I love the smell of a horse.
I don't think you will find many riders who disagree. I don't particularly love the smell of my cat, or my dog, or even my husband after a hot day, but I always love the smell of my horse. It doesn't matter if its after a bath, when he's sweaty, or cold and fuzzy. I'm not sure why, ask any non-horsey person, its not a very pleasant smell. It got that dirty, musty, grassy smell with just a hint of ammonia or poo depending on what they rolled in that day. I don't stick my head in my cats litter box and say "yeah, that's the ticket." But on my horse nestled in the fur and mane, it's heaven. Almost therapeutic. I don't know why, I can only imagine that I now associate that aroma with so many happy memories and moments that my brain automatically reassigned it from "horse smell = poo" to "horse smell = good, safe, & happy."
"You smell like a horse."
me - "I'm sorry."
"It's OK, it smells good."
The only thing I can figure is that his brain is making the same reassignment mine did. Only for him it is because I'm in a better mood when I come home smelling like a horse (horse smell = happy wife). I've already shed the stresses from the day and am re-energized. I doubt he would agree with me if he shoved his head into Dexter's mane and took a big whiff. But the fact that my horse smell is pleasant to him makes me happy.
So I suggest to those of you who love horses and get excited when you get to the barn and catch a hint of that familiar smell, try just sitting ans smelling your horse. (Try to stay near the front end, a little too much poo smell can probably spoil the experience.) It may be helpful being that in the winter months its hard to get a ride in. I'm not saying its going to be a cathartic or religious experience, it may just smell like a horse to you. But for me, its one of the sweetest smells I know.