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Summer at the Barn

Wranglers Mud-caked boots, wood-chip socks, a red baseball cap over frizzy hair. The cat in the corner, cracked wheel barrels in the other one. Musty, but bright. Fly spray and wood and hay and that peculiar, sweet fur smell. Stomping and clomping, waterproof boots and brand-new shoes- the Ferrier just left. Assembly line assembles; Mr. Ryan, Hannah, Claire, Jessie. Curry comb, hard brush, soft brush. Circular motion works best, and getting under the belly, around the knees, but gentle around there, too. Move fast, the kids are coming! Keep working till they come. Sweat gathering- the sunshine is rising up strong from behind the Smokies, and the valley feels it. Pepper, Triumph, Bob. They feel it too. Pick the hooves, get the bits of dirt and grass from stubborn feet. Heave and grunt under the saddle’s weight; ignore those aching shoulders. Leave room between the nape of the neck and saddle pad. Tight, but not too tight. Adjust stirrups, wipe off dust, feel for dirt underneath. Fly spray…

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