Saturday, February 4, 2012

TTouch With a Holder--Awesome Results!

"Only a gentle hand can calm a nervous horse."  Xenophon 370 BC

I finally got a holder to help me with TTouch and, let me tell you, it was wonderful! Ground tying them was good practice, but looking back, it accomplished very little. The beginning sessions of TTouch are such an effort, we didn't get pictures. I'll try to give you a quick explanation instead.


As I said before, she has benefited the most from my practice, and this showed in how easily she stood for me to be haltered. That's a big improvement. Getting her to like and want to be "touched" is another story.

What I did:

I started with the whole hand body exploration on her face, around her muzzle, under her neck, over her neck and back, down all her legs and to her tail. She was curious--straining her neck around to see what I was doing, but she stood very well and didn't seem distracted at all by the other horses. She didn't show any signs of real sensitivity except her tail and ears.

I started the Clouded Leopard touches on her face, she got a mildly surprised look. When I started the Crouching Leopard around her muzzle, she wasn't going to let me do much. (Eventually, I want to be able to massage her gums--I don't think that'll be happening soon, but who knows.)

What she loved:

She loved having her legs rubbed, all of them, and she loved when I "put her back together" with the whole body brushing with my hands.

What surprised me:

When I finished the body brushing I walked away from her. Guess what she did? She followed me...immediately, without even thinking about it. She clearly wanted more, more, more, but I didn't give it to her. My husband took her back to the stall and released her.

Next up....

Beautiful Girl:

Beautiful was full of it today--antsy and mouthy.

What I did:

I started with the full body exploration and she didn't like any touching around her back legs. There was a horse in the stall behind her and she seemed to be worried about it. My husband was worried for me and asked me to be careful. He also thought we should lock the horses out of the barn. I made a decision to keep them in since I know much of her trust issue is about other horses.

After the exploration, I started with her head and muzzle (she wanted to eat my hands), then her ears, then the CLT down her back, withers, and hind. When I got to the leg rubs, she melted and her head dropped.

What She Loved:

She loved the leg rubs, just like Jasmine did. At first they're confused because it seems like we always want something out of them--farrier, picking hooves, etc.--they're really thrown off by TTouch. When you get to rubbing their legs it must signal them that you really DO NOT want anything except to give them pleasure and relief and their guard comes down. When I got to her hind legs (previously sensitive area) she was all buttery and relaxed. I put her back together with the all over hand rub and walked her back out. She was so quiet and tuned in by the time I did this, it was shocking.

What surprised me:

I learned that she is very mouthy--too mouthy. She's going to benefit a lot from relaxing and having her gums massaged. I also learned that when she's tense and nervous, she doesn't want to give you her hind, but that's probably the same for most horses. I had it reconfirmed that her "Trust" issues are herd related.


I had a lot of confusion about him going into this--the handler resolved my confusion. He didn't want to be touched anywhere. He was a ball of nerves--yanking his head away, invading mine and my husband's space. This was a HUGE issue because you don't want to get angry or reprimand--it ruins the whole relaxation process. I wanted the lead loose, so I had to take my arm and bring him back to his space over and over again. I could feel my frustration level rising with him, but I corrected myself and stayed patient.

What I did:

He was horrible during the body exploration and threatened a little bit when I went to rub down his hind legs. I thought working around his face would calm him down, but it agitated him more. I didn't spend a lot of time there, but moved to his neck. Immediately he pinned his ears.

I knew I had to do something different to calm him, so I went with my instinct and did what I believe is called the Jellyfish Jiggle and then the Inchworm along and down his mane. Immediately this tremendous amount of yawning began, and this unbelievable relaxation, too. His head almost hit the ground. He was a different horse after that. He yawned so many times I couldn't count them. It was dramatic--even my husband was shocked. I decided to continue down his spine and that area instigated a whole new round of yawning.

By the time I got to his back legs, where he'd threatened me, he was completely at peace and relaxed. He had submitted, entirely, his whole body. In fact, he looked like he'd turned to jelly.

What He Loved:

He loved the jiggling of his mane and the Inchworm technique. As soon as I started that, it was as if I'd found his itchy spot. Ever see a horse get their withers scratched? Well, it was like that times 100.

What surprised me:

Yawning is a horse's way of aligning his frame. The crazy amount of yawning that occurred with Cowboy and the fear and severe aggravation he demonstrated at first, tells me he has some serious chiropractic issues. It makes me think, all the more, Cowboy's head shaking is in direct relation to his physical handicaps.

They're right about TTouch--I enjoyed it as much as the horses. My husband enjoyed it, too, and has volunteered to hold them at least three days a week. (They say that eventually they will happily stand ground-tied once they know what to expect and trust in it.) I thought it had taken us 30 minutes to do all three, but it actually took an hour to do all three. I don't know where the time went. I'm very excited about all the great things this will accomplish with them and the knowledge it will give me in their training. I think it will be the missing piece to my issues with Jasmine--the thing I've been looking for all these years.


  1. This is really, really intriguing. I will have to look into it. My horses don't really have any issues, but I think it is just plain good for them and me. You should video tape it and then edit it (an hour would be a bit long :)

    Oh and they are asking $6,500 for Eddie, which I think is a pretty good price as he is only 7 and so safe and well trained. Whoever buys him is getting a wonderful "old soul".

  2. I'll have to break out the video recorder again. There was a lot I missed since I was the one under them. My husband said Beautiful's eyelids got real heavy and almost shut--though her ears were still forward--when I was rubbing her legs. I would have loved to see that look!

    Wow $6,500 seems like a lot to me because horses go much cheaper around here. He is an old soul though--looks like a great one.

  3. Margaret, I would encourage you to follow along and do some of these with your horses--I wish I had done them long ago. It will build your relationship even further with your horses. I was shocked at how sensitive they are to touch when you go through the whole routine. My husband, a physician, is usually skeptical, and even he was a believer after watching the change.

  4. Catlow is the only horse of mine that yawns...usually after I've been handling her and let her be for a bit and she gets a chance to relax. I always thought (based on observation) that her yawning was her getting more oxygen to her brain because she'd been so uneasy with my handling that she wasn't breathing deeply and was holding her breath a lot.

  5. Kara--that's interesting. I suppose there are different reasons why a horse could yawn, it probably depends on the circumstances and resulting behavior. My horses always yawn after being worked in saddle--usually on trail rides, and I was always told it was a way to reset themselves when you see the jaws moving back and forth and the head stretched way out. Apparently, yawning is a common reaction during TTouch. The resulting relaxation in Cowboy leads me to believe he was resetting in some way--reacting to discomfort. I just looked it up and read that another reason is colic!! I hope he isn't colicking!

  6. This was a really interesting post. I have one of the T Touch books but I think I need to get the video since you said it helped so much. I've only done little bits - never the whole thing like you described. I'm sure it would be a huge benefit to the horses and to my relationship with them. It's very interesting how Cowboy reacted. My thought was the same as yours -- all related to his other issues. I'm so glad you were able to find what worked for my and he was able to relax into it.

  7. Hmmm, very interesting. Your posts are making me want to drag my TTouch books out again.

    Peggy Cummings has a sort of similar method of using massage to calm horses. I remember doing one on Gwen where you run your hands around the jawline. I got one pass in and it was like her mouth went crazy, chewing and clacking her teeth together. But when it was done she could bend her head to the right- she hadn't been able to do that before.

  8. Very cool!!! I found the book. But what is the DVD called? I have not found that is of yet? Thanks!!! Janine

  9. The power of touch! I would love to see a video of this as well.

  10. Annette, Janine, Joanne & Smaz, I feel like a kid playing with a Ouji board and the middle piece moves on its own. I'm like, "How did THAT happen?" Now I'm very curious about what is making it happen and what this means about my horse's bodies and minds that I did not previously understand. Common sense tells me it will help with bridling, worming, teeth floating, clipping, and anything else I do with my horses, but I know there is a lot more going on, too. I could only find the video on her website. It's called A TTouch of Magic for Horses. (Also available for dogs and cats). The book I ordered, which is much better than my old version, is The Ultimate Horse Behavior and Training Book. I've owned the older version for many years, but mostly used it for personality and pain diagnosis--analyzing the physical signs of stress in a horse. A very dear friend and exceptional horsewoman/no-nonsense ranch woman originally recommended it to me. I was a little surprised because it didn't seem to fit with her style, but she's worked with horses and livestock her whole life and found the concepts to be true.

  11. What a wonderful way to spend time with the horses; I should do more of that type stuff when it's too windy to ride - although getting them to stand still at all in our winds is an accomplishment!

    A huge ice ball the size of a baseball was attached to only maybe a dozen hairs on the back of Jesse's fetlock, causing a sore to develop in that tender skin there. Because she is used to me rubbing her legs, she stood rock solid while I took the hay knive to the ice ball until I could cut the few remaining hairs and release her. You never know when these things will be useful.

    Bionic Cowgirl

  12. You've got that right, Bionic Cowgirl, you never know, and it's good to teach a horse to calm themselves and stand still while you help. Two of my horses came into the barn yesterday all spazzed out, and I REALLY doubted I was going to get anywhere with TTouch, but they left calm horses. If you try it in the wind--I'd definitely recommend you get Beel to hold them for you. I couldn't have done it without my husband.

  13. Thanks for posting this, it's something that I think would help Chickory. I only have the original book, but I think I could get enough info out of it to help my little mare.

  14. Shirley, I wonder if you have the same original book that I do: Getting in TTouch: Understand and Influence Your Horse's Personality. I've referred back to it a lot through the years. I think its section in the back on the Touches and groundwork are good enough to get you going. There is a practitioner here in my town that I'm going to hire for a one-on-one lesson after I have thoroughly exhausted the book and DVD. I want someone to evaluate and see if I'm interpreting it right.


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