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-SIX YEARS LATER-

I sat in the saddle of my big Hanoverian stallion, who’s barn name was Woody, though his show name was Coureur de Bois, runner of the woods, in French, to do with French guys joining native tribes, to those who enjoy socials and the discovery of Canada. My seventeen one hand horse stood, perfectly square, waiting his turn in the ring. Me and a couple friends had made a course in our big outdoor arena. Made up of fourteen jumps, it included our newly added water jump and a line that went oxer, vertical, oxer. The first oxer at three foot three, and the spread of it was two and a half feet, the vertical was at three six and the second oxer was at three six as well, and the spread of it was three feet.

The course itself was pretty difficult, but we wanted to start preparing for show season, which was just weeks away, well technically it started but most of the shows were in summer as compared to winter. Besides Woody, I would have to show a bunch of my parents horses, to get their selling prices up, and my other horse, Faux, a Warmblood mare my parents had bred. She was my back up, but still a very talented horse.

My friend Marie finished her course, trotting her Trakhener gelding over, his neck arched gracefully. He showed the years of dressage training he had had in the way he moved. I smiled, she had pulled one rail. My brother, Scotty, ran over and fixed the jump, while I did a quick re-warm up of Woody. I got him bending both ways and did a couple lead changes before setting out upon the course.

Anyone could tell the exact moment our focus went from, fun practice course to must be the best out of all six of us. I whispered in Woody’s ears and set him up towards the first jump, a 3’6 vertical, looming ahead, it was a skinny, meaning that it wasn’t the standard 12 ft across, instead it was eight feet. This meant preciseness. I steadied Woody towards the jump and he leapt up and over it. I felt his muscled ripple beneath me and smiled. Turning him and taking him through the rest of the course, no faults.

We won the mini-competition. I let out a cheer and gave Woody a big pat. “That’s my fantastic boy!” I praised with a smile. My friends were laughing. The five girls sitting on their horses laughed. “Nice one!” Marcy called. “Thanks!” I laughed and then as a joke did a victory lap, waving to an imaginary crowd.

Scotty stepped into the center of the ring and stood, pretending to look professional. I trotted up beside him and stopped Woody just to his side. “And in a close second place, Char on Firefly!” he called out, his voice booming. He waited while Char did a small lap with Firefly before stopping on my left. “And in third, we have Marie on Scouts Honour!” She cantered over to us and stopped beside Firefly. “Thank you, to all who turned out for this small show, we appreciate all the work you’ve put in to preparing these horses and we would also like to thank the fans, for coming out to show your support of these amazing young riders!”

We heard laughing and all turned our heads to see Mike, Dylan, Trevor, and Markus were standing off to the side a bit. We all burst out laughing.

“Really Scotty, you could go into announcing as a profession.” Markus called. I giggled again.

“Thanks, but no thanks; it’s not really appealing to me.”

“Personally, I don’t care what anyone says, Marie won, and Scout did amazing!” Trevor called. We all rolled our eyes as he walked over and Marie leaned over and gave him a quick kiss.

Us girls started walking out our horses lazily. I dangled my feet out of the stirrups. Dylan came up beside me and gave Woody a pat. “How’s the beast doing.” As if insulted by the comment, Woody pinned his ears and sidestepped away from Dylan. I chuckled and told Woody to chill before moving beside Dylan again.

“He’s doing really good, he is in top form right now, he feels amazing. I still think you should learn how to ride.”

“Yeah right, I don’t think it would be good for my balls, I swear, male riders probably can’t have kids after a while of doing it.”

“Wow, I’m pretty sure you’d live.”

“Nah, I wouldn’t.”

“Fine, be that way.”

He smiled up at me and laid a hand on my knee, just above the edge of my black tall boots. He heard footsteps coming towards us and dropped his hand as Scotty came up. God I felt awkward. The smile he had given me was more than just a friendly smile. I didn’t like Dylan like that. I liked a guy at school, but not even very much, I focused on riding too much to have time to actually end up liking a guy. Besides, Dylan was more of a brother.

“I didn’t want to be stuck with the happy couple or the gossipy foursome so I thought I’d join you two.” He smiled broadly. I smiled back at my brother. Scotty was six foot three, just like both my other brothers. He had short, gelled dark brown hair, stubble, and dark eyes. He was tanned, and quite built. Every time I had girl friends over all they talked about was how hott my brothers were. Basically, Dean and Kyle had a very similar appearance to Scotty, though Dean’s hair was shaggy and touch the back of his collar of his shirt and Kyle had ice blue eyes. Kyle didn’t live at home anymore though.

“What do you have to do today, Scotty?”

“I have a lesson to teach and then I’m doing nothing, so if you guys wanna do something?”

“Who’s lesson?”

“Twelve year old girl, Cassandra.”

I nodded. I hadn’t met the girl he spoke of and he’d never spoken about her so I assumed it was a new student. He taught a lot of the young kids and he taught western. I taught in the age range of thirteen to eighteen, and the ones I taught were at least starting to show. I wouldn’t teach younger because they all thought they knew everything and I didn’t like teaching all the basics. I was picky, yes.

“And it's hey now here we go
D-J don't you play nothing slow
Keep those girls out on the floor
Gotta make 'em wanna come back for more.”

I groaned as my phone started ringing in the pocket of my riding pants. I probably wouldn’t be able to get to it in time considering how tight the pants were and the fact I had riding gloves on. It made for . I leaned back in the saddle, stretching out before I sighed and looked at Dylan. “Help.”

He reached up and pulled out the phone easily. I rolled my eyes at him and flipped it open.

“Hello?”

“Can you work Diego for me when you have time? He’s the only one I didn’t have time to do before I went to the clinic.”

“Yeah Mom, no problem.”

“Make sure to ride in the larger of the indoors. He’s not good enough to be outside and the birds are getting really bad in the smaller, we have someone coming in to take out all the nests this weekend.”

“Okay Mom, I’ve got to go though. Diego will get done.”

“Thanks honey, and don’t forget to feed the broodmares their lunch, you said you’d take over that job.”

“Yes mom.” I rolled my eyes at no one in particular and then groaned as Woody sidestepped quickly, jerking me slightly as I wasn’t ready for it. “Easy boy,” I murmered. “Look Mom, this really isn’t a good time, Woody’s getting fidgety.” I interrupted her while she went through a list of things around the barn I had to start doing. I hung up quickly before she could go on. I handed Scotty my phone which he pocketed.

“Well looks like I’ll be riding during the lesson you’re teaching, Scotty.”

“Do you mind if I watch you ride, Aspen?” Dylan said suddenly.

“Go ahead, it’s not going to be very exciting though, I’m just going to be working one of the horses my Mom is training.”

“It’s fine, I enjoy watching you ride. You make it look, so easy.” I smirked as he said that and shrugged.

“Thanks I guess.” I said and swung off of Woody and put him in the crossties. “I love you Woody, baby boy.” I kissed his nose. “Can you go tack Diego up for me, please, Scotty. I have to work him for mom, and if you tack up while I untack, I can be halfway through working him when your lesson starts.”

“Sure little sis, your steed will be awaiting your arrival in the large indoor in fifteen minutes.”

“Is your lesson going to be in there?”
“Yes ma’am.”
“Okay. Thanks Scotty.”

I smiled at Dylan as I started untacking Woody. He grabbed a brush and started going over Woody’s sweaty coat. “I might as well just rinse him with a hose. It was pretty warm out, and this is just going to crust if I leave him.”

“I can hold him if you want.”
“Thanks.”

I clipped a leadrope to the leather halter on Woody and led him out around to the side of the barn and handed the rope to Dylan who held it while keeping a little distance between himself and Woody’s face, so Woody wouldn’t bite.

I quickly rinsed off my handsome horse and glanced up at Dylan while doing one of Woody’s legs.

“So why did you and Erica break up?” I asked curiously.

“We fought a lot, and she thought I spent too much time with you and Sarah.” He shrugged.

“You are joking, right?” I laughed.
“What?”

“Honestly, she thought Sarah or I liked you? We’ve been best friends for how many years, since grade seven? Really, you’d think she would have noticed that girls and guys could be close friends...” I chuckled again. I had decided playing the oblivious was a good strategy; it avoided the fact of anything awkward happening.

I hadn’t thought of how Dylan would react though, because he looked a little unhappy now. I smiled at him quickly before finishing up and grabbing Woody’s lead and bringing him back in the barn and finishing him up and putting him in his big stall. I ran over to the big indoor and saw Dylan sitting on the bench in the corner of the arena.

Scotty gave me a leg up and then walked over and stood just outside the arena so he could leave to help his student tack up when she got there.

I sat deep in the saddle, adjusting the stirrups to my length instead of my mothers. I nudged Diego forward into a forward walk. The last time I had ridden him he had been barely saddle broken. This was five months later in his training and he was doing fantastic.

I worked him left rein trotting for a few minutes before switching, doing circles and figure eights here and there. I moved lightly in the saddle. Keeping the slightest feel on his mouth while still asking him to drop his poll. His trot was light and bouncy. It felt like he was moving on feathery pillows, he hardly seemed to touch the ground. ‘Wow, Mom’s doing amazing with him, he’s so good, he’s going to be worth a lot of money.’ I thought as I sat into the saddle and asked for a canter. My hands were light, giving him the movement he needed in his head. “Good boy.” I said softly as I circled him and then I went to change reins, cantering, trotting two steps, than asking for a canter again. “Scotty, call mom, find out if he does flying!” I called across the arena to him.

I worked him the other direction before slowing to a walk.

“No, she hasn’t gotten to that yet. She’s been working on his bends and some other stuff,”

“Okay, I didn’t think she had, that’s why I stayed with the simple change.”

Dylan looked at me curiously. “What’s the difference between a simple change and a... what did you call it, flying? Change?”

“A simple change looks like this,” I asked Diego to canter out of the corner and at the next corner turned him to cross the diagonal, trotting for two steps in the middle, before picking up the canter again. I got back to where Dylan sat and slowed Diego. I noticed Scotty had walked away. I assumed his lesson would be starting soon.

“A flying wouldn’t have the trot steps, it’s a more advanced move where the horse basically skips one to switch lead legs, a lot of horses get vices when they learn the flying though so they end up bucking while doing the flying or something. I got lucky with both of my horses, neither of them picked up that habit, but horses like Pirate and Disco both have it.” I used one of the lesson horses and one of the horse boarded at our barn as examples. “Firefly does it sometimes too. More often than not really,” I smiled.

“Oh, that sounds.. Complex?”

“It’s really not, you just have to know how to ask for it and whether it is going to cut time or make a course harder. With Mom training this guy he’ll most likely get a good change, it’s just whether whoever buys him will be able to keep the clean change or if he’ll develop the habit then.”

He nodded, I had the feeling he had no idea what the hell I was talking about. I backed Diego up ten steps before turning him and swinging off. “Hold him for a sec, he won’t bite, he’s a sweetie.” I walked over to the side of the ring and set up trotting poles, five in a row, on one side of the arena and set up two single poles one either side(left to right) of one half for circling.

I went back to Diego and Dylan and got Dylan to give me a leg up onto Diego. Diego sidestepped when I landed on him and I murmured softly to sooth him.

I asked for a trot again and started going over the trotting poles each direction, keeping him centred, but every time he got shy at them and shrunk his stride and tried to fidget. “So this is what she meant about you shyness.” I said softly, pulling him to a stop.“Can you pick these poles up and put them back while I work on his circles? Please?”

“Yeah sure, Aspen.”

“Thanks, I don’t want Scotty getting mad at me for setting stuff up and leaving it while he does a lesson.”

I asked for a canter and then set to work doing the exercise. T he key was to get the same amount of strides on either side of the two poles which were spread out so I should get twelve or so strides on either side. It helped the rider to judge the distances and helped make equal circles, which were ‘prettier’ which was what riding was about, making things look easy and pretty.

He did pretty well and I was so engrossed in the exercise that I didn’t notice Scotty come in with the girl and a horse. I looked up and slowed to a stop and saw Bud. I closed my eyes. I had avoided riding in the same arena as Bud for six years. I hadn’t visited him, hadn’t even pet him going through the barn. I felt the hurt too much when I saw him.

The girl was fixing the cinch on the western saddle. I saw Dylan grab the two poles I had just been using and put them away. I looked down at Diego. ‘Shit, I can’t cool him out, outside’ I thought grumpily.

Bud was now eighteen; he was only used twice a week in easy lessons. He was going to be retired soon, and a lot of them time he was stabled with yearlings we owned to keep them company and to help teach them proper manners in the paddocks.

I immediately thought of Damien. I hadn’t heard from him at all in the six years it had been since he left me so abruptly. I sighed. I could feel a complete sadness fold over me and I hopped off Diego as soon as he was cooled out and led him out of the arena while Scotty told the girl to sit straighter, even though western was more casual, it wasn’t your couch at home.

I walked Diego into the barn and started grooming him quickly. I pressed my face up to his shoulder and felt a couple tears run down my face against his fur and fine muscle. He tried to turn his head to nudge me in the crosstie but the ropes on either side of his head holding him still made it impossible to. He let out a quiet whicker. He was normally fidgety in the crossties but he was perfectly still and calm now.

I heard footsteps behind me and glanced up, brushing my hands over my face to hide the fact I was crying. I pulled off my helmet and put it down on the divider between two of the crossties.

Dylan looked at me, his face full of concern. “Are you okay, as soon as that girl came in, you looked kinda sad or something and you’ve been crying.”

He came up and wrapped his arms around me. I wrapped mine around him too and laid my head on his chest.

He stroked my hair and held me close, his chin resting on my head. He was shorter then a lot of my guy friends, at five foot nine, so I didn’t feel like quite the midget next to him like I did the rest. I’m a short five foot three.

“It’s nothing, that horse, just reminds me of someone that I don’t like to think about.” I looked up into Dylan’s hazel eyes. His short blonde hair was messily spiked. He wore a tight t-shirt that clung to his muscles. He was a good muscular, not super noticeable like any of my brothers but he still was defined. He wore jeans and black Nike shoes. He was quite cute, but still not really a guy I would go out with. My boyfriends had all been super jocks, and as much as I thought that jocks were probably why I kept breaking up with them, I couldn’t resist either.


Submitted: June 20, 2009

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Helen305

whoa ... awwwwwwww!
update soon!

Sat, June 20th, 2009 7:18am

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