Now, after a year of acclimation in his new home, my full body weight is supported against his rough tail and strong hamstrings (that I know kick very precisely), as we lean into each other and I deliver the highly-valued inner bum massage. Traveler sidles up, out maneuvers Chief, and my hand warming station changes from mule to mustang. Geronimo enters into the fray to deliver a nip on Traveler’s enormous bottom and then deftly removes my hat with his muscular nose. I laugh, the mustangs snort in playful retort, and Chief’s nostrils elongate in mulish irritation at the silly frivolity.
We all bunch up together; me as central vertical hub nestled in spokes of radiating horizontal equine spines. Serene as statutes they wait for nothing; not dusk, dawn or the advent of Spring. They simply stand and I find unspeakable solace, my cheek resting on a rounded rump, nose buried in a frosty hide of earthy-mushroomy-leathery scent. We are a motley group circled beneath the casket grey skies of winter, breathing in the grace of Earth as she suspends and spins herself in vast space.