Tuesday, April 28, 2009

You smell like love

T-shirt, jeans, socks...it's all going in the wash. My hair is sweaty, and my sports bra is sopping. Fog is leaning his head into the stall as if he's tickled by the reverse in perspective.

"Go ahead, laugh it up. We're still going out after this," I admonish him, but he knows I'm not serious. Fog's an old man now, and I know his knees don't like jumping anymore. We'll probably only do a few exercises and a light run through the back pastures. He pricked his ears forward when I spoke, waiting for me to do something more interesting than shovel manure. I roll my eyes and get back to work.

Mucking stalls is dirty work, I won't lie, but it's also kind of wonderful. Sunlight and sawdust, nickers and snorts like the music of love around me, and the smell. Maybe it does smell bad...but after enough time, the earthy, warm, rich scent is pure comfort. It's the smell of the earth and horses all at the same time. After enough time, mucking out stalls is more meditation. A calm, quiet work for another living creature.

I'm not saying it's my favorite. It's nothing like the joy of grooming, when we're both tired and finally unwinding after a testing practice. Head tossing and tail swishing express contentment for both of us. The joy of rubbing him down with my own tired arms, the physical connection of love. Mucking out is different. It's the time I work for him, the physical space of love.


  1. I love this--especially the musings on hard, dirty work being therapeutic and relaxing after a while. And, of course, the sweetness of caring for a kind old horse. I found this so delightfully vivid--I can practically smell the straw (and, um, yes, the rest of the stall too). :)

    Hope you had a great ride!

  2. Edmund suggested I write about poop since I was without a daily topic...and this is what happened. Fog was my boy...in the way of riders who can't afford horses have their horses. He was mine until I didn't want to trek around showing anymore (7 years international). It was a terrible loss when I was 14. I would have groomed him, mucked his stall and worked him until the end of his days if I was given the chance.

    Every ride was great.