He picked up his head, stopped chewing and looked at me.
We regarded each other for a moment before he lowered his guard to nibble his meal.
I took a step toward him.
Again, he stopped eating; head up, ears perked forward, a wary look in his eye.
A strand of hay hung from the right side of his mouth.
I turned away, walked from him at an angle to watch with peripheral vision.
He spun away, trotting with one ear tipped to me. The eye I could see showing white around the edges.
He ran up an embankment so he stood looking twenty-feet down at me.
I turned away. Slowed my breathing, my heart, my eyes.
Laughed a chuckle.
Reached into my pocket to pull out a treat for his friend, a black and white spotted horse.
I ignored him for two slow breaths, then snuck another peek.
He blew air hard and fast though his nostrils until they flared pink and steam billowed in the early morning Colorado air.
We regarded each other; he openly watching me, and me discreetly listening to him.
I heard his breathing slow.
Felt his tension ebb just a little.
I turned and asked him if he wanted a cookie.
I laughed again.
Told him he was silly.
Fed his friend.
He looked less intimidated.
I figured he thought I was a crazy person who obviously hadn't read the rule book.
He came down from his perch and with his head held high pondered whether I could be trusted.
I said nothing.
Lowered my eyes, my energy.
Didn't look at him.
Breathed as though I was ready to fall asleep.
He walked cautiously, certain I would turn and....do something.
I did not.
He tried to look nonchalant as he walked to his hay pile and I stood my ground before slowly turning to face him.
He paused again, but this time, kept chewing.
We looked at each other with intent.
I dropped my energy even more than I would have dreamed possible and put my hand into the pocket of my sweatshirt.
Pulled out a horse candy.
Turned and fed the other horse.
Watched him with my ears, heard him hold his breath, then release it.
I glanced, and he looked back at me.
I held his gaze, looked directly into his eyes.
Silently telling him with pictures quiet, calm, easy feelings.
Breathing, at, and with, each other.
I took a step and he backed one.
I waited and backed a step.
He walked forward.
I giggled. Got another quizzical look from him.
I chuckled and walked away; maybe three meters before I stopped.
My hand came out of my pocket and held a treat toward him, and my feet stayed quiet. My mind stayed silent.
My eyes stayed soft, distant.
I offered, he accepted.
The walk toward the other was mutual and took some moments.
We faced each other, finally near enough to catch the other's scent.
His front feet spread and planted into the ground and his back stiffened.
He could pivot and bolt in a nanosecond.
We both knew this to be true.
I laughed again just to prove his worst fears.
He didn't leave.
I walked away.
He waited a beat, then followed.
I fed the other horse.
He came closer, his tension softening to a dull, low vibration.
His neck long, reaching, lip pointed toward me.
In the end, for reasons known only to her, the woman sent him away on a day I wasn’t there and still gives herself solace over her choice.
We no longer speak.
Horse Trainer and Author