You’re riding home on a loose rein, just finished with a summer hack between the endless sky, blue as joy, and the deep grass, green as life. Your horse is fit and well. He drives himself forward with each thrust of his hindlegs; his back swings loosely beneath you and you can feel his long legs stepping out ahead of him as if he could eat up the earth in a stride. It was a long hack, and you’re both tired – that happy, numb-muscled, relaxed kind of tired after a job well done.
You pull him up near the tack room, kick your feet free of the stirrups and swing yourself effortlessly down from the saddle, landing with a soft creak of leather boots. He stands still, chewing his bit quietly as you run up the stirrups and drop the girth with movements so practiced they’ve become second nature. Lifting the saddle a little, you swing it down off his back, catch the girth as it comes over his back and sling it over the saddle before planting it on the round pen’s rails.
Running a gloved hand down his neck, you can no longer resist the temptation. You push aside a lock of mane, wrap your arms around him and bury your face in his coat. The thick white lather of sweat smears on your cheek like a warm kiss. You breathe in, deeply, feeling the arch of his muscles in your arms, and the blissful smell fills your entire body like bubbles of warm honey. It smells like the earth and the wind, with a hint of neatsfoot oil and a touch of fly spray; it smells of hard work and sweat and pollen. But deeper than that, it smells of that indefinable horsiness that never washes out and remains identical from horse to horse. It smells like adventures and like coming home, like achievements, like broken hearts mended, like success all the sweeter for its previous failures. It smells like the imprints of God’s fingers, like the echoes of His breath. The smell is somewhere between sweat and heaven. It’s the smell of a horse.
The best smell in the world.
In response to the Daily Prompt.