Reiki Energy Healing for Horses was a HIT!

Once a year in Colorado Anna selects a rescue or therapy barn where she chooses to give back to the horses with her Reiki for Horses class.  This year ROTH landed at Drifter’s Heart of Hope in Franktown, CO, and luckily so.  Thanks go, in particular, to Jacqui Avis, who manages the facility, because she was an integral piece in our success as she pointed us to the horses who had the needs and the capability to be a part of the class.  To Jacqui and her lovely staff of volunteers, thank you for making this class go off without a hitch!

Reiki Healing is about reciprocity, compassion, love and light. Literally it is the subject matter at hand, and the students practice their craft as they develop the skills necessary to evaluate, interact, and support horses energetically.  We ask so much of our horses from day to day, and supporting them with Reiki is an imperative part of maintaining their physical and emotional well being.

As I walked the aisles and rows of horses and got details on their histories, it became immediately apparent that the ONLY other destination for most of these horses would have been the kill pen.  Some may have better chances than others because their rehabilitation is more mental and emotional than physical, or vice versa, but it was obvious that the hearts of the people behind Drifter’s are indeed Hearts of Hope.

We wanted to share some of our images with you all so you can see what a great day we had and to promote the idea of giving back to those horses who support us without question, and sometimes without option.

The morning began in the indoor, after the lecture of course, and students were assigned horses on whom they needed to determine the state of each Chakra and then go to work to balance them.

Some horses are much more receptive to hands-on Reiki while others received “beamed” Reiki healing for their comfort.  A lucky pair of students were even joined by a friend of the Feline family to soak up the “borrowed benefit” of a healing energetic environment.

Students worked on learning how to determine when a horse wants them to move from one Chakra to the next, what is a yes and what is a no, asking permission, watching for the registers of successful energy healing, and how to determine when the horse shares that they have received all the Reiki they need and the healing session is over.

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No pony is too small to receive healing energy!  Glitter certainly enjoyed her time to shine and took a solid nap during her healing session.

Christine worked on Horris the mule, who joined us after many years of belonging to a driving team in the mountains.  When we approached Horris’ stall to bring him in he was apprehensive, to put it mildly; however, once Horris experienced our intention and the power behind the Reiki Healing Energy, he became our resident “Reiki Junkie” and even appeared later in the afternoon for a second session, this time entirely willingly!  The grey gelding, Sarge, was another who was concerned about our intentions for his otherwise sleepy Sunday.  But after about 10 minutes he could feel the difference in what we were doing and happily obliged by relaxing for over two hours.

After lunch there was more instruction in the classroom and then we headed to the pastures, paddocks, and stalls to work on horses in a more natural environment.  Anna calls these “Love Lessons,” where we connect directly with the horse’s heart Chakra and allow them to use us as a vehicle to express their emotions that otherwise might not have an outlet.  Horses cry tears through our students, and it’s not entirely about us healing them, because plenty of students walk away from the Love Lessons feeling entirely transformed and healed themselves.

Anna began with a brief demonstration on a black gelding and then students moved into the paddocks and pastures and allowed the horses to choose with whom they wanted to engage in healing.  Some took wild advantage of student after student, and others focused on one person in particular who they preferred.  Some horses even chose to refrain altogether, and remained at their feeder while allowing others to receive the healing they needed.  That is always ok, because each horse has a say in their own healing.

As horses can feel the difference in a true Holy Fire and Karuna Reiki Master, some of the horses chose to try to monopolize Anna’s attention for their own benefit.  Anna is always happily amused to receive their affection!

Toward the end of the Love Lessons we headed to one last set of pastures where some of the horses from our morning sessions go to afternoon turn out.  One in particular who was reluctant to be brought in for the morning sessions (until he realized how exactly his day was shaping up) figured out that he had yet another opportunity to soak in the healing love.  ROTH student, Sharon Tiraschi, then called Sarge and Mariah in from turnout with only her heart.  Both horses queued up for their opportunity to experience the Love Lessons from Sharon.  It was a beautiful transformation for Sarge from the morning to the afternoon.

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And many others were sought out for their Love Lessons and eternally compassionate souls.  Truly all who participated at Drifter’s were healed and healers alike.

 

Again, we would like to thank Drifter’s Hearts of Hope in Franktown, Colorado, for the use of their lovely facility and the benefit of working with their wonderful horses. Our gratitude to Manager, Jacqui Avis, for all her help and guidance in helping us choose horses and best utilize the facility.  We would also like to thank the students who put their faith in the horses to show them, guide them, and teach them what they need to learn, and they did.  ROTH students often come from far and wide to join us on these events and then they carry the message back home with them in an attempt to help humans with horses understand what it is to truly support and give back to the animals we love and who routinely give us their all.

To ROTH Certified Trainer, Jill Haase, thank you for helping move such a large number of horses and for helping keep eyes peeled to keep students safe who were not necessarily experienced horse people.  And thanks be to Jill for always keeping it light and keeping the laughs and the smiles rolling, because why not?

Lastly, THANK YOU, to Anna Twinney.  Your mission coming to life in this way must make you proud and I hope you smile when you think of the breadth and depth of your reach within the lives of horses and their people.  Your sacrifices and hard work do not go unnoticed.  For someone with the soul of a true healer, you have a warrior spirit and dedication to spreading the messages of love, compassion, and clear communication everywhere you go.  Thank you for being you, Anna!

Images by Lacey Knight

 

 

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A Sanctuary Sunset for Thelma

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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.

Many thanks to those of you who have helped them along their journey. Barbara Clark, Angela Sprenger Bozeman, Kara Tunnicliff Schardt, Janelle Lenz Graham, Darlene Lehman, and the wonderful ladies in the Circle of Friends, the many kind hearts who saw Lacey’s story and donated to her care, Dr. Grace S OwenCeline Myers, Angela Parham, Anna Twinney, and Marlene Dodge. A wonderful village rescuing responsibly. 
-Mary Adams
Our gratitude to Source speaks when we hear of horses safely finding their way home after deviations in their lives.  With the cooperation of ROTH Certified Trainers, Lani Salisbury and Jill Haase, Anna was able to get Thelma ready to move on in her journey.  Thelma, it was a pleasure getting to know your beautiful and very willing soul.  Blessings and love on the rest of your journey!

Words, Whispers & Wisdom Across the Pond

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Anna is proud to be appearing in two great publications from the UK, Western Horse UK Magazine and The Horsemanship Journal!  To commemorate our new partnership they are offering a 15% DISCOUNT on subscriptions to ROTH supporters.

Sign me up with a 15% Discount!

Notable Mention for Reiki for Horses from our friend, Amy, at Gentlehealing…

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Incorporating her decades of experience in equine behavior, herd dynamics, body language and inter-species communication, Anna will show you how the ancient art of Reiki, and almost any healing modality, can be safely adapted from humans to horses.  She will also share her secrets of how to read your horse, give them a voice and create the exact healing session they need and desire.

DVD – http://www.reachouttohorses.com/dvd.html

www.reachouttohorses.com

Thank, Amy!  For sharing in the mission of energetic healing for all species, and especially our horses, we salute you!

Does Reiki for horses interest you?  Join us in Franktown, CO, this December the 3rd for Reiki Energy Healing for Horses.  Follow the link here to get signed up and enjoy a day of healing and horses with ROTH!  Sign up today because we have limited spaces available for this unique event.

Reiki for Horses

 

 

The Psychology of Equus: An HHC Student’s Investigation

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How do horses interact with novel stimuli, and does personality play a role?

By Asila Bergman
2017 HHC Student

Introduction
This topic was explored with the help of three horses with previously unknown histories at Drifter’s Hearts of Hope rescue facility in Franktown, CO. The main goals of this project were to learn how horses in general use their body language and energy to communicate how they experience, feel, and learn about new things in their environments, as well as how each individual horse interacts with novel stimuli, and what this can tell us about his/her personality. Another goal was to explore these exercises as possible enrichment activities that could be used by the rescue
to encourage exploration, curiosity, and creativity in horses that may benefit from environmental stimulation.
The horses that participated in this project were Captain (12 yrs), Jack Sparrow ( 13 yrs), and Rosy (20 yrs). Since little was known about their origins, their ages were estimated. All three horses were rescued from a feedlot, and were together at a quarantine facility prior to arriving at the rescue. This project began within a few days following their arrival. They were all healthy and sound, and cleared by a vet to participate in this project.
Each horse participated in three exercises: obstacle course at liberty; obstacle course in-hand; and scent enrichment. The obstacle course consisted of nine obstacles made with a variety of different objects, and was designed for the horses to either walk across, through, over, or under, and was set up in an indoor arena. Some examples of the obstacles include: plastic chairs in two rows creating a lane to walk through; a tarp covered with swim noodles to walk over; car wash strips hanging down to walk through; wooden teeter totter to step onto and walk across. The horses were encouraged to explore the obstacle course at liberty with handlers applying pressure/release
using body language and line, and in-hand with handlers applying pressure/release with the Dually Halter.

For the scent enrichment activity, the horses were given the opportunity to explore four scents (rosemary, lavender, peppermint, and eucalyptus) in 5 min, using free choice. Each scent box was made by putting 5 drops of the designated oil onto a paper towel and placing it inside of a plastic Tupperware container with several holes in the lid. The scent boxes were presented by sliding them under the gate, and placing them on the ground in each of the horse’s run area.
Captain
During the obstacle course at liberty, Captain approached and investigated several of the obstacles almost immediately, and was exhibiting curious and relatively confident behavior. Within a few minutes of being in the arena he walked up to one of the chairs and picked it up. His level of confidence and comfort could be due to the fact that he was not alone, and also had a familiar horse, Rubicon, in the arena with him. While working their way through the obstacle course with handlers, it became apparent that when Captain was given clear instructions through body language, he was able to follow them without much hesitation or fear. He was comfortable with objects touching him on the sides, as well as stepping up and over objects. He did not require a large amount of pressure from his handler (via body language/distance) in order to work up the
courage to cross any of the obstacles that he was presented with, and appeared to enjoy taking the lead. From observing him, it appeared that the value for him in the obstacle course at liberty was exploration, being allowed to influence his environment, and showing Rubicon where to go.

Captain exhibited similar behavior during the obstacle course in-hand. His handler noted that when she allowed him to make the decisions about which path to take, he often was seeking out and investigating obstacles on his own. She described him as being very keen, intelligent, and independent. He was also engaged with her during the obstacle course, and not afraid to have a voice in the process. He had many moments when he wanted to speed the process up, and sometimes got bored relatively quickly depending on the obstacle, where as during other more difficult obstacles (e.g. teeter totter), he needed some shaping, as well as more clarity and confidence in order to get through the entire obstacle. The value for Captain during this exercise was working through the difficult obstacles with his handler as a partner—because he is so
independent, it takes practice for him to take direction and leadership from others.

When the scent boxes were placed in Captain’s run, he immediately approached them to
investigate. He used his mouth and lips to touch each box as he sniffed them, and although he moved from one box to another pretty quickly, he spent the most time near lavender and peppermint. Captain spent approximately 30 seconds investigating the scent boxes, and then turned his back to them and walked to the other end of the run. Captain was inquisitive and interested by this exercise, but once he had taken a whiff of each of the boxes, he lost interest relatively quickly.

Jack Sparrow
During the obstacle course at liberty, Jack spent the first several minutes in the corner of the arena near the mirrors, showing that he was fearful in the new environment and was seeking safety with other horses, so he remained near his reflection. Once he was asked by his handler to move through the course at liberty, he was able to complete several of the obstacles. Through observations of Jack during the obstacle course, his behavior was somewhat distrusting, as if he was preparing for things to get uncomfortable, or go wrong. He was not completely checked out, but did show a fear of engaging and a lack of confidence. His behavior showed his need for security and comfort. As the session continued and he received clear communication from his
handler, he showed more of a willingness to connect. The value for Jack during this exercise was being challenged, and gaining confidence by being thrown out of his comfort bubble, and in doing so, learning that not all experiences with new environments/objects/people have to be negative.

Jack’s sensitive side came out even more during the obstacle course in-hand. He was extremely tentative going through all of the obstacles that were asked of him. Although he didn’t spook or start, it was still very apparent that he was fearful, and told his handler this by planting his feet at the edge of each obstacle and resisting forward movement. He only moved forward off of very light and gentle pressure on the halter, and needed lots of shaping and repetition in order to feel comfortable completing an obstacle. He also needed lots of praise, extra care, and encouragement during this process. In watching Jack move through the obstacle course in-hand, it seemed that the
value for him came from learning to trust, and that by being willing to try, he learned he could rely on his handler to not put him in harm’s way.

Jack was eager to approach the scent boxes as soon as they were placed in his run. He was very curious and engaged during this exercise, and showed a side of his personality that we had not seen in either of the obstacle course sessions. He began exploring the eucalyptus scent first, and spent the most time with this box. He first sniffed it, then picked it up in his teeth, then pawed at it until it opened, at which point he briefly explored the scented paper towel. He then moved on to the other boxes, one by one, and tried to open them as well. He picked up the peppermint and swung it around in his mouth. He spent a total of 1 min, 30 sec with the boxes, and although he investigated all of them thoroughly, he spent the most time with eucalyptus and peppermint. After
investigating all of the boxes multiple times, he lost interest and moved toward the other end of the run.

Rosy
Rosy was a very interesting horse to observe during the obstacle course at liberty. Prior to this, when she was observed in her paddock where she was living with several other horses, she appeared to be depressed and withdrawn. It was quite a surprise when she was released into the arena and completely lit up with positive energy, and was behaving as if it were an opportunity to show everyone what she could do. She immediately began running around the arena and investigating all of the obstacles in her path. She looked overjoyed to be there in that space, and was behaving like a completely different horse, exhibiting confidence, comfort and courage. When her handler attempted to drive Rosy away from her (towards an object), she became confused and a little anxious. Once she began running away, it was difficult to get her to slow down, and she began to glaze over. It became very apparent that Rosy is very sensitive to energy, and when her handler began to over-think things, Rosy disconnected. However, as soon as her handler put out a
clear intention of love, Rosy became completely engaged and followed her throughout the entire course. She was willing to move through the obstacles as long as she had that partnership, leadership and guidance. Once she felt that this was attained, she was amicable and giving. The value that Rosy gained from the liberty exercise was excitement, mental stimulation and activity, a platform to express herself, and human connection and loving energy.

During the in-hand obstacle course, Rosy explored her environment in a similar manner. She was a willing partner that moved through most obstacles with ease and fearlessness, accepting her handler as a leader. She needed some shaping during the car wash strip obstacle, which proved to be more difficult for her, but once this was provided, she willingly moved under it, and later through it, without any hesitation. Her value in this exercise was being able to deepen her connection with a human, and gain affection, leadership and confidence.

Rosy did not approach the scent boxes for over a minute after they were placed in her run. When she decided to investigate them, she used her nose and her tongue. She briefly sniffed the boxes one at a time while she was licking her lips, and did not show any preference for a particular scent. She only spent about 5 seconds with the boxes, and then raised her head to watch some people who were walking off in the distance. This was more interesting to her than the scent enrichment. Once she was finished watching the humans, she turned around and left the area where the boxes were to go to the opposite end of her run, and did not return.

Summary
Each of the three horses that participated in this project responded to, and interacted with, the exercises in different ways, and this was very apparent through my observations and those of their handlers. The body language and energy that they displayed and exuded during each of the new environments/situations that they were presented with told a very clear story about what they were thinking and feeling. Some examples of body language indicators that I used to interpret the messages that each horse was conveying include: posture and movements of the entire body, appearance of eyes and ears, how tense/stiff their muscles were, how quickly/slowly they approached an object, whether they actively avoided an object, how much distance they kept between themselves and the object, and themselves and their handler, the amount of time they spent near something, whether they darted through an obstacle or walked slowly, how much time/shaping/repetition was required to get comfortable with an obstacle, which objects were more difficult, which parts of their body they used to explore an object, etc. There are likely an infinite number of examples of this (subtle and dramatic) but these were just a few that I understood, and used to interpret what the horses were thinking and feeling during my observations.

In observing Captain, Jack, and Rosy during the exercises, they began to show us what their individual personality traits were, that each of them was unique, and definitely affected how they interacted with new objects/stimulation, and how they responded to their handlers in both of the obstacle courses. The most interesting part of this project for me, was that we were able to see different parts of their personalities come out depending on the exercise, showing the depth and complexity of each individual. If we had only observed Jack in the context of the two obstacle course exercises, we would characterize him simply as a sensitive, but willing horse who was lacking in confidence and in need of security and a light touch. However, the scent enrichment exercise showed very clearly that he also has a playful, creative, and inquisitive side to him.
Another example of this would be Rosy, and how she behaved during the obstacle course at liberty. When simply observed in her paddock, she appeared very withdrawn, and her behavior completely changed when she was given the opportunity to express herself in the arena and obstacle course. However, she was not particularly moved by the scent enrichment, and was much more drawn to the human activity nearby. Prior to starting the scent enrichment with Captain, I predicted that he would be highly engaged and curious during that exercise, based on his behavior in the obstacle course, and although he did spend some time exploring the scent boxes, he was not nearly as enthusiastic about them as Jack was.

In completing this project, I learned the incredible value in exposing horses to novel stimuli, whether this may be objects, situations, environments, or stimuli targeting a particular sensory modality, as long as it is done in a way that is safe for the horse and handlers. Doing so will not only allow a horse to express themselves and grow as individuals, so that we can learn about their personality and what motivates them as intelligent beings, but also allows us to provide them with optimal care, with consideration for each of them as an individual. I see this as being of great value
to any rescue facility because it could provide important information about the horse that could aid handlers in providing adequate care, and potentially rehabilitation for certain horses with behavioral problems, as well as in matching each horse with the right person for them during the process of adoption.

 

Does Equine Psychology intrigue you? Us too!  If you couldn’t join us for this year’s HHC but want to learn more, sign up for Anna’s newsletter, Diary of a Horse Whisperer, and get access to the insights and tips she shares about the psychology of Equus delivered conveniently to your inbox!

Sign up here!

 

Discover the Next Generation of Horsemanship at Zuma’s Rescue Ranch on October 29th!

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Annual ROTH Trainer’s Demonstration Event

What is Trust-Based Collaborative Horsemanship?
Find Out and Help Support Zuma’s Rescue Ranch! 
October 29th, 2017
10am – 5pm
Zuma’s Rescue Ranch
7745 N. Moore Rd., Littleton, CO 80125
Discover the Next Generation of Horsemanship!
Join us for a day of trust-based horsemanship and training as graduates of
the Reach Out to Horses Trainers Program demonstrate the effective, powerful,
and groundbreaking methodologies that Anna herself has developed, used, and
taught 
around the world to thousands of horses (and humans).
Meet Our Trainers
We have an eclectic group of folks who can’t wait to give you insights into your horses, true horsemanship, and the communication between horse and human.

They are coming together for this special event. They have all completed an extraordinary journey and we are excited to see them fly as they spread their wings and begin their careers as Reach Out to Horses’ Certified Trainers.  They will introduce you to a world of trust and partnership, and show you what is truly possible in your training, in your relationship with your horse, and in your life.
Best of all you get to spend the entire day with Reach Out to Horses for only $20!

No It’s Not a Typo, Only $20 Dollars!
A full day of horsemanship for only $20 when you preregister, and a mere $25 at the door.  We promise you won’t get this much groundbreaking information for so little anywhere!  And if that wasn’t enough, 100% of the proceeds from the entire day go to the inspiring Zuma’s Rescue Ranch and the incredible work they are doing there to save horses and humans and give them all a second chance at life.
It’s a win, win, win for everybody!

Come see how these inspiring individuals have turned their dreams into reality and discover this unique and effective approach to horsemanship.  Heck, you might even be inspired to embark on your own journey to a whole new life with our equine companions.

Register now and discover what is truly possible for you and your horse!

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