Similar to its use in canines, the Tellington Touch (TTouch) approach has been highly recommended to aid in increasing the bond between horses and their owners, as well as improving horses’ temperaments.
If you have not yet heard of this technique, Tellington Touch is a focused approach to aid in training and caring for pets, developed by Linda Tellington-Jones. It utilizes specific massage-type techniques (hence the word “touch”) to calm, train, and even positively influence the behavior of animals.
The recommendations for this specialized massage-and-touch technique come from a list of licensed doctors and veterinarians, pet and animal researchers, equine trainers, and many others. This is because, through their experiences and studies about TTouch and horses, they have all discovered that there are definite benefits to applying these techniques to horses. Horses that have been treated with the Tellington Touch have reportedly shown marked improvement in behavior, calmness, relaxation, and exhibited signs of bonding in multiple situations.
More Content Horses
A study conducted by Italian researchers concluded that saddle horses were more content after experiencing TTouch prior to riding, when compared to resting or receiving a general massage. Not only did the horses react less aggressively, they also exhibited more relaxation in the neck area, as well as groomed themselves.
At the International Society for Equitation Science 9th Conference, Barbara Paladino, PhD, explained that this contentment could improve the welfare of horses. She also correlated TTouch with improving the bond between horses and humans.
Two unpublished studies examined horses’ brain waves and found that there were synchronizing effects between the horses’ and their owners’ heartbeats. The idea to study the heartbeats of horses came from Anna Wise’s study about how people’s heartbeats were affected by horses.
Taking the positive findings into consideration, the researchers of the two studies suggested that a horses’ brain wave activity could be a possible method of measurement for the evaluation of TTouch.
Ligament Injury and Comfort Healing
In a single horse and owner study, the owner wanted to find out if TTouch would work with her mare that had a ligament injury. Ultimately, she wanted her horse to heal comfortably, as well as improve their communication so that the horse could overcome balance issues. She concluded that there were immediate changes in her horse that occurred just moments within applying TTouch methods, according to the EEG measurements that she was simultaneously recording. The researcher concluded that Linda Tellington-Jones did not have to create a different technique for each specific species, because this method was universal.
Researcher, Stephanie Shanahan, stated that most horses exhibit a natural resistance to loading in the trailer. In the study, she compared Tellington Touch to non-aversive training. There were some interesting findings, and in the published study, there was a funny reference to measuring the stress levels of the people loading the horses, due to the experiences that occurred during the study where the handlers showed signs of stress.
The above are highlights about just a few of the case studies that have been conducted on horses and TTouch. Overall, there was a resounding recommendation for TTouch for people who worked with horses, due to the positive conclusions of each study. This method is not only applied to training horses, but also improving the horse-human bond, lowering the stress level of horses, and improving the overall well-being of the horses.
To read more about TTouch and its use in dogs, click here.