Hi, want to hang out? Go somewhere fun?
Sure comes the response, not in words, but in actions. He walks over to me and puts his head down for his greeting scratch on the forehead, and allows me to put on his halter. We mosey out of the field and up to the house, he grabs the sweetest blades of grass on the way by.
We judge each others mood while I brush him off. He can tell mine by the speed and hardness of my actions, the expression on my face, tenseness of my muscles. I can tell his in much the same way. Today, I'm soft, so is he.
I rest my face on his neck. I can hear the murmur of heart beat, swallowing, breathing and I inhale his smell, horse smell. Unique to them and as familiar and comforting to me as a childhood blanket.
First the saddle blanket, then the saddle. The leather, another familiar, pleasing smell. Placed with care, it fits like a glove, cinched in place.
I climb on and rest in my most favorite seat. A place I've sat since I was a child. Control is an illusion. There is no control here. Just trust and a friendship so pure. I go for a ride by myself, but I'm never alone.
We wander down the old dirt road that winds through the cut over trees behind our property. Off it, are paths down to the river. We don't venture down those today, the sun is too low in the sky.
From my seat I spy the footprints of those who wandered this way before us. Raccoon, rabbit, deer and birds I can't be sure of. A raven watches from a low branch of an old dead tree.
In a heartbeat, his legs lock, muscles tense along his neck, down his back. Ears forward. What's that?! Nothing Bud, a pheasant. My muscles remain relaxed, his follow suit, I urge him on. Communication, neither seen nor heard, a language in itself.
At his feet, the ground slopes down to the river, then rises again on the other side. We'll have to come back again in a few weeks with a camera, and take pictures of the trees dressed in their autumn colors.
Tack removed, I return him to his pasture. I say thanks for the ride with an affectionate scratch on the shoulder like his mother used to give. Coated in his smell and dirt (horse dirt isn't real dirt though) I say goodbye to my friend until next time. He says goodbye too, with a flutter of the nostrils, like the purr of a cat.