Skip to Content


Home > Search Results

Search Results

Your search for history returned 0 categories and 13 items

Items

About Us > Research & Studies

Horse 2001 Trailer Loading Study

Loading stress in the horse:
Behavioural and physiological measurement of the effectiveness of non-aversive training (TTEAM) for horses with trailer loading resistance.


This study was conducted by Stephanie Shanahan when she was a student at the University of Ontario Veterinary School at Guelph, Ontario, Canada. The research was funded by a grant from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation for Research targeting the Improvement of Animal Welfare. Stephanie won the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior's 'Award for Student Excellence in Applied Animal Behavior Research'. Permission to post from Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science.

Abstract

Resistance to trailer loading in the horse is a common source of stress and injury to horses and their handlers. The objective of this study was to determine whether non-aversive training based on Tellington-TTouch Equine Awareness Method (TTEAM) would decrease loading time and reduce stress during loading for horses with a history of reluctance to load.

Ten horses described by their owners as "problem loaders" were subjected to pre-training and post-training assessments of loading. Each assessment involved two seven-minute loading sessions during which heart rate and saliva cortisol were measured. The training consisted of six 30-minute sessions over a two-week period during which the horse and owner participated in basic leading exercises with obstacles simulating aspects of trailering. Heart rate and saliva cortisol were shown to increase significantly during loading as compared to baseline (P<0.001 and P<0.05, respectively). Reassessment after training showed a decrease in loading time (P=0.01) and reduced heart rate during loading (P=0.001). Seven good loaders were also subject to loading assessment for physiological comparison. Increases in heart rate during loading were significantly higher in the good loaders (P<0.001). Non-aversive training simulating aspects of loading may effectively reduce loading time and stress during loading for horses with a history of resistance to loading.

As most of you know, in the summer of 1999, I conducted research retraining horses with trailer loading problems using TTEAM. So I'd like to give a general outline of what I did and what I was trying to do. In a later issue, I will present some of the interesting case studies that came out of the research.

Horses who are reluctant to load into a trailer are not difficult to find. In fact, it is one of the most common behaviour problems horse people are familiar with regardless of the breed of horse or discipline they are involved in. Unfortunately, trailer-loading accidents are also a common cause of injury to horses and their handlers.

My intention in this project was to scientifically ascertain the effectiveness of a TTEAM training program at improving willingness to load. I also wanted to know if the stress of loading would be measurable physiologically and furthermore, if TTEAM training could measurably decrease loading stress.

We started with 12 horses who, according to their owners, were difficult to load. The horses included a Shire/Thoroughbred yearling, two and four year old Quarter Horses, Arabian crosses, Canadian broodmares and a few thoroughbreds. The oldest horse in the study was 20 years old.

In the initial assessment, the horse had two seven-minute opportunities to load, one with the owner and one with an independent handler who did not know the horse or the purpose of the study. We measured heart rate and took saliva samples to measure cortisol before, during and after the loading. We performed this assessment with all the problem horses as well as with 8 horses who were considered to be good loaders.

In almost every case loading time was not significantly different when the owner or the person unfamiliar with the horse was loading.

One of the "problem loaders" loaded readily and one of the good loaders did not load so we didn't use them in the study but we did work with both of them anyway.

After the assessment some horses started the training while others waited and had a second assessment before the training. This was done in order to keep the independent handler blind to the training status of the horse.

The training program was based on a wonderful article by Marion Shearer, "Prepare your horse to load", which was recently reprinted in the May-June 2000 TTEAM Connections. The sessions were every other day for two weeks. It is definitely beneficial for horses (and people) to have a break between sessions in order for the brain to integrate the new information. Every other day is better than every day. Some horses may benefit from more than two weeks of training while others might only need to be asked differently at the time of loading.

Here are some of the most important components of the program we used (for more information, I strongly recommend reading Marion's article):

Lower the Horse's Head

Many of the problem loaders had naturally high head carriage. When they were concerned their head would go even higher making it difficult to negotiate getting into a trailer. This is a normal reaction for horses, a part of the flight response. They are raising their head to shift their weight back which lightens their front end so they can turn around quickly and get away from what is scaring them. The problem arises when the handler has no way of asking the horse to lower its head. It appears that lowering the head actually changes the horse's reaction to a situation. When the head is lowered, a horse is able to move forward to approach and investigate what it is concerned about. This gives the horse the opportunity to realize that the situation is okay. With his nose in the air, a horse is neither going forward nor giving the situation a chance, he is asking to leave.

As part of our training we used as many different ways as we could think of to teach the horses to lower their head when asked. Some of the ways are listed here:

Leading position:

  • Putting the chain up the side of the halter

While standing:

  • A gentle signal and release downward on the chain, or "milking" of the chain
  • Stroking of the horse's chest and forearms with the wand

While walking:

  • Allowing the horse to walk into the wand which is held in front of the horse midway between the knee and shoulder

Body work:

  • Raising the back with the tips of the fingers pressing on the midline of the abdomen
  • Tail work
  • Mouth work and ear work

These may not lower the head directly but can be very useful to get the horse to pay attention and think about what you are asking when you are stuck

Since we only had a short period of time to work with and the owners were not familiar with TTEAM, we did not teach ALL the possible tools that COULD be useful when working with horses to improve their willingness to load. We focused on a few basic principles and were very happy with the results we got.

The training sessions involved the introduction of these TTEAM techniques at the pace that seemed appropriate for that particular horse and owner:

Leading positions

Cheetah: This was used as the BASIC leading position. The important principles were to habituate the owner to being further away and further ahead of their horse while leading. We emphasized that the horse would better be able to listen if they could see the person leading them. It was also an opportunity for the handler to learn to use the wand to more clearly communicate what they wanted the horse to do.

Dingo: This is considered a very important part of trailer loading problem solving. The horse must learn to go forward from a signal. It seems that horses understand the signal on the croup combined with the signal on the chain very well, but it is important for the handler to learn to coordinate this movement in a consistent manner.

Dance: It is believed that many horses are more concerned about backing OUT of the trailer than getting into the trailer. Imagine backing out of something and not being able to see or feel the ground behind you! Teaching a horse to back one step at a time and to negotiate backing over obstacles, inclines and off bridges makes the horse more willing to load onto the trailer as well as backing out more calmly and safely.

The obstacles we used were whatever combination of poles, planks, tarps and barrels was available. We tried to simulate the different aspects of what CAN be difficult for a horse when trailer loading:

1. Stepping over or onto something i.e. poles raised or piled, bridge, cavalettis

2. Stepping onto an unfamiliar surface that makes noise i.e. plastic tarp, plywood sheet, bridge

3. Walking into a narrow space i.e. poles raised on barrels, tarps hanging over the poles, plywood

4. Walking under a low roof i.e. an arch of wands, a Styrofoam pole, a rolled tarp

The horse would walk up to the obstacle and be asked to halt. If the horse's neck was above the horizontal, the handler would ask the horse to lower its head and then proceed with the obstacle. It is not necessary to stop EVERY time before negotiating an obstacle. It is useful, however, in order to make every step clear and intentional to practice stopping and moving forward in a controlled manner with the head lowered.

Some of the horses appeared not to know that their limbs were connected to their body. So we used the body wrap to help them get a sense of how they might coordinate legs and body as a unit. For the horses who could not step over a pole without tripping, the body wrap seemed to make a world of difference!

Body work

We also included one session of bodywork for each horse. We were focusing on touches that would help ground, calm and connect the horse. We started with an exploration of the horse's body, which the owners found FASCINATING. The reactions of the horse fit with the pattern of difficulties that they had with them on the ground and under saddle. All of a sudden they seemed to understand that the horse was not stubborn or difficult but tight or sore or habituated to a particular way of carrying itself.

The touches we used:

Grounding:

  • Python lifts
  • Leg exercises

Calming:

  • Ear work
  • Mouth work

Connecting:

  • Raising the back
  • Tail work
  • Lick of the cow's tongue
  • Noah's march
  • Zigzags

Results

Seven of the ten horses who completed the study loaded in the allotted seven minutes on the final assessment, a very significant improvement from the initial assessment. Three of these seven loaded instantly, in less than 30 seconds, and did so repeatedly during the 14-minute loading assessment.

Of the three horses who did not load:

  • one had fallen when the lead shank broke during the initial assessment
  • another owner had chosen not to participate in the training sessions
  • the third owner had been absent for the initial loading assessment and was so nervous at the final assessment that she was crying.

By analyzing the data we had collected, we were able to show that the heart rate and saliva cortisol increased significantly when a horse was asked to load. While after TTEAM training the willingness to load was significantly improved AND heart rate was significantly lower when they were asked to load. The saliva cortisol measurement was not sensitive enough with the small number of horses we had to show a difference after training.

Good loaders

One of the most interesting things we found was that the good loaders had a higher increase in heart rate when they were loaded onto a trailer than the problem loaders. We don't have a specific explanation for this. My guess is that even though these horses are obedient enough to load when asked, loading onto a trailer is still stressful, definitely more stressful than standing in the crossties! Conversely, the horse might associate the trailer with going somewhere exciting, like a competition or trail ride, and their excitement is reflected by the increase in heart rate.

We also noticed that the horses who moved around and whinnied the most while they were in the trailer had LOWER heart rates than the horses who just walked on and stood there. That was a real eye opener! How often we forget that freezing is a panic response!

  • "He was just standing there, quiet as could be, and all of a sudden, he just exploded!".
  • "He's not scared, he's just stubborn. He just stands there and doesn't move."

Just because an animal isn't showing overt signs of being stressed, it doesn't mean he is relaxed.

Discussion and further questions

When I told my childhood coach about my research project, her response was: "I think you should measure the stress of the handler instead of the horse". And I think there's some truth to that. I think a key component of the training program was the owner involvement. Learning to communicate more clearly what we want from our horses allows them to feel safer doing things that seem inherently unsafe, like getting into a trailer.

Will horses who have had a bad experience with a trailer benefit from this training?

In this training, we did not use a trailer at any time other than the assessments. There were specific orders that the horses should not spend any time near a trailer during the study. We did this in order to show that the fear of the trailer itself is often not the problem. When a horse is more confident about its coordination and balance and receiving clear communication from its handler, the trailer is suddenly no longer a problem. In some cases however, being in the trailer is much worse for the horse than loading onto the trailer. Some horses will load readily and as soon as they are in the trailer, their heart rate triples and they are sweating profusely. The response to specific exercises will vary from horse to horse because in each case, we don't know EXACTLY what the horse is concerned about. And there will be some situations in which this training will not be the answer.

What would happen if the good loaders went through the training program, would their heart rates be reduced?

Well, we don't know. It's possible. It is possible that doing TTEAM groundwork with these horses because of its many benefits unrelated to trailering may improve the horse's comfort with trailer loading by improving its balance and coordination.

What about using the Clicker? Why didn't you use a Clicker?

I didn't use a Clicker in this project because I wasn't very familiar with them at the time. Also, the more variables you introduce in research, the less meaningful it becomes. I have since spoken with MANY people (behaviourists, trainers, TTEAM Instructors) who would include Clicker and Target Training in a trailer loading program. I think it's a great idea. Definitely horses learn very quickly and enjoy learning with positive reinforcement!

Why didn't the saliva cortisol show a decrease after training?

We're still just in the beginning stages of applying the use of saliva cortisol to measure stress in horses. The number of horses and the interval of testing we used was not sensitive enough to be able to say whether or not there was a decrease. Though the increase during loading was significant, a lesser increase after training could not be demonstrated.

How significant was the bodywork in the training program?

Well there's no way of knowing this either since we did not have a group who received ground work without bodywork. But the owners definitely seemed to find it very important. If nothing else, it allowed them to look at their horse in a different way which is an essential part of learning to work with them differently.

Happy trailering, Steph Shanahan

NOTE: TTEAM is an acronym of "Tellington TTouch Equine Awareness Method." Since this article was written, the brand name for all the facets of the TTouch organization is Tellington TTouch®.

Attendees Log-In > Files for Training

Our Method for > Horses > Success Stories

Saddle problem

"I’d like to share a experience. I was given a 25 year old pony mare for my pilot summer camp program. The pony had a long history of reliability under saddle, a real baby-sitter, once saddled and mounted. She has always been difficult to saddle and refuses to stand in cross ties. 

"On the first morning of camp, she leaped around like a gazelle while my assistant and I tried to girth her up. We knew the kids would be frightened of her, a bad start for their first lessons. I said to my assistant, let’s try some TTouch body work. It sure can’t make things any worse. The mare’s neck was tense, so we started there and then on the saddle-girth areas. 

"The first two days, she tensed and moved a little but nothing like before, and we were girthing very slowly. Then I discovered that what really relaxed her was rubbing the tip of her left ear between thumb and forefinger while my assistant saddled her. After camp I did the same thing while a child rider saddled her. The payoff came one evening when my husband and I promised a trail ride to two students, 13 year old girls. One had had 10 months of riding and stable work with me. The other had two weeks. When we adults arrived in the barn, all four horses were groomed and tacked, including Shadow the pony!

"The kids had watched me working on Shadow’s ear and decided to try it. They said she never budged as they girthed up. For two real “green horns” to be able to apply the TTouch effectively, it has to be simple and universally useful. 

"Shadow never moves when being saddled as long as someone works her ear. Since she is good in the stall and there is no need to cross tie her, so we haven’t crossed that bridge yet.

"People who have shown Shadow for years say it can’t be true, that she’ll suddenly leap again some day, but her neck remains relaxed and her eye soft. I was impressed that TTouch worked at all on her, since for 25 years she’s done her “gazelle” act, but I was even more surprised that two children could apply the technique effectively. Also, none of the kids, nor my assistant, had ever seen TTouch-work, so their camp experience included something very special. 

"Thanks again!  TTouch is like ripples on a pond.  It keeps spreading and reaching further."
   – Linda Neuhauer

Nervous horse

"I watched Linda work on a student’s horse at the Equifest of Kansas. The horse was a 10-year-old gelding - Q4, Arab, Paint cross. He has a history of nervousness, tight back and flipping his nose in his bridle while under saddle - even on very loose reins. Linda spent about 15-20 minutes working him with TTouches and through the labyrinth. She then rode him with the balance rein and training bit.

"She was out of time and so only rode the horse a few minutes. She then stayed on him and rode him down to the barn to show his owner the difference of how he was going. His owner was too nervous to try riding him with the four reins and balance rein, so I got on the horse to try it.

"For the first time, the horse was holding himself in the carriage I know he’s capable of. His back had come up and felt like he had grown 4” under me. His frame was round and he was feather light in my hand. With the lightest of touch on the top rein and balance rein, he responded. He was like melted butter! I didn’t want to stop. It was a WONDERFUL experience!"

   - Thank you. Alexandra

Practitioners Log-In > Files for Downloading

Dogs 36 Case Study Suggestions

Worldwide > Animal Ambassadors International

1988 Animal Ambassadors International - Pilot Program in Idaho Schools

I've just been through a remarkable experience. It actually began last fall, when I did a pilot program introducing Animal Ambassadors International® and TTEAM to elementary school children in my home state of Idaho. The TTEAM portion of the program was exciting and well received. We could see a wonderful thing happening: children becoming more responsive, more caring. We did not so much teach the children as awaken something they already had within themselves, something that can be very beautiful in a child. I say "we" because it was the animals who were the teachers. The TTouch was the connection that made it possible, but I was as surprised as anyone at some of the "lessons" the animals taught us.

We also demonstrated how an Animal Ambassadors International unit can be used to teach natural history and science. Each child chose an animal to befriend, protect, and learn more about. Many of the children also wrote a poem on behalf of their animal.

The content was rich, the program was successful and yet something was missing: the cross-cultural element Animal Ambassadors International began as an international celebration of the importance or animals in our lives. Linda Tellington-Jones invited American children to send pictures of their pet to her to take to Russia. Many children responded. The pictures were displayed in Gorky Park and the Russians were deeply touched by this expression of friendship.

I tried to introduce an international awareness into my school program, but it just didn't have the energy of the other elements of the program. In trying to analyze it and discover what was blocking the flow I realized pretty quickly that it was myself. I could not project interest in what I knew so little about. I could not make it real for them.

Fortunately a chance came to remedy the situation a little bit. On January 5, Linda organized an Animal Ambassador day for 15 Russian children who made a whirlwind tour of the US with Youth Ambassadors. Out of this experience grew the past two days and some exciting suggestions from teachers that I can hardly wait to pass on. But first let me describe what we did and what happened.

Most of the children had had at least a brief introduction to TTEAM last fall. A few had earned Animal Ambassadors International certificates. So it was a heartwarming reception I got from these children when I returned. The age range was 7 through 13, with most being 8 or 9. They were quite a bit younger than the Youth Ambassadors. But I was to find out they still responded to the Youth Ambassadors as one child to another.

I began by telling them about the Russian Youth Ambassadors in San Francisco. I told them everyday things, for example some of the comments the Russians had made about our food in the Youth Ambassador newspaper, "The Bridge." We looked at a globe to see what an immense country Russia is, and I talked about how the Soviet Union is actually many countries in one. We traced on the globe to find a Russian city exactly opposite us, only to find a city with a name we couldn't pronounce. After a few minutes' discussion I put on a record of Russian music -- explaining"balalaika" as best I could -- and then I taught the kids the dance the Russians had done the night of the concert at the Dakin home in San Francisco.

Fun? The teachers couldn't stand it. Soon teachers and aides -- everybody -- was whirling around. Nobody wanted to stop. The kids could do the difficult steps so easily it was amazing. We all had a grand time. This happened in class after class. In one class it was super because after we stopped the dancing one child said, "I wish we could write to some Russians." What a lead-in. We left the Russian musician and they wrote their letters.

The next day was thrilling because the kids had been doing some thinking on their own. They wanted to know about the Russian alphabet, why we spell their country U.S.S.R. and they write it C.C.C.P. One boy wanted to write his letter not about animals at all but about stopping nuclear warfare. I told him to give it a try if he wished, but he decided on his own that maybe his first letter should be about animals because he really had a super animal story to tell. Last fall he had adopted wolves as his totem animal and this winter he had had a chance to help a wolf. He would save nuclear disarmament for another letter.

It's important to remember that some of these letters are from kids who have never written a letter before. Many of these kids are what they used to call "under-achievers." They don't try. Well, today they tried. They tried so hard. I think they did a beautiful job. I hope it comes across how genuine and honest these letters are. The kids were not being creative, they were just being. They put their hearts into these letters and they did it in their own way, trying to be neat and readable, trying to spell the words correctly to make it easier for the Russian child who would read it. I'm not sure the Russians will understand what kind of dog a "cocker spaniel" is, but otherwise...

I wish I could put into words how important I feel this program is. These kids are not the privileged, some come to school in rags. They may never have another chance to make this connection. Yet in 10 years most of them will be voters. Will they still care about wolves and nuclear disarmament, and will they still be capable of signing "Your best friend" in a letter to an unknown Russian?

NOTE: TTEAM is an acronym of "Tellington TTouch Equine Awareness Method." Since this article was written, Linda decided to use a brand name for all the facets of the TTouch organization. Currently, that is Tellington TTouch® Training.

1987 Animal Ambassadors International Introduced to Elementary School Children

TTEAM News International December, 1987 Vol 7 No 5 Pp. 5-6

I want to share some of my experiences of the last few weeks: introducing TTEAM to elementary school children. So far I've given four presentations - ranging in length from one hour to a week - to students in Grades 1 through 6. Forty-four children have earned Animal Ambassador Certificates. An additional estimated 200 have had hands-on experience doing Raccoon or Clouded Leopard circles on a horse.

Animal Ambassadors International® and TTEAM® were presented to the teachers as ends in themselves and as vehicles for learning empowerment. I wanted to demonstrate that TTEAM can be more than just an interesting sidelight to a school program. It can be a valuable adjunct to the program itself.

To that end the two week-long units that we did were by far the most productive. They gave us time to set specific goals and objectives that addressed both cognitive and effective modes. For example, last week I worked with Celeste Klmerico, who has charge of her school's Gifted-and-Talented and Remedial program. One of the really exciting things Celeste wanted to do was bring these two groups of kids together in a week-long Animal Ambassador unit. One purpose for doing this was to raise the prestige and confidence of the remedial group, to make it easier for them to leave their classrooms each day for "Special Ed." Meanwhile the kids at the other end of the spectrum would be gaining practice in sharing their skills and being supportive while everyone broadened their knowledge of animals and natural history through TTEAM and an imaginative search for a special animal to befriend, protect and learn more about.

Although with each program I realize how much I have to learn. I'm excited about the programs we are doing right now as well as possibilities and plans for the future. Out of the two week-long units a workable, flexible framework has evolved that include the following components.

  • Introduction to TTEAM, Animal Ambassadors International and the stuffed toy animals on which they will learn and practice the Tellington TTouch.
  • Live animal demonstration with Tehya, a horse, and Bud, a dog – both gentle, beautiful animals who are Ambassadors to the children from the whole vast Animal Kingdom.
  • An imaginary, guided tour with Linda aboard a winged horse throughout the animal habitats of the world, looking for a special animal to befriend and protect.

This journey begins at Monkey Mia, in Australia, swimming with dolphins. The children loved making the sound of dolphin-breathing. They journey to the California coast, where sea otters spend almost their entire lives in the surf, rocking to the music of the waves.

On the beach they meet the winged horse, first as a toy animal with wings shaped like hands; with their TTouch it becomes the magical, gentle horse who carries them to Africa, to Australia and eventually back to North America.

The drawings from my coloring book are used to give framework and focus to the imagery. Last week I ended the journey with a recording of wolf howls.

Then everyone rises from their chairs and joins hands in a Friendship Circle while they choose an animal to befriend and protect.
 

  • Back to the left-brain mode. Over-night I have drawn a picture of each child's animal. This is not as difficult as it may sound because many children choose the same animal. Last week we had four eagles. The children use library books to research their animal's color, plus several interesting facts about the animal, which they will write down. They'll also color the animal.
  • Children who complete the research may wish to write a poem about or for their animal.
  • Validation: Children read their presentations before their classmates and are awarded their Certificates.

It is necessary to remember that this program must be flexible in order to meet the needs of the children with a wide range of abilities. For example, last week we had a gifted first grader, at least one hyperactive older child who usually can best be reached only on a one-to-one basis and a gifted eighth grader who chose to design her own project based on the TTEAM newsletter.

In evaluating the children's responses it is important to point out that most of the children we've worked with so far have been in remedial programs. The hyperactive children are tremendously exciting and challenging. They'll wear you out, but when a hyperactive child sits still for an hour - working on his project - you know your program has got to have some strength.

I have spent a lot of time thinking about ways in which a TTEAM-Animal Ambassador program, with additional components of art and guided imagery, can be used in a whole-brain learning approach. A lot of credit must be given to teachers and teachers' aids, who know how to make the most of a program like this. I have learned so such from the teachers!

Every program we've done so far has served as a springboard for further activity, some initiated by the children themselves. Anne Gahley's remedial classes began asking for more animal books to read, an indication that we provided incentive to nonreaders. One child elected to redo her project. Ms. McCathryn's 'Introduction to TTEAM' was the start of a month-long Animal Unit for Second Graders. Dorabeth Adams plans to use our poetry writing venture as a start to help the children develop vocabulary and imagination in creative writing. Some of Celeste Almerico's students may bring their pets to school to give a TTEAM demonstration for the other children. Her 8th grade is working on a special project to send to Linda.

I believe the program is powered, to a great extent, by the live animal demonstration. The children appear to be positively affected by the presence of the horse. Perhaps they are awed by the horse's size. They press close to the rails of the portable corral, watching the TTouch being done on the horse. They are quick to notice the horse's every reaction. When their turn comes to enter the corral, one at a time, their eyes are shining with pride and anticipation. I am amazed and delighted at how much they have learned working with the stuffed toy animals, and at how well they remember the names of the different TTouches.

When they got to the dog there is sudden laughter. They have invented a new name: Lick of the Dog's Tongue.

I would like to conclude with a poem written by an eight year old girl on behalf of' her animal, the elephant.

Freedom
Is a gray elephant
Eating in the jungle.

Happiness
is a burnt umber elephant
With her calf in the rain forest.

Sadness
Is a brown elephant
Asleep In the zoo.

NOTE: TTEAM is an acronym of "Tellington TTouch Equine Awareness Method." Since this article was written, Linda decided to use a brand name for all the facets of the TTouch organization. Currently, that is Tellington TTouch® Training.

2004 Visit to the Oakland Zoo Goat Rangers and Giraffes

In October, 2004 I joined Practitioner Jaynellen Kovacevich and her Oakland Zoo "Goat Rangers" for a presentation to the youth and their parents. Jaynellen's program won the Oakland Zoo "Volunteer of the Year" award for 2003.

Jaynellen arranged this presentation and potluck lunch with me as a reward for the Goat Rangers.

Their parents were invited to spend the day at the zoo with their rangers, the youngest volunteers at the zoo, to learn more about the program and the benefits of TTouch. This was also an opportunity for the parents to hear about the special contribution the Goat Rangers have made to the zoo and to show pride in them for their accomplishments.

It was especially wonderful to have this chance to honor the work of Jaynellen. She is both a Companion Animal and a TTEAM Practitioner in addition to being a special education teacher. Jaynellen has been teaching TTouch in her school classes for almost 20 years, since the beginning of the Animal Ambassador program.

I talked about the history of Animal Ambassadors International® and how I was inspired with the idea of Animal Ambassadors International from my work in Russia with children and animals beginning in 1985. That was the year that I organized a telephone exchange between a school in Moscow and a school in Utah. In both schools the kids could hear each other (through the interpreters) over loudspeakers that could be heard ri all the classrooms. How rewarding it is to see this concept of animals being our ambassadors for promoting understanding between people and animals these 19 years later.

I presented the Goat Rangers with Animal Ambassador certificates that state, "I hereby vow to use my hands, my heart and my voice to speak for and protect all . . . . . (This space is then filled in with the name of the animal or animals the recipient chose. Many of the youth wrote in "all animals.”)

After lunch we spent an hour with the goats and sheep in the petting zoo, where the rangers introduced me to their favorites, including Pygmy goats, an Alpine, a Nubian, a La Mancha goat and a flock of Barbados sheep. It was exciting and impressive to watch the Goat Rangers as they TTouched several of the senior goats who are being treated by the zoo veterinary staff and zookeepers for arthritis. Educational staff members and keepers have noted that the Goat Ranger program and TTouch have been beneficial to these older goats as well as the other goats and sheep.

Jaynellen has been teaching this class twice a month for almost four years at the Oakland Zoo and has shared the benefits of TTouch with many educational staff members, zookeepers and docents. When she began the program, many of the sheep and goats shied away from being touched. They were used to the public feeding them, but often they were approached by young children pulling on their horns, face or legs. In return, the goats often tried to escape by butting the children. Sometimes parents pushed or hit the goats and sheep to keep them away when they were aggressive about getting food. Not exactly ideal for a petting zoo.

Jaynellen taught her Rangers how to teach visiting children to quietly and respectfully groom the goats and sheep with a soft brush and to do some TTouches on them. Every two weeks for the past four years the Goat Rangers have been handling the goats and sheep in this way.

I just could not get over how gentle and relaxed the animals are. Normally one has to be careful around goats with horns because they can make abrupt moves with their heads and hurt you unintentionally. These goats are so quiet and careful with their heads and will lie still for ages to be groomed gently and TTouched. This gives visiting children and their parents a new way to be around animals with gentleness and respect.

Jaynellen and Avril Keimey, one of the first Goat Rangers, commented that the behavior of the goats and sheep changed dramatically with the use of TTouch and brushing. Avril had this to say about the program: "I used to go to the Zoo when I was younger, and I was one of those kids who was afraid to go into the petting zoo because there were goats jumping on people. About four years ago, I became a Goat Ranger, and started doing TTouch on the goats and sheep, and showing little kids how to pet them nicely. In the time I've been a Goat Ranger, I have seen a huge improvement in the animals' behavior. They approach people instead of running away. I now see very few kids who are afraid to go up to the goats."

Later in the day, Roland and I were shown video footage of the Goat Rangers teaching visiting kids of all ages, including parents, how to gently brush and TTouch the goats and sheep. It is fascinating and inspiring to watch kids enter the area with rambunctious behavior, and within five minutes be relating quietly to the animals. It's totally intriguing to listen to these young Goat Rangers demonstrate and explain exactly how to gently brush the goats. On the video you see goats lying perfectly still, often with eyes half closed, or sometimes lying flat on their sides, enjoying every minute of the interaction. These Rangers are awesome Animal Ambassadors and articulate, patient teachers.

Gail Ellis, School Programs Manager, The Oakland Zoo, said: "There has been an obvious and dramatic change in the behavior and temperament of both the animals and the youth involved. It has been amazing to see."

The "Goat Rangers" are volunteer kids between the ages of 12 to 17. The youth have to commit to six months of volunteer work to be accepted in the program and Jaynellen puts them through a rigorous interviewing process before they are accepted.

NOTE: TTEAM is an acronym of "Tellington TTouch Equine Awareness Method." Since this article was written, Linda decided to use a brand name for all the facets of the TTouch organization. Currently, that is Tellington TTouch® Training.