The Golden Rule for horses is ‘treat your horse as you would like to be treated.’ Linda Tellington-Jones, Animal Behaviorist and Founder of Tellington TTouch Training
When I first started riding Sportie two years ago, he had excellent ground manners except that he had tightness in his right hind leg. Whenever I tried to clean that hoof, even with my knee braced behind it, he would try to yank it out of my hands.
So I researched “equine massage” to see if I could help Sportie out and came across some excellent articles and videos. Warning: there are a lot of extremists in this area of animal massage and acupressure, so it’s necessary to weed through some weirdos to find out what makes good sense for your horse.
I discovered Linda Tellington-Jones’ TTouch Method, basic body work that enhances trust, and deepens the desire and ability of your horse to work for you. I found a few simple practices that have helped not just Sportie but myself also.
As I watched Linda’s videos, I was struck first and foremost on how calm, slow and deliberate all of her hand movements were. When I am grooming Sportie the curry, brush and hoofpick are usually used with hurried hands, wanting to make sure we’re ready to go with the rest of the riders. But after the group ride it’s ‘Sportie and me’ time, and I now force myself to relax into the TTouch exercises.
I breathe into each movement, starting with diagonal rubs of my hands across Sportie’s back, from withers to rump. My hands roll from fingertip pressure to the firmer base above my wrists, and I can feel Sportie lift his back to meet the welcome firmness. This has helped with his collection.
After doing each side, I press my thumbs down each leg, one by one. I slowly count to three as I push in on the top of the leg, then go down three inches and repeat, all the way down. This has practically eliminated any need for Sportie to pull his hoof out of my hand during picking.
Then I finish with a good belly scratch. That’s one thing Sportie, not Tellington-Jones, told me to do. Who wouldn't welcome that kind of treatment?
Disclaimer: Of Horse! and sponsors do not endorse nor validate the accuracy of a blog post. Each article is the opinion of the blogger.