Horse Tails

It’s lunchtime at the ranch and I am taking a break. In the barn. The rest of the staff are elsewhere, but not I. I just can’t stay away from these animals. I am starved for their company. This is therapy.

Two rows of standing stalls are occupied by twenty horses having lunch. The barn is not quiet, but it is very peaceful. After a busy morning of trail riding, everyone is happy for a breather. My ears  Рand soul Рare massaged by the rhythmic sounds of munching, swishing, a little bit of stomping. The smell of fresh hay mixes with horse and manure and I love it. This is therapy.

I have developed a habit of keeping a mane and tail comb in my pocket, and with twenty bums to choose from, it’s little wonder why. I pick a tail and lean against the powerful rear quarters of an appaloosa. If I had an appaloosa, I think to myself, I might call him Captain Underpants. Just for fun. But this one is Pongo, and he munches while I lean against him just enough to let him know I’m there and go to work on the knots and clumps of mud that have built up in his tail.¬†This is dirty work. Hair in handfuls, dirt falling to the ground if it makes it past my hands and arms and jeans. When I am finished, he swishes his tail and it flows freely, rather than flailing around a bunch of knobs on a string like a cat o’ nine tails. I am satisfied. This is therapy.

I move to another: a deep chestnut mare named Dixie. I repeat the ritual: lean in, comb out, feel the power that allows me to approach it, and enjoy. I marvel at how much I don’t hate this. Perhaps it is because I am a volunteer, and I am here only because I want to be. This is not a chore. This is therapy.

All too soon, the staff are back from lunch and everyone is run out to the corral to wind up for the afternoon. But I am refreshed. And ready. I almost feel naughty for stealing some time with these equine companions. Naughty, but not sorry. This is therapy.

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