The word of the day is?

A weekend clinic at Spirit Horse Center with Anna Twinney of Reach Out to Horses

The Theme of the Day Is?

A multi-faceted horsemanship weekend with Anna Twinney

By Staci Grattan
Owner, Spirit Horse Center –  – 218-825-4944 – email

As self-professed “horse people,” most of us realize that the study of horsemanship is lifelong and complex. It is, for many, part of the draw – never-ending and multi -faceted.


Quality trainers will tell you that the more tools we have in our toolbox, the better we are able to serve horses and their human counterparts. It seems there is no single answer in the complex world of horsemanship. No absolutes.


Anna Twinney of Reach Out to Horses is the living embodiment of this “many tools in the toolbox” approach. She’s a brilliant horsewoman, trainer, horse behavior expert, and accomplished and proven animal communicator. Add to this impressive resume a top-notch working knowledge of essential oils,  supplements and nutrition, kinesiology as well as traditional, alternative and natural health care and horse-keeping methodology. It seems Anna’s “toolbox” turns into a veritable “tool chest.”


Anna’s company, Reach Out to Horses, has an extremely comprehensive training program with offerings for students of all abilities and levels.  Woven throughout Anna’s offerings is a  “multi-pronged holistic horsemanship” approach, covering a comprehensive array of horsemanship as well as alternative healing modalities and animal communication. (


Anna’s second clinic at Spirit Horse Center, in November 2013, saw clinic participants and their horses expand their awareness and knowledge of horsemanship and all its components. Each day a “theme” seemed to surface – unintentionally but appropriately.


During Day One, Anna put on her “Animal Communicator hat” and shared with participants her insights for effective telepathic animal communication. Her uncanny accuracy, high skill level and strong ethical viewpoint as an Animal Communicator came across clearly. Participants learned how to be open to a form of communication that Anna believes is available to every human. The theme expressed this day seemed to strongly center on “belief” and being open. Anna worked with students throughout the day to hone their skills, knowing what is real and what is not, how to tune in and be accurate.


On Day Two of the clinic, participants experienced the Obstacle Course at Liberty with their horses. Anna asked them to “form a plan but don’t fall in love with it.” In other words, pick an obstacle or goal to conquer and work through it with your horse, be it an arch with pool noodles hanging from it, a tarp on the ground or a small jump.


Alone or in pairs, and working with one or two horses, participants learned how to develop a deeper connection to their horse and themselves by using body language to work the horses through the chosen obstacles without touching them.

Auditors and participants gained valuable insights on being present and “in the moment,” and how to ask clearly and kindly for what we desire.


A few pearls of wisdom offered by Anna this day were:

  • Once you get a “softening” ask for completion of the obstacle.
  • Leadership is who moves whose feet!
  • When we see a “try” when working with horses we release the pressure. Horses learn from this release of pressure.
  • Horses are waiting for us to meet them where they are.


The theme that surfaced on this day was “clear intention”  – and its extreme importance when working with horses.


The subject of Day Three was “Spook Busting.” Anna put on her “horse behaviorist” hat to educate participants on her groundwork methods and the application of them into many areas, including dealing with  “spooky” situations.


The “spooky” props varied in intensity from bouncing balls, umbrellas and plastic bags on sticks to tarps on the ground, flapping and draping over the body.

Returning to one of Anna’s core philosophies, the horses were “met where they were at” and were not pushed into more than moderate discomfort. Participants worked their horses successfully through the “spooky” items and were rewarded with a deepened relationship via a clear communication of leadership.


Key insights from Anna:

  • When we strike a horse we are a predator. When horses strike each other they are establishing a pecking order.
  • Backing up is not a normal action in the pasture. Work versus rest psychology is an effective tool when training horses.
  • Match the energy of your horse when schooling on ground work.
  • Groundwork translates into work under saddle! If there are communication issues on the ground there will be communication issues under saddle.
  • Horses learn from repetition where the magic number is three to learn a new skill such as head-drop for bridling.
  • Horses are associative thinkers where the magic number here is five. For example, when teaching trailer loading we would do it in five different locations to truly cement the thought that the horse can load anytime anywhere.



The theme of the day was “timing”  – we have between 3/10ths and 8/10ths of a second to respond when presented with an issue. Timing is crucial because horses are largely associative thinkers.


Many participants remarked over the course of the weekend that not only did they gain valuable horsemanship skills and a deeper relationship with their horses, they also gained valuable self-awareness.


As horsemen and women, it seems that self-awareness may be the most valuable tool in our collective toolboxes. If we can hold an awareness of our individual strengths and weaknesses, it stands to reason we are better able to meet our horses “where they are at.”

Spirit News

© Spirit Horse Center Inc.