The Wide Eyes Await: A Reflection on ROTH’s 2017 Colt Starting Course

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,

Lacey Knight

ROTH Admin

Colts

ROTH’s 2017 Colt Starting Crew at Zuma’s Rescue Ranch in Littleton, CO

 

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Appreciation from the Wild Horse Sanctuary

Dear Anna,
 
I am so thankful that we found each other thru a DVD that you mailed to us 2 years ago.  Sarah Lockwood (one of your certified trainers) did an amazing job of getting us together. I learned so much in this 7-day Reach Out to Horses course about the horses and myself that this has changed me forever. I cannot begin to put into words how much it meant to me to see some of our really difficult wild mustangs reach out to us!  That has forever changed their lives and now they can build on trusting their two-legged partners. They allowed people to come into their space and trust us. All of us students gave these horses an amazing foundation at the pace the horse would accept and we all accomplished our goals in the end. Our success story is Cookie, a cute mustang, who was lucky enough to have worked with all of the students that week. She went to an amazing supporter of The Wild Horse Sanctuary, Barbara Webb. The other horses are still waiting on their life partners. We are enthusiastically looking forward to next year’s 7-day ROTH course at The Wild Horse Sanctuary in Shingletown, CA. I cannot only highly recommend this course to everybody, I would strongly suggest it to any horse lover wanting to take their knowledge to the next level.  You will learn so much about yourself and the horses that you will be a different person after this course for life. On behalf of our mustangs Spice, Dodger Dan, Gypsy, Crystal, Aisha, Ayla, Owen, Cookie and Dutch, we would like to thank you and all of the students who made a difference in their lives and gave them an amazing foundation.  Many lives were changed for the better in your week here.
 
Liz Juenke,
 
Saddle Horse Manager at the Wild Horse Sanctuary

A Rave Review From One of Our Own…

 

It’s been two years …

You guys don’t hear from me much, I’m Tess. I create this newsletter and all of the graphics and a large majority of the videos and collateral you see to promote Anna’s important work. I work virtually in North Carolina and talk to Vin and Anna weekly to get our objectives met. Recently I was fortunate to visit Vin, Anna, and Joseph at their home in Colorado. It’d been two years and a month since I’d been to see them. 
I could spend a lot of time writing about a multitude of topics. From Anna’s amazing pancakes to our trip to Cripple Creek and my walks and photo shoots with Jojo … I’d rather take the time to use my words to compel those of you reading this who haven’t yet attended a ROTH event or met Anna in person to stop procrastinating. Why? In my life, I have only met a few people whose energy matches their truth. If you read this newsletter because you have an interest in any of the subjects Anna has expertise in, know and understand that she’s a rare and wonderful asset to this world. I feel privileged to know both Anna and Vin. 
If you are on the fence, get off. Anna’s wisdom, her knowledge, and honestly her expectations will make you a better person. Those people are too few and far between to pass up. If you ever do get a chance to have her pancakes, I recommend you go ahead and ask for three. 
      Warmly,
                   Tess

Photos of the family and what can only be described as the ROTH magic…

And Anna recently took Joseph to school via horseback on honey, their trusted steed.

 

Excalibur Update and Dynamite Success!

 

Many of you have followed along as we’ve seen our beloved Excalibur through a bout of laminitis. Here, Anna is adding Dynamite Supplements to Ex’s (and the rest of the herd’s) supper.  Through supplementation, booting, cold hosing and more, Ex is recovering. If you’d like to learn more about Dynamite and the wonderful family of supplements for animals and people, click the link below. If you’d like to know more about how we have cared for Ex, please email us at info@reachouttohorses.com.

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While in the Northeast, Anna spent an evening helping people learn about Dynamite Nutritional Products and the value she’s personally seen them bring to her clients, students, family and the animals they all love!

“Thank you to Anna Twinney for orchestrating the assembly of a panel of holistic and veterinary experts at Ray of Light Farm.  Present for the discussion on the evening of July 12thwere Dr. Scott Sears from Connecticut Equine Clinic, Scott Lesinski, Cathy Languerand, and, of course, Anna (three Dynamite Distributors). The audience was made up of a variety of knowledge seekers ranging from people who have used Dynamite products to the very young group of volunteers who help us take care of the 150 (or so) animals who reside at our rescue/therapy center.” ~

Bonnie Buongiorne

Founder, Ray of Light Farm

Dynamite Distributor

SharedVision

Want to learn more about Dynamite? Click the link!

A Benefit of Giving Generously from the Heart…

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Amidst Anna’s many worldly adventures she always takes time out of the bustling schedule to give of her two most important resources: time and information. She gladly addresses the masses who are looking for a better way; be it a better way to communicate, a better way to supplement, or a better way to understand, Anna is ready and willing to share!

In addition to demos and presentations around the globe, she also submits numerous articles to Equine Wellness Magazine, among many other publications and media outlets that include radio and TV.

In July, Anna appeared at Courtyard Farm for a demonstration to benefit the 13 Hands Equine Rescue. Anna is pictured with Casper, a young gelding nearly ready to start under saddle.  She expounded on the sometimes seemingly elusive Language of Equus, as only a Master Horse Whisperer can.  In doing so, she is spreading the hope and the loving compassion behind all of ROTH’s methodologies and founding principles.

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In return, they sent us this lovely letter to express their gratitude, and we are so happy to share it with everyone.  One of the many benefits of giving generously from our hearts is being open to the thanks we receive in return.  Thank you, 13 Hands, for all you do on behalf of the horses and in offering not only voices to the voiceless, but second chances as well!  We love your hearts and the work you do in the world!

 

 

 

A Total Eclipse of the Heart…

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I’ve always known my herd was not yet complete. When my mare, Promise, was pregnant I felt very strongly she was having twins. (Luckily for us both, I was wrong!) I considered naming her foal, Eclipse, but when the foal came it was clear her name was Journey.

Fast forward 4.5 months. I had a huge intuitive hit that I needed to pay attention to the ROTH Foal Gentling clinic being held by Anna Twinney in Bend, OR, in partnership with Warm Springs Horse Alliance who rescues native foals from the Warm Springs tribal land, for which I have a strong affinity.  Perhaps in one of my many trips over the mountain where I greet the horses as part of ritual each time, I saw he and his herd roaming free before they were rounded up.  This part I will never know.

When they named him Eclipse I just knew.  That deep in your soul “YES” that won’t let go… The same feeling I had about Promise.  The same feeling I had so many years ago with Legacy.

Eclipse is 4 months old just like Journey.  Twins, sort of.  I knew I had a feeling and I was right. The Universe just planned it far more perfectly.  It always does.

Julie Jacobs

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The FREE Webinar Was a Success! All Thanks to You….

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This is what a handful of our listeners wanted to share about how they found the webinar full of useful, pertinent information!  If you missed it, see below for a link to the replay!
Jon P. –  Mills, WY: Thank you for this webinar. You are doing a great job!

Janet Johnson  Los Angeles, CA:  Thank you, Anna, for another fantastic webinar and opportunity to connect on a deep level with like-minded people from around the world and increasing our understanding!

Annis Parker – Tauranga, N.Z.:  Hello Anna!  Many years ago I met and did a course with you in New Zealand. It is great to hear you again.  Thank you for reminding me how to enhance the communication along with all those other things you mentioned, which are part of my animal/human/teaching practice. Beautiful. Perfect timing from a stormy New Zealand.

Barbra Richards – Oakdale, CT:  Thank you, Anna, for this webinar. Wanted to say hello from CT.  You may remember me from Ray of Light Farm with the Blessing of the Premarins — animal chaplain.  So many synchronistic things have brought me here tonight. Thanks so much!

Teresa P.J. of FL:  You know Florida is calling you!!!!! Great, interesting introduction to this most beautiful art – I have 3 dear friends listening who are ready to be a voice for the voiceless!
Peace, Anna & Vin

Karen:  Fabulous webinar as usual, Anna!!!…West Virginia, you say?….Might be as close as I get to see you since I am in Georgia!!

Sharon of  Punta Gorda, FL: This is a fantastic webinar!

Kathleen Wells of San Diego, CA:  Thank you, Anna, for this very informative hour webinar. As always you have confirmed and affirmed the communication I do with animals as part of my practice. I am a voice for the animals who cannot speak for themselves.

Kathleen of Mexico: Greetings from Mexico! Great to be here.
These were just a small sampling of the locations around the world where Anna has shared the art of Animal Communication with people.  We had listeners from Canadians to Kiwis!  Thank you, to all of our listeners and participants who shared their questions and their enthusiasm for giving a voice to the voiceless.  And as always, THANK YOU, to Anna Twinney, for her tireless efforts on behalf of the animals and their people who are looking for a more intimate connection.  I hope she knows we see the sacrifices she makes in the best interest of the Reach Out to Horses mission and ideology.  We love your heart, Anna!