A Challenge

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Chapter 11

Now, I love riding as much as the next horse-crazy person. And I had as much opportunity to ride as I wanted. But, generally speaking, I didn’t ride on Saturday, unless it was to show or go on a trial ride. There’s only so much I can take, and it is possible to get burnt out on your favorite food.

My morning was started by sleeping about 30 minutes later than usual. I enjoyed every minute of it. My favorite part was rolling over, looking at the clock, seeing it was my time to get up on a weekday, and sticking my tongue out at it.

My sense of not wasting time got in the way of sleeping any longer than 30 minutes though. So, with a sigh I shoved back the covers and grabbed my Bible. Time to start the day.

After my shower as I waited for my oatmeal to warm up I logged onto the Dover website and started to look at halters. Now that Challenger was my horse for now, I wouldn’t stand for him to stay in that nasty green and orange halter.

I wanted to go for leather, but that was more money than I wanted to spend, and it wasn’t very practical. So I opted for nylon and clicked through the colors. I was torn between a forest green and purple.

Just then my parents walked in the door, letting a blast of cold air that raised goosebumps on my arms. “Hey mom and dad. You done feeding?”

“Yep. You slept in, so we had to do all the work,” teased mother. “Did you find the oatmeal we left you?”

“Oh whatever. Yeah, I found it. I’m warming it up now,” I said as I walked back into the kitchen. I turned off the stove and grabbed the handle to take the pan to the counter.

“Challenger seemed to miss you,” called dad from the other room.

I smirked. “I’m sure he missed me because he was getting fed later than usual.”

Dad chuckled.

I lounged around a little for the rest of the day. While the day was quiet for me, it wasn’t for the barn. It was the weekend, so a lot of people came to ride their horses and take lessons.

After watching multiple horse videos on YouTube and reveling in the fact that I didn’t have to worry about schoolwork I put on my jacket and meandered my way down to the barn. It was a fairly nice day for January, soon to be February.

Compared to my lazy state I found the barn quite busy. There were three horses in the cross ties, one in the wash bay, and more being groomed in their stalls. People were everywhere.

I felt myself bristle a little. For me, the barn was my space, and even though that notion was silly it still rubbed my the wrong way a little. But I reminded myself that the owners deserved to see their horses. Seeing one girl kiss her horse helped.

I wandered through the barn, petting a few muzzles there and talking to a few of the riders. I helped one lady find her girth. However there was one horse that wasn’t here that I wanted to see so I left.

Challenger was eating the last pieces of hay in his paddock. He pricked his ears as I came up and ducked under the fence. “Hey bud,” I murmured, and gave him a kiss, which he tried to pull away from but I wouldn’t let him. To make up for that I gave him a treat, which he was much more interested in.

I stroked him. “I’m gonna get you a new halter. You won’t have to wear that nasty ol’ green and orange one.”

He lowered his head and snorted. “Not enough hay? Sorry, you don’t get anymore till evening. Though, I guess if we’re going to start getting you fitter, you’ll need grain. Not very much though.”

I talked to him for a little more, then looked at my phone. It was 3:23, I needed to get over to the outdoor arena if I wanted to watch the new girl’s lesson. I kissed Challenger good-bye, which he didn’t like anymore than before. Then I slipped through the fence and walked to the outdoor.

My mom and the girl were already there when I arrived, but the girl hadn’t mounted yet. She was a little taller than me, with her hair in a bun and dressed in professional riding gear, which seemed to me more show worthy than lesson worthy.

She was holding Colorful, a good solid school horse, who picked up his head and turned when he heard me approaching. Their conversation interrupted, the two women turned to look at me.

“Oh Tessa, just in time. Hazel, this is my daughter, Tessa, who’s about your level in riding. Tessa, this is Hazel,” my mother introduced us.

I smiled at her. “Hello, nice meeting you. I’m going to be watching your lesson, if you don’t mind? It’s not too often I meet someone at my level.”

“Of course,” she replied breezily.

Hmm. Not too friendly. That’s alright though.

I sat down on one of the chairs by the ringside. Hazel led Colorful up to the mounting block. She lined him up, stuck her foot in the stirrup, and mounted. So far, so good.

“Alright Hazel, why don’t you go and get him warmed up,” said mother. “Try doing a circle in each corner to start with.”

A simple exercise. Hazel nodded and asked Colorful to move off. She seemed to do it a little more harsher than I liked. Colorful never needed much leg, a rare trait in a school horse.

Her position seemed good, maybe a little too leaned back for my taste, but her heels were down and her shoulders square. But she pushed with her seat, as if trying to shove Colorful forward with it. He didn’t need that and it irritated me.

She reached the first corner and started to turn on the circle. She seemed to struggle to keep Colorful on the circle, he wanted to fall to the outside. She booted him rather rudely with her outside leg to try to keep him in.

I found myself leaning forward in my seat, wanting to say something. But I knew it would be rather rude, so I held my tongue and resolved to give Colorful extra treats.

She went this way around the whole arena. Then mother had her pick up a trot. Once again she asked a little harsher than what Colorful needed. Her posting looked good though.

“Let’s do a little sitting trot,” called out mother. “Not too much, he isn’t warmed up enough for that yet, but I want to see what you look like.”

She stopped posting and sat the trot. I clenched my fists. Her whole body seemed to bobble, her chin was going up and down. “Sit up!” I wanted to say. “Move side to side with him!”

Thankfully my mother had her start posting again. I relaxed slightly. So far this ride had been providing more stress than enjoyment.

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