Horses Are Therapy

i enter the barn at the end of the day
worries and stress squeezing my shoulders
scrunching my brow
and hitching my breath

halter on and brushes out
i tie the lead rope and pull back my hair …
and i’m angry.

but i can’t let her feel my stress
or she’ll bolt faster than light before my foot hits the stirrup
so i curry in slow circles
over her neck and shoulder and haunches
hearing her sigh and stomp and swish
and i let the rhythm lull me

i can’t let her feel my anger
or i’ll eat dirt faster than i can say giddy-up
so i brush in soft flicks
watching the dust curl in the rays peeking in
smelling the hay and grain and wood
and i let the tranquility calm me

i can’t let her feel that stab of sadness
or she’ll go where she wants despite my commands
so i brush her face with the softest touch
and she closes her eyes and leans into the bristles
i feel the tickle of her mane on my skin
and i let the serenity cheer me

and i brush and pamper ‘til her red coat gleams
and i rub her mane and tail with sheen
she’s beautiful, shiny, no dust to be seen
and all that dirt is on my face and my jeans …
and i’m happy.

dedicated to Bailey