If I’m not listening closely, I can miss it.

It’s deep and quiet and rumble-y…like a train you hear rolling down the tracks from miles away on a clear night or a Night Train of the Harley Davidson variety starting up a block down the street.

It originates from deep inside his belly and reverberates through his big barrel chest. It seems to bypass his throat entirely and exits through his soft muzzle, the air escaping and making his nostrils bounce almost imperceptibly.

He didn’t always greet me with a nicker. When he first became mine, he was quite stand-offish: like a cat that didn’t want to be pet- always slightly out of my reach. I would hear him whinny for other horses – loud and high-pitched and throaty. But, when I came around, he would glance up uninterestedly and put his head back down to graze.

The mares have always greeted me. It’s more of a loud, bossy screech…sounding an awful lot like, “THERE you are! We’ve been waiting ALL DAY for grain!”

But, over the last year, my horse has addressed me. Said a Namaste-like hello. I’m the only one who gets this greeting – it’s saved for me alone. As I’m walking down towards the pasture and see him standing at the gate, my ears prick, listening. He looks at me and I hear the low, quiet call. It’s only just discernable and at the sound of it, chills run from the top of my scalp and down my back.

I don’t understand this acknowledgement that he has chosen to give me, but I am powerless against it. His voice attends to something in my spirit that can only be soothed by an animal-like innocence and lack of supposition about life. He lives in the current moment; and, in that instant, he recognizes someone whom he trusts. There is no compunction or conscience – only instinct. And the instinct that would compel a prey animal to run at the sight of an approaching predator, as man certainly is, is replaced by a calm greeting that, at the risk of anthropomorphizing, sounds an awful lot like affection.