Have you ever wondered about the word “aromatherapy” in the context of horses? The word has to do with using good smells to make one feel better. I was thinking about this today when I noticed the grocery bag of barn apples that I keep in my refrigerator. As a freelance writer, I’m always thinking about words, using words, arranging words. As a lifelong horse lover and rider, a lot of times my words steer toward horses, like when I write for Horse Illustrated or Young Rider or blog along with my friend Eliza at But horse talk creeps in even when I’m working on other projects, like writing for the Washington Post or in the children’s books I write for National Geographic Kids (even my book about wolves – yes! – I got horses in there!) and Boys Camp Books.

But, back to that bag in my fridge. It’s an indicator of how long it’s been since I went riding. Today it was overflowing, a clear sign that the demands of family and work have kept me away too long. Like a lot of places, it’s been a long winter here in the Mid-Atlantic. I needed a dose of my happy horse-smelling place. I juggled some deadlines and travel baseball practice and threw on my riding pants and the knee highs with carrots on them, and my boots.

Fifteen miles later, all I had to do was get out of my car for the smells of the barn to make me feel magic. It was windy and cold, but the aroma of the evening feed warmed me up.

I walked out to the field and called for my horse. He and a few friends joined me for a little apple binge. Apple foam dripped to the ground. Their cheeks bulged. Apple bits fell from the sides of their mouths. Apple chomp. Apple slurp. Apple bubble. All good horse words. Afterwards, the horses wandered back to their hay. I leaned on the fence for a while and watched them move each other off their flakes of hay in the dusk light against a gray background of wintery trees. I love leaning there, looking over the fence and watching. Tonight the herd is quiet, munching hay, getting ready from the inside out for another snowstorm.

I hope you’ll join me “over the fence” for lots of horse talk. It’s my favorite subject!

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