Interview with Annie Snowball about her participation in Windy Borman's Award Winning documentary "The Eyes of Thailand"
What is TTOUCH™? What types of animals was it designed for?
TTOUCH™ is part of the Tellington Method which aids in rebalancing both animals and
humans -- mentally, emotionally, and physically. The method incorporates the TTOUCH™ body work and ground exercises to build confidence, overcome negative behavior patterns, and release pain and fear. It differs from massage as it works with the nervous system and the body at the cellular level. Further, TTOUCH™ involves gentle,non-habitual, movements of the skin bringing sensory awareness and trust.
Originally developed for horses its universality has expanded into companion animal and wildlife rescue communities.
How did you hear about the elephant landmine survivors at FAE?
I was volunteering at a major wildlife symposium focusing on endangered African
species when Windy Borman approached me and posed a question pertaining to the
plight of the Asian elephant. During our conversation I was fascinated by the work that she was doing with the Asian elephant in Thailand and immediately realized this was an ideal place to apply TTOUCH™.
Why did you think TTOUCH™ might be able to help Mosha,
Motala and Boonme at FAE?
These three elephants had not only been traumatized physically by the loss of a limb
but some had lost their mother and been deserted by their mahouts (owner/care
giver). Utilizing TTOUCH™ in the daily care of these gentle giants would help restore the quality of life they deserved.
What did Soraida think about the idea?
Quite skeptical but curious!!!
Describe what it was like seeing the elephants for the first time?
I was overwhelmed with grief and sadness for the atrocities these elephants had
endured. I also was so inspired by their incredibly intrepid spirit and their serene nature!
I remember taking a deep breath realizing what potential TTOUCH™ could
bring to FAE.
You performed TTOUCH™ on Mosha, Motala and Boonmee in 2010
and 2012. What had changed for the elephants in those 2 years?
Patty: Annie and I worked first with Boonmee who had been at FAE for only 2
weeks when we arrived in 2010. Her front right foot was mutilated and she seemed in despair having been deserted by her mahout 2 days before. We approached her
waiting to see if she would acknowledge our presence by raising her trunk in
greeting. When she remained motionless we cautiously raised our hands to her forehead palm side down lifting the skin toward the top of her head and very tiny movements and waited for her response – within 2 minutes our hands were suddenly thrust up in the air. Then she lifted her head with an acquisitive eye as if to say - what just happened… and she started slowly swinging her trunk. That afternoon we returned to see her eagerly eating bananas and bamboo shoots, and her care giver was all
Moshe, the youngster, grew to enjoy our hands as well whether it was feathering the strands of hair at the end of her tail, relieving pain with TTOUCH™ lifts on her hind end, or doing mouth work with touches all over her tongue and roof of her mouth. These were areas that she enjoyed especially – Almost always she would greet us with her trunk raised in greeting.
Motala was the grand matriarch and oldest of landmine patients at FAE. She was gracious each time we stopped to work with her, remaining at the edge of
her enclosure to take full advantage of what we could do for her. Her mahout was always at her side eagerly waiting to follow our hands with his in unison as we worked her entire runk. Her skin was so rough I thought how can she feel us? But her alert eyes
would soften within minutes.
We returned to FAE in 2012 to a very warm welcome by the staff and Soraida. Our joy in seeing Motala, Moshe,
and Boonmee was uncontainable! Motala remained just
that much older and wiser in our presence. Moshe also had matured but did not forget TTOUCH™ – only this time she softly purred in response to hair slides to each bristly hair growing over her forehead!
Boonmee was the most compelling! In our greeting she raised her trunk which I cupped in my hands and softly
I exhaled into her trunk. Her trunk then almost caressed my shoulder and chest. Two years had passed in which her recovery had been problematic and frustrating. She had not been able to
fully accept normal
weight on her bad foot. The second day she allowed me complete access to her injured leg and foot. I worked from her shoulder to her knee with circles and lifts which she encouraged me to continue far longer than I had expected by leaning gently into my hands with each touch. On the third day as we walked up to see her
trunk was arched high, and she was completely weighted on her injured leg. These were the kind of results we had only hoped for but surely did not expect to observe. Both staff and Soraida were exuberant as well over her sudden progress.
What changes did you see in the elephants after their TTOUCH™ sessions?
Soft, contented eyes, robust appetite, and wonderful greetings the following day with
trunks lifted high.
Explain what it was like teaching the FAE staff
Encouraged by Soraida, the staff was open and receptive in spite of the language and
cultural differences. They were particularly observant of their elephant’s reaction to us when we demonstrated ear work, circle touches on the shoulder area and lifts on their legs – each touch designed to relieve the stress and tension. They enjoyed following our hands as we traveled over their bodies. Touching the mahouts was prohibitive but they finally allowed us to perform the touch on their forearms to understand the pressure and technique. We also placed our hands as guides over their hands when in contact with the elephants. A smile, grin, or giggle amongst themselves acknowledged their growing enthusiasm in learning this new tool.
We also treated Ekhe in the fall of 2012. How did you treat her? Do you think it helped her passing?
Elephants have big families. I felt I had been adopted into hers as I showed her mahout the lift TTOUCH™ that provided the comfort and support during her passing, Small light touches were performed visualizing her perfection.
Was there any moment or experience from either trip especially memorable?
The whole experience was frankly one of the most exciting experiences in my life. I would never be able to focus on any particular moment that was especially outstanding, but if I were forced to choose I would have to say the connection made with Boonmee was remarkable. Feeling her come back and be present was an honor and the way she recognized Patty and me on our return. The end of her trunk nestled in our hands and caressed our shoulders for several minutes in welcoming us back to FAE.
To learn more about how TTOUCH™ therapy can make life altering improvements to
humans and pets, please visit my website: