Every year in February, Tellington TTouch offers a TTouch for You and Your Horse training in Kona, Hawaii, the home of Linda Tellington-Jones. This is a great opportunity for the horse lovers of Hawaii, for whom the daunting prospect of traveling to the mainland to attend a training poses many obstacles. However, attending this training poses an equal number of obstacles for those who live in the continental United States but who would like to attend. It’s worth it!
Every TTouch training is different, owing to many factors: instructors’ personalities and teaching methods differ; varying locations and amenities offer challenges and benefits; and the folks who attend as well as their animals direct the tone and feeling of each training. The Hawaii training is unique in that there are constants: the beautiful sunny weather, the outdoor facility, the instructor (Linda herself), and the extracurricular activities, and, most importantly, the omnipresent sense of Aloha that suffuses the week’s proceedings with an extra dose of positivity.
Aloha is not merely a hokey greeting reminiscent of Tiki culture ¹. As used by Hawaiians, the term aloha refers to the qualities of affection, love, peace, and compassion. Someone can be said to have or show aloha in the way they treat others; whether family, friend, neighbor, or stranger. In its daily expression, aloha is remarkably similar to Linda’s TTouch gift, Remember Your Perfection. Thus the opportunity to study TTouch in an environment where its message of mutual respect and compassion is not only unconditionally supported but also practiced deliberately is both fitting and a gift in itself.
2007’s TTouch For You and Your Horse training was a life-altering event for me. I learned more in this training than at any other, perhaps because the pervasive sense of acceptance on the Big Island allowed a greater opening to new concepts and skills.
For Kama’aina², who may not have had the chance to attend a training on the mainland, there is a 20% discount off the training tuition, with the added benefit of lodging discounts provided by most area hotels. Big Island residents can travel from home. Island residents, like others who live in isolated areas, lack exposure to the styles of horsemanship and attitudes of riders and trainers elsewhere. This training provides a great “coffee shop” atmosphere to exchange thoughts and concerns from many points of view.
Those wishing to travel from the mainland may be deterred by the cost of airfare and lodging. A little digging and a few visits to discount travel websites reveals a variety of affordable airfare options. Add to those the benefit of earlybird registration and traveling to Hawaii for a Tellington TTouch training is not as financially irresponsible as you may have thought. I chose to look upon this trip as a combined vacation and learning experience. Several of those in attendance had brought their families along to play during the day, transforming the week into a family vacation.
Every day for a week I met at Linda’s home with more than a dozen other people interested in learning what TTouch means. We talked and practiced and learned in the mornings, and then went to nearby Horseplay Ranch in Honka’a to practice most afternoons. The horses we met were a fascinating bunch of specimens, raging from high performance dressage and reining horses to chunky grumpy lesson ponies. The range of personalities as well as behavioral and physical issues they presented allowed us to apply what we learned in the morning under the watchful eye and helpful hands of Linda and several experienced TTouch instructors.
Since this training incorporates TTouch for You, we worked in the mornings at Linda’s lovely Keauhou home on the application of TTouch for humans. Theory and history of TTouch is never a dry proposition when Linda is teaching it. Her stories of the old days and her travels and the animals and people she has met make for entertaining learning. Practicing on one another (sometimes at poolside), we enjoyed the opportunity to make friends with people we otherwise would never have met, while learning skills to ease common physical problems shared by many. I left each day feeling as refreshed as if I had been to a spa, invigorated by contact with new people, and loaded with new skills. In fact, some of those folks I met have become friends. We look forward to meeting when traveling, and coordinate our attendance at trainings worldwide.
At night, those who wished saw the sights and enjoyed Kona nightlife. This year, I am thrilled to invite you to dinner and dancing at Bongo Ben’s for authentic ukulele and string music, and to Huggo’s “On the Rocks” for some bare-feet-in-the-sand cocktails. Some folks went to dinner, or dancing, or night diving and snorkeling, visiting the famous Keauhou Manta Rays. This is a magical scene with snorkelers holding hands in a reverent circle on the surface of the dark ocean. A bright underwater light attracts a curious and balletic Manta Ray, who glides silently beneath them, sometimes swimming up to greet them.
It would be a shame to come all this way and spend all your time in a training, no matter how wonderful it is. Since the Big Island of Hawaii has such a diverse array of microclimates and terrain, Linda arranges day trips and evening outings during the training for more than a taste of what this paradise has to offer.
In 2007, we took a trip to Na’alapa Stables in Kohala to ride across the shimmering silver green grass of the windy hills of North Hawaii. Even novice riders had a great time walking through the cool mists as a welcome antidote to the bright sun of Kona.
The group also went to an amazing dinner show under the moon and stars at the seaside. Kamaiha‘o: Wondrous Myths of Hawaii’s beautiful local dancers and singers acted out the ancient creation myths of the isles of Hawaii while we dined on traditional Hawaiian food.
Aloha isn’t the exclusive province of humans. All of the earth’s creatures share its spirit, as we experienced on the trip we took out of Honokohau Harbor on Uhane Nui O’Nai’a (Great Spirit of the Dolphin) with Sunlight on Water’s captain Michael (“China”) Yee and his wife Melainah. This daylong dolphin and whale watching boat ride and swimming experience commences with a stunning old-fashioned Hawaiian ceremony in the harbor. Completely devoid of the ubiquitous tourist hokum, China’s touching words invoke the Great Spirit of the Dolphin to protect us on our visit to the ocean. The trip out of the harbor also took us into close contact with whales passing by the island, including some babies with their mothers. For this alone the trip was perfect. Later, as we eased ourselves into warm, crystal clear water, and were surrounded by singing, leaping dolphins, the day took on mystical overtones.
The unique structure of the Hawaiian TTouch for You and Your Horse is a wonderful learning journey for folks whose daily lifestyles include horses, as well as for those who admire them but have never interacted with them. Afternoon time at Horseplay Ranch provides the opportunity for as much or as little horse contact as novices would like. I notice, however, that “newbies” end up TTouching and leading horses through the Playground for Higher Learning with the same enthusiasm as the old hands.
TTouch founder and president Linda Tellington-Jones says, “For those who have never been around horses before and are simply ‘called’ by the spirit of the horse, or if you’ve been riding for years and want new ways of connecting and communicating with your equine friend, the Hawiian workshop will lead you to new levels of connecting with horses. almost unimaginable. The magic of TTouch, an effective language without words, and the journaling we do as a group are absolutely remarkable tools in connecting with horses in an entirely new way. When we journal with the horse, we ask the horse what it is they would like to tell us — how we can experience a deeper connection with them. We also explore the gifts that horses bring to our lives — those gifts that we don’t normally listen to and recognize.
In the riding session participants close their eyes (they’re supported by helpers) while sitting on the horse bareback and walking through the Playground for Higher Learning. This gives them an opportunity to experience a new physical, mental and emotional sense of balance. The result is a very deep connection with the spirit of the horse in a way that most people have never experienced.
Considering the current state on our planet, TTouch can be invaluable for you and your horse. In two or three minutes of self-applied TTouch Heart Hugs, Mouth and Ear TTouches, you can experience relief and release those feelings of uncertainty, trauma or stress and make your lives healthier, more productive, and happier. You will discover that the same TTouches that you will learn for yourself and your family or clients are just as valuable for your horses.
¹ Tiki culture refers to a 20th-century theme used inPolynesian-style restaurants and clubs originally in the United States and then, to a lesser degree, around the world. Although inspired in part by Tiki carvings and mythology, the connection is loose and stylistic (Wikipedia).
² Kama’aina refers to those who live full-time in Hawaii.
This article originally appeared in Keeping in TTouch, the Tellington TTouch enewsletter.