“Here Tobey, say hello to Debra!” The tack room door opens and within seconds, the tennis ball sized, chocolate brown head of Haley’s Chihuahua is inches from my nose. To his credit, Tobey is an extremely well behaved Chihuahua. By default, Haley spends more time with her dog than the horses and Tobey is the subject of Haley’s equine inspired training sensibilities. Tobey can sit, stay, roll over and he comes to call, which is a good thing as tends to zip around and in between the horses legs like a kid on a tricycle.

Haley has joined us for the morning at my request. As a busy high school sophomore (with pediatric surgery ambitions), she’s only available on an occasional Saturday and although I don’t desperately need her help, Shana, who will be riding, prefers her company to mine.

It was a warm morning; getting warmer by the minute. In order to beat the heat, we were all doing our darndest to get the horses groomed and tacked up quickly. Or maybe it was just Shana and I who were hustling. Between buckling on Stoney’s girth and clipping the breast collar, Haley turns to me, hands on her hips, and says, “We really need to clean their nostrils. Their nostrils are filthy.” In thirty years of horse keeping, I’ve never cleaned a nostril and have no intention of ever doing so, however, Haley is more than welcome to clean them if she likes.

But Haley doesn’t do well in the heat. By the time we got to the arena she was looking pale. Upon dismounting, she handed me Stoney’s reins and slumped down into a chair in the shade where she stayed there for the next hour. She roused herself towards the end of Shana’s lesson long enough to put the saddle back on Stoney and ride limply home, nostril cleaning having been forgotten.

The one equine activity Haley does commit to every week is the Sunday evening feed. She can be counted upon to make sure Cowgirl gets her pergolide and all the waters are filled and to leave an immaculately swept aisle way. In her text to me tonight she said she fed and cleaned and also “cleaned noses. Stoney loved having his nose cleaned. He thought it was a game.”

It’s good to know my horses now have clean nostrils.

Haley is, by the way, more than anyone else, to blame for the inception of KidsLoveHorses. But that’s another story.

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