Calming Horses through Tellington TTouch relaxing a reactive young horse to learn calmly, easily in a relaxed manner.
Day 3: Thursday a.m. (Click for Part 1 and Part 2)
While I waited for my friend Catherine to come to the barn I walked up to the stall door that opens to Roulette’s paddock. Roulette marched in to the stall, confidently stuck her nose out towards me and took a good smell with a soft eye!
So, I went in to their paddock with a flake of hay. She was not sure of me walking around in her paddock however. Her head was relatively low and her eye somewhat soft, but she moved away if I stepped towards her. I decided to sit down on a tree that had recently fallen a few feet from the hay. She came to eat, seemed not so interested in me, but did keep an eye on me.
Once Catherine came out she opened the paddock gate and stall door where they get fed. I wanted to walk in her proximity to see how she responded. I also wanted to see how she would be to walk near someone into the stall. I wanted to begin to introduce moving around her in a variety of ways rather than standing at the gate and letting her run or walk herself in.
I was able to move just out in front of her and to the side to give her space, but still stay near. I used my voice to invite her to walk, with toning using elongated vowels which is steadying and soothing, “Aaaaaaand waaaaaaalk, and moved towards her stall. We did 3-4 steps of walking, then I asked her to stop by saying “Aaaaaand Whooooooa,” while motioning my hand as if I had a Wand to give clear direction and an indicator to stop.
We repeated this process a few times – walking and stopping on our way into the stall. We were beginning to develop a relationship in motion, in proximity of one another. It was really beautiful to see her listen, take in what I said, and figure out what to do with the information and respond in such a cooperative, soft, non-reactive manner.
As I slid a light weight rope out of my pocket she flew back with her head high in the air and eyes wide open. I wondered What had happened with her with a rope.The difference in demeanor was sudden and dramatic when she saw this rope, even though it was in my hand, not directed at her in any way.
Slowly I put the rope in her feed tub while she went to the other side of the stall. Interestingly, she walked back over to her feed tub and went right back to eating. She had no problem with the rope in the bucket along with her food. I let the rope and Roulette sit for a few minutes while I changed the subject and went back to something that had become more familiar and safer, stroking with regular wand and a wrapped wand.
This went well so I began using TTouches directly on her body with a few Abalone Circles along her shoulder, neck and back and with some lifts to help the deeper tensions release. I did a few Clouded Leopard Circles. She also seemed to like these. I worked right up to the poll behind her ears, and I was able to begin ear work with my hand! These were dramatic changes from the reactive, high headed youngster three days ago who would barely let me stand nearby much less touch her on her body directly – and stay relaxed.
I coiled the rope around the wand instead of trying to pick it up out of the bucket with my hand. She allowed me to stroke her head, neck and back with the rope attached with no problem. I gradually let the end of the rope uncoil, so that it dropped down slightly on her neck on the off side. She briefly picked up her head, but then immediately resumed eating with a soft eye, and easy breathing!
I continued this process of stroking down her neck and back while uncoiling the rope gradually until the rope reached down below her neck. I was able to drape the rope while stroking the wand along her neck and back. The draping rope was part of the stroking. Once or twice, she started to move backwards, then stopped herself. This was beautiful to watch. An old reactive pattern of startle began, but did not continue. Self-regulation had begun. Changes in the ways she responds had clearly begun.
I switched back and forth from stroking with the rope and wand to just using TTouches along her body. I was able to use Abalone Circles down her jaw. This was remarkable for her to allow direct physical contact on the side of her head while staying very relaxed, eating, breathing deeply with a soft eye.
I was able to move with the flat of my hand over her eyes while stroking with my hand. She seemed to love this. I kept stroking over her forehead and down her nose, along the sides of her face and muzzle. Once again, we were in new territory as this was totally a first time experience for her of allowing anyone to touch her face. Catherine was just astounded that this could happen, and so quickly. She also commented on just how different the filly was from the 1st day, just 2 days before.
I was able to work the corners of her mouth with gentle circular TTouches as the beginning and preparation of mouth TTouches.
I found a cold spot on the bridge of her nose and she was super sensitive here. The wonderful thing was that she could experience something that was not as agreeable, let me know with a slight head nudge or have a slight flip of the head, but not bolt away! I saw this as major progress. I think it really showed how the flight reactions were diminishing, the trauma and fear releasing, trust developing, and a calming response was developing instead.
With the padded wand I did some circular TTouches all along her left side of her neck with no reactions at all. In fact, her eyes closed half way instead and enjoyed it!
I was able to begin Abalone Circles down her left front leg all the way to her hoof. Another first time in allowing herself to be touched in a new place and in a new way with no reactions.
I then walked with her out to the paddock. We walked about 3-4 steps, stopped and began walking again. We repeated this about 3-4 times until we were outside in the paddock. She was listening, curious, attentive and listening beautifully to simple cues with no halter or lead.
I wanted to integrate moving with her as just another way of being with her. This felt like a powerful way to introduce very basic steps towards leading with this filly. She has not been used to being around people or having direct physical contact with people. She is in some ways like a feral or wild horse, dog or cat. She is not used to the way that people move around, how humans think or how we use words. It was all new.
This type of situation really showed me once again the full power of the TTouches. Catherine is an experienced horse handler and has raised many wonderful foals. She is very caring and offers very good and positive experiences with horses. Yet regular handling with a knowledgeable handler for the 3 weeks prior to receiving TTouch produced minimal results. Catherine had not been able to touch Roulette anywhere on her body.
I believe the TTouches clearly helped to speed up and profoundly influence the abilities of this filly to learn, to let go of old traumas, and to find positive & trusting ways of relating and being with people. For 3 weeks, none of this had been able to happen. Within 3 days, and with only 3 sessions of no more than 25 minutes each, the filly had begun to calmly and in a relaxed manner allow physical contact with her entire body, all over her back, hind end, neck, legs, her poll, ears, and all over her face and mouth. She began to walk with a person, and not go into flight patterns of reaction or flight. She was able to have a rope and wand stroke along her body where previously she was terrified of ropes. And, she became curious and enjoyed the TTouches and physical contact. My experiences with her have been very inspiring and it was a wonderful way to begin the mornings! And, it was a great honor to be so trusted by her!
The week after my visit, I received an email from Catherine;
“Sandy, your help with Roulette was invaluable. I can put a halter on her now, while she is eating, of course, but I do think she is making bigger strides since your working with her.”
And then a month after my visit, I received an additional follow up from Catherine about the filly; “ Roulette is making great strides, I really think that your work with her broke through her fear patterns so she could begin to learn. I lead her now in and out of the stall. She doesn’t mind pressure on her head and pretty well follows me. I am working on picking up her feet. So far only the fronts have been off the ground but she hasn’t freaked out at any touches. Please do let me know if you are coming by in the near future…Roulette would love to show off her new skills to an appreciative audience.”
Catherine wrote to me a year and a half after our initial sessions, ‘I think of you often as Roulette is now so big and strong and beautiful that you would hardly recognize her. She is a constant source of joy in my life, thanks so much for all you did to keep her in this world.”
Thanks for stopping by! Keep on coming back!
Sandy Rakowitz owns and operates One Heart Healing Center for People & Animals. Sandy offers a professional perspective with 30+ years experience in the field of Animal Wellness! Sandy offers private sessions in person and via telephone with TTouch, Energy Healing Medicine, Animal Communication, Young Living Therapeutic Essential Oils for people and animals.
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This is so instructive!
I want to send my readers to you so that they can get an idea of what a real TTouch practitioner does.