Delilah was in a mood last night— a good one, it seemed to me. I had gotten to the yard really early, a full hour and quarter before the start of my lesson. It’s mid-term break here, and without all the mums ferrying the kids to and from school and activities, there was little traffic, and I got to my taxi rank in a trice. I thought I’d kill some time in the nearby mall— and got inside the doors about fifty feet before I stopped dead. What was I doing in here? Why would I waste my time wasting time when I could be hanging out with the horses?

So, very early. It’s different vibe on a Tuesday night as compared to a Saturday afternoon. Saturdays are bustling, with multiple lessons going on, and livery folk preparing to go to shows, or coming back from shows, and oftentimes the cool, cool polocrosse crowd mill about, ahead of a match.

Tuesday is very much about the people who… I was going to say really belong there, poor wee me. But it is true. The riders who are there are all minding their own mounts, and even though everyone knows me, I sometimes feel like a trespasser.

Especially having gotten there so early. I felt conspicuous somehow, exposed, and the fact that I pitch up in a taxi, I’m sure, has not gone unremarked. I felt awkward and uncomfortable, as bad as on my very first day at the place. I took my time changing into my riding boots, zipping up my half chaps. I went to the loo a couple times. I had some business to do on the mobile, so I did it. And then I finally made my way up to the barn.

It was quiet, peaceful, and I found myself slowly getting over my discomfort. The smell of the place, the heat of the horses, the softness of their coats, their curiosity, their ‘thereness’: it never fails to utterly and completely ease me out of whatever I’ve come in with. There were more dogs than usual, and the long-haired calico that routinely squats sentry on the wall between Argo and Tango’s stable blinked at me suspiciously, as usual. Argo was reserved, not much interested in company, and Tango was as aggressively effusive as usual. It’s impossible to get close to him, he’s so in-your-face all the time [and I’ll resist the urge to psychoanalyse that, and in turn look into the mirror…][maybe some other time].

I wandered over to Delilah, and yes, she seemed in fine form. Not that she’s narky all the time, but she’s a mare, the alpha mare, and she’s got a lot on her mind, a lot of responsibilities. She was very interested in me, rubbing her nose on my face, sniffing around my head and shoulders, no teeth, fantastic. I reached over and gave her a good scratch on her withers.

What followed was the most fun I’ve had with a horse, even including jumping Delilah herself around a course. As I scratched with my right hand, she started grooming my left arm, mouthing up and down gently but firmly, in the most comforting fashion imaginable. I scratched and scratched, as much for her pleasure as for mine. Then I switched to her offside.

It felt awkward, somehow, to scratch with my left hand; in using my right, my back was angled toward her head… and she went to town. Brisk strokes over my shoulder blades with her nose, down to my lower back, then the slightest scrape of teeth up my spine as her lips massaged it on either side [is it getting hot in here?], all the way up to my neeeeeeeck.

The hell with the people— this is what I show up for, the horses and hanging out and mutual grooming. If I know Lady D, and I do, this bit of bliss won’t repeat itself anytime soon, and that’s okay with me. Like I said, she’s got stuff to do. And we’ve all got our boundaries, don’t we? [Barring Tango.] I absolutely feel the benefit in the muscles around my spine, and it just plain makes me happy to think about it. Particularly since last night’s lesson was crap.

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