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2003/12/17

Penny Case and TTEAM:The Touch that Heals Article & Photographs by Marilyn M. Fisher Penny Case's horse was in severe painand fast slipping into panic. The vet couldn't come right away, so Case knew she must calm the horse. She'd learned a little about Tellington Touch (TTouch) recently. She started slow, specialized touches on his ears and point of his mouth, the shock points. Then she and her husband gently performed slight belly lifts to release the gas and ease the pain. "I realized then that TTouch helped save my horse's life," she says, "by enabling him to relax until the vet came." Case had seen TTouch demonstrated by Linda Tellington-Jones at a 1982 Denver horse show: "Linda was nothing like a horse whisperer,' she was doing different things." Encouraged by her horse's recovery, Case tried TTouch with other animals. Wild horses and burros reacted positively to the systematized touching: "Those animals met awful ends," Case says, "so I tried little bits of Tellington Touch in hopes that some of them might calm down enough to be adopted." Convinced that TTouch could bring about wonderful results, Case became a TTEAM (Tellington TTouch Equine Awareness Method) practitioner. (Today there are over 500 in twelve countries.) Since she grew up on a ranch in Colorado, watching her cowboy father at work, she treated horses exclusively at first. But she believes TTEAM can achieve great breakthroughs with all animals: livestock, dogs, cats, rabbits, birds, zoo residents and wildlife. Recently, Case worked successfully with a cat that hid whenever people came into the house, and a greyhound that tore a ligament. The patterns of touching are the same with all animals, she says. Research on TTEAM is ongoing, and now has been extended to the benefits for human beings. Linda Tellington-Jones originated TTEAM. Working with a damaged horse one day, she touched the animal instinctively with light, circular movements. She noticed an immediate change, and started to use the soothing, healing touches systematically. Eventually, she combined her intensive work with horses, and her study of human mind/body learning with Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais, to design the TTEAM program. It is now used in many countries, including Canada, Austria, Germany, South Africa, Switzerland, UK, and The Netherlands. She's won many honors, her latest the Publisher's Silver Star Award of Recognition from Trail Blazer Magazine for her contribution to the humane treatment of horses. She travels around the world teaching and demonstrating the TTEAM approach. She's produced nineteen videos and written eleven books published in twelve languages. TTEAM helps a horse reach its highest level of health and performance by using TTouch, prescribed ground exercises, and riding techniques based on Tellington-Jones's years of experience. Special tools such as the TTEAM Balance Rein, Neckring and Training rollerbit are available. Case says, "Our approach relieves pain and tension, opens a new pathway to the brain, and makes the horse have a sense of his own body." The horse achieves an inward focus, bringing awareness to whatever part the practitioner is working on; in other words, the horse learns about his body. TTEAM provides ways to enter an animal's body, both mind and tissues. For example, research has shown that the specialized touchesdifferent from petting, stroking or massagechange an animal's brain wave patterns. Dr. Tom Beckett, DVM, writes that a poorly-functioning horse has usually gone through a sequence of events which started with the animal's "awareness blocked or underdeveloped" and ended with "failure identity." This led to the horse's "active efforts to avoid any similar situation/experience, [and] further shutdown of awareness during similar experiences." Beckett says that through repetition of the negative responses, those responses are programmed in the horse's neural patterns, below its level of awareness. For example, a horse might not let its new owner place a saddle, because long ago, a previous owner didn't use a blanket and the horse developed a painful ulcer. Beckett maintains this type of negative response can be brought to the level of awareness by the non-threatening touch and movement techniques of TTEAM. Then the horse is open to new alternatives for treatmentand eventual success. What are some of the ways TTEAM can help horses and their owners? Using this method, owners can overcome the fear and pain causing a horse to perform badly, and eliminate programmed behaviors such as resistance to the vet or farrier, bucking, rearing, biting, kicking, uneven stride and poor response to the stable or horse carrier environments. A horse's back can be readied for the saddle. A mare can be prepared for birth and will be comfortable in her pregnancy, and avoid shock when she delivers. A young mare can learn to accept nursing. A horse who always stumbles can learn about his own legs and improve his gait. Athletic horses can lengthen their stride. A horse in shock from injury or other stressful event can handle the effects much better. If a horse has damaged its nerves or muscles, says Beckett, TTEAM "induces the animal to activate any available alternate neuromuscular pathways to restore function." Penny Case can tell many success stories where TTEAM principles became realities. TTEAM believes that the relationship between horse and owner should be based on understanding. Many owners and trainers use verbal and physical abuse to force their horses to obey, the old domination and submission method. But this method obstructs learning and creates stress, often leading to injuries. Case worked with a horse that couldn't be bridled. Handlers swore she was hard-mouthed and mean. With rolling eyes, she would rear and paw, clamping her teeth together and raising her head so high the bit couldn't be put in her mouth. Through TTouch, Case discovered the real problem: the horse's mouth hurt because it had been aggravated by a bit. A rider might also have clanked the bit against her teeth. Case explains that the horse was shutting off signals from her rider because of her chronic pain. "A lot of body work had to be done," she says. Touching the horse's gums, tongue and the roof of her mouth helped her relax and get her head down. There was additional touching on her mouth, neck and jaw. Knowing that the nerves in a horse's head are connected to its limbic system, the seat of emotion, Case helped the horse relax and gain a softer chin. The horse had a new awareness of its mouth. Eventually, through Case's understanding of the horse's problem and patient work, the horse allowed herself to be bridled. TTEAM practitioners think horses learn as individuals, like humans do, and should be respected as individuals. Many people believe the only way to teach horses is by intimidation and repetition. A case in point was Gypsy. Case says it took 45 minutes of "battering and banging" by her handlers to get Gypsy into a trailer. Her head would get "bashed" every time. Because her eyes looked small, handlers branded her as stubborn and dumb. Case decided Gypsy was neither; she was just terrified of getting into the small space. Tailoring the touch patterns for Gypsy's individual learning style, Case worked with the horse a half dozen times for thirty minutes at a stretch. By the end of the sessions, it took only 10 minutes to load her. And people said Gypsy's eyes got larger. (They were wrong. She'd been narrowing her eyes from fear.) Horses should be revered for their ability to teach us. Rojo Grande pranced but never walked, bit his rider's feet, and kept his head too high. He got an "F" in arena jumping. Using TTouch, Case learned from him that he was highly sensitive around the girth. He wasn't "nuts," as some had called him, but reacting to pain by refusing to do what would hurt him. Through TTouch work on the girth area, the pain and tension disappeared, and he gained a new sense of his own body from Case's additional touches on his legs and head. Perhaps most important, TTEAM teaches that it really is possible for humans to communicate deeply with horses: "They are sentient beings," says Case. Once she worked with a horse thought to have no future because of its U-neck. "I discovered he was only in a U-neck holding pattern," she says. Through a patient program of gaining the horse's respect, of convincing him to trust her, she was able to start the body and ground work by which he learned to hold his neck correctly. Penny Case has learned over many years of using TTEAM that people and horses can achieve mutual trust, cooperation and respect. Through the practical, gentle and humane TTEAM techniques, horses can be freed of physical and behavioral constraints and achieve high levels of performancethe way it should always be. To find out more about TTEAM, call 1-800-854-8326 or visit www.ttouch.com. Penny Case is a trained freelance TTouch practitioner living in Whites Creek, Tennessee. Although she no longer has a stable of horses, she does have one "old -friend." She may be reached at star9fish@aol.com.

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