Tag Archives: Clouded Leopard TTouch
A TTouch is a Touch is a Touch, Right?

A TTouch is a Touch is a Touch, Right?

The first time I went to a TTouch® training, I was confused by the catalog of TTouches. There are so many, and they all possess animal names. At first I thought this was silly, unintentionally marginalizing the work.

Once having learned the basic circle, I thought it would not really matter how I held my hand, how much pressure I used, or how many times I circled the flesh of the animal I worked on. Besides, it was all so confusing.

How to do the Tellington TTouch®

How to do the Tellington TTouch®

This basic circle, the hallmark and foundation of Tellington TTouch, may be done over the entire body. The purported intent of touching an animal or person in this way is to awaken and activate the function of the cells, enhancing cellular communication, or what Linda Tellington-Jones calls, “turning on the electric lights of the body.” Tellington-Jones’ intuitive notion that the cells of the body emit light was later empirically proven by the German researcher in biophysics, Fritz Albert Popp who labeled this light, biophotons. I still have issues, intellectually-speaking, with this concept of turning on the lights in the cell. Raised and educated in a world where the scientific method held sway over everything I learned, I just don’t have enough evidence to prove to myself beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is what TTouch does.

Yet I try to keep an open mind. When I use TTouch on a person or animal, the results are pretty clear. I don’t fully understand the reason for the success. I have to remind myself that there are millions of medical interventions that work without a solid understanding of the mechanism by which they function. For example, aspirin was one such medication once upon a time. Antidepressants are currently prescribed all over the place, yet no one can say exactly how they do their job, because neurotransmitters and neuropeptides are poorly understood.

A few additional basics I grasped easily.

Direction of the circle is a matter of personal preference, and can easily be inferred from the response of the animal. For example, the majority of people prefer clockwise circles. It do not notice a difference myself, yet a friend gets all wigged out if anyone tries a clockwise circle. Her clear preference is the counter-clockwise circle. In my experience with horses, I have found the same degree of preference to hold true. Most times, you can tell what they respond to best.

Pressures vary according to the location and nature of the work. Since Tellington TTouch works primarily in developing an awareness of the body, working at the cellular level, the deeper pressure of massage and manipulating the muscular system is not necessary. As an equine massage therapist, it was this light pressure that initially attracted me to TTouch. Using TTouch, you can work with much lighter pressure than you imagine possible, and still get great results. Refer to any work by Linda Tellington-Jones for a more detailed description of pressures.

On to the TTouches

Abalone TTouch Named for the eponymous mollusk, Abalone uses the whole hand, with the center of the circle at the palm of the hand. This TTouch is used to relax, increase awareness, and and comfort because it is non-invasive, diffused in pressure, and non-threatening. This is my favorite, and the TTouch I use the most often. In fact, as a novice at TTouch, I could not understand why anything else was needed.

Lying Leopard TTouch This touch is intended to relax and build trust between practitioner and recipient. With Lying Leopard, the practitioner is increasing focus and intensity without increasing contact or any invasiveness. This can help to ground a flighty or fearful horse, in addition to building trust between horse and practitioner. It is also said to reduce pain and swelling in acute injury, provided a Number 1 pressure is used.

Clouded Leopard TTouch was the original “TTouch That Teaches.” Tellington-Jones named it for a leopard she worked on in the Los Angeles Zoo. This TTouch is the basic TTouch for activating awareness of the mind-body connection in a way that enhances the horse’s willingness to learn (I can vouch for this!), builds trust and confidence is handlers, releases fear at the cellular level (still have trouble with this concept), and most importantly, increases a horse’s proprioception.

Tiger TTouch can be used for heavily-muscled horses or sluggish and dull, unresponsive to the aids. It can also be helpful to relieve itching without irritating the nerve endings and continuing a positive feedback loop which causes more itching. My next post will cover the horse who doesn’t like to move forward, so this TTouch will come in handy then. “Waking up” heavily muscled areas that don’t have much awareness, stimulating dullness or insensitivity, or providing firmness of touch to horses who are easily tickled are skills we should all have in our toolkits. If the lighter TTouches seem to have no effect or if just grooming the horse seems to tickle or irritate, Tiger TTouch is a real bonus. It helps if you have a bit of fingernail for this touch.

Bear TTouch is different from Tiger TTouch in that the circles you make are tiny–imagine them to be the size of the head of a pin. The point of Bear TTouch is to go deep and quick rather than to press hard. Bear TTouch is useful for activating circulation around the coronary band, releasing tightness in the neck and at the croup, promoting circulation in areas of heavy musculature, and bringing awareness to insensitive areas.

Raccoon TTouch is excellent for swellings anywhere on the body. It can reduce heat and inflammation, stimulate healing around the edges of wounds, clear blocked tear ducts, and increase circulation around the coronary band in the case of laminitis. I have used this TTouch for years on horses’ eyes, to clear blocked tear ducts. I heard of it long before I started to learn Touch in earnest. It really works. Imagine the tiny fingers of a raccoon rapidly circling a small area with speed and light pressure.

Llama TTouch is useful around the head and ears of ear and head shy horses. Llamas are extremely sensitive and trainers have found that they can be approached and touched with the back of the hand, which is less threatening. The same holds true for sensitive horses. It is a valuable introductory tool for a horse who needs to be accustomed to ear work or having a bridle path clipped, but is having trouble accepting being touched there.

At first I did not understand that each of these TTouches targets the equine nervous system in a slightly different way. TTouch in all its variety helps to eliminate pain and increase awareness of the body. Pain and discomfort limit learning. Fear also limits learning and decreases a horse’s ability to perform up to potential. With TTouches for Trust and the Playground for Higher Learning, specific fears can be eradicated, paving the way for a horse whose general fear level is reduced.

It might be argued that rubbing a horse down each day, or simply applying TTouches at random may have similar beneficial effects. This is true. As an equine massage therapist, my clients were happier, healthier and more tractable. BUT:

Lying Leopard TTouch

A touch is not a touch is not a touch. Learning a variety of TTouches and their proper uses can greatly increase the effectiveness of the work, and can easily be done in just a few minutes a day. Added to a grooming regimen, TTouch has profound effects on a horse’s health and behavior. Now that’s I’ve written about the individual TTouches, I feel I have a greater understanding of their differences and various uses. I’m still not 100% convinced about the cellular communication and light concepts, but I see it working, so I’m not going to push too hard for proof. I’m going to keep looking.

NB: In all TTouch, keep your off hand on the horse at all times to “Ground” your contact and comfort the horse. Keep your joints soft and malleable to prevent transmitting tension to the horse. Between each circle and a quarter, gently slide you hand across the skin and hair to a point nearby to start another circle. Do not remove your hand from the horse. Move from your feet and knees, using your hips, rather than using just your arms. This helps avoid fatigue and communicating fatigue and stress to the horse.

For detailed descriptions of how to do each TTouch, please visit TTouch.com and check out the books and videos for sale.

Don’t forget the November Carnival of the Horses will be held here at Enlightened Horsemanship Though Touch on November 1, 2008.

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What Exactly Is TTouch®?

What Exactly Is TTouch®?

What exactly is TTouch®, and what’s so special about it?

Some folks just hop on and go. Others are passionately loyal about the training and horse care methods they follow.

I’m a cherry-picker myself. When you’re out there researching horsemanship all the time, you find a lot of good stuff. I’m not going to assert that I’m an expert at any of it; in fact, I’m not a very talented rider. As they say, those who can’t do write about it.

As an adjunct to training in any tradition, TTouch is my all-time favorite. TTouch is a mindful approach to horsemanship.
Almost every day I see some potential application for TTouch.

But I didn’t fully understand the value and import of TTouch right away. I didn’t start getting it until I’d done a bit of research. In addition to seeing that something works, I want to know how: I always demand lots of scientific proof for any claim of benefit. In the case of TTouch, I got proof in the form of hard data and personal experience.

The foundation of TTouch is awareness. The basis for TTouch is the touch circle, similar to massage, called the Clouded Leopard. (The different TTouches are named for animals Linda has worked on all over the world.) The Clouded Leopard involves the supple application of the pads of the fingers (softly curved hand) moving the skin in the circle. It is so much more difficult to describe than it is to do. If you really want to see it done properly, go to The Tellington TTouch YouTube Channel

Read more…

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How to Nail the Free Walk

Package Warning and Disclaimer: This subject popped into my head yesterday as I sat and watched horse after horse bungle the Free Walk. I am not a dressage expert. I haven’t gotten on a horse in more than two months and I could not score even a 7 in beginner novice after bribing the judge with chocolate cake and an all-expenses-paid trip to China. The following is written by someone who watches and listens to trainers, riders and horses, and thinks about how things could be changed so that everyone involved gets more of what they want, and horses get what they need.

In an earlier post, Why Aren’t Horses and Riders Any Better at the Free Walk? I wrote about a dressage judge who told me that she views the Free Walk portion of a test

as a kind of double-exposure snapshot of the horse: its present way of going superimposed over its development and early training.

Once past a certain stage in a horse’s age and development, merely training a horse to lower its head at the free walk will not cut the mustard. In order to mail the Free Walk, you have to do some work on your horse. The good news is you have a huge tool belt full of goodies to work with for making a change. A rider can effect real, positive change in its horse’s topline without the use of draconian tools, dominance or expensive therapists or trainers. You get to spend some quality time with the horse, too.

I like Tellington TTouch® for bodywork because it calms the horse and makes it more receptive to learning. I like it so much that I quit working as an equine massage therapist to use it. Non-invasive and requiring no recovery time, TTouch® can be used in conjunction with most training methods. If anyone out there would like to bring about a change in not only the Free Walk, but also the general demeanor and learning capabilities of the horse, give the following ideas a try and let me know what happens. They don’t take nearly as much time to do as they do to read!

1. Lowering the head
You have to start somewhere, and the head is a good place.
Here’s why: Lowering the head so that the poll lies around 4 inches below the height of the withers overrides what Daniel Goleman (Emotional Intelligence) calls “emotional hijacking” of the amygdala, the part of the brain that governs automatic responses. Horse people call it the fight, flight or freeze reflex. Lowering the head allows the horse the critical space both to stop and think as well as to relax the muscles along the topline, releasing tension from the poll, crest, back and through the croup to the tail. Once you’ve got the head low, you’ve got it made for a lot of things. (Yup, you’ve already started making a list of the favorable side effects, I bet: bridle path clipping, haltering and bridling, etc.)

For even more details on the beneficial effects of lowering the head, see the work of horse gentler and people trainer Frank Bell and professor of classical dressage Manolo Mendez.

If you can trust the horse not to run you down, start by standing in front of (do not cross-tie), and grasp the halter gently with one hand while asking with verylight pressure on the poll for the horse to drop his head.
Use the Clouded Leopard TTouch¹ while asking for the downward movement.
The moment you get the slightest movement in a downward direction, release your pressure (but not the hold on the halter).
If you don’t trust the horse not to flatten you, stand at about a 45 degree angle from the horse’s head, out of striking range and try it from there. Not many horses will do this at first without some coaxing, because it feels like a pretty dangerous surrender. But once they trust you, and you trust them, it’s a done deal.
Tellington TTouch® has several simple techniques for asking a horse to lower the head. All are simple and effective. Try one out and see. (Careful: lower the head too much, and you will get a drooling, snoozing horse. Hold the head too high, and you will be enabling a high-headed, reflexively reactive horse who won’t learn to stretch out.)

2. Working the crest and neck: forelock circles, mane slides, inchworm
It’s all connected! Relaxation of the neck, shoulders, and back has lasting effects. Stimulation of blood flow and lymph circulation provide long lasting benefits for horses working in collection. Forelock and Mane Slides feel as good to the horse as it feels to us when someone plays with our hair. Granted, there are a few people who detest the feeling, but most report a relaxation response to having sections of the hair gently lifted and “stroked” from root to tip. Remember when you were little and your mother soothed you in this way?
In addition to being a practical preparation for mane-pulling and braiding, forelock and mane slides soothe and relax the muscles of the poll, neck shoulders and back.

3. Lifting the Back
I think this is the single most powerful tool in the entire tool belt. Sometimes I feel like making a stealth run around the barn, doing back lifts on every horse there. If discovered, I’d probably get sued, but I know I’d make a difference, at least temporarily, in at least one horse.

Here’s what Linda Tellington-Jones, founder of Tellington TTouch® has to say on the subject:

How a horse carries his back is central to his ability to carry a rider and perform his job, whether it’s cutting cows, jumping fences, dressage or trail riding. One of the keys to developing a strong, supple back is the ability of the belly muscles to contract effectively and provide strength so that the horse can move in self-carriage.”²

4. Lick of the Cow’s Tongue over the rib area
The area from the girth to the hind leg is just plain neglected. We don’t even notice it when we crank down the girth before hopping on. Yet this portion of the horse’s anatomy is the cradle of its suspension and self-carriage. It pays to give it some love. Simple firm and loving touch here can release tension and free the midsection muscles to move fluidly. The TTouch called “Lick of the Cow’s Tongue” gives a horse a stronger sense of connection between the belly and the back. In addition to helping to raise the back, soften the muscles and increase awareness, Lick of the Cow’s Tongue is unbeatable when it comes to helping girthy horses.

5. Tail TTouch
The tail is part of the horse’s spine. It’s not just there for looks, and it’s not an evolutionary leftover. Horses use their tails. We can help them with their balance, extension, and collection by working their tails. Most horses love it. You’ve seen them out in the pasture, nibbling one another’s tails, rubbing them around. Tails are a big part of horses’ lives. Let’s get at ‘em.

I know some horsepeople who do these exercises and more each day either before or after riding. I think it beats lungeing. The work of Linda Tellington-Jones is so simple it’s revolutionary: Touch your horse and change your horse. The simple act of getting on and riding around becomes a pleasure shared by horse and rider.

But wait…there’s more!
I have by no means been exhaustive in my descriptions of what you can do to loosen and lengthen the horse for the Free Walk. I’ve taken you from poll to tail, but there are many more exercises than these. I learned these techniques for varying equine applications; however, enabling a horse to move freely in rhythm while walking is the pinnacle of any form of bodywork or horsemanship.

At some point after I go with my miracle child to visit colleges, I will add some photos of this work, along with a detailed post of some groundwork exercises to help with the Free Walk. I like the Tellington Equine Awareness Method (TTEAM) groundwork because it does not involve dominance, even in a sneaky way, as many other training methods do. It allows horses a breathing space to think and go beyond their instincts, which is, after all, what we are trying to do when we are riding them in the first place. Let’s face it, Mother Nature did not plan for horses to carry humans on their backs. And while the combination of human and rider may at times feel divinely inspired, we have certain hurdles to overcome if riding a horse is not going to harm it.

¹ Clouded Leopard TTouch: The original, basic TTouch. Hold your hand gently curved and using the pads of your fingers to make contact, softly push the skin in a circle and a quarter (clockwise). Hold your fingers more or less together, but allow fluid movement. Keep your joints rounded–holding them stiffly is uncomfortable for the horse. Keep your other hand grounded softly on the underside of the horse’s neck or back.

² The Ultimate Horse Behavior and Training Book: Enlightened and Revolutionary Solutions for the 21st Century Linda Tellington-Jones with Bobbie Lieberman, page 36.

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Adam's Rib Is A Nag (Case Study #3)

It’s been 11 days since I fell and injured my ribs, among other things. I can’t help thinking there’s something wrong with a set of ribs that can’t at least start to feel better in that span of time.

More whining, and some TTouch®

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