A Challenge

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Chapter 12

“Alright Hazel, bring him over here,” said my mother with a wave of her hand. Hazel walked over.

Mother cleared her throat and made her hands into a steeple. “Hazel, you don’t strike me as the rough riding type, but that’s what you’ve been doing. Colorful doesn’t need as much leg or rein as your maybe used to.” She paused, then said, “Are you a little nervous?”

Hazel bit her lip and nodded. “Yes.”

“Is it because Tessa is watching?”

I raised an eyebrow. I was so used to riding in front of other people, it hadn’t dawned on me that Hazel might be nervous while I watched her.

Hazel glanced over at me. “Yes. And you. And this is a new horse and a new situation...”

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why my mother is the riding instructor and not I. I’ll only see what you’re doing wrong, I won’t see why your doing it wrong, at least not the mental reason you’re doing it. People tell me I have a brooding presence, which may or may not be true.

“Oh, I see. Well, Tessa, despite her intimidating demeanor,” she said, shooting me a glance that clearly said, “You better live up to what I say.” I involuntarily straightened in my stair.

“...Will not bite.” I smiled a little at Hazel to confirm mother’s point. “And I’m here to help you, not to judge you.” For the next thirty-five minutes my mother guided Hazel through her nervousness. By the end of the lesson she was actually smiling a little, where as before she’d looked like she was taking an end of the school year exam.

At the end she swung off Colorful. As she led him out of the arena I walked up to her. “Hey, I’m sorry if I made you nervous while watching,” I apologized. “That was not my intention.”

She smiled. “I know. I just get like that sometimes.”

We chatted as I helped her untack Colorful. She was still new to the stable, so it’d take a little while before she knew where everything was. Despite the fact Colorful hadn’t had to put up with a mean rider like I’d originally judged, I still gave him extra treats.

“I shouldn’t be doing this,” I murmured as he lipped them up. He shook his mane as if to say, “No, you should.”

Who was I kidding? I’d give him the whole treat container if I could. I’d give every horse the whole treat container if I could.

Especially Challenger.

I chuckled and gave him a pat. Hazel came back from putting his tack up and I gave her a treat for Colorful. “You know which stall is his?” I asked her.

She nodded as Colorful took the treat. “Yep.”

I nodded. “Well, bye for now.”

“Bye.”

I strode up towards the house. I heard a text ding in on my phone. I pulled it out. It was Lacy.

Lacy: Trail ride tomorrow?

I thought about this as I opened the door. Did I trust Challenger enough for a trail ride? To be honest, no. He was too spooky.

Tessa: Sure, but not on Challenger.

Lacy: Why not?

Tessa: He’s too spooky for a trail ride.

Lacy: You scared 😨 😝

I hesitated before typing on the screen.

Tessa: No. I’m cautious.

Lacy: No, you scared

Tessa: Am not.

Lacy: Then why not ride him?

Yeah, why not? Because he’d be spooky? We could get over it.

Tessa: Fine, I will.

But even as I sent the text a sick feeling my gut developed. I knew it wasn’t right. I couldn’t put my finger on it but I knew it wasn’t right.

Lacy: Yay! I can’t wait to meet the special boy! Afternoon at 2:30 work?

Tessa: Yeah

The sick feeling was still in my gut as I clicked my phone off. I went up to my room and turned on my laptop, logging into YouTube. For a half hour or so, I tried to distract myself. But I was restless, clicking from video to video.

Finally I shut the laptop’s lid with a bang. Why did I feel like this? But I knew. I shouldn’t take Challenger on that trail ride.

I pulled out my phone and hesitantly began texting.

Tessa: Changed my mind. I’m not taking Challenger.

Lacy: What? Why? 😢

I thought for a minute before responding.

Tessa: Because it wouldn’t be fair to him. He’s not ready for it. It’d do more harm than good.

Lacy: Well, okay. Whatever you think best. I want to meet him though!

Tessa: You will.

I sat my phone down and rubbed my face. Already having Challenger as my own was costing me something. I couldn’t take my own horse on a trail ride because he wasn’t ready. I couldn’t take him to shows either.

Was it worth it?

I brushed the thought from my mind. Of course it was.

Challenger trusted me. And he didn’t give trust easily. I couldn’t risk breaking it, or putting him in a situation where it could be broken.

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