I love Monday nights. After school ends and I have prepared for the next day’s activities, I wheel my teacher cart to the staff bathroom and change into my barn clothes. They aren’t very attractive. Because the barn is unheated and still holds the chill of the evening, I am wearing an old wool sweater under my jacket and faded, fraying jeans that have seen better days. When I get to my car, I slip into my rubber muck boots and I’m ready to go. Monday nights are barn nights.
Steering onto the farm’s gravel drive is challenging in my little 4-cylinder sedan. The mud is like thick pudding and I feel lucky to make it to the parking space, but I am glad to be here. I grab the horse supplies I need tonight and enter the quiet of the barn. It is dark, but I can hear the munching of hay as I make my way towards the sound.
I find the light switch and several horses whinny at my entrance. I spend a lot of time here, including Saturdays, when I muck stalls so many of the horses nicker when they see me. They associate me with treats, so I am a friend. My own horse watches me with anticipation, and I enter her stall with her halter in my hand.
And this is the time of day that we both enjoy. I relax as I whisper her name and rub her neck. She stretches her head in enjoyment. As I brush her and pick the bottom of her feet, my thoughts seem to disappear. I am in another place. One where the only thing that matters is Belle and her needs.
Some nights we become a team and ride in the arena or out in the pastures when the weather permits, feeling each other’s movements, sensing one another through an unspoken language. For me, there is nothing more freeing or joyous than being atop Belle, enjoying the ride. Other nights are spent like tonight, just enjoying the peace and quiet and the moments together.
As I prepare to put her back in her stall, she nuzzles my pocket knowingly searching for a treat. I pat her neck one last time and give her a smooch. As I leave I realize – again – how much I love Monday nights.