Yes. You read that right. I said horse massages.
Last night, I took the evening to go hang out with Orion. All I did was groom him and massage him. And let me tell you, he was loving it. There were multiple times he almost fell asleep, and the rest of the time, he stood quietly with his head hanging low, just enjoying the attention.
I also took some essential oils out with me to see if he'd be interested in any of them. In the past he's usually chosen lavender or eucalyptus. I couldn't find any eucalyptus anywhere. I'll have to order some of it. He turned the lavender and everything else I offered him away, so we didn't end up using any oils.
After a pretty thorough grooming session and seeing if he wanted any of the oils, I started his massage. I basically just started working at his poll, his forehead, around his eyes and ears, and worked my way back from there, really putting pressure on the larger muscles and working down his spine. After working his topline, I worked down the underside of his neck and chest and then focused on his front legs. Due to his confirmation and DSLD, his front legs take on a lot more strain than a lot of horses' would. By the time I finished the last leg, he was standing quietly with one hind foot cocked. He had hay in the manger in front of him, but he'd stopped eating and was just enjoying his massage. I finished up the session by brushing him with long strokes of his soft brush and trading him some treats for kisses (he doesn't always feel like doing it, but he will raise his nose to your face when you smooch at him).
I really felt like it helped me get back in tune with him a little bit better. By the time I was done (the whole session lasted about an hour and a half), he was content to just hang out in the barn with Darryl and I, no halter or lead on anymore, while I was putting everything away.
If you're interested in the methods I used to do his massage tonight, read here about massaging while grooming and here about acupressure in horses. I didn't focus as much on the acupressure as the massage, and I groomed him before I really started in on the massage (it's been pretty muddy here, so he was definitely dirty!). I did use some of the acupressure points though, especially PC6, GV 24, and Yin Tang. He really seemed to enjoy the ones on his head. He was a little indifferent to PC6, but I'm still going to continue using it.
More to come later!