The value in steering clear of "finding excuses and reasons" for everything a horse does, is that it leaves open other possibilities.
The practitioner didn't say that, I did, but it's safe to say it was implied during our session.
As I read through the book on TTouch, I see a number of possibilities and things I need to change, one of which is to separate Cowboy and Beautiful Girl and Beautiful Girl and Cowgirl. I wish I'd done it long ago, but I was functioning from the "leave the herd alone" mentality and, I think, took it too far. After introducing BG to the herd last spring, she made Cowboy's life very hard...sometimes keeping him away from shelter. Looking back, I wonder if that extra stress didn't contribute to his head shaking issues.
Herd "management" is a vital part of horse ownership in the world of TTouch. If they were out on hundreds of acres with hundreds of horses, the herd dynamics would change on an hour to hour basis. Different leaders would emerge and different bonds would form, but it's not that way in small herd, small area, and horses have more difficulty escaping stressful relationships.
The practitioner told me I could manage their levels of stress by switching around the herd so that they're all comfortable with their partners. It has given me something else to think about, and I've already separated BG for large parts of the day.
As I wrote yesterday, I opted away from the chain for now and went, instead, with the rope (Zephyr). She assured me over and over that the chain is not a "stud chain" and should and would never be used as such, the TTouch book discusses the topic, too, but it was a personal preference for where I'm at now.
Here's a picture of my lead and Zephyr rope.
Today, though, I thought I'd focus on the circles themselves, something most of us have already experienced trying out.
First, where you start and end doesn't really matter, and it's usually best to mix things up. (Starting AWAY from the painful area, however, is a good idea. Don't go right for their sensitive areas.) You choose a spot and a level of pressure, and the rhythm will be determined by your breathing. Thumb and pinky are anchored on the horse's body, your left (or right) hand supports the side of the body not being touched (providing a sort of brace) and then you start to make your circle. The circles are very small, maybe the size of a quarter. As you breathe in, you push up the skin...as you breathe out, you pull down the skin. The motion is from 6 o'clock to 6 o'clock. You should not rush lifting your hand. Take the release very, very slow. You'll see your horse's skin fill in under your hand, like a sponge, let your hand rise with it. From there, when you're ready to inhale again, drag your hand to your next circle and repeat. Your hands never leave the horse's body. You're always touching along the line you're following. It's all very slow and very deliberate. You should really practice it on yourself to see how it feels when you do it right. I recommend using your leg. The practitioner did it on my back and there was a HUGE difference when she did it slowly and released slowly.
You will find there is also a huge difference in whether you use the flat palm of your hand of the back of your hand. The flat of your hand has energy in it--like the "halt" signal and, apparently, it's universal to all animals. If you find your horse flinching or moving away from the circles, you may want to switch to the back of your hand to do the circles. You'll be surprised, but they will much more readily accept the back of the hand than the front. You can use your knuckles or your entire back fingers, depending on the level of pressure you're trying to achieve.
Let me give you an example, when the practitioner was working on Cowboy's sore area, he couldn't tolerate the front of the hand finger circles. She switched to back of the hand knuckles and he relaxed. For Red, she couldn't massage the outside of his ears with the flats of her hands, but she switched to back of hand brush strokes and he calmed right down. Then she eventually switched it to front hand rubs. (Sometimes this takes several days for a horse to accept, depending on the horse.)
I'll stop there for today, but I welcome your thoughts, experiences, comments and questions in the comments section below.