by Martina Simmerer, DVM – Austria Publish Date: 1992-02-10
The cooperation with Linda Tellington-Jones has nearly become a tradition for our university. In November, 1989 a demonstration of the TTEAM work had taken place in the Vienna riding institute, organized by Professor Knezevic. The following May another demonstration with special aspects for veterinary medicine was held in the orthopaedic institute. Those who were specially interested could deepen their impressions in Ebreichsdorf on the following two days.
Every veterinarian’s heart-beat would increase seeing how relaxed and at ease these “TTEAMed” animals are when they are touched – even at the nostrils, in the mouth, the roof of the mouth – no part of the body is left out. Astonishing also how soon this is possible even with animals that are high strung at the beginning. This makes it much easier to carry out examinations without having to expect aggressive reactions. Using the TTouch method gives us hope to reduce fear and tension and allow for better treatment conditions for the animal. In that matter I am thinking particularly of introducing probes, intravenous injections, and rectum examinations which can be carried out with greater ease for the horse and veterinarian.
However, the advantages of the TTEAM method go much further. In tournament sport where you are frequently confronted with stiffness, back problems, balance disturbances and difficulties with coordination, this method opens new possibilities for handling these problems. Of course, it always depends on the cooperation with the owner of the animal, but I think that nowa-days new ways of thinking are accepted in the rider’s quarters. The methods used in the past that have often been based on violence and drill have at last been critically rethought.
Using exploration (feeling and examining the horse’s body) and watching very closely the physical conditions (the spine might not be completely straight, the pelvis might be a bit untrue) weak points can be noticed and more specific ways of treatment can follow. At the same time, notice should be taken of the entire individual’s body, which is a requirement of all “natural” healing methods and should never be neglected. One should be aware of the philosophy of the Feldenkrais principle; after all, why should it not be possible for animals to learn that way too?
Exploring a horse’s entire body helps discover areas of pain or discomfort.
There are still further possibilities for the veterinarian with TTEAM, since the improvement of the muscles and movements of the animal are not the only benefits of the Tellington method. By creating a feeling of trust, by developing a new feeling for the body, and by creating consciousness for the parts of the body that coordinate with each other, many disturbances of behavior that are due to physical reasons and non-viruses can be influenced in a positive way. For example, a mare who is mildly hysterical is supposed to be bred but opposes strongly to the stallion. Finally, the process of breeding succeeds with the mare being tied up, but the mare does not conceive. After negative clinical examination a strong fear of everything that comes from behind can be found. The eyes are always focused towards the back, all back extremities are tensed, the tail is clamped between the hind legs. Being touched on the hindquarters seem to be unpleasant. All of this is a clear indication for the need of the TTouch, ground work, and especially ground driving.
Linda teaches a special technique for first aid help in the case of acute colic which turned out to be very successful. If the owner of the horse strokes the ears, does the TTouch on the lumbar region the flanks, and the area of the lower belly, or reactivates the peristaltic motion by application of the belly lifts using a girth or a towel, it will give him a chance to do something helpful for his horse, while waiting for the vet or if one is not available. Doing this, in many cases, slight forms of bodily disorders can be cured because the most sensitive acupuncture points indicated for colic are stimulated.
An important point of the TTouch is the improvement of the blood circulation in the treated parts, the faster healing of the wound, the elimination of swellings, and the softening of scars. However, this local hyperaemia is only a superficial aspect of TTouch: the effects of these circular movements are considerably deeper, new nerve endings are activated, old movement patterns that are stored in the sub-conscious are interrupted, and functions influencing the mood and health of the animal which have been blocked are reactivated. Each time the animal feels pain, involuntary mechanisms of preventative positions and movements are developed. In the long run, this leads to a pattern of restricted movements and to the stress of more burdened parts. This is where the TTEAM work comes into action. At this point, I would like to underline the importance of the stroking of the ears. As you know, all acupuncture-points for the body are placed in the ear. This is why it is recommended to start with the TTouch of the ears in the case of shock or circulation problems, etc. The regular stroking of the ears will also lead to a more balanced life.
As a summary, the most important aspects should be emphasized: TTEAM will lead to a reduction of stress, fear, tension, pain, and stubbornness. The animals are helped “to learn the right way of learning,” to increase their potential of self-healing, and to overcome reflexes, e.g. the reflex of fleeing which often can be a great danger for the trainer.
How does the first contact with the horse take place according to TTEAM? At first, the knowledge about characteristic markings on the horse’s head (which results from decades of experience) can give indications of the horse’s personality. That way you can prepare yourself for certain kinds of reactions even if you do not know the horse.
The simplicity, finesse, and exactness of the communication between animal and human being is especially fascinating to me. These factors are brought about by giving fine motor assistance, which requires preciseness in its execution, a clear concept of the aims, and the conscious use of one’s own body language. Finally, this method can be described as a training system which can be used in a very flexible way – not only for horses. It is easy to learn, brings quick success and can be lots of fun.
The Group – As a result of these discoveries a group of interested people, who wanted to work together regularly following the idea of Linda Tellington-Jones, came together at our university. The basic idea for the foundation of the study group comes from Linda herself. We were able to talk to Linda about the relationship between TTEAM and animal medicine when she visited Graz for a seven day training.
Our aim is to integrate the TTEAM thought into the profession of a vet, to deepen the cooperation and to refine the treatment of the animal as a patient. Linda was very pleased that her proposal became reality and promised us further support.
Last year our group met in various stables close to Vienna once or twice a month to work with the horses according to a specific topic. So far the following activities have taken place; watching videos, using TTouch on ourselves and with the horses, doing leg exercises, exercising first-aid with colic, some character-studies, precise studies of ground exercises and ground-driving.
We see ourselves as a study group – a Tellington Team – with the aim to work together and to gather and exchange experiences. Our meetings do not have the status of a course or a demonstration. Beginners with no experience in that field are always welcome. Any person who shows interest and engagement may join us – no matter if student, veterinarian, rider or non-rider.
Reprinted from TTEAM News International, Feb. 1992
Vol. 12 No. 1 pp. 9-10