Thursday, February 2, 2012

My First Thoughts & Experiences T-Touching

Last night, at 11, I heard the strangest, scariest sound.  It was this high pitched "Ahhhhhhhhh".  Then silence.  Then "Ahhhhhh..."  I was in bed, so of course I asked my husband to investigate.  He's such a caretaker and always the one to happily get up and look.  He took the fan out of the window, the one we place to pull in cold air since we like to keep our room around 50 degrees at night, and put his ear to the screen.

"Coyotes."

I couldn't believe it.  Coyotes usually yip and howl, but this sounded like a painful human cry--maybe even a baby cry.  I didn't want to do it, but I got up, too, and placed my ear to the window.  Yep, it was a coyote, but the strangest sounding call I'd ever heard one make.  If I were a more energetic person, I'd have gotten dressed and gone out to see what was happening, but I went back to bed instead.  Now I'll never know.

Any guesses?

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I want to write a little about T-Touch and sorry it's taken so long.  The first delay was waiting to receive my updated book, The Ultimate Horse Behavior & Training Book, by Tellington-Jones, and then, later, waiting to get the DVD that actually shows her using the techniques on a real, live horse (named Jasmine...haha).  I didn't want to do it myself until I thought I understood the concepts.  I will say, the DVD, for me, was/is priceless.  The updated book is much easier to follow than my older edition, too.  I would recommend having both.  In the video, it looked like their palms were massaging the horse, as well, but after referencing the book and then going back and watching again, in fact, it was slightly, almost imperceptibly raised.  She did keep constant contact with the thumb, though, as the other four fingers made the circles.  Again, book to DVD comparisons.

Here's a short, beginning list of things I've learned about "T-Touch".  (Eventually, I'll do the stretches and ground work,  finish my body explorations and add to this list.)

1.)  The touches are broken into 3 different goal areas: the first are for "trust" building, second for "awareness", and a 3rd area for health.

2.)  The first thing you should do is have someone hold your horse while you work, at least until they get used to the sessions and relax, at which point you should be able to ground-tie them.  In the movie they demonstrate a way to secure the halter and chain they use, but I just use my rope halter.

I don't have anyone to hold them for me, so I'm at a disadvantage and haven't been able to complete my full-body, fingertip explorations.  I started to on Cowboy a couple of weeks ago, but I got to the area on his back in front of his withers and he pinned his ears and kicked out at my dog.  After that, he wouldn't cooperate anymore leaving me to wonder if there was soreness or just true aggravation with the dog being in his blind area.  (Note to self: leave the dogs in the house when you plan to do T-touch.)  In the video, she does say that horses are often sensitive around their withers during fingertip exploration--or Bear TTouch.

I didn't feel bad about not getting these explorations done because I didn't feel like I really knew what I was doing.  I'm used to the flat hand explorations that you should start with, to check for heat and swelling, but the Bear TTouch (fingertip explorations) were more difficult than they look.  Which brings me to 3 in my list.

3.)  The Ttouches are very specific and not haphazard, random things.  You will always start at 6, do a full, round, small circle, and end at 9.  You should try to have your left hand on the horse's body while your right hand (depending on your handedness, I guess) does the touches.  The digits of your fingers, (except for your thumb) each have three phalanges: top, middle and lower), are referred to in TTouch as DIP, MIP, and PIP, respectively.  They should be relaxed like you're playing the piano, not hard and rigid.  Use a consistent tempo on all your circles AS WELL as pressure.  I recommend using your inner thigh to practice pressure from 1-10...they recommend your cheekbone, "1" being the least amount of pressure.  When you finish one circle, drag your hand to the next, never losing contact.  And last, remember that you're pushing the skin as you make the circle, not rubbing it.

Whew!  Sounds easy, I know, but you'll find yourself breaking several of those rules and not knowing it right away.  I was lifting my hand from circle to circle, varying size, tempo and pressure, and stiffening my fingers, as well as all the other things I did wrong, like not having someone hold them and letting the dog pester them.

I consider what I've done so far practice, but I have learned a little about each of the horses I've "touched".  Beautiful and Jasmine have "trust" issues for different reasons.  Beautiful will not let herself relax enough to enjoy the T-touch because she's worried about the other horses and getting back to them.  Jasmine acts like I'm' trying to trick her.  Cowboy likes to be touched, but I need more experience to work with his neck stretches and tail pulls and I definitely need a holder.

Since the TTouches I've used most have been the ones for trust, it's not surprising that Jasmine is responding more markedly.  A pony who normally hates touch, she has relaxed a little during our sessions. I think she accepts it because it's predictable.  I use the least amount of pressure--I'm guessing a "2".  I start at her forehead with the Clouded Leopard TTouch (pads of fingers) and move down to the bridge of her nose with the Lying Leopard TTouch (eventually, I'll massage her gums and inner nose).  I pick up my hands and start again beneath her poll (she's nervous around her ears) with the Clouded Leopard and down the neck and back on both sides.  I did this before the farrier arrived the other day and she didn't pull back once with him.  That's never happened before.

This weekend my husband has volunteered to hold the horses for me.  I can't wait!  I'll make sure and take some pictures to share with you then.

11 comments:

  1. I'll be the first to comment by saying, there is so much to learn about this program! I'm at the tip of the iceberg. There is a woman who uses it in Spokane, and I do hope to take a class with her, but she hasn't responded to my email. And I highly recommend having someone hold your horse rather than tying them. It helps them to relax to either be ground-tied or held loosely by a handler while you work. They need to be able to drop their head and, I think, feel like they could escape if they wanted to. Tying makes it a non-voluntary, non-cooperative, passive activity, and I think you need them to choose to be with you in the process. At least at the start.

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  2. It seems like the touch process is as effective a communication as a voice, with all its different levels, pressures, sensitivities. It almost seems like learning a new language. What an interesting way to, in a sense, talk to your horses.

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  3. Yes, horses are very sensitive to touch. I have a lot to learn about that aspect of their lives, but it's fun exploring it.

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  4. It will be interesting to follow your progress with this. Thanks for the explanations.

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  5. Going slowly has always been a problem for me, so TTouch is pretty difficult for me too. Keeping the pressure and the tempo right is not easy!

    Masterson has an easy massage you might try with Cowboy, he calls it the wither wiggle (or something similar). Gently take a spinal process of the wither between your fingers and give it a rock side-to-side, then continue down the line until you've done them all. This is supposed to be very gentle and might even feel like you're doing nothing.

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  6. The coyotes were probably just calling to each other with different tones. I have no idea but this sounds as good to me as any other explanation.

    The TTouch sounds interesting, I'll be interested to see how it works with each of your horses. I'm thinking Cowboy might also benefit from a chiropractor and maybe some acupuncture thrown in for good measure along with the TTouch.

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  7. Enjoyed reading about your T-Touch progression.I've bookmarked a youtube video showing a short demo of Tellington performing the touch, but figured there was much more to it than that. I wondered about the tying versus having someone hold the horse and your explanation cleared that up. I also don't have anyone to help me during the day when I'd be trying the technique.I have one very sensitive guy and one very laid back guy. Suppose I should work on the laid back fella first. Good luck this weekend! Will be looking forward to reading up on your progression.

    We actually have more coyotes moving into our area here in Southern Ohio.Sometimes we can hear them yipping.I'll keep your new sound description in mind. I've heard some odd calls outside in the past. I was completely taken by surprise the evening a coyote ran out of our woods and then back up into the hills with our two dogs in hot pursuit. Coyotes aren't something we've had to deal with in past years but they've moved in here in the East.

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  8. Shirley--these are my explanations for now. As I get to understanding it better, I'll do a revamp. I can already see a couple of what could be errors in my post. There's so much to digest....you think you're seeing it, hearing it, reading it correctly, but then, with experience, there's a clarification. I'm trying to learn a lot of technique and theory in a small time, and they make it look easy...which it will eventually be.

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  9. Smaz. I'll have to check out that wiggle. My husband's going to hold him today (in a couple of hours) so I'll know more then. I do think slowing down and getting that tempo right is important for rider and horse. The calm that comes from performing a short TTouch session will translate in the saddle or on the ground and be one more tool for getting horse and rider in sync.

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  10. GHM, I'm definitely pursuing chiropractor for Cowboy, and maybe Cia, too. I'm going to be starting Cowboy at square one this year and doing a process of elimination. He's going to be in the stall during the day, turned out at night, wear a full mask during daylight hours, and a number of other little things. I'm going to journal his daily progression and see if and when the head shaking occurs.

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  11. Leslie, you're right, there's a lot going on that the short Youtube video doesn't begin to catch. The DVD wasn't that expensive. I purchased it from her site. I've watched it twice now and taken notes the second time, which helped tremendously. That's interesting that you're just getting coyotes! Now that you've got them, you'll have them forever. :(

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Please feel welcome to join our discussion--tell us about your own thoughts and experiences.