Monday nights are my favorite day of the week. After work, I drive a half an hour from home or school, depending on the time of year, to the mounted unit barn. As a special deputy with the county sheriff’s department, I work on Monday nights feeding and caring for the horses that are part of the unit.
There are very few times that I don’t look forward to my visit. It has become my therapy. A way to relax and ponder the day behind or the days ahead. The peacefulness envelops me as I go about my chores. Although the horses are hungry and anxious to be fed, they wait patiently at the gate for me to make my rounds.
When they see me approach, some throw their heads, others greet me with deep-throated neighs and snorts. As I bring them in one by one, they don’t push or fight to get through the gate. A clear pecking order has been established. Some hold back letting the more assertive members of the herd go first.
Once they all have been fed, I enjoy hearing the sound of the them quietly munching on their hay as I fill water buckets, remove blankets, and check them over for any physical ailments that may have occurred during the course of the day.
Most acknowledge my presence with a quick look and then it’s back to the business of eating. A couple, however, pause long enough to give me a small nudge with their muzzle and wait for a scratch behind the ears or under the chin (what I like to call their “itchy” spot), while I press my nose into their necks and take a deep breath. Only a horse lover would understand the aromatherapy of horse scent.
By the time I finish my chores, ending with the broom sweeping away dust and debris, most of my boys have finished their hay and watch me with heads over the stall doors. The routine includes treats and it wouldn’t be a night if they each did not receive a horse biscuit aptly called “Nickers.” As I make the rounds before calling it a night, that is the sound I hear going from stall to stall.
Some call out for more, others know the night has come to an end and go back to the business of being a horse. I turn lights out, lock the door, and look forward to my next visit.