While giving a horse a little therapy the other day I was surprised at the amount of heat released when I started doing the TELLINGTON TEAM TTOUCH circles across her back. This is a sweet mare who always does what she's asked, even if she is a bit timid, so even though I could see before touching her that there was plenty going on in her back, I was a still surprised at the deep muscle soreness I found.
As friends who have been following our little Coffee Clutch chats, since pre-blog days on Facebook know, my "therapy for therapy horses," is a combination of Peggy Cummings, Linda Tellington-Jones and Diane Sept's teachings, and a few tweaks of my own. But I almost always start with TTOUCH circles along the neck, back, rump, and down along the big muscles in the hind legs.
I rested my hands on the withers and examined her back. I saw a few problem areas and began to plan my approach. Sensing she was more sore than she was letting on I started with tiny circles just behind her ears, so she might get used to this brand new feeling and touch. Even horses well cared for and handled gently and correctly, as this one is, take a few seconds to understand the new sensation of release the circles give, so it is important to start at a place not sore, giving plenty of time for the horse to understand and appreciate this new sensation.
As my fingertips floated in little circles from her ears down her neck toward her withers, she began to fidget and worry about me touching her back ... Now this does two things, it distracts the horse's concentration and it keeps her from enjoying the release from even the area not sore. So I knew I had to stop. Sensing her controlled, but deep seated worry about me touching her biggest ouchy, I paused at her withers, laid my hands flat, and took a breath. I told her what I was about to do, and with my hands still resting on her, I waited for her to accept them where they were. I rocked her ever so gently as I waited.
When she signaled with a softer eye, and big breath, that we might continue, I did. But, because she was so over stimulated with worry about her back muscles, instead of using my fingertips, I used the flat of my hand, the first time over. That pleased her, and she began to go along with it. After a pass all along her back muscles to her rump, I gave her a few minutes to process, then repeated the whole thing again, using my fingertips.
It was then that I felt the big release of heat. It felt like the heat you'd feel holding your hand over a hot cup of coffee. The more I worked, the more heat came out. I've felt this before, even expect it sometimes, but still was surprised at it this time because the mare is so pleasant, and never showed signs of disagreement. I even asked the owner to feel the heat. The little mare softened and softened and we continued along through all the therapy exercises and all went well.
I just wanted to share this story because it is not uncommon for some horses to internalize their discomfort and just do their job. It is another reason I highly recommend these exercises to get to know the things you might miss about your horse's comfort.