Science is finally recognizing something Manolo and Linda Tellington Jones amongst others have known, practiced and taught for decades and decades: Touch has a profound physiological, mental and emotional impact on horses. On every living being really. Linda’s work is even called TTouch (www.ttouch.com)
One caveat. If your hands are empty of intent, if they are not connected to your heart and the moment, if you touch mechanically or by rote then you wont find this is quite as true. The horse knows who you are, all of the time.
Dr. Andrew McLean, BSc, PhD, Dipl. Ed, owner and director of the Australian Equine Behaviour Center, and Paul McGreevy, BVSc, MRCVS, PhD, MACVSc, professor of animal behavior and animal welfare science at the University of Sydney in New South Wales, Australia states:
“Paying greater attention to our horses’ fundamental affective need for touch, then, might help facilitate a stronger attachment between horse and human…
…According to two leading equitation scientists, the success or failure of training has a lot to do with.. the horse’s level of “attachment”—as in, attachment to you, his person.”
This is young and spirited warmblood stallion Dali being given a cuddle by Manolo a few months ago. Not all horses like a face hug, some horses prefer simply standing together with a gentle sweep of the hand caressing their neck and shoulder, or a resting hand. Some love a hug and will draw you into their chest. Some relax when you stroke their mane and forelock gently. Under saddle, you can gently touch his neck, his shoulder, his croup, even his face as he turns around to you at a halt when you want to reassure him, thank him, connect, appreciate and love him – Find what your horse prefers and respect his boundaries.
Have a great weekend everyone