From the Desk of Linda Tellington-Jones

I just love getting emails like the one below. It is gratifying in the extreme to know that I have the tools to help someone facing a difficult situation.

Dear Linda,

I know your are very busy but I still will send this. I have started TTouch on my horse about 6 weeks ago. He is a 17 hand Warmblood, turning 7 years in April. He had a bad start in Germany. I have reason to believe he was pushed hard as a 4 year old and tore some muscles in the semimembranosis area..down the back of the hind leg. I doubt if he was given proper care but just turned out..probably lame.

He is hot blooded and reactive and I have had one bad accident with him…rearing and bucking left me with a smashed face and broken wrist. He was coming back from stall rest after an injury to his annular ligament right after I got him home from Germany. He was 5 yrs. old at that time and not well broke. I didn’t know him very well.

After a year of work he is getting better and better in mind and body and your exercises have really helped. The mouth exercises did wonders to his reaction to the bit. It was amazing.

My problem is that he is easy to load in the trailer but once in there he gets very impatient and paws constantly as we go forward. He throws his head around and rocks the trailer back and forth. He will be in a sweat when we arrive at our destination. I have trailered out once a week for several months and tried going on short trips every day but he still continues to get stressed. I do put him on ranitidine (Zantac) to protect his stomach when going to a lesson. The trip to the lesson is only 20 minutes and I do not take the freeway because he really hates the sound of the traffic.

I need to be able to trailer this horse and I am afraid he is going to eventually hurt himself. Any ideas how I can improve this situation?

Thanks,

“bluesky”

blueskyMy response:

Dear “bluesky,”

Good for you for taking this trailer situation seriously.

The danger of him exploding is far too great. In addition it is unfair to put him in this stressful situation. All that pawing and head tossing is his way of communicating his fear. Strange when you stop to think about it, it is so obvious.

So what can you do to overcome the fear? Improve his balance – not just physical but also mental and emotional balance. Stroking smoothly with the wand from underside of the neck down the front legs to ground him – over the back and down the hind legs. Outline the belly and front if the back legs. Coiled Python TTouches from elbows to hooves and hocks to back hooves.

Other TTouches and exercises to help with trailering anxiety:
Slow Ear TTouches with lowered head;
Walking over a wooden platform (or plywood),
under plastic (or pool noodles) to accustom him to the roof of the trailer;
Walking between plastic to overcome claustrophobia.

If an exercise or obstacle makes him tense, reduce the difficulty to make him successful. You do this by reducing fear rather than by flooding the nervous system or by forcing him.

I recommend doing the exercises in the last chapter of my book, The Ultimate Horse Training and Behavior Book. If an exercise is difficult, celebrate that and chunk it down – make it easier – and proceed step by step.

Many years ago I left Ella Bittel to work with an 18 hand Warmblood Grand Prix dressage horse named “World Star.” He was stabled with Klaus Balkenhol and was very talented, but no one had been successful at loading this horse. Ella worked with him daily for a month with the steps in my book and taught him to load quietly. Interestingly his dressage improved greatly by the combination of Tellington TTouch and work over the obstacles from the ground.

Visit my website (www.ttouch.com) and read the study by Dr Stephanie Shannohan on the effects of the Tellington Method on the reduction of stress for trailer loading. This study won a student award at the University of Guelph school of veterinary medicine.
I would very much appreciate hearing from you as you go thru these steps and happy to answer any questions. Good luck and enjoy the journey as you come to a new level of connection and replace the fear with intelligent choices.

Aloha,

Linda

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