Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Alpaca Listening

I was talking to my sister who enjoys taking TTouch classes to work with her horses.  We talked about how important it is just to listen to what your animal is communicating to you.  During her recent workshop she attended, there was a student that had a really hard time with the listening skill.  They "knew" what they were doing yet they didn't listen at all to the animal's experience and the instructor had to back her off the horse she was working on because he was so agitated and upset.  He wanted to get better but when this student wasn't listening that her touches were uncomfortable, he kept amping up his signs to tell her until he was really dangerously upset.  The instructor quickly calmed the horse and let him settle.  Before she let him go out into the pasture away from their training, she went in and did some techniques on him.  She felt how he was very uncomfortable on certain parts of his body and instead of forcing those spots, she backed off and went to other areas he seemed more willing to accept the touch.  She ended the session when she saw him briefly take in a little touch.  They then let the horse free out in the area outside where they were teaching.  He had a large area he could go and get away from them with a positive experience and feeling heard.  They expected him to get as far away from their workshop as he could and he had a large area he could run way to, but instead he hung near them with his head low over a rope fenced area watching.  He wasn't so upset with them after all, and wanted the TTouch but he also wanted to be heard when it was uncomfortable.

If you have ever had a massage and a painful knot is found, a good masseuse knows just how much pressure to apply that helps work out the knot but not create pain.  They have learned to listen to your body to know how uncomfortable you are or perhaps you verbalize to them how much they can do.  But imagine if you told that masseuse the pressure they were applying was too painful and you were ignored.  You certainly would think they don't know what they are doing, you wouldn't want to go back to them again I bet, and you probably would lose trust in them too. 

Listening to your animals when you first start these touches and techniques is the most important thing you can do.  If your touches makes them jump, back off the pressure a bit.  Change locations.  Stop all together and and just breath gently and watch their eyes soften.  You will gain more trust by doing that then giving them the best tasting carrots. 

When I'm not even working with my alpacas, I'm still listening to them.  As I walk by an alpaca and I see them jump or take a step away, I often will take a step away from them too.  It is showing them I hear them that I moved into an uncomfortable area of their personal space and since I'm not working with them or needing to catch them, I can show them I am listening to what they just communicated to me and take a step away from them.  Almost every single time I do that, I see them stop and instead of taking more steps away, they just stand still.  They get that I heard them.

Practicing these listening skills with our alpacas can help our listening skills in other interpersonal relationships.  Listening is becoming such a lost skill in our culture and yet is probably one of the most important skills if we want to have successful relationships, business, and lives.  

Learning to listen to what my alpacas like in their TTouches.  Miss Marple prefers gentle TTouches under her chin.

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