When Lena was an only horse, she got all the benefits of the massage class I took at the JC to learn how to work her muscles and use calming points to help channel her qi (or chi).
And she liked it. A lot.
Every morning--back when I could wear jeans to work and therefore stop at the barn before going to the office--while she finished her grain, I'd work on her body just a little bit. It was a way to see where she was--both physically and mentally--each day, as well as check her body for any anomalies that might have cropped up overnight.
When Bar came along, my focus shifted--particularly after I became his sole rider--and Lena started missing out on her body work more and more.
The thing is, she really responds to it. I get licking and chewing and yawning when I work on her. Where Bar is still in the "I might have to bite you for that" phase, Lena relaxes into it.
One of the more dramatic reactions Lena gave me was after a trail ride. We'd ridden pretty hard and they were tied up to the trailer afterward when she started swinging from side to side, pacing and pawing. I went up to her and hit what are sometimes referred to as the "calming points" (such as this one) and within minutes, her head was down and she was relaxed, still, and yawning.
Tonight she reminded me I haven't been giving her quite enough love--love in the form of massage and acupressure, that is. She was being her normal alpha-mare self while I was graining the three horses--Sammy, Bar, then her. Yes, I go in that order in an attempt to teach Lena that pawing, pacing, and running her teeth up the pipe panel will not get her grain any faster. In fact, just the opposite.
By the time I got the her pen, she was STARVING (despite the hay she'd already been eating) and proceeded to inhale her grain--tossing it around in big sweeping circles with her nose, and pinning her ears at her mostly oblivious neighbor.
Until I started on the acupressure.
The chewing slowed. The eyes drooped. Her whole body seemed to sigh and release whatever energy was humming around in there.
This is particularly good for her in light of her colic history, so I'm making a mental note to try to spend that time with her at least a couple times a week. It's particularly rewarding to work on Lena because the response can be so immediate and so obvious. Bar is another story for another time.