Mouth Work and Nostril TTouch for “Mouthiness”

This year on my birthday I received the following enthusiastic message demonstrating an effective method for reducing stress with Tellington TTouch® on a horse’s mouth.

It’s surprising that many experienced horsemen and women are not aware that “mouthiness” is a sign of stress.

I was fortunate to read a report from Texas A&M Veterinary School in one of the horse magazines more than 20 years ago stating that biting or nipping or lipping or any “mouthiness” was a sign of stress. Most experienced horse people think the horse is spoiled and either ignore the behavior or attempt to stop it with various forms of punishment.

We have countless success stories over the past 40 years of Mouth TTouch changing undesirable behavior related to the mouth.

The practitioner who sent the following story has asked to remain anonymous for reasons that will be obvious.

E-mailAloha Linda!

This story has to be anonymous – I am giving you the history as an FYI- a 17hh warmblood – original owner who raised him encouraged the horse to nuzzle, play, and eventually played tug of war with him and his mouth (see tug of war below). He is around 9.  Intermedaire.

He is now owned by my trainer who is in general a very meat and potatoes sort of person – her words; If her own leg hurts she just wants you to work on the leg. Occasionally she has asked me to work on the horse. Usually overseeing me most of the time. Recently she had to leave early and here was my chance. One of her pet peeves when the horse stands in the cross ties is that he is always gripping the metal of the cross ties and wants to play tug of war. And she will pull the tie out of his mouth with some verbal no’s and he stands there a few seconds and unless the bodywork on other areas is holding his attention, then he quickly returns to this habit.

After she left he grabbed the cross tie and instead of playing his game – I applied TTouches to his mouth and muzzle, gums – through muzzle, sides of teeth – while he held the cross tie in his mouth. He nickered quietly when I worked the nostrils, his eyes softened. I did abalone, raccoon, clouded leopard from the nostrils down for around 10 minutes and then he released the tie and just stood. Didn’t move his head at all. And for the rest of the session he stood without even nudging the tie. As an aside He got anxious if I went higher up – but after releasing the tie from his mouth he allowed me to work on his TMJ and poll. Unfortunately, I do not have the language as yet to say what I did on his mouth – and the owner does not want anyone working on his mouth – in her world it just encourages him to bite – fair safety comment.

So I will bide my time. The horse and I have a great relationship. It is as if he knows what could happen; when we can we will do Orangutan TTouch when the owner is out of the stall. And she calls before she enters and he looks at me with a twinkle in his eye as if to say ‘that was close’!

Here are some instructive photos of mouth and nostril work taken by Gabrielle Boiselle of Frédéric Pignon when I last visited him and Magali Delgado in the South of France.

© Gabrielle Boiselle

The first time I showed Frederic the Mouth TTouch in Dallas, Texas with the 6 year old black stallion who was biting at the older stallions in the free work on stage. He was clearly nervous about them. Fred had only to do 30 seconds of TTouch on the mouth before entering the stage and the horse was able to perform without biting the other stallions.

© Gabrielle Boiselle

© Gabrielle Boiselle

© 2015, Linda Tellington-Jones. All rights reserved.

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