Sunday morning and I go out to give my horses their breakfast. I am of course later than usual, and Minnie and Cassie are at the bottom of the field, picking at the first shoots of new grass that have begun to appear amidst the mud. Cassie lifts her head and acknowledges my presence, then resumes her grazing, but Minnie comes up to greet me. I stand and wait for her to come to me. Minnie approaches and stops exactly at the boundary of my personal space. We look at each other. I say “Hi Minnie” and she stretches her neck forward. I lean towards her, bringing my face close to her nose. Minnie inhales me through her left nostril, slowly and thoughtfully, then she moves her head slightly and does the same with her right nostril. When she is finished, she exhales into my face, and now it is my turn to take in her sweet, grass scented breath. Ritual greeting completed, I circle around to come in at Minnie’s withers and I scratch her under her mane.
By the time I have their feed ready, Cassie has come up. No greeting here, Cassie is fully intent upon her breakfast and at this moment she is only interested in me as food provider. I put the buckets out under the trees and go back to the house to have my own breakfast.
I look forward to Sunday all week and I make plans for my day off. By the time I come back out it is raining hard though and all ideas of taking Cassie out for a ride are washed away. They are already too wet to groom, so I open the gate to give them access to the back fields, and start poo picking in the yard. I feel almost guilty that it will be another week before I’ll be able to do anything with them. Minnie and Cassie are still in the yard and don’t seem to be in a hurry to leave, instead they watch me pushing the wheel barrow around and they show interest in everything I do. They stay in the yard until I’m finished; when I leave to go back to the house, they head off to the back fields.
The rain lasts all day and into the evening, but when I go out to give hay for the night, it is dry and the stars are shining through patches of clear sky. When I walk into the yard I can see Minnie because her blaze shines like a beacon. Cassie is in her stable and she was lying down, I can hear her getting up. I put hay out under the trees and sit down on a rock between the two piles. I always sit there for a while before I go to bed. I love the intimacy of the night, listening to the horses munching their hay and their snorts of contentment. I realise I don’t need to do anything with my horses. Sometimes it’s enough just to be there. It is companionable. And very peaceful.