TTEAM (The Tellington-Touch Equine Awareness Method) is a training approach that offers solutions to common and uncommon behavioral and physical difficulties through an increased understanding of their causes. With a deep respect for the spirit and intelligence of the horse as its basis, TTEAM seeks to develop trust, confidence and willingness by addressing and eliminating fear, pain and misunderstanding, the main causes of resistance and undesirable behavior. The goal is to produce a willing partnership with the horse without the use of fear, force or dominance.

TTEAM was founded in the 1970's by world-renowned instructor and trainer Linda Tellington-Jones. With an extensive background in many riding styles, she and her then husband ran the Pacific Coast Equestrian Center for 10 years. Later, Linda took a 4-year course with Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais, the creator of "Awareness Through Movement" and "The Feldenkrais Method of Functional Integration." The principles of this unique therapy for humans are what much of TTEAM and TTouch are based upon. Today, TTEAM and TTouch are used by top level trainers, veterinarians and horse owners worldwide to affect permanent changes in equine behavior and movement.

TTEAM work has been used successfully to solve problems with horses such as nervousness, spookiness, bucking, rearing, biting, trailer-loading resistance, laziness, girthiness, tension, inconsistent performance, sore back, stiffness, unevenness of movement and more.

TTEAM work uses leading exercises and ground driving through the "Playground for Higher Learning," a series of unique obstacles, as well as innovative work under saddle called "Riding with Awareness." These training exercises enable the horse to override habitual and undesirable behaviors and to learn new behaviors. The exercises are usually combined with work on the horse's body, referred to as "TTouch".

TTouch includes a variety of specialized touches, many of them circular. Sometimes mistaken for a type of massage, TTouch affects more than just muscles. It stimulates the nervous system to develop new neuropathways, or possibilities for movement. This brings a new awareness to the horse's body.  When TTouch is used in the absence of pain and fear, habitual patterns of movement and behavior are changed. TTouch reduces stress, has a calming effect and can stimulate the body to heal itself. It also improves a horse's ability to learn. 

TTEAM and TTouch can create positive changes in any horse's behavior, personality and way of going regardless of type, age, past history or riding discipline. TTEAM stands as a creative way of training horses safely, kindly and effectively. Horses and their handlers of all experience levels can benefit from using TTEAM and TTouch.

Linda Tellington-Jones' organization, Tellington TTouch® Training, has hundreds of equine and companion animal practitioners around the world. Linda has written 15 books published in 12 languages. She has produced 13 videos on training horses, two on cats and two on dogs and one on llamas. Her latest book for horses is, "Dressage with Mind, Body and Soul." For more information on TTEAM, TTouch and Linda Tellington-Jones please go to: www.ttouch.com. Or call: 1/800/854-8326

TTEAM Philosophy

* To honor the role of animals as our teachers. * To bring awareness to the importance of animals in our lives. *To encourage harmony, cooperation and trust between humans and animals    amongst humans. * To recognize the individual learning process of every human and animal. * To respect every animal as an individual. * To teach interspecies communication through TTouch. * To work with animals using understanding instead of dominance.

Prepare yourself to learn some concepts here about training horses that you probably haven't heard before! TTEAM (Tellington Touch Equine Awareness Method) is unlike any other method of training horses out there today. Here are five principles that make it different:

 1. We begin by recognizing that horses are intelligent beings with an inherent willingness to work with us but for the obstacles placed in their way.

 2. Their behavior is their language and it is often misunderstood.

 3. TTouch on the body can eliminate fear and pain. It also enhances trust and can effectively and permanently change behavior.

 4. Habitual patterns of undesirable behavior and ineffective movement can be changed by non-habitual TTouches and training exercises.

 5. We aim to work with understanding, kindness and intelligence rather than dominance, force or bravado and are most successful when we invoke the TTEAM Golden Rule of Horsemanship: TREAT YOUR HORSE AS YOU WOULD LIKE TO BE TREATED.

 This concept is quite different from other forms of horse training and I know what some of you are thinking, so I offer these quotes from Linda Tellington-Jones:

 "Understanding our horses doesn't mean that we become 'permissive' or that we don't use firmness and discipline when required. It means rather that we open the door to cooperation rather than confrontation, an attitude that leads to successful performance so much more easily and joyfully than does domination through fear and submission. Such a humane viewpoint often has the unexpected side effect of enriching our whole lives."

 And:

"With the knowledge that kindness doesn't automatically mean loss of watchfulness, judgment or control, we realize that we can allow ourselves the great pleasure of befriending our horses."

If you are like most people, you didn't become interested in horses because you wanted a distant and impersonal relationship with them. And you probably visualized yourself riding or working with your horse without conflict. But, perhaps, conflict is what you found. You do not have to lose your friendship with your horse because of this lack of harmony.

When I say we work with horses using understanding, what we understand is this: most behavior problems are a result of fear, pain, fear of pain and miscommunication. Most of these behavior problems are man made. So, instead of blaming the horse, we look for the causes and try to remove them.   Fear is a common cause of behavior problems in horses. In order to eliminate the fear you must first recognize it. TTEAM recognizes five fearful reactions. They are: fight, flight, freeze, faint and fidget. These are not thought processes or intentional behaviors but instinctive reactions. Fortunately, we can teach the horse to override these fearful reactions. One way we do this is by teaching the horse to lower his head. A frightened horse raises his head as part of the fear reaction. So we teach horses to lower their heads when we ask. This enables them to override their fear and to think through a situation rather than react to it.

In other situations where horses are afraid, such as trailer loading, we "chunk" down an exercise to make it less threatening. In this situation, where many people would call the horse "stubborn" when he refuses to load, we see the horse as being afraid and exhibiting the "freeze" reaction. So instead of making the outside of the trailer more unpleasant than the inside, as is often done, we break the exercise down into smaller parts. First we walk the horse over a piece of plywood, then over a raised platform. Then we lead the horse through a progressively narrower space formed by sheets of plastic. Next, we lead the horse under a sheet of plastic over head. By the time we face the horse with an entire trailer, he has lost much fear and gained confidence in himself and trust in his handler. 

Pain occurs so often I am always surprised when I find a horse that is pain free. Many behaviors people routinely dismiss as attitude problems actually come from pain and the effects of these go much further than people realize. Consider a horse who pins his ears, moves or even tries to bite when his girth is tightened. Many people will punish the horse for this behavior because they don't understand that he is reacting to pain or discomfort caused by the girth or an ill-fitting saddle. If this pain goes untreated it could become so severe the horse may buck when mounted. How else would you expect the horse to respond in that situation? This is why we say behavior is the horse's language. Some people talk about being "horse whisperers." TTEAM will teach you to listen to the whispers of your horse!

Fear of pain is the result of a past incident and can be puzzling if we are unaware of what occurred. The tricky thing here is that the trigger is sometimes unknown to us, at least at first, and the horse's behavior is unconscious or involuntary. Both the trigger and the behavior have been imprinted into the nervous system as a form of cellular memory. The experience is similar to a person who has had a car crash who may involuntarily tense up or experience a flash of fear when driving past the place where the crash occurred. This kind of episode with a horse is sudden, can be violent and come "out of the blue."

But it is involuntary. This is why punishing a horse for fearful behavior usually makes the behavior worse. Punishment creates fear and it gives another reason for the horse to be afraid. TTouch has the ability to change the habitual pattern of fear in the body associated with the trigger. It can actually help remove the fear from the body by opening up new neuropathways or alternatives for behavior and movement in the nervous system.

Miscommunication results when the training methods and signals to the horse are simply not clear enough or are not presented in a way that the horse can understand them. This often occurs when people do not understand how horses learn best. One of the most important differences with TTEAM training is the use of "guidance" in communicating what we want the horse to do. With some methods of training a signal is given and the trainer waits for a response from the horse. If the horse does not respond, the signal is made stronger and stronger until it elicits a response. Often, the stronger the signal becomes the more painful or fear provoking it is. But both fear and pain tend to inhibit learning.

What we do instead is to make the signal more instructional. When teaching a horse to lower his head from a signal, (See, "Calming Your Horse By Lowering His Head") we begin with pressure on the halter and then add pressure on the crest. Then, if needed, we turn the head from side to side and then squat down while stroking down the horse's chest and legs rather than using a progressively stronger signal. Because the signal is so clear, the horse understands easily and learning comes quickly, especially when the correct response is followed by a reward.

The outdated method of "breaking" horses to ride where the saddle is suddenly strapped on and the horse bucks in reaction until it is tired is akin to teaching a person to swim by picking them up and throwing them in the water! The method offers no instruction and creates tremendous fear. We use a slow approach where the horse is gradually allowed to become accustomed to the pressure around his girth and to the weight on his back. The horse is then shown how to move comfortably and in a relaxed manner while wearing the saddle. In this way there is no fear to overcome. We also add praise and reward which enhances the horse's trust in the trainer and the horse's enjoyment in the learning process.

When fear and pain are eliminated and communication is clear, TTEAM training is simply amazing in its ability to create a happy, willing horse that enjoys and looks forward to his training. I have had the experience many times of my horses pulling me to get into the trailer because they knew they were going some place fun! Xcel (star of my web site series, "Reschooling the Thoroughbred") has, on a number of occasions, been reluctant to return to the barn because he was enjoying being ridden so much!

TTEAM takes horse training beyond the need for fear, force, dominance or a conditioned response. Instead, it brings about behavior change by instilling calmness, eliminating fear and pain and using clear, guiding communication. It creates and enhances the strong bond of friendship that brought many people out to the barn to begin with. It is truly a training method for the twenty-first century!

1. Go grain free. Many horses will maintain their weight on hay and grass and do not need the added calories and energy of grain. They will, however, need a vitamin/mineral supplement of some type and a salt block. If your horse cannot maintain his weight on hay and grass alone, choose a feed that is mostly fiber and fat rather than grain.

Many feed companies produce horse feeds that are lower in energy producing carbohydrates. Many horses do not need a lot of carbohydrates unless they are in hard work. These feeds are high in fiber which is what a horse's digestive system is best able to utilize. Beet pulp is often used as their base as it is a highly digestible fiber. Fat is added to help horses maintain their weight. Molasses is kept to a minimum as this can add too much energy.

2. Teach your horse to lower his head. (See "Calming Your Horse by Lowering His Head") This is the single most important way to teach your horse to be calm. Think about it. Have you ever seen a horse spaz out with his head low? Throwing the head up is part of the flight/fight reaction which sets up a chemical response in the body that prepares the horse to run or fight. This instinctive reaction blocks the horse's ability to think and learn well. It creates a great amount of tension in the body which often leads to what we see as resistances to training.

By teaching your horse to lower his head, beginning with a signal on his halter, and eventually progressing to work under saddle, you will be able to override his flight/fight reaction. He will learn an alternative to throwing his head up and reacting in an unthinking way. With his head low (just above the level of his withers) he will become calmer and able to learn more easily.

3. Check your horse's body for pain. (See "Exploration TTouch") If you have ever had a sore back, neck, hip or other body part, didn't you find that it made you a bit fidgety? It is hard to sit or stand still for long when you are in pain. And wasn't it hard to concentrate on something other than your pain?

A horse with a sore back will also be fidgety and have difficulty concentrating when ridden. He will tighten his back muscles which will raise his head, putting him close to the flight/fight reaction. He may buck. The tension in his body will tend to make him shy and spook as well. Dramatic changes often occur in a horse's behavior once pain is eliminated from his body.

4. Increase your horse's self confidence. During the course of training many people over face their horses by asking too much, then try to make the horse comply. Instead, try "chunking" down exercises into smaller parts that allow the horse to be easily successful, then build from there. Take a tip from those who teach horses to jump. A good trainer does not begin by setting up a three-foot jump and forcing the horse over it. A good trainer starts with a single pole on the ground and builds from there.

By presenting the horse with small steps that he can perform easily, his confidence in his ability to do as you ask will increase. This will, then, increase his willingness to try. If you avoid over facing him, which often scares horses, his trust in you will also increase and the bond between the two of you will become stronger.

5. Breathe. You are 50% of the relationship between you and your horse. If you are tense, nervous or unsure, your horse will mirror you. If you arrive at the barn in any state other than relaxed, your horse will notice. So, before you begin, take a few minutes to relax. Try this exercise:

Sit in a comfortable position with your feet flat on the floor. Place one hand on your lower abdomen just below your navel. Concentrate on your breathing. As you inhale, push your lower abdomen out, then allow it to flatten as you exhale. Allow your hand to ride along with this motion. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Take slightly fuller breaths than normal. Now, close your eyes and count your breaths backwards starting with "50." When you are finished you will find that you are much more relaxed!

Have you ever noticed that the first thing a horse does when he is nervous or scared is to raise his head? This is part of the instinctive "flight or fight" reaction that prepares the horse to either run or fight. Some horses habitually carry their heads high and, as a result, tend to be nervous, tense and unpredictable, often over reacting to ordinary things. Thankfully, this habitual behavior can be changed! Teaching horses to lower their heads is one of the most important TTEAM tools for keeping horses calm and thus able to listen and learn.

By teaching your horse to lower his head to just above wither height, first from the ground, then from the saddle, not only will your horse be calmer, but you will also improve his way of going under saddle. When a horse's head is up, his back is down and he cannot engage his hindquarters. This makes it difficult for him to balance himself correctly, move athletically and respond easily to his rider. It can also make him prone to back soreness. Once your horse develops a habit of carrying his head down, his back will be up, he will move more fluidly, be better balanced, calmer and better able to learn.

To begin this, and many other TTEAM exercises, we use two important pieces of equipment. They are; 1.) a nylon lead shank with either a 30" chain or a soft narrow rope in place of the chain and 2.) a stiff, white, 4' dressage whip called a "wand." We may use the chain or rope over the horse's nose, which gives a clearer signal than a lead attached to the bottom ring of the halter, or we may attach the lead to the side of the halter. THESE TOOLS ARE NEVER TO BE USED HARSHLY. The wand is used to stroke the horse. We introduce it to the horse by slowly stroking it over his entire body.

Attach the lead over the horse's nose as follows: beginning on the left side, and going towards the horse's nose, slide the snap through the lower side ring, cross it over the noseband and out the opposite side ring going away from the horse. Then clip it to the top side ring with the knob of the snap facing out. You can also run the snap through the bottom left side ring and clip it to the top ring on the same side. Some horses respond better to the lead over the nose and some to the lead attached to the side of the halter.

To ask your horse to lower his head, use a downward "take and release" signal on the lead using just your thumb and forefinger. Some horses will respond easily to this signal. If your horse does not, don't worry, just place your other hand on his crest and put a little downward pressure on both. Then, with your hand on the lead, grasp his halter and gently turn his head from side to side. Some horses have difficulty figuring out how to release their muscles so they can lower their heads at your insistence. This is a simple way of explaining what you want. Under no circumstances should you try to force the head down.

You can also squat in front of and slightly off to the side of your horse's head. Then use the wand to stroke down his neck, chest and legs, while giving the downward take and release signal on the lead. Once he lowers his head, place your hand on the nose band of his halter and slowly stand up. Your horse should keep his head down as you rise. If he does not, encourage him by pressing down gently on the nose band and turning his head from side to side.

Your goal is to have your horse respond to just a slight downward pressure whenever you ask him. If your horse loses his balance and steps forward while lowering his head, just reposition him and try again. He will soon learn how to keep his balance. Once your horse responds well on the ground, with a little practice he should also respond under saddle. Just reach forward with one hand and press or gently rock his crest until he lowers his head. (And you thought you needed a "gadget" to keep your horse's head down!)

Normally we combine lowering the horse's head with TTouch work on the body. The two work so well together that it is not unusual to make a dramatic difference in the way a horse habitually carries himself and behaves in just one session. I once talked to a woman a few days after working with her horse. She said she almost didn't recognize him when she saw him in the pasture.  The session I did with him made a permanent change in his entire posture from high headed and dropped in his back to a much more level profile with a lower head. He looked like a different horse!

In the beginning, reinforce your horse's new habit as often as possible. This simple skill of lowering the head can dramatically change your horse's behavior. He will become calmer, learn more easily and move more athletically. And isn't that what you really want?

Is your horse difficult under saddle? Is he out of balance or resistant to certain movements? Does he spook, not pay attention or does he just feel stiff? Here is an excellent way to pinpoint whether or not his behavior is being caused by discomfort in his body. It is time to do some exploring.

Before you use the "Exploration TTouch" it is important to check your horse's body carefully. To begin, stand your horse on a firm, level surface. Position him so he is standing square. If you horse does not want to stand square or has a habit of always standing out of balance or resting one hind leg, he is already telling you something. It may be uncomfortable for him to stand normally in good balance, or he may be physically out of balance due to a structural problem.

Have someone hold your horse while you run your hands over his body, noting the feeling under you hand and your horse's reaction to it. Does your horse flinch, or show concern? Is one area unusually hot or cold? Now look for asymmetry. Stand directly in front of your horse and compare the muscle development of his shoulders, chest and forearms. Do your horse's right and left sides match? Are the knobs on the insides of his knees even? Are his coronary bands level? Are his hooves of equal size?

Now stand directly behind your horse on a stool (if you can do this safely) and sight down your horse's back. Is his spine straight? Is the muscling on either side of it symmetrical? Look closely at the muscling on either side of the wither area (you may have to move the mane out of the way). There are often asymmetries here. Step down then and move your horse's tail out of the way or tie it up in a knot. Does the muscling of each of his hind legs match? Is his tail straight? Your observations may give you a clue as to why your horse is behaving in a certain way. If your horse has trouble picking up a particular lead could it be because he lacks muscle in one shoulder? If he is "cold backed" could it have something to do with the lack of straightness you observed in his spine?

Now you are ready to begin the Exploration TTouch (also called the "Bear" TTouch). A word of caution here--use common sense! If your horse has any tendency to bite, kick or strike, proceed carefully with the Exploration TTouch. If your horse has a strong reaction, either lighten the pressure you are using or stop. To begin, stand to one side of your horse's head, facing the rear. Place one hand on either side of his neck just behind his ears. Use curved fingers to press straight into the muscles of his neck. Press in with both hands simultaneously. Press in enough to depress the skin about half an inch. Each "press and release" should last less than one second. Press and release once and then move your fingers down the center of the neck pressing and releasing about every four inches until you come to the shoulder.

Then drop your hands down just behind the point of the shoulder and press and release in a straight line back to the girth area. Next, start on either side of the withers and go all the way back to the tail, pressing and releasing about four inches to either side of the spine.

This is a check for pain or sensitivity. A normal or pain-free horse should have little or no reaction to this probing. A sensitive or sore horse will object. Keep in mind that thinly muscled horses will tend to be more sensitive than those who are heavily muscled. Many, many horses will react especially in the poll or neck area. Some horses who show a strong reaction to the first few touches may merely be surprised, and may not react later. If your horse has an extreme reaction, especially more than once, think twice about continuing. At least switch to a different part of the body before continuing.

Extreme reactions in the neck area are not uncommon. Soreness here often results when horses pull back while tied which can cause subluxated vertebra. Flinches in the wither area usually indicate that the saddle pinches or there has been trauma to the withers. Dropping the back or tiny spasms in the muscles here are an indication of a sore back. There are many causes of back pain including bouncing riders and ill-fitting saddles. Reactions in the croup and buttock area are often seen in horses who are very resistant under saddle, who spook a lot and are afraid of things behind them. Slipping and falling are just some of the things that result in pain and tightness here.

While the TTouches, leg circles and neck flexions a TTEAM practitioner may do will definitely help to alleviate soreness in the body, severe or persistent problems may require veterinary attention. I highly recommend the services of a veterinarian who specializes in acupuncture, chiropractic and homeopathy. Pick one with years of experience and training in these areas. Think of it as an investment towards making your riding experience or time spent with your horse more rewarding, as it surely will be if it solves your horse's behavior difficulty!

You've seen them on TV and in person, during the Olympics and other times—young Thoroughbreds winning the Breeder's cup, grand prix show jumpers jumping huge fences flanked by giant beer bottles or killer whales, eventers bouncing into water and up onto a bank, back into the water and out again, dressage horses piaffing to show tunes before a huge crowd. And you wonder in amazement at how these horses can do such fantastic things when you can't even get your horse into a trailer, across a stream or past a "horse eating" garbage can.

While there are many ingredients that go into the making of a successful performance horse, two of the most essential are; the horse's trust in his rider and his confidence in himself. 

A horse's early handling has the greatest effect on his trust and confidence. Young horses are very impressionable and also, curious. It is wise to take advantage of their curiosity at this age to expose them to a wide variety of situations. But since horses rarely forget frightening experiences, and just one such experience can affect a horse's behavior for the rest of his life, any handling must be done with great care, sensitivity and patience. One must also keep in mind that just because one horse responded well to one method does not mean another will.

A good trainer must always be ready to adapt his methods to suit each individual. And must always keep in mind the number one most important concept—NEVER OVER FACE THE HORSE! Always strive to make the horse successful! Anytime you encounter significant resistance, you must take a step backward to what the horse does well, before going on. Always strive to show the horse what he CAN do, not what he CAN'T.

This involves what TTEAM founder, Linda Tellington-Jones calls, "chunking" down. That is, breaking a lesson down into small parts that the horse can do easily, then gradually putting them together into the finished exercise. Nowhere is this type of training demonstrated more clearly than in teaching horses to jump.

Whether it is for the grand prix show jumping arena or the three-day event cross-country course, only the desire of the horse, trust in his rider and confidence in his own abilities makes the horse able to complete a difficult course. You simply cannot force a horse to jump difficult fences if he does not want to. And if the horse does lose confidence, this is clearly demonstrated to the rider in the horse's refusal to jump.

One is well advised to look at any training session from the viewpoint of a good jumping trainer. A good trainer does not teach a horse to jump for the first time by setting up a three foot high fence and then repeatedly running him at it or hitting him until he jumps it. If he did, he would ruin the horse completely. A good trainer begins by first asking the horse to simply step over a single pole on the ground.

It is this kind of process that needs to be applied to everything you teach a horse to do. But when is the last time you saw someone approach trailer loading with this kind of thinking? If you have ever asked your horse to step into a trailer and had him refuse—you have over faced your horse. Horses who load easily are simply confident in their ability to handle being in a box that moves. They have learned that, while strange and initially frightening, there is little to actually fear because their handler has never let them down by allowing them to be hurt or frightened.

In fact, if you make a habit of handling your horse in such a way that he never (or let's be real, almost never) has a bad or frightening experience, his trust in you will become so great that he will willingly take your direction even if he is shaking with fear this, because he trusts you, because you have never let him down. And because you have built up his confidence by never letting him fail or realize what he cannot do, he can then rely on his own self-confidence to get him through a situation where you are the one who is doing the shaking. This is the kind of relationship with a horse that is truly rewarding, inherently safe and is what I strive for with my horses.

Step By Step

People often ask me what they should do about a training or behavioral difficulty they are having with their horse. It is difficult for me to provide a helpful answer because I can only make suggestions unless I see the horse exhibiting the behavior and the rider or handler's response to it. This is because when I look at the horse, I usually see something quite different than what the person has described to me.

And with so many different training "methods" out there today, coupled with advice given by friends etc., it is no wonder people are confused about the best way to sort out difficulties with their horses. With this in mind, I decided to establish a way for people to work through the problem themselves by doing some detective work. But instead of beginning by focusing on the horse, I suggest beginning by focusing on yourself.

1. Change thyself first

You are 50 percent of the relationship between you and your horse. Most of the problems I see between people and horses are caused by people. We all carry mental and emotional baggage with us, which often gets in the way of how we deal with people. It also affects the way we work with our horses.

In fact, horses frequently mirror us. For example, how many times have you seen a tense, nervous horse ridden by a tense, nervous rider? Or a slow, distracted horse ridden by a slow, distracted rider? If you want to change your horse's behavior, put yourself in your horse's place and ask yourself what you would do to change the behavior in yourself.

Does your horse have trouble focusing on the task at hand? What would enable you to focus better yourself? How about breathing exercises to help you relax. How about addressing pain that you have in your body? Does your horse have temper tantrums? How would you address your own anger? By pin-pointing the cause and then finding a way to resolve it? How about impatience? Could you find a way to look for the joy in every moment rather than wanting to quickly get on to the next thing? By addressing these issues in yourself first, you will gain a greater understanding of the cause and possible solutions for addressing the behavior in your horse. So when you notice a behavior in your horse that you would like to change, first try changing the behavior in yourself even if you don't think you need to.

2. Through a magnifying glass

Carefully observe your horse, looking well beyond the issue at hand. Start by examining your horse's daily routine. Check into everything he is eating--hay, grain, grass and water. Talk to your vet or feed dealer about their quality and appropriateness for your horse.

Go over your horse's body very carefully looking for any new lumps, bumps or asymmetries. To do this, stand your horse squarely on a level surface. Look at your horse from all angles and compare his right and left sides to see if they match. You can also stand up on something behind your horse and look down at his back, also comparing one side to the other. Carefully examine the fit of all of your tack, especially saddles and bits. If you don't know how to tell if your saddle or bit fits your horse, talk to someone who does.

Have someone else lead, lunge or ride your horse so you can see how he moves and carries himself. Watch other horses move too, for comparison. Observe horses who are not having the troubles your horse is having. In what ways are they like your horse? In what ways are they different? Is there a day or a time that your horse's behavior is worse? What is different about those times? Consider the other horses around your horse. Could your horse be learning a new behavior from a buddy?

3. Making connections

Now that you have made some observations, you have probably learned some things about your horse you never knew before. You are now ready to do some deeper investigation. Try to connect the things you have observed. For instance, if your horse is bucking in canter, could the fact that his hindquarters are asymmetrical have something to do with it? If your horse is out of balance when you ride him shouldn't you check to see if he is shod in a balanced manner? If he is biting could it be that he has pain from a stomach ulcer because of a poor feeding plan? If your horse has had a sudden change in behavior could it be that he had a reaction to an inoculation? I once had a mare who had a reaction to a penicillin shot which set up soreness in her neck that lasted for months. Talk to your farrier and your vet about your horse's behavior and what solutions they might have. My horse, Magic, has been much calmer since I removed corn from his diet. Allergy tests, which my veterinarian recommended, showed he was allergic to it.

4. Habitual patterns

The next thing to look at is the relationship between you and your horse with an eye on habitual patterns. Have you ever found yourself at odds with your horse over and over about the same thing, say a difficulty getting the right lead in canter? And even when you try hard not to get into a fight about it, you do anyway? This happens in human relationships all the time. It is called pushing each other's buttons. It is the repetition of a series of reactions until it becomes a habit. You do one thing which causes your horse to react in a certain way. This causes you to react in another way and then your horse reacts in another way and you continue reacting to each other until it all boils over into a fight. After this happens a few times, it creates a habit.

I recently read something that said, "It's a type of insanity to repeat the same behavior over and over again and expect different results." That really made me think a lot about habits! If you are in the repetitive cycle of a habit with your horse, the way to change it is to do something non-habitual. Completely change the way you approach and handle the difficulty.

My horse, Magic, is often resistant to grooming probably because of his early handling. When he is having trouble (it seems to go in cycles) I change where and how I groom him. Sometimes I groom him in his stall while he is eating hay, sometimes I let him walk around loose in the grooming stall while I groom him. Other times I may groom him in the narrow aisleway. Sometimes I use brushes, sometimes just a sheepskin mitt. Other times I use a dampened towel. I often intersperse the grooming with TTouch.

When I found that my horse, Rollie, had a great deal of tension in his body from overflexing and hanging on the bit while racing, I took the bit out of his mouth and rode him in a hackamore for a few months. You must think creatively. In fact, that is what TTEAM is all about. We have developed very creative solutions to a variety of problems.

5. Check your viewpoint at the door

While you are working on changing some of your habitual patterns make sure to include your habitual viewpoint. Be as open minded as possible. Try considering viewpoints and possible solutions that you have resisted in the past. Even if they go against what your instructor or friends are telling you. At least consider that there may be other causes for problems other than what you or the people around you think. To be an effective trainer you must have a tool bag large enough to accommodate all kinds of horses. Sometimes you have to be open enough to allow the horse to lead you to conclusions you would not normally have considered.

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