C. L. Heckman
Text Copyright © 2015 C. L. Heckman
Cover Image Copyright © 2015 C. L. Heckman
All Rights reserved
Cover Photography by Sarah C. Bennett
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events, businesses places or incidents is purely coincidental or used fictitiously.
For my first pony, Tory:
You bucked me off, but never allowed me to quit.
It’s November 21st, and I run outside when I hear the clanks of the two-horse trailer pull up the driveway. The horses in the barn let out whinnies to welcome the new arrival, and all of us are eager to see what beauty she possesses.
The trailer parks on the side of the barn, and Doug swings open the back gate. Her hooves bang the metal, while she impatiently waits to be led off. Slowly, Doug unclips her from the tie and backs her out. She cautiously steps down onto the gravel road. Immediately her eyes widen, uncertain of what to make of this strange place. While she snorts and whinnies at the horses inside the barn, I gawk at the beautiful strands of silver fur peeking out from under the slinky covering her neck.
Chase takes the rope from Doug and leads her to the round pen. Removing her blanket and neck cover, he reveals to all of us what lies underneath. Dark dapples line her back, and fade away into a lighter gray up her neck and around her belly. Her mane and tail smoothly transition from a dark black, to a charcoal silver.
While we admire, she bends her knees and falls to the ground, rubbing her bare fur against the sand bottom of the pen. Flipping to her other side, she makes sure not to allow a single spot on her body to stay clean. Climbing back up to her feet, she rears and then lets out a double barrel kick to the sky.
“A little full of ourselves are we?” Doug yells to her.
She breaks into a trot, her tail flipping up over her back. Her nostrils widen as she lets out a loud snort in his direction. He steps back and nods his head.
“I guess that’s a yes!” he says, wiping the snot from his arms.
I take a seat on a wooden bench outside the ring and watch her prance around in circles for a half-hour. I’ve never watched Doug break a horse, but I’m pretty sure Justice is going to give him a run for his money.
As Doug enters the round pen, he avoids making eye contact with the boisterous filly. Scuffing his way to the far end, she stares in his direction, questioning his motives. Unable to fight the curiosity any longer, she cautiously moves one foot in his direction. He stands on the rail with his back to her and his arms hung over the metal bars. Glancing at me, he lets out a tiny grin.
“Just give her a minute,” he tells me. “They always get nosey.”
As predicted, it only takes a few moments before Justice is at Doug’s back, sniffing the heels of his boots like a bloodhound.
“I think she forgets what kind of animal she is,” I giggle. Chase glances at me with a slight smile and then hands the lunge rope to Doug. “What’s he gonna do?” I ask.
“He’s gonna earn her respect,” Chase responds.
Doug begins to walk to his left, away from Justice as if she doesn’t exist. She stands there, confused by his movement and intently watching as he heads to the center of the ring. Once he reaches his destination, he lifts his right arm, holds the rope in his fist, and makes a loud clicking noise. Her body shutters at the sound, but she doesn’t flee.
Doug asks again. When she doesn’t move off like he wants her to, he takes a step toward her and slaps the rope on his thigh. She bolts. Sand flies out through the bars as she gallops around the ring, struggling to keep her balance. Her back end slips out from under her a few times, but it doesn’t faze her. Pulling her rear legs under her to gain momentum, she gallops as fast as her hooves will take her.
I meander over to Chase.
“Is she supposed to be doing that?” I whisper.
He chuckles at me and nods his head.
“Yeah; he’s desensitizing her,” he explains. “Basically he’s getting her used to stuff that he’s going to be doing over the next few months. She’s gotta get used to ropes, noises, motions, and whatever else could spook her and cause her to throw him.”
He pauses for a moment as he watches his mentor in the ring. “Also, horses are herd animals. Doug is just assuring her that he is the leader of the herd, and that she is supposed to respect him and follow his lead. You do it from the ground first, that way you don’t have to worry about it as much once you’re on their backs.”
I nod my head, embarrassed that I’ve revealed my ignorance to him.
By now Justice has slowed to a trot and is fighting to catch her breath. Doug moves to his left and switches hands. Raising his left arm out to the side, Justice immediately comes to a stop.
“Whoa,” I say, more interested in learning than impressing Chase. “How did she know how to do that?”
“You’ll understand at some point, Lynn,” he laughs. Clearly he finds my lack of knowledge hilarious. Hopefully he also finds it a little endearing.
Flipping his baseball cap to a forward position to block the sun, Chase makes his way to the edge of the round pen.
“That’s enough for today,” Doug tells him. “Let’s head in and get the other horses fed, then we will come get her after she cools down. Lynn, keep an eye on her for me?”
I smile at Doug and walk to the edge of the round pen, offering my palm to her through the bars. She walks toward me and searches my empty hand for a treat. Once she realizes that it contains no tasty morsels, she turns her haunches to me and walks away.
“Snooty,” I mumble.
I feel the toe of a boot kick me in the butt, and I quickly turn to see Zoey with a cocky smile across her face.
“How’s things with you and, lover boy?” she taunts.
I shake my head. “He didn’t come here for me, Zo. He came here to learn from Doug and to help train the horse.”
She takes a bite out of the apple in her left hand. The crunch gains the attention of Justice and she quickly makes her way back to us.
“She likes me better,” Zoey says, allowing Justice to finish it.
I roll my eyes and shove her shoulder. “Gee, I wonder why.”
I study Zoey while she rubs the young mare’s neck. Her fingers slide through her silver mane and twirl different sections of it, creating a hairdo fit for a unicorn. I can see the hopefulness in Zoey’s eyes, knowing what she is wishing for.
I lean in and whisper in her ear, “Don’t worry Zo, one day she will carry roses on her neck… and you will be on her back.”
A whinny behind us startles Zoey out of her daydream, and she turns to see her beautiful gelding, Lightning, staring back at her.
“Jealous boy?” she asks. “I still love you the most,” she says while she makes her way to his stall.
Once she reaches him, she begins to pat his forehead and he drops his head so low that Zoey can rest her chin between his ears. Now I finally understand that Lightning is more than just a horse to her; he’s her family.
Three weeks go by, and I’m getting used to having Chase around the barn. We haven’t gotten much time to hang out because of how much work Doug has him doing, but I’m not complaining. It’s my day off, and as I stroll into the barn around nine, I notice Doug already in the indoor arena with Justice.
“Chase, can you hand me that surcingle?” Doug asks as he holds Justice by the halter in the center ring. “And, I’ll need a saddle pad, too.”
Chase smiles at me while he heads to the tack room. I stand in the doorway of the ring and watch as Doug schools her. With a lunge whip in his hand, he stands in front of her and presses it into her flank. “Over,” he says, awaiting her response.
She refuses. Her are eyes glued to the mirror behind him while she swats her tail, deliberately avoiding whatever it is he wants from her.
“C’mon girl,” Doug mumbles. “Move over.”
He takes a step back toward her hind quarters, and taps her lightly with the end of the whip. She swipes her tail at it again.
Chase emerges with the surcingle and saddle pad, and walks them over to Doug.
“Hand me that pad,” he demands, frustrated by her stubbornness.
The whites in her eyes speak volumes as she flies backwards from the black pad in Doug’s hand.
“Whoa, easy girl,” he yells.
Chase and I stand in the doorway, silently watching her pull Doug by the heels across the ring.
Visit: http://www.Shakespir.com/books/view/748373 to purchase this book to continue reading. Show the author you appreciate their work!
After an amazing end to last year’s show season, things at SROS stables are slowly settling down. Zoey and Lynn are getting used to the more relaxed pace while awaiting the arrival of Justice, a free-spirted, Half-Arabian mare from Ariel Farms. When the truck pulls up the gravel road, and Lynn’s object of affection, Chase, unloads the newest arrival, everything at SROS stands still. From her silver fur to her enormous black eyes, it’s obvious that this mare’s beauty is a force to be reckoned with. Yet, when the training begins, the boisterous mare refuses every one of Doug’s tactics. She even throws in a few new tricks that leave him scratching his head. Fearing Justice’s safety if he continues, Doug is about to throw in the towel and give up. However, Chase steps up and makes a decision that will change the fate of SROS forever. Uneasy with the bond between her and Justice, Zoey decides to reach out for a second opinion about Lightning’s diagnosis. The results shock everyone, and Zoey is forced to decide on a different path for his future. Lynn, Doug, Cindy, and Chase rally together to support her in this difficult decision, leaving her with the realization that she finally has the family she’s been searching for. As the first show closes in, Rumble and Lynn are the only duo on the entry list. Everyone’s emotions are on edge, and anger and jealousy might just destroy some budding relationships. Will SROS make it through the first show of the season with both Lynn and Zoey in the ring? Or, will their National Championships be forgotten, collecting dust on the crumbling SROS shelves?