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Soaked Hay and Farrier Smoke

R.W. Rider

The weather has well and truly turned. To say it’s shitty is an understatement. In spite of what felt like a pretty mild Christmas, January has arrived and wow, has it let us know it’s here. But whatever the weather, I still venture out daily and today has been no exception. I’ve been up since about 5 a.m. and am officially knackered. A rather looming deadline, one I’ve left until the very last minute – well done, me – meant waking at the crack of dawn like some nocturnal creature and hitting the keys on my Mac for a few hours.

To be fair, while I seriously loathe that immediate feeling of sheer exhaustion when your alarm goes off, getting up early and smashing out a whole chunk of work before the sun even rises is my favourite way to start the day. Not because I’m dedicated… well I guess I am a little, but mainly because it means I can drop the laptop back on the bed and head to my favourite place in the middle of the day – the yard.

Is it bad that I’ve always loved my own company? I don’t think so, though I could do without the pitying stares that constantly come my way. I love my friends, I do. I love my family, or what family I have – just me and mum – but I also love my own company. Well, my company when I’m with my man. That man just so happens to weigh about three quarters of a tonne, have four mighty striking legs and the cutest little whiskers. That man is my warmblood Lincoln.

Today my diary is marked for the farrier visit. Yet another one of Lincoln’s regular spa days as I call them. Every seven weeks on the dot, this guy gets four new shoes and I get a slightly lighter wallet. Thankfully, the sting’s taken out of handing over almost £100 every seven weeks by the sheer fact that I’m secretly in love with the man who takes it. Before you say it… how cliché. Yes, yes, who’d have thought it? A horsey girl in love with the farrier, but Jesus man, the guy’s a god.

I’ve known Eddie for years, even before Lincoln came along. I knew him as the guy who used to shoe my old loan pony before I could actually afford my own horse. It’s funny because I actually began using a different farrier when I got Lincoln, who as it turns out preferred ‘shoeing’ of a different kind. He gave some random guy a good seeing to after a night on the sauce and got sent down for GBH.

I needed a farrier to step in at the last minute before a show and who should volunteer in all his man-mountain glory but Eddie? I’d always admired him from afar. He’s a rugged kind of handsome, with a dark curly mop on top of his head and stubble to match. He also happens to be thirty - three, a little older than me, but that doesn’t stop the continual spark between us. I’ve never had any intention of taking it further though – just the thought of being another notch on a farrier’s rasp turns my stomach.

Despite telling myself that I absolutely do not want anything to do with him aside from what he does to my boy’s hooves, my appearance on farrier day is always a little less shabby.

I’d like to think it’s so subtle that it’s barely noticeable but it almost certainly is. Instead of turning up with my hair in a messy bun and last night’s mascara on, I’m always impeccably turned out in skintight riding leggings and a tight arse base layer to highlight the figure that he absolutely will not ever lay a finger on.

The word juvenile obviously springs to mind, and I guess to an extent pointless too, considering I’ve already blockaded any possibility of something happening, but you know, it’s nice to feel wanted and I won’t lie: I do enjoy seeing his deep blue eyes wander every so often. With my very own vow of ‘thou shalt not shag the farrier’ firmly in my head, I still love his visits. In fact, I’d go as far as to say I long for them.

Christ, I need to get out more.

Eddie is tall enough that even in my heels – which take me to a whopping six feet – he would still tower over me. He’s as wide as he is tall too. And the muscles – my God the muscles. Picking up hooves and hammering metal shoes all day long have developed his shoulders, his lats, everything. I can appreciate their aesthetics for sure, especially in the summer months, and while today unfortunately isn’t a shirt-off kind of day, I can almost guarantee he’ll still be down to a very tight T-shirt. Tight enough that his biceps will be doing their best to burst the seams.

Slipping on his freshly balmed leather headcollar, I lead Lincoln out of his stable and tie him up outside the barn. Eddie’s reversing into his usual spot.

Lincoln as usual dives into the fresh haynet like a starved rescue case, and before I can finish the quick release knot to tie him up, he almost rips it out of my hand. I would normally be fine, but the fact that my attention has been elsewhere – i.e. on Eddie – almost lands me on my arse.

Every inch that truck moves toward me, my heart beats faster. It’s embarrassing but it is what it is. I quite enjoy the vulnerability really, considering I’m usually considered quite a tough cookie to crack. I’m often asked why I’m so harsh or why I’m so tough on the outside. I don’t know. I’m just independent and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that.

Soaked Hay and Farrier Smoke

Before he steps out of his rust bucket, I can smell him. He gives off a potent yet perfect mix of farrier smoke and sheer masculine sweat. Pair it with the sweet soaked hay I’ve just hung for Lincoln and it’s a bloody aphrodisiac… don’t ask me why. I’m weird, I know.

Eddie saunters out with his usual swagger. I love it. I can see the huge, stupid grin that’s stretched across his face despite the fact I’m doing everything I can not to look at him, or notice him… or let him think I’ve noticed him. You’d think this ridiculous little game I’ve developed for myself would be tiresome by now.

It’s not.

Once again, in true Lincoln style, he pulls at me when I’m too busy focusing elsewhere, and I feel the sole of my trainers slip – just a smidge, but before I can even hitch my breath in expectation of a fall, Eddie has his arm on my waist to stop me, grabbing Lincoln’s lead rope as he does.

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