by Robyn Hood
In 1987 while we were shooting a series of videos, Linda explained why we refer to the dressage whip we use as a ‘wand’. She said that most people have the concept of a whip being used to punish when actually it can work like magic as shown by the way many horses respond to TTouch from the wand. She then clarified that the M.A.G.I.C. stood for More Awareness Gains Interspecies Communication.
The two general reasons why the wand is white were also explained. One, it is easier to see (except in the snow) and two, since most whips are black or brown, white gives a dif¬ferent context for people and horses. Years ago I had an en¬ergy worker tell me that white ‘soothes’ the aura. Now I per¬sonally don’t know see auras but I thought it was an interest¬ing concept considering the response of many animals.
For the past 20 years we have been using the wand with horses. The length, stiffness and balance of the wand allows you to make contact in a less threatening way. For many ani¬mals it is the fear of your closeness that is most concerning so when you can have four feet between you and the animal it is more acceptable for many animals.
With horses we use the wand to give signals to move forward, Photos: Shows how to wrap a wand with an elastic bandage to sideways, backwards and to stop. Stroking with the wand make a ‘corn dog’ to change the texture and feel of the wand. before giving a forward signal and after giving a stopping signal helps prepare the horse for the information and helps give kinesthetic input, which improves the horse’s spatial awareness.
It can also be used to give tactile information through TTouch.
- Stroking with the wand using the soft end is a great way to make initial contact.
- Turn the wand so the button end is up and you can roll the wand on the animal’s body by rotating your wrist so your thumb rolls toward the body.
- Zigzags can be done using the button end of the wand
- Circles can be made with either the button end or with the wand wrapped with an elastic bandage to give more texture and contact. The elastic ban¬dage wrapped wand is referred to as a corn dog or a bull rush because of the shape on the end of the wand. It really changes the texture for doing touches and can also be used as a handle for peo¬ple who have a tendency to grip the wand too tightly.
Depending on the animal you are working with you can also tape a feather onto the end of the wand. This changes the texture of contact, which seems to be very acceptable to ani¬mals such as cats, rabbits, rodents, reptiles and birds and gives you the ability to give them more space.
Dogs that suffer from separation concerns or are simply ‘velcro’ dogs when being led benefit from being stroked with the wand which gives a more neutral way of the handler mak¬ing contact with the dog. Rather than ignoring the dog, if he is clingy, the wand offers a way to connect without the emo¬tion.
We also use the wand with dogs that are reactive to other ani¬mals. It gives a neutral way for a person to make contact with the dog they are leading and to redirect him in another direc¬tion when necessary. Once the dog is able to get closer to the animal he was previously reactive to his handler can use the wand to stroke both animals. This is a more emotionally and physically neutral way to make contact with both animals.
|Helpful tip: While working in a shelter one of our practitio¬ners came up with a great idea- she puts a sock over the end of the wand that is wrapped so she can simply change the sock as she moves from one animal to another.
Cats — if you have a cat that is defensive about being touched use two wands. One for him to play with the other used for touching. The length of the wand allows you to follow the cat, without chasing him, so you can have contact for short periods of time. If you have the cat in a small room, like a bathroom, it gives a parameter for containment rather than restraining the cat. Stan by allowing the cat an open ‘flight’ zone, leaving a space for him to move to without feeling cor¬nered. Stoke the side of the chest or the ribs, just a couple of times and Then pause so the cat can think about what hap¬pened and realize that you will stop. Repeat this a few times and then start changing the way you touch, make light circles or zigzags. Attaching a long feather to one wand softens the texture as you make contact.
Substitutes for wands: with cats you could use bamboo gar¬den supports, or a plexiglass stick like those used with lou¬vered blinds, with vet wrap around the end to soften the con¬tact.
These techniques can be adapted to use with any animals. I have used wands with snakes, birds in large cages, reindeer to help with hoof handling, goats and raccoons in zoos to name a few. You may choose to adapt the concept of the wand by using smaller substitutes with tiny animals. Use feathers or chopsticks with feathers or erasers attached for small rodents like hamsters, rats or guinea pigs and when working with birds use feathers or small branches.
During our trainings we teach people how to use the wands more effectively by stroking each other and using different touches. Many people are surprised at how precise you can be using the wand and how different it feels if you are making the movement from your feet, up through your body. One of our practitioners staffed to have more feeling in a previously numb leg after about 10 minutes of wand work. Another Practitioner used the wands with her father to help in the reha¬bilitation after he suffered a stroke.
Stay open, think of applying the concepts of being non-habitual, non-threatening and giving the body new experi¬ences and you may be surprised by what you can influence.
Remember the MAGIC — More Awareness Gains Inter-Species Communication!
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