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.
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.
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.