Solar Tank Ideas for More Facile Winter Survival

Trough pic
Excalibur Oversees the Daily Functioning of ROTH”s solar tank…

It’s great to live in Colorado where if you don’t enjoy the weather, wait fifteen minutes – it will change. Getting multiple seasons in a day can be enticing for those who like change, but it still doesn’t change the fact that winter water storage always has its challenges. Fortunately, we get an extraordinary amount of sunlight in the winter, and strong sun at that, since we sit at over 6700 feet in elevation here at the ROTH ranch. Building anything here that uses passive solar is always worth a try, and on top of that, my over-analytical science mind was thrilled to have an experiment on my hands.

Passive solar troughs have been tried all over the States.  Some companies have marketed their own with added bells and whistles. The tanks created for the ranch here were straightforward and functional, while still looking neat and well thought-out. The tank pictured here cost less than $300 and could be done over a weekend with one or two people. While I am no carpenter, I found the trough was rather simple to construct, even solo. For larger tanks it is helpful to have another person as the frame becomes heavy quickly with all the 2x4s and plywood. One of the best parts in creating the tank frame is just how customizable it is in choosing the preferred kind of wood, thickness of plywood, layers of insulation, and what costs could be mitigated depending on where the tank frame will live.

Because of the large drinking hole on the lid, the tank is rather susceptible to cold air during below-freezing days. During the colder freezes we’ve had in the last several weeks, the tanks will often have a <1 inch sheet of ice on them at morning feeding, though the ice is often not attached to the sides of tank due to the insulation. This allows the horses to still easily push the ice layer down to be able to drink. For two weeks of 0-25 degree F temps, the frame held the tanks warm enough that breaking ice was not necessary. Another tank with no insulated frame in the same area, our “control” tank if you will, routinely had 4-6 inches of ice that required breaking throughout day due to constant re-freezing.

Where this tank really makes its money is the Suntuf greenhouse sheets on the front. When placed appropriately, this seemingly simple piece collects the energy from our strong solar rays, stores it efficiently between the layers of the two sheets, and distributes it throughout the frame during the daylight hours and likely into the night as well. Though the tank gains efficiency based on how tightly sealed and insulated it is made as a whole, access to a sunny, south-facing location is key to keeping the water above freezing. Any ice that does manage to accumulate throughout cold winter nights has melted during several hours of sun or by mid-day. Most incredibly this even happens with freezing daytime temps.

After almost two decades of wintertime ice-breaking, it was incredibly satisfying to see this passive solar trough frame work so well. If you are over the physical (and sometimes psychological) burden of breaking ice, and you have some sun to work with, I highly recommend giving this a try. You, too, could be doing a happy dance while putting away your ice-breaking tool of choice… for the rest of the year!

We owe this idea finding us to ROTH Certified Trainer, Katie Dixon.  Katie emailed us with the details from Mother Earth News and our ROTH intern, Kate Fink, got cracking to make one for the ponies here at Reach Out Ranch.  If you are interested in the details of how this tank was made, please contact for all the details.






A ROTH Herd Progress Report for Thelma: 3 GOLD Stars for our Belgian Beauty!

What might a personalized plan for a session with a ROTH Certified Trainer actually look like?  Join one of our most recent additions to the ROTH fold, Lani, as she works with Thelma, a Belgian Draft mare who is staying here at Reach Out Ranch.  Thelma joined us a few months ago from a feedlot and was terrified of all things human.  Her progress has been notable!  Read on and discover why Thelma deserves three gold stars for her week with Lani Salisbury!


11/6/17 ( 4:00 – 4:45 pm) Haltered, Groom, Leading practice, Head drops, Neck yields, backing.

A short session with Thelma reviewing what she had been practicing. Working toward more fluidity in walk, changing of speeds, and walking more next to us instead of slightly behind. As we practiced leading we incorporated stops, backing, and neck yields which she has improved on greatly and gets about half way on both sides. We also practiced head drops which still need focus. She would give slightly. Her backing is much improved and she is going off minimal pressure. We ended with grooming which she enjoyed. We planned for her next session to be pushed forward.

11/8/17 (3:15 – 4:20 pm) Haltered, Leading practice, Neck yields, Backing, Stopping, Turning, Change in speed, Leading next to us, Desensitizing

In this session we began with haltering. I brought the halter in with me right away which I personally haven’t done. I asked her to stand while I put the horseman’s rope over neck and moved to the haltering. I practiced being more casual with her haltering. She stood solid. We then moved into desensitizing after I brushed her mane. We desensitized with a survival blanket (silver, crinkly blanket). We started small. She was a little concerned with it at first but after we started and I let her see it and rewarded each try she became absolutely perfect with it. We expanded it getting bigger and falling all over her, making it noisy, flapping it, throwing it over her, and walking with it on her back. We spread it out as big as it could get and walked around her pen. We then practiced leading in and out of her pen, around the larger pen again practicing getting more fluid movement. Also working with her beside me. We changed speeds, stopped, backed, disengaged, neck yields. We then went back into her pen and I practiced with my hands around her front legs and hooves. Investigating what turned out to just be a rub of her hair. She was fantastic with the desensitizing and leading. We plan next session to bring more tools to desensitize, continue with picking up her feet, and bring in a few obstacles to practice leading.

11/10/17 (4:25 – 5:10)  Haltered, Leading, Desensitizing, Small Parachute on ground, Backing, Picking up front feet, Oils

In this session knowing it was getting dark soon we started with desensitizing to the small parachute. We started with it small and Thelma was only slightly concerned. She didn’t mind at all after a few rubs with it. We expanded quickly on both sides and walked with it at various parts of her body at different sizes. We also threw it all over her body, making it noisy, fast, and slow. We then played it on the ground to see how she felt with putting her feet on it. She was a little worried about it at first but very little. She started by putting one foot on then two. She was a little sticky at first on it but after a few minuets she was walking over it and stopping with all 4 feet on and backing over it. She enjoyed this! I then picked up her front feet twice. She needs more practice but did pick them up quick, needs work holding up. Once it was dark we continued by showing her some Oils. She LOVED it! She chose Peppermint, Ylang Ylang, Grounding, Peace & Calming, Believe, and Magnify your purpose. She liked a lot of them very much and would interact with her mouth, wiggling her lip and grabbing at the once she liked. She really enjoyed the and felt a little more personality come out. Her all time favorite oil was Magnify your purpose.

Our next sessions plan: Set up an obstacle course and bring her over obstacles (tarps, Parachutes, Poles, corridor), more desensitizing to more objects, prepare for heath checking, picking up feet/farrier prep, head drops.

And Thelma’s work the following session reflected all the hard work Lani has put into working with her!

Thelma Obstacle Course:

Tarp, Corridor, Poles, Noodles

Thelma rocked the Obstacle Course!  She did every obstacle on the first try.  We improved on our leading and more fluid and speed.  We stopped on each obstacle and backed off the tarp.  Her back is still a tad sticky, but she is willing.  We did obstacles from each direction and she enjoyed it.

With her feet:  We worked on picking up all four feet.  I could mostly pick up her front and hold them for a second.  Her hind feet we used the arm to pick up and hold up.  She was able this time to hold her hind feet up longer without pulling away.

Head drops still need some work.

We also used the arm to desensitize her around her hind and tail area.

These things will help prepare her for her travels and new beginning!

Lani and her mom, Jill, have both been doing a phenomenal job facilitating Anna’s work with our herd of three.  We are proud to call them ROTH Certified Trainers!  They embody important pieces of the ROTH mission: meeting the horse where they are, going at a pace that is unique to each individual, clearly communicating, and above all else, loving their work!  Great work, ladies!!!

Christine Matthews Shares about Her ROTH Internship

Internship at ROTH


When Anna and Vin initially suggested I return to Colorado to do a 3 month internship at the ROTH Ranch after completing HHC, my first thought was what a wonderful opportunity it would be to learn so much more.  My second thought was “F$%&!  Me?  An intern?  They must have either had too much Costa Rican sun, got the wrong person, or forgotten that I’d only just managed to overcome my fear around horses enough to get a halter on – well, half on – without desperately seeking the nearest fence to vault over – or perhaps crawl under would be more apt!  Of course, they hadn’t and my time with them has been wonderful.

The goal was to have more handling experience, and to become more familiar with the day-to-day running of a horse ranch: feeding, pasture management, fencing, being present for equine professional visits (farrier, chiropractor… etc.) and, of course, getting to know the horses, their needs and understanding the dynamics of the herd a little more.  My greatest challenges were fear, of which I still had a sizeable amount, and the belief in myself that I could actually achieve what was required in an internship, particularly the physical requirements.  I developed a very effective stalling strategy when doubt or fear crept in called “I can’t!”  Anna, thankfully, had an even more effective counter-strategy called “Yes, you can!”  She was right!!  I could!

Honey and I

I have learned so much and as it is with the most valuable kind of learning, this has been on many levels.  I also know there is much more to learn.  My fear has diminished greatly in comparison to what it was and without it getting in the way so much I have been able to experience the joy of “being” with the herd and “seeing” them in a way I wasn’t able to before.  I feel great gratitude for this, for what the horses have shown me about myself, and for the healing this has brought.  Great gratitude, too, goes to Anna and Vin for the bestowing of their knowledge, their unwavering support, and the amazingly good humor shown as a strange Kiwi/Brit blundered about within their lives and all over their property!  Even more gratitude goes to the universe for instigating everything and for keeping everyone, human, equine and canine, alive and intact, while that blundering went on!!!  It has been ……………amazing!

Photo Credit: Lacey Knight


Testimonials from the Reiki Weekend at Reach Out Ranch in Elizabeth, Colorado

Reiki weekend Dec 3 2016.jpg

What one can expect to find at Anna’s Reiki classes is a group of kind and caring individuals, all of whom are dedicated to healing arts and learning about energy and how it can be utilized.  In the testimonials below you can discover why Anna is a highly-sought-after healer and teacher.

LeeAnn B. of Parker, CO: Another life-changing day!  Anna is a gifted teacher who has the ability to draw out each participant and their innate ability – sometimes many times, despite their skepticism and doubt.

Julie J. of Sandy, OR: Reiki I and II was an amazing adventure into the world of spirit and energy.  Under Anna’s expert mastery and true open heart, this was a magical experience well worth the effort to be in Colorado in December.

Beth V. of Richfield, MN: Anna’s Reiki training is unique in her integration of the animals, especially Reiki guides.  The mediations are relaxing, yet grounding, opening up the space for the Reiki guides to come in as well as knowing ourselves better as a result.

Heather H. of CO Springs, CO:  I am not sure words can express my experience.  I know I waited to do Reiki, but I also knew it couldn’t be with just anyone.  It’s a sacred space and Anna honors that.  I knew when I met Anna that I wanted her to be my teacher.

Melanie L. of Longmont, CO: I am so glad that I took Reiki with Anna.  The environment and the safe space she creates opens participation and allows a deep sharing that is safe and sacred.  The timing for this class could not have been better and I leave this class forever changed for the best!

Trisha H. of Powell, WY: What an amazing journey and transformation that has occurred during this last few days.  My destiny has become much clearer.  My life is centered with meaning, peacefulness, and calmness.  Thank you!!

Betty B. of Centennial, CO:  Taking Reiki I and II was a way to honor my heritage.  It was also a beautiful energy healing technique to compliment other energy healing modalities.  Thank you, Anna, for your teaching style.  Have loved every minute!

Safia K. of Marrakech, Morocco: Getting the attunement and the knowledge or Reiki during these 2 days was very special.  I feel like everyone should do it because it is a privilege to administer healing and it makes us grow, which is to me the purpose in this life.

Linda Q. of Avon, CO: Not exactly sure what just happened.  Very interesting!

Lacey K. of Franktown, CO:  Just to exist within Anna’s presence is a healing and enlightening experience.  All information and wisdom shared, whether Reiki for people or Reiki for horses, is invaluable and pertinent to each individual in the moment.  No one comes out with exactly the same experience because Anna is that good at individualization and intuiting where we can grow and learn, and she provides us the people, atmosphere, and horses to help achieve that.  It’s always an amazing journey of discovery, wherever that journey may take us.  Reiki I, II, and Reiki for Horses is an excellent start to our understanding of healing energy in the world, how we can utilize it in our own lives and the lives of our animals, and how we can responsibly utilize it in the lives of those in need around us.

Christine M. of Massey/Auckland, New Zealand: Absolutely f&%$#!* amazing experience! Really looking forward to more!

Keep an eye on our events calendar for next year’s journey into the healing arts and join us to discover the magic for yourself!

2017 Events and Appearances