History of TTouch

The Tellington TTouch was developed by Linda Tellington Jones over 32 years ago and is now practiced in many countries worldwide.  The Tellington TTouch is internationally recognized and has evolved over many decades to become a forward thinking approach to handling, training and rehabilitating all animal species.

Linda and first husband, Wentworth Tellington, co-founded and directed an internationally recognized Pacific Coast Equestrian School of Horsemanship in 1964 which was a nine month residential school for riding instructors and trainers. They co-authored a syndicated column in major equine magazines as well as the first book on equine massage entitled Massage and Physical Therapy for the Athletic Horse in 1965, co-published in cooperation with the Arabian Horse Association. In 1972 Doubleday Publishers included this information in their book entitled Endurance and Competitive Trail Riding

Linda’s maternal grandfather Will Caywood had introduced Linda and Wentworth to equine bodywork when he came to visit them in Hemet, California where they had a Thoroughbred and Arabian breeding farm with 90 brood mares and 4 stallions.  While training racehorses in Russia from 1902 to 1905, he had learned a type of equine massage from Russian gypsies. This art of massage consisted of short, sliding strokes all over a horse’s body. He attributed his success of receiving the coveted title Leading Trainer at the Moscow Hippadrome Racetrack in 1905 to the fact that every horse in his stable was “rubbed” for 30 minutes a day with this gypsy massage. Interestingly, he also said he never entered a horse in a race unless “it told him it was feeling fit enough to win.” Linda used massage to help her performance horses recover faster after the challenging athletic endeavors of 100 mile endurance racing, Three-Day Eventing, steeplechasing and horse shows with great success.

In 1975 Linda realized the potential for influencing behavior by affecting the nervous system of the horse using the principals of the Feldenkrais Method.  The Feldenkrais Method is a form of bodywork for humans using gentle, non-habitual movements with the intent of activating unused neural pathways to the brain. It is highly successful for helping people recover function after injury, for improving athletic ability, for increasing physical and mental function and for increasing the capacity to learn.

Linda initially thought she would learn the Feldenkrais Method to help improve the athletic ability of her riding students and enrolled in a four-year certification training at the Humanistic Psychology Institute in San Francisco, taught personally by the renowned Israeli physicist, Moshe Feldenkrais.   Within a week however she recognised the remarkable potential for enhancing the learning ability of a horse as well as improving both behavior and a willingness to cooperate. Her interest shifted from working with the muscular system of equines to working with the nervous system. After 33 years of working with horses, Linda felt that she was seeing horses with completely new eyes.

It was through this new awareness that Linda discovered the then revolutionary concept that horses that are resistant and unmanageable are usually reacting to pain, fear or stress.  By integrating the theory of working with the nervous system of horses with her forward thinking approach to handling and training horses, Linda began to develop new ways of teaching a horse to learn without force.  By 1978 she had developed the system of educating and helping horses known as Tellington Equine Awareness Method or TEAM.  

Introducing a new idea to the world of horses was not an unusual experience for Linda thanks to the influence of her first husband, Wentworth Tellington. He firmly believed in sharing information that would normally kept secret for personal gain. Their Pacific Coast Equestrian Research Farm and School of Horsemanship in the early 1960’s had attracted students from nine countries and 36 states for almost a decade. Their clinic research centre produced many effective products and concepts for the horse world, including the first sea kelp supplement for horses, the first American two-horse trailer that hauled horses backwards with reduced stress; and other herbs and products. These discoveries and teaching concepts were spread around the world in a quarterly Newsletter that went to more than 20 countries in the late 1960’s.

Between 1977 to 1983, in addition to working with many horses, Linda was honing her skills with the Feldenkrais method working with people in the U.S. and Germany. She taught them gentle movements of Feldenkrais “Awareness Through Movement” and “Functional Integration” to relieve pain, improve their athletic and performance abilities, and enhance their quality of life.
 
1983 saw the addition of the circular movements of the TTouch bodywork whilst Linda was teaching a weekend training sponsored by veterinarians at the Delaware Equine Clinic. On an evening following the clinic she was asked to work on a very sore Thoroughbred mare belonging to one of the veterinarians from the clinic. This mare objected fiercely to being groomed or saddled by pinning her ears, baring her teeth and often threatening to kick when touched.  Linda had been asked if she could perhaps help her with the Feldenkrais Method, and when she placed her hands gently on the mare’s body and began the slow, almost imperceptible movements of “Functional Integration”™ the mare became very quiet and accepting of her hands. It was here that Linda started using the circular movements on the horse’s skin that are the foundation of the Tellington TTouch body work technique. The owner of the mare was amazed at how her normally cantankerous horse seemed to enjoy the movements that were so gentle and barely visible.  Within minutes the mare began to lower her head. Her eyes softened and after a few minutes she took a deep breath and relaxed.  

One of the drawbacks to the Feldenkrais Method for horse owners and trainers was the years it takes to become proficient. Linda had been teaching simple “non-habitual movements” that are the mark of Feldenkrais Method with great results, but in that moment when she saw the effects she had when working on this mare she realized that perhaps there was something special about the circular movement that anyone could learn.
 
From there on Linda began experimenting with a variety of circular movements and different TTouches. Her sister, Robyn Hood, was very influential in developing TTouch as a unique training technique that could be logically described and easily taught and although its roots lie in the equestrian world the Tellington TTouch is now a method of working with animals that has far reaching benefits for all species.  Linda and Robyn continue to travel extensively teaching TTouch around the world to this day. 

The first Practitioner Training courses were taught in the UK in the 1990’s and we now have several qualified Practitioners working with companion animals and horses.  The work continues to grow in popularity. It is used by a wide range of people who handle and/or live with animals including the top UK animal welfare charities, veterinarians, veterinary nurses, trainers, behaviour counselors, riding instructors, riders, groomers, boarding kennel and cattery staff, animal owners and animal lovers.

If you would like to learn more about this incredible work please visit the Get in TTouch section on this website or contact this office.