When I ride after work, I've usually just come from at least 9 or so hours of almost non-stop tension, mixed with a little anxiety, sometimes interrupted with some boredom, peppered with the occasional full-blown panic attack. I am almost never in a good mood when I leave the office.
And then I sit in traffic. So, you can imagine that does wonders for the psyche. (New Jersey drivers have a special kind of road rage.)
I get to the barn, it smells like horses and fresh air. There are usually cars in the driveway of people I like. Sometimes there is wine waiting in the fridge. I change out of work clothes into breeches and start feeling a bit better.
And then I take a walk out to catch my horse, and I start feeling a little buzz of anticipation, knowing in moments I will see his sweet face.
I get to his field and grab his halter from the hook, the worn leather and the weight of it feels familiar as I toss it onto my shoulder. The rattle of the chain breaks the silence as I go through the gate. It's even better this time of year because it's completely dark when I get there. The air is cool, it's completely quiet except for crickets chirping and leaves rustling.
I wander farther into his field until I spot two little hind white socks emerging from the darkness. Sometimes he sees me coming and starts walking toward me, sometimes he stands facing me, head in the air, waiting for me to approach, and sometimes he keeps eating with one ear pointed in my direction.
Then I get to him, and I reach my hand out. The tips of my fingers touch his velvety nose and then he lowers his head and gently pushes forward against my palm, so my hand slides all the way up over the smooth hair of his face and into his soft forelock. We do this every time we greet each other. It's become as familiar a gesture as between any other people. I stand for a minute and stroke over his eyes and scratch behind his ears before holding his halter under his nose for him to slip his head into it.
And for that one quiet moment, everything is right with the world.