As I reflect on the week of foal gentling, there are so many humbling and profound lessons to consider, it feels a bit like looking around gratefully at a giant pile of Christmas presents. Every minute spent with the foals, being coached by Anna, supporting fellow students, and living the experience, is a beautiful gift. I know by now that I need downtime to process after each ROTH Clinic, and regain focus on regular life, so I build that in to the travel schedule as a general rule now.
As I have saved the foal gentling course until the end of my Train the Trainers course lineup, it provides a chance to reflect on the consistency of the principles, and nuts and bolts of the ROTH methodologies, that are presented in every clinic. The beauty of ROTH is that it’s not a new recipe or game you learn at each clinic. Rather, the methods encompass all types of practical horsemanship situations and horses, but each one is like a different facet of a prism that shows you a new way to apply everything to a new category of horses.
In the case of the foals, I was most touched by the truth in Anna’s day-one statement that they are like blank slates, and that everything we do goes with them for life. I watched this truth unfold as I gained the trust and affection of a little filly I named Topaz, who had no reason to trust a human, and every instinctual reason to run the other way. Without really doing anything other than speaking her language and being authentic, I earned this innocent, sentient creature’s trust and was able to teach her nearly all of the basic goals of the course. Even as a horsewoman intimately familiar with the ROTH methods, I was still wholly taken aback by how much can be received by these little ones in such a short time. For me, Topaz provided the most profound examples of latent learning and the value of ending sessions on a good note, because the innocence of the foals and the lack of other “baggage” makes every single message that much clearer.
It was empowering and educational to participate in the daily care of the foals, in building and breaking down the pens, and in writing their little “bio’s”. In fact, putting words to paper for the purpose of spreading the word about adoption day was yet another way I was able to give a voice to the voiceless. I felt like one of the cooperative components working with the Universe to bring about the manifestation of Topaz’ adoptive home. No sooner had I created a written description of Topaz and the home she was looking for, than her family materialized and indeed adopted her and two others, just like I’d hoped. Another lesson in the power of intuitive thought, connection, and words.
As someone who is working to develop a specialty in wild and untouched horses, the opportunity to gentle not just foals but wild foals, was a dream come true. I’m so excited about the connections made with the Warm Springs Horse Network through Anna & Katie’s efforts, and the inroads being made with the Warm Springs Reservation Tribes to continue to support the foals born on their lands through gentle and compassionate horsemanship.
This clinic provides so many things for horse lovers at many different stages of their training career or just life with horses. Foal gentling is a specialty one could easily fall in love with. I look forward to doing it again as soon as I can!
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