by Rikke Schultz, DVM Publish Date: 1998-04-10
Since I learned TTEAM from Robyn Hood in Canada back in 1991, I have incorporated it into my daily work as a veterinarian, both in a mixed practice with all kinds of farm animals and in the pure horse practice where I work now. I use TTEAM and TTouch in my daily work with standard veterinary medicine and as a part of the treatment when I use acupuncture and chiropractic.
TTEAM gives me an easy way to connect with horses, calm them and touch them in places where they show resistance. For example, I always use the circular TTouch to approach painful or sensitive areas, such as the ears or groin. I also use it before giving intramuscular injections, to relax the neck muscles. Before doing teeth work, I take a few minutes to gain the trust of the horse by using mouth and ear work; in many cases, it is then possible to rasp without tranquilizers. When a horse is nervous prior to treatment, I have the owner do circles between the horse’s eyes, where there is a calming acupuncture point. Many horses relax immediately
REDUCED PERFORMANCE CAPACITY
Pain usually underlies reduced performance capacity. A horse in pain will begin to compensate to protect the sore area. This sets off a vicious cycle of secondary muscular pain followed by further compensation. In many cases, horses in pain will drop their backs and become strung out and high-headed. In chronic cases, the horse can be tense and sore in almost all of his major muscle groups.
Working on your horse’s mouth and gums can change emotional responses such as fear, insecurity, shyness, -biting, stubbornness, inflexibility, flightiness, bucking, resistance to training.
TTEAM groundwork prepares a horse to accept, easily and calmly, difficult and unusual circumstances.
TTEAM riding techniques and equipment enhance the performance and conditioning of the horse.
Some signs of pain include not coming onto the bit, refusing to turn, bucking, running off, twisting the tail and pinning the ears. Many riders mistakenly view these signs as bad behaviour and may even punish the horse. To treat reduced performance capacity, it is essential to accomplish the following five objectives:
- Make a thorough clinical examination so no diagnosis is missed. If, for instance, you look only for muscular problems, you will find some in most performance horses. But if you stop there, you might overlook the cause of the pain.
- Remove the pain. This often is necessary to be able to detect the horse’s primary problem. Acupuncture, which releases pain-relieving endorphins, is, in my opinion, the most potent way of treating deep muscle pain. Massage, heat, cold, drugs and rest are palliative, but don’t release the chronic muscle spasms and pain in a way that lasts. After I insert the acupuncture needles, I spend the next 10 to 20 minutes doing TTouch on the horse. I usually work on the sore muscles and joints, do leg exercises and tail work, and sometimes, when I feel that a part of the problem is more mental, I work the mouth and ears to get the horse to drop his head and really relax.
- Remove the cause of the pain. This can be difficult when there are so many possibilities to consider in order to locate the source of the problem. A horse can be hurt from a fall or a kick and the injury may not be immediately apparent especially if no one witnessed the incident.
- Re-Educate so the horse becomes aware of the reduced pain and starts to move in a more natural way again. Here is where TTEAM is very important, and the owner really can do a great job. By doing non-habitual processes like the TTouches and groundwork exercises, the owner helps the horse become aware of his own body and his moving capacity, and regain his natural moving patterns. If this part of the treatment fails, the pain can return after a short while. I choose three to five TTouches and exercises that are relevant for the horse’s problem. I also find that having the owners do part of the treatment makes them more responsible and aware of the horse’s condition and their own part of the problem. It changes their way of thinking and gives them a tool to feel the horse and respond to changes more quickly
- Rehabilitate, depending on how long the horse has been out of work. When a horse has been out of work for a while, it is important to work through a rehabilitation program so he can build muscle and get fit. Sometimes when a horse gets rid of pain, he can easily overwork his body if his rider doesn’t keep him “on the ground” until he is fit again.
Rikke Schultz is a Danish veterinarian who incorporates acupuncture and chiropractic into her practice. She started learning TTEAM work in 1990 from Robyn Hood, Dr. Tom Beckett and Marnie Reeder.
From TTEAM UP With Your Horse Mar/Apr 1998