I wrote that there were four things that happened that day. The other two were smaller but equally conception shattering. Here is what happened.
After the ‘We are Not Worthy’ demonstration, I had a renewed interest (putting it mildly) so really tried to pay attention to what Mary was showing us. I was trying to do rib work, rib lifts I think she calls them, but had no idea if I was doing it right. Mary came up behind me and put *her* hands on *my* ribs. ‘Lift when I lift’ she said. So I did. Suddenly, I felt like I was being hurled through space, electrified, up over the horse’s back. I jumped sideways, staring at Mary. ‘We created some energy, didn’t we!’ she said and smiled. HOLY CRAP. I really felt like my head had exploded. Keee-rraa-zzyy!!
The last one was when I was working on one of the old guys' tail. Tails and docks are just extensions of spines, you know. So there I was, hands on the tail, doing a soft squeeze/lift movement, slow, slow, slow. The horse started lifting and relaxing his head and neck, slowly, and in time with my hands. I got below the dock, and *kept going*. I was doing the soft squeeze/lift on his *hair*. And he was still reacting. I got to the bottom and I kept going *in the air*. And he kept reacting. Whoa.
So when I went and worked on Cody’s ribs that day, I had seen and felt things that fascinated and intrigued me. Remember I said that Cody had big knots behind his poll, at that classic ‘broken’ 3rd vertebrae. They actually would snap when he put his head down or stretched his neck. After my attempts at rib work, and his changed stride in the equicisor, when I was putting him away I felt his neck. The knots were two thirds the size they had been. They were markedly smaller. Yoik.
You may wonder about the TTouch, and Mary’s work, which I forgot to clarify is called SENSE (Sensory Elegance through Natural Somatic Education, I think). There are many similarities, since both Linda Tellington-Jones and Mary Debono are Guild certified Feldenkrais practitioners. Linda tried to standardize the Feldenkrais movements with the names and patterns. She also developed the ground work exercises and the wand work etc. But it is all still based on Feld principles of repatterning movement habits through gentle manipulation and non habitual movements. IME, Linda’s work is very useful and definitely helpful for horse people and I still do the ground work exercises as a matter of course. Her focus on reprogramming the physical and hence the emotional state of horses is too important to dismiss. And she was the pioneer, with tons of horse girl cred. Anyone who won the Tevis, competed in Open Jumpers, and rides around with a neck ring as well as she does has the right to try to tell me what to do with my horse.
But I have a natural preference for humble straightforward people, and Linda’s whole program has sort of an All About Linda and marketing feeling that puts me a little off. I could be being totally unfair, but that’s always how it struck me. Mary’s work is just you and the horse. No renamed whip/wand/orange stick. No special chain or halter or bit (although I really like the LTJ bit and have two). Mary’s work is, to me, more relaxed and more intuitive. We didn’t spend an hour every day wringing our hands about whether we started the circles at 9 or at 2 or if we were doing a 1 or a 3 in pressure. In fact, she encouraged us to develop our own touches and movements, basing them on how the horse’s responded.
So, I love both approaches, and am grateful for being able to have the exposure to the methods that I have had. I recommend Linda’s Encyclopedia very much as it gives an in depth explanation of how she discovered the value of the various touches, and fascinating case histories. If you have bought it, read it and experiment with the various touches on your horse, dog, cat, husband, kids, whatever. Let them and their responses help you develop your feel. But if you ever get to attend a Mary Debono clinic, (and guess what! I am going to be hosting her at my little barn) try to go. You will never be the same, and your horses won’t be either.
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