GUEST POST BY ANNA TWINNEY
Reach Out to Horses®
I have made it my life’s mission to give a voice to the voiceless through gentle ways of both training horses and coaching individuals on effective communication.
For almost 2 decades I have gentled PMU mares, colts and foals in both Canada and the United States; all of which have been rescued directly from the PMU industry.
As part of the mission of Reach Out to Horses® we support many rescues, in all parts of the globe.
Through our unique program we work with and gentle untouched PMU foals, nurse foals and slaughter bound foals as well as captured mustangs. Our goal is to give them a second chance at life and happiness.
By working with them and bringing their plight into the light of day, these rescues are no longer misunderstood. Their needs are met and prospective guardians are given the tools to support both them and their new found companions.
The lessons these magnificent horses have taught me are both humbling and astounding and have touched the hearts and minds of the hundreds of individuals who have ventured down this road with me. Additionally, the horses have brought to life a completely new aspect to the horsemanship I practice and teach all over the world.
Initially challenged to understand their perception and needs I would best describe the mares approach to training as: “Green and yet remedial”. They feel a constant pressure to protect themselves and are willing to go to any lengths, no matter how extreme, to do so. Handled only for management, they remain unsocialized. Their interaction with humans and their understanding of domestication has scarred their initial ability to see our worth.
To address the damage that may have been caused we relate to them from our own personal experiences of abuse. For we are no different. They have the same capacity to feel as we do and the very same emotions. Physically their bodies are often beaten up, emotionally they have been used as breeding machines, or worse, and have lost their loved ones in the process with no support or explanation. Their freedom taken from them and personal needs ignored, the lucky few hold no baggage as they accept their role in life, while others lose their spirit to continue.
Instead of defaulting to their natural instincts of flight, many have learned to resort to fight for protection. Once one understands this mindset and treats them as one would an untouched horse an opportunity for interaction and training can often be found. Therefore my work with them begins at ground zero as I create time and space for trust to override their initial concerns. Even though they will always remember their previous experiences, in most occasions, they will learn to trust and love again, and regain some of their stolen lives back.
The foals usually come to me around the tender age of 3 months with feedlot numbers still shaved into their sides. Nutritionally deficient, wormy, sometimes flea infested, and occasionally with diseases like OCD, they require extreme support. Some of the innocent one’s never look back. They settle into a new positive life with humans. But most arrive frightened, stiff and quivering. They may give the appearance of a caged animal, try to hide in the corner of a pen, disassociate from their bodies or do whatever they can to protect themselves from the unknown circumstances in which they find themselves.
WE HAVE JUST ONE CHANCE TO GET IT RIGHT!
These are their very first impressions since they were corralled, put through shoots, trailered and sent on their way. We have just one chance to connect with them, to earn their trust, and to prove that they are safe with us. Its through this initial contact that we make the impact for the rest of their future!
The light at the end of the tunnel for me and for these precious beings is that we have the time-tested ROTH methodologies. I know they work. I have used them with thousands of horses. And I am proud to say that all the foals that have come into our care and our program are living successful, happy lives, and are cared for by amazing, compassionate people.
This is not an unsolvable problem. Together we can put an end to these cruel practices and I am blessed and honored to play my small part as I learn from these majestic creatures just as much as I teach.