It is hot and humid, the air feels thick. Even though the BigAss© Fans are turning in the barn and the arena, there is no relief from the heat. The horses are quiet, standing in front of the box fans in their stalls. They are all sweating and flicking at the incessant flies.
I check all the stalls looking at water buckets to make sure they are filled. I pull the nearly empty ones and take them to the pump, filling them and lugging them back to the waiting horses who gratefully drink the cool water.
When I go to get Lightning, he balks. He doesn't want to leave his fan, his water and his hay. I give the lead rope a gentle tug and say "Walk on!" and he finally follows me. In the grooming bay, he stands placidly, too exhausted to even chew his lead rope today. I brush him down and spray fly spray on his legs and broad back. I lift his forelock and find his brow wet. I gently rub it to dry it and plant a kiss on his nose. After he is tacked, he plods into the arena where the leader takes over and puts the reins on him for longlining. As soon as she clucks and snaps the reins, he transforms and takes off at a trot. Like an actor making his entrance, Lightning knows its show time. He moves beautifully, trotting, almost breaking into a canter, his head up and neck arched gracefully. After a quick warm up he sidles up to the mounting area for his little girl. He is energized and ready despite the humidity. He's a pro.
Back in the barn the other horses continue to wait. Lincoln's client has canceled and he keeps checking as people walk by, his ears pricking forward, moving to the stall gate, nickering. Finally I get the OK to take him back to his paddock. Before going he has to be suited up in his fly gear. Lincoln is very sensitive to fly bites and gets huge itchy welts. I lead him to the bay and attach the cross ties. I take a few moments to just be still with him. I gently stroke his face, murmuring to him, telling him what a handsome fellow he is. He leans into me as I hug him, making me think he does indeed remember me. Again I feel a deep connection with this small horse. I put his fly suit on over his head. and proceed to figure out all the straps and cinches. This is my 2nd time putting it on him, my first time alone. I remember to criss cross the back straps between his rear legs. I put his stockings on his front leg. At that point one of the experienced horse women comes into the barn and I ask her to check my work. We reverse the stockings so that the velcro closures are on the outside, making it harder for a nimble nibbler like Lincoln to take them off. Otherwise everything is on the mark. I feel a flush of pride for remembering how to get the complicated suit on Lincoln.
I lead him out to the paddock, walking slowly through the heavy air, huge fluffy clouds above me, the sweet horse clip-clopping beside me, his head bobbing in rhythm with his gait. In the shadow of the hay barn, I let him have a few bites of clover before opening the gate and putting on his fly mask and muzzle. We stand together for a moment looking at the sky, my hand resting on his withers. The fields around me are green and verdant. Other horses in other paddocks are grazing peacefully. Lincoln and I stand connected by a touch, just taking in the sky and earth. I feel a deep spiritual connection to all around me. I feel my heart open and Peace floods my soul. I give Lincoln a quick hug, leave the paddock and make my way back to the barn, sweating but happy...