Learning to “See”

You cannot see change unless you know what you started with.

An important component of the Tellington TTouch is using observational skills to assess and understand an animal.  This is not meant to create a label or make a judgment about an animal, it is simply a way to notice how an animal is in that given point in time.

Developing your eye to find subtle cues in your horse’s balance, posture, and physical tendencies is incredibly important in understanding behavior.   Refining you powers of observation takes practice but will improve your intuition and overall skills in knowing where to start or approach with each animal.

When you start to see an animal with “new eyes” you can begin to understand the root cause of behavior rather than have the behavior become the animal.

We pay careful attention and are sensitive to all  we can notice about the body and the behavior, including:

  • Breathing
  • Calming signals
  • Posture
  • Movement
  • Lateral flexibility
  • Ears, Eyes, Lips
  • Reaction to a person approaching
  • Physical condition
  • Muscle symmetry
  • Response as we touch any particular area
  • Variations in body temperature on different parts of her body
  • Coat quality
  • Tension anywhere in her body
  • Balance
  • Coat texture, and variations in that
  • Curls and swirls – changes in coat
  • Changes in muscle tone
  • Footfall –  Does it sound, heavy, light, even?  Is it pure in rhythm?
  • How interested is the horse in their surrounding environment?


  • Look with a soft eye, encompassing the whole body
  • Don’t stare or focus on one part of the body
  • If necessary, blink or look away briefly to “reset” your view
  • Don’t compare yourself to someone else, we all see different things.
  • What you see can be context specific.
  • Practice, practice, practice. This is one of those skills that develops with time.

As you practice your observation skills, it will become second nature.  Your hands will be drawn to areas along the body, your eye drawn to a hip or belly swing as you watch a horse walk towards and away.

It is not so important that you understand the “why” of what you observe, it is most important that you note it so you can see changes as you “do the work”.  It is a good idea to take notes as you work with a horse, especially initially, you may be surprised at the changes you are able to look back on as you continue on your TTouch journey.