Long, sunny days. Lengthy trail rides. Camping with your horse. It's the perfect season for enjoying time away with your horse and like-minded riding buddies. Summer offers more daylight for riding, but it can also bring extreme heat and humidity.
You already know how important it is that your horse be fit and in condition so he's prepared for such outings. But sometimes, even the most prepared horse and rider can find themselves in a challenging situation on the trail.
When you're far from home ? and a veterinarian isn't close by ? it's crucial that you know steps to take when a crisis arises. That knowledge and your quick action can make all the difference in the outcome.
Here's how two TTouches can offer help in emergency scenarios.
(For more TTouches for trail emergencies, see The Joy of Riding, The Trail Rider, July/August '12.)
Use it for: Gas colic.
What it does: Activates the acupressure gas point to cause your horse to release gas.
How to perform it: With your index and middle fingers, make deliberate press-and-release circles, moving in one-eighth-inch increments on the acupressure gas point just above your horse's anus and under the root of his tail.
Lying Leopard TTouches
Use them for: Injury; shock.
What they do: Help reduce pain and prevent swelling in acute injury. How to perform them: The primary connection comes from your partially flattened fingers in this TTouch, not the palm of your hand. Move your horse's skin in a circle with contact from the first two phalanges of your four fingers. Don't press with the heel of your hand, as this will flatten your fingers and make it hard to perform circles.
How Much Pressure?
TTouch pressures range on a scale from one to nine. A "one pressure" is the lightest contact you can make with your fingertips to move the skin in a circle-and-a-quarter without sliding over the surface.
Tellington-Jones recommends a "three pressure" for most parts of the horse's body to reduce tension and promote relaxation. TTouch isn't a form of massage. The intent is to communicate with the body at the cellular level.
To learn the scale, begin with the "one pressure" as a guideline. To establish this criterion, place your thumb against your cheek. With the tip of your middle finger, push the skin on your eyelid in a circle and a quarter with the lightest possible contact. (Be sure to move the skin rather than just sliding over it.)
Take your finger away, and repeat this movement on your forearm to get a sense of the pressure. Observe how little of an indentation you make in the skin. This is a "one pressure" TTouch.
For a "three pressure," make several circles on your eyelid as firm as feels safe and comfortable. Repeat the circles on your forearm, noting the depth and pressure of the indentation. It should still be very light.
For a "six pressure," tip the first joints of your fingers so that your fingernails are pointing directly into the muscle, and apply three times the pressure.
Use enough pressure to be effective, but not so much that your horse doesn't like it. Listen to what your horse "says" in response to your TTouch intention.
Linda Tellington-Jones (www.ttouch.com) is internationally renowned for creating the Tellington Method a holistic system of training horses that deepens mutual trust, overrides common resistances, and strengthens the horse-human bond. Her riding style incorporates a sense of athletics, freedom, cooperation, and joy.
Tellington-Jones has completed six 100-mile Western States Trail Foundation Tevis Cup endurance rides and held a world record in endurance riding by winning the Jim Shoulders 100. She's been a member of the veterinary team for the United States Endurance Team, and a judge and competitor in North American Trail Ride Conference events.