My ROTH Trainer’s Path–“When the Student Is Ready, the Teacher Appears”

I can’t say that I remember signing up for Anna’s newsletters… but I was receiving them.  I remember opening one and feeling like the timing was perfect. The content spoke to me and offered something I could participate in from home, a webinar series on Holistic Horsemanship. This felt serendipitous, having recently become more involved with horses again. My mom and I loved the webinars, but I soon realized that I wanted and needed more in person — hands on experience with these methodologies. So, I went to Colorado to take the 2.5-day intro clinic and I loved it.

I grew up riding horses back east. My grandmother enrolled me in riding lessons every summer as a young girl. Gymkana, jumping, vaulting, trail rides and more. I loved the horses and my teacher.

Upon graduating from college with a BA in Documentary Studies and Photography, I moved to upstate New York and cared for my grandmother for 7 years.  After she passed, I moved back to Placitas, New Mexico. There I was immersed in and introduced to a whole new world of wild horses. They were literally in my back yard. I photographed the mustangs, also known here as “wild” or “free-roaming” horses, every time our paths crossed.  It felt powerful and special to connect with them as my dog and I enjoyed our walks on the BLM land behind my home. I learned more about the bizarre and intense issues spawned by these community horses.

Two mares were hit and killed in the Placitas village after seeking water during an intense drought, and this prompted me to become involved. I began documenting the wild ones as well as the horses that had recently been rounded up. No longer “free-roaming,” they were transitioning to a life of domestication — confined, engaging in day-to-day interaction with humans, getting microchipped by the livestock board, trailered, moved, vetted, etc. I used all of my tools to support their transition, particularly an energy healing modality called Crystalline Consciousness Technique™.

The grey stallion that was rounded up with his remaining mares was the first to get gelded. He was still very wild, not touched or haltered. The approach was to squeeze him in a secure area to heavily sedate him — enough to have him gelded, vaccinated, and his hoofs trimmed. Long story short, he was given too many drugs and had a hard time recovering from the sedation.  Everything went wrong, and in the end he had to be shot. This was quite a traumatizing experience, and very heartbreaking. It impacted me hugely, and I vowed that I would do everything in my power to prevent something like that from happening again. It was clear to me that the mustangs would have to be handled, haltered, and gentled to some extent prior to getting gelded in order to ensure that the procedure be safe, with minimal trauma and not life threatening.

Anna and ROTH were exactly what I needed. The Universe lined it all up. I have embraced the ROTH program and the education, experience and support its offered me as I learn and grow in my journey adopting, raising, and gentling Placitas Mustangs.

Anna likes to say I did her course backwards. I started with the Untouched Horse Clinic before the Foundation Course because that was my primary focus. I’m grateful that I did, but I also realized that I was lacking skills and training that the foundation course covered. I attended the 3-day Liberty clinic which blew my mind as it introduced me to a whole new world with horses. I continued with ROTH, taking the Foundation courses (1 and 3) and graduating in Fall, 2015.

I was granted the opportunity to take the Untouched Horse clinic one more time after doing part of the foundation and filling in the holes in my training. I enrolled in the Foal Gentling Clinic, and against my better judgement adopted my allocated foal because all the signs I received indicated that it was meant to be. I completed the Colt Starting Clinic, rumored to be the hardest. Indeed, it surprised me with a few firsts. I was kicked on day 1, and by the end of the week rode my first “baby”, a horse named Hopi. I then signed the contract and committed to the trainer’s program. Last month, I completed the NEW Simple Solutions Clinic and it exceeded my expectations. I loved everything about it. As I write this I am working on compiling my 20 case studies, done over the past few years, to submit for the Trainers Exams next month at Zumas Rescue Ranch in Colorado. My highlight is starting my own mustang Friendly, now five years old, under saddle with my ROTH sister Liv from Denmark for our Colt Start case study. What an exciting and fulfilling experience for us all! Friendly was also my first horse gelded (when he was 2) after the passing of the grey stallion. I was nervous, so I took my time and made sure he was haltered and ready and that I had a vet team I could trust.

My mom and I now have two dozen mustangs (after all the babies were born). They are our world, and have been for the past 3 years. We have received funding assistance from Animal Protection New Mexico, and have gelded three of our colts thus far — all free from complications.

Studying with ROTH has empowered me on many levels. Understanding the psychology and nature of the horse, and using it to support them in a trust-based partnership resonates with me on a core level. I trust that I was ready and that the perfect teacher, Anna, was placed in my path to help me and the horses I was adopting and raising. The timing was perfect to support a journey I never would have predicted. I believe completing the trainer’s exams will be a jump start for creating my own business as I move forward using all of my tools — holistic horsemanship, energy healing, essential oils and a deep desire to make a difference in the lives of humans and horses!

Clea Hall

Snow Day: The Tragic Consequence and Life-Affirming Perseverance of the Nurse Foal

Snow Day:  The Tragic Consequence and Life-Affirming Perseverance of the Nurse Foal

By Anna Twinney

I had never seen a horse graze from its knees. But that was exactly what Snow, a majestic, 2-year old, Appaloosa Colt was doing. I thought to myself, “I couldn’t have made him do that, I barely touched his line.” I had wanted to move a short distance, so I could relax on the bleachers nearby while he ate, but just requesting those few steps made him drop to his knees. Perhaps it was a desperate attempt to stay on the lush patch of grass or, potentially, a learned behavior pattern.

I reassured him he could stay. He got back on his feet and walked with me so I could sit down.   I could have ignored this mannerism and chalked it up to a fun story about a playful and mischievous colt, but the behavior was so unusual I felt the origin was worth exploring.

I also noted that instead of nibbling at the grass and continuously picking little tufts, like most horses, he took chunks of grass. He filled his whole mouth with one bite and would bring his head up high, as he did his best to swallow the mouthful.   At first I thought it might be that he needed to settle into a groove, but it became clear this was his way of eating. He looked rushed and was taking whatever he could get. With each mouthful he would take the grass out by the roots before moving onto another. There was no casual grazing.   Snow’s way of eating resembled a hungry orphan or someone who was never taught how to eat. I had not seen this behavior before either.

Not everyone would have noticed his unique way of eating, but I did and had to wonder where it originated. A herd will mirror one another and casually graze with their heads down for long periods of time. It’s a beautifully tranquil and spiritual occurrence, to watch wild ones blissfully eat in harmony, but this was not the case with Snow. I wondered if he had ever learned to graze and if this was as a direct result of his youth.

It was then I remembered Snow’s past.

At just a few days, or possibly weeks old, Snow had been rescued 2 years prior by a group including Ray of Light Farm and Reach Out to Horses. He was “Orphaned”. Not because his mother had died. Instead, is was determined that he had been forcibly taken from his mother and found himself abandoned, too young and innocent to take care of himself.   New to this world he was most likely left to fend for himself in either a stall or trailer. His only choice was to figure out how to eat and drink… or die. He was the smallest of the foals we had rescued and the smallest I had ever seen in my twenty years of rescuing horses.

I could hardly believe someone could do this to an innocent being.

 

Unfortunately he had been born into the nurse foal industry. A heartless, cruel business in which, reportedly, thousands of foals find themselves as “biproducts”, of no value to the stewards who manage the nurse foal barn. Their mothers are bred purely to function as nurse mares to raise more valuable foals, normally born to top performance horses. Nurse foal barns can usually be found primarily close to racetracks.

Not only had Snow found himself isolated and lost without ever knowing why, but he also came to us very sick. Within days he sought out human connection and valued the comfort of human touch in the gentling process. Innocently and trusting he forgave the very same species that had tossed him aside to die.   I remember thinking, that nobody deserves to be punished or treated this way, let alone a newborn infant.

When his group of foals first arrived milk replacer was arranged for them and placed in special buckets for the foals to drink. Quickly they began suckling on the side of the buckets for comfort, mimicking suckling their mother’s teats. It was heartbreaking to watch. We noticed missing hair from many of their ears and discovered this was due to the foals suckling one another. Innately they knew to find dark and damp places from which to suck, be this around the buckets, each other’s ears, or sheaths.

We kept the foals next to one another during the day’s training and together in the herd at night. We never wanted them to feel isolated or abandoned again. It was like watching a group of kindergarteners with little parental guidance. With hay provided freely they would munch away throughout the day sporadically napping in between meals. While we watched some of them adopting natural grazing habits, Snow must have created his own way.

We offered our very best; a second chance at life, asking, and apparently receiving, his forgiveness. At first touch he would buckle in pain and through veterinary care we discovered that not only was he not able to drop his penis to urinate, but he was suffering from a potentially fatal parasite. This ailment would take months of special ongoing care from the rescue, but this little warrior showed his true nature and eventually pulled through.

The sound of horses returning to their stalls snapped me back to the present. I realized my time with Snow was up. I had assigned the students in my Holistic Horsemanship Foundation Course a fun exercise of discovering the motivating interests of their horses and, in the distance, I noticed horses returning to their stalls.

Giving Snow a couple more minutes to enjoy his banquet, he understood my telepathic message this time, and willingly came along with simply a soft touch. It had been precious time together. After leading him back to his stall, with gratitude I removed Snow’s halter, and said my farewells, looking forward to our many meetings in time to come. I left him with my love, appreciation and admiration.

Later I inquired with the farm as to why they thought Snow had developed this strange behavior of “knee grazing”. Bonnie the manager of the farm knew exactly what I was talking about and remembered how Snow had even drunk his milk in that manner.

She explained that after the rescue, the farm had found 2 surrogate mares willing to accept the foals, which happen to be mini’s. Both mares took the foals on as their own and accepted their suckling. The youngsters had to lower their heads down quite low to reach these mares teats and it was then that Snow learned to make himself smaller. Snow had the chance to graze and learn from the small herd and yet somehow missed the grazing style. They had provided the most natural lifestyle they could with the circumstances they had available to them.

My heart was filled with both sorrow and admiration for this beautiful soul. Snow had endured so much, more pain than any creature should have to experience, especially one so young – all because he was born to the wrong mare. And yet he found his way out the other side.   He could have given up, fallen into deep depression, and chosen to leave the planet. But he didn’t. He took the challenges of a rough start and, with the help of many kind people and horses, turned his circumstances around and found a new life and a new beginning.

Unlike so many nurse foals, his journey had a happy ending. I take solace in that thought as I, with so many others in the world, continue to work diligently to give more horses like Snow a chance at a life of happiness, partnership, and love.