The new hay-bringer was a handsome one. Calm posture. Wild mane. Warm eyes.
The others hung back as Bella stepped forward to inspect. Molly, heavy with foal, nickered a soft warning, and Bella swished her tail in understanding. Yes, she, too, was expecting, but she was not afraid.
She advanced to within a hoof-kick-space. He stayed put, unperturbed.
He carried no fear smell. No twitchy legs. No mouth yells.
Bella lowered her head some, and he held out his hand for a sniff. Sweat. Musk. Iron. Grass. Faint carrot smell.
She shook her mane, and he laughed and reached into an opening in his leg coverings to reveal an orange section of the vegetable. Offered it on an open palm.
Bella nosed it, lipped, chewed. Good.
She tapped her hoof and felt the air shift behind her from tension to curiosity.
Perhaps he even has apples.