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What is Tellington Touch?

By Katharine Swan
Updated Jun 04, 2024
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Tellington Touch, also know as TTouch or T-Touch, is a type of natural horsemanship developed by Linda Tellington-Jones. To someone who is new to the discipline, Tellington Touch appears to be a combination of horse training and horse massage. Although training is one of its primary functions, it is also used for the horse’s well being. For example, TTouch methods can be used to relax a horse, reduce muscle strain, and prevent injuries.

The Tellington Touch is based on the premise that what is often interpreted as behavior or attitude problems are actually the horse trying to tell us that they are hindered by pain or fear. For example, a horse that is sore from an aggressive riding session the previous day may be pained by the saddle, and may act out as a result of that pain. Tellington Touch methods are designed to soothe sore muscles and release tension buildup, removing a horse’s reasons for acting out.

As another example, Tellington Touch can also be used on horses that won’t stand still while being groomed. Some horses are ticklish or find certain parts of being groomed to be very uncomfortable; just like humans, they may try to avoid the sensation by moving away from it, either with just their skin or with their entire bodies. TTouch methods can help relax a ticklish or tense horse, acclimating him or her to the sensation of being groomed.

Tellington Touch also helps to keep horses limber and prepare them for a difficult workout. Just like people, horses need to stretch their muscles before exercising in order to avoid causing soreness or even injury. This is especially important for stall-bound horses, as they don’t have as much freedom of movement as a pasture-kept horse. A horse’s handler can use TTouch to help stimulate and warm up the horse’s muscles.

One of the fundamental techniques of Tellington Touch is to move your hand in small circles on your horse’s skin, just as if you were giving him a massage. The circles may require light, medium, or heavy pressure, depending on what you want to achieve. Each circle starts at the bottom, such as where the 6 is on a clock, and moves clockwise until your hand gets to where the 9 would be. The key here is to actually move the horse’s skin, rather than just rubbing the surface.

The Abalone TTouch is an example of a Tellington Touch technique. The whole hand is used to apply light pressure to the horse’s skin, moving it in circles as described above. Depending on how the Abalone TTouch is used, this technique can be used to either relax or stimulate a horse. Slower circles are more soothing, while faster circles cause a horse to become more alert.

The Mouth TTouch is another well-known technique. Once they become accustomed to the new sensation, many horses enjoy having the insides of their mouths and nostrils massaged. Tellington Touch has adapted this technique to acclimate a horse to having his mouth touched during procedures such as deworming and dental work.

There are many other techniques used in Tellington Touch, each with a unique purpose. TTouch can be used as a training aid, a method of promoting a horse’s well being, or simply as a way for horse and handler to bond.

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