(Hoof)Beats of a Heart

She had missed this. The warm scent filled her nostrils as she entered the stables, the soft whickering of its inhabitants ruffling over her skin. The early morning white-light left the stables still partially dark but there was enough light at the far end where the crossties were hitched. She stepped over to his stall, praying that he remembered her. As she approached, she clucked her tongue in the old familiar way and, within, she could hear a rustling in the straw.

The handsome Kiger mustang lifted his head over the door of his stall, ears pricked forward and alert to the sound. His nostrils flared as his brown eye found his visitor, and he turned his face to her, tossing that majestic head in welcome.

He remembered; and it made her want to cry for joy.

“Hey, there, handsome,” she crooned, reaching out a hand for him to wuff over before sliding it up his nose.

The horse whickered gently as he nosed her hand, arching his head and neck under her touch. She could feel his strength, the roll of his muscles under her touch, the flicker of his skin. She had missed this. Leading the gelding out of the stall, she reveled in the clip-clop of his shod hooves on the stable floor as she hitched him into the cross-ties. Whispering to him, she worked gently and efficiently, picking each hoof and testing him for lameness. That done, she then fetched the curry comb and dandy brush and began on his coat. First she combed through it with the curry comb to rid it of loose hairs before then moving on the to dandy brush. Patting the horse’s neck and murmuring softly to him, she then proceeded to brush his coat, first with quick strokes to rid it of dirt and dust and then longer strokes to silken and shine it. Setting down the dandy brush, she stepped into the curve of the horse’s neck, leaning her cheek against it as she ran her hands over his neck and over his whithers. Many a day they had stood just like this, only the sound of his huffing and breathing breaking the silence of understanding between them.

After a long moment, he turned his head in her direction, nuzzling his nose along her shoulder and giving her his own kind of hug. He remembered and was glad she did, too.


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