our hope these short videos engage your children, create a platform for you to return to nature with them and learn to listen to the animals.
So we dedicate this chilly December Newsletter to our beloved Joseph and all children, may the Holiday season remain magical for you for many, many, MANY years to come.
Watch Below: A Day in the Life of a Ranch Kid, Episode 1.
As the son of a horse whisperer and entrepreneur, his life is exposed to extraordinary situations, circumstances, and adventures. He is connected to the land, the animals and nature. Ranch life becomes a way of being and he embraces experiential learning. It goes beyond the “norm” to encompass all 6 senses, enhancing connection, communication, and collaboration with all life.
Watch Below, Video #2 in Joseph’s series:
A day in the life of a ranch kid; reins to a richer life.
He connects organically with the animals. Naturally, he communicates without ego. He awakens love within others. He speaks their language; both verbal and silently. He shares his words of wisdom with his Spanish Mustang, Excalibur, for other children to experience a true connection with their horse partners.
Watch the Final Installment, Episode 3, in Joseph’s
A Day in the Life of a Ranch Kid
When you are raised where all the animals are part of the family, you know no different. They teach him about their lifestyles, culture, language, and above all, about himself. He learns trust, respect, boundaries, compassion, leadership, communication, balance, discipline, body language, expressions, care and unconditional love ~ for himself and all those around him.
How did it all start, the worldwide journey of Anna Twinney? What provoked the drive to develop the methods, the students, and to reach out to the horses? We can bring a person’s trajectory into focus so much more clearly when we know the backstory, the trials, the inequities, and understand what exactly they went through to become the person they are today. Anna has provided us with just that, a story, The Origin of Passion.
Follow the link below to all the stages of the journey, the videos, and to get the scoop on what brought Anna to greatness as an ambassador on behalf of the animals who call Earth their home.
After making the little girl, God said:
“You’ll need something to lean on. Something with substance that will teach you the value of hard work, perseverance, and to never give up. A thing that won’t cast judgment when you mess up in life. Because you will often, it’s just part of growing up and becoming a decent human.
You’ll need something whose impressive physical presence must be respected at all times. A being who could break your bones in a whisper but will never break your heart. A creature who will be there for you when you cry for hours after someone you love lets you down. A nonspeaking, breathing being that will teach you to check all the noise in your head and completely listen to what he is saying.
Sometimes in life you need to let go and just hang on. I call this trust. The terrifying ability to follow something blindly out of the conviction of only your heart. It will keep you centered and restore your faith when life happens. When you realize that you are forgettable to the world you won’t be to this creature.
Something that will keep you truly humbled yet teach you how to fly!
You need to understand the painful reality of death. Sometimes it’s OK to let go. That kindness will always be rewarded before the use of force. And that courage means trusting him to get you safely to the other side.
Something to get you out of bed in the trying times. When you feel like you have nothing he will remind you that you are still wanted. Something to give you perspective about what’s really important in life.
You’ll need a best friend. Do not take this relationship lightly. It just might save your life someday when you see no out. Treasure it always I’m trusting it to you to take care of for a reason.
A creature who will restore your faith about all of the goodness in the world even when you are so broken down that you cast Me aside.
In turn with time and healing he will bring you back to Me. Know that your struggle won’t be made alone, and don’t forget to enjoy the ride.
Vin and Saber having a tender moment in the trailer before the Rocky Mountain Horse Expo. Vin always makes sure to take time to connect and thank the horses for their efforts!
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Anna on the Airwaves!!!!
The link to the Radio Show is here!
Listen to Anna discuss pole gentling with the untouched horse.
For information on Anna’s Untouched Horse Course visit us here:
For more information on how you can learn all about Round Penning and Reaching Out the ROTH way, visit us at the links below for Anna’s DVD or to join our Horse Whispering 101 Course:
De-Mystifying the Round Pen
In this, the third of the Reach Out to Horses® DVD series you will see just how effective the Round Pen can be in training your horse. Anna and her students will show you how to use the Round Pen to create the ultimate foundation for a relationship with your horse, introduce the saddle or even solve your most challenging horse related problems.
You will learn how to:
When combined with the horse’s language, the RP will open up a whole new world for you and your horse. You will finally learn how to resolve your Round Pen issues and gain the leadership with your horse. Through communication, honesty and mutual respect you will be able to create the trust-based relationship crucial to a good partnership with your horse. Create a lexicon that far exceeds the RP environment and experience a language that goes beyond body gestures.
Neda DeMayo – Founder of Return to Freedom American Wild Horse Sanctuary
“Anna’s compassion for horses and humans supports her students in developing the quality of communication that will take them beyond traditional training methods.”
Anna dedicates so much of her not-so-free time to writing articles for Equine Wellness Magazine. Her contributions are beyond valuable. Here to share just one of Anna’s Recent Feature Articles:
For access to ROTH’s resource page and to sign up to receive our full newsletter, which contains truckloads of information about Holistic and Natural Horsemanship, Dietary and Medical Support, Young Living Oils and their uses, Animal Communication, Anna’s upcoming Events and Appearances, the Diary of a Horse Whisperer, and so, so, SO much more, visit here: