I drag the circular metal brush along his body, easily and gently sorting out the red dirt from his long winter hairs which have dried together in wavy, random peaks. He's definitely been in the pond today. This boy smells of mud, sunshine, and a little algae.
The longer I brush him the more he relaxes, until his left rear hoof cocks up nearly off the ground, transferring even more of his 1200 pounds forward. A good sign of sleepiness.
He lets me smooth and clean his gorgeous neck, then every muscular part of his body, and then each of his four incredible legs, all the while listening to his deep, steady breathing, until all that remains uncombed are his belly and his throat.
His round belly is ticklish, so i have to be more careful here. Brushing it wakes him up a bit, and he bends that long, thick neck far to his left for a closer look at my progress. We Eskimo kiss peacefully and I continue. He exhales as if to surrender.
Once his belly is clean and smooth again, liberated from that afternoon cloud of red dirt, I creep gingerly to kneel in front of this gentle giant. Brushing his throat, touching his feet, squeezing his knobby knees, inhaling his sweet, warm breath and noticing the halo of late day sun through the edge of his coat. So beautiful, this horse. His ankles, so strong and solid, are covered by tendrils of silver blond hair for winter.
Now squatting in front of him, I rest my forehead on that plump, divided piece of flesh on his chest. Nuzzle him with my cheek. Kiss his furry shoulder. He returns the gesture by leaning way down and simply resting his chubby mouth on the top of my head. I am pretty sure he fell asleep again in this position, just for a couple of minutes. I sit very still and just accept it. Then without warning I feel him chewing sneakily on my ponytail.
I could stay here and do this all day. So could he, I think, because when I finally stand and walk reluctantly away he crosses my path and nudges my hands, insisting on more.