Sunday, February 12, 2012

Spirit to Spirit: Being One With Your Horse

Of all the wonderful things TTouch does for your horse, I think the most important is a yielding of the simultaneous rhythms between two living beings.  

This is how it works:

I come into the barn, seven horses on my mind, chores that need to be done, a ticking clock on my wrist.  

My horses, wondering which will be chosen as the woman comes into the turnout with halter and lead, freeze together, watch and wait.  

I choose one, secure the rope halter, walk out of the pasture and into the breezeway and turn to look at them as I pet down their necks and start a basic exploration of their body to check for heat, swelling, or pain.

And that is where it starts.  Move too fast, they jump.  Become careless and rough, they twitch.  The thing is, as I ask them to relax, I have to relax.  I have to forget the ticking clock, the chores, the day's plans, and concentrate on one thing, the horse in front of me.   As I do, I start to come into their rhythm, and they start to relax and come into mine.  

This is the point in time where two very different types of animals--predator and prey--can connect spirit to spirit.  A space in time you can start to have visions of a willing partnership--of a horse that is not tight or fearful when you go to mount, of a horse that moves as you move, breathes as you breathe, and is ready for the journey.  A horse that knows you would never touch it in a way that is cruel, never abandon it in a way that is selfish, or ask it to do anything unsafe.

The surprising thing is that what I'm talking about does not take much time; it can be done while grooming before a ride, and I'm starting to think should be done before any ride.   These are the questions I'm going to start slowing down and asking myself as I do the basic body explorations and then the TTouches:

 1.) Is my horse in any physical pain?  If so, is it something I can fix before I go to the next step?

2.) Is my horse in a good mental state?  If not, I need to take some extra time.  My goal is to lessen conflict (which heightens fear and mistrust) and take a few extra moments to help my horse relax and relax myself.  

Only after these questions are answered am I going to go to the next step of work.  I'm going to continue asking them as I saddle, mount, and ride--always, always, with the goal of minimizing stress and pain and maximizing oneness.


  1. When I write these posts on TTouch, they're more like reminders for myself. I tend to always be in a hurry, overscheduling, etc., and often I rush through the preliminaries. I've been lucky that my horses are usually good about coming along anyway, but I think I've missed out on a deeper partnership, more willingness and trust, which, with a little extra time and closer observation, could be easily had.

  2. Touch, and time, can be so powerful - a very good reminder.

  3. Kate, after I wrote this post I went out to do Beautiful's session (she was last on the list today) and she was horrible. I had to abandon my plan to do the touches and spent a good 30 minutes on space and handling issues. She was in a dangerous frame of mind...a complete turn around from a couple days ago. Which is a good reminder to never have expectations and deal with the horse in front of you. Yikes! But I love that this is helping me assess their needs on a day to day basis.

  4. Being in the moment with the horse is something that we all need to do, instead of overlaying our agenda on them. If I would have assessed Gussie last fall before I got on her, I wouldn't have ended up looking for a soft place to bail off; a few simple minutes in the round pen to get her focus off her herd mates was all we needed to turn a bad day good.

  5. Herd bound is always half the problem, it seems. That was definitely Beautiful's issue today, too. She was crazy to get back to her herd mates and there wasn't going to be any relaxed TTouching. I did what the moment required...and now I need to do a few more separate her out.

  6. Learning to relax and have patience is one of the most important parts of being in the company of horses. I am always striving for patience because I have so many other things to accomplish in one day I'm usually in a hurry. My horses have taught me to slow down and relax because if I don't they won't either. Good observations and post.


Please feel welcome to join our discussion by telling us about your own thoughts and experiences.