The next morning Susan came to go running again, we were at forty minutes without stopping. I could do an hour but I had to slowly get Susan into it. Over the past week she went from twenty to forty and it showed in the strength of her legs.
“Do you like my brother?” she asked me.
I smiled, “Your brother and I are friends.”
“Are you sure you are only friends?” she said as we walked into the barn.
I nodded, “At least that is what I think we are.”
“Well just so you know, I think it would be pretty cool if you guys were more than friends.”
I smiled, “Thank you. Your brother loves you. He talks about you sometimes.”
I could see her eyes brighten, “He is a really sweet guy.”
“I know he is,” I admitted, “and I like him.”
“That’s good because I think he is going to ask you out.”
I shook my head, “Alright get out of here. Take a break, be back in an hour.”
“An hour?” she asked, “Mary usually is training a different horse still at that time.”
“I know,” I said, “But you have a new trainer.”
Her eyes brightened, “You?”
I nodded, “If that is okay with you?”
“Yes, that is better than okay.”
“Alright, then be back here in an hour.”
I couldn’t keep the smile off my face, I was excited, I was thrilled, I had so much energy in my system and I couldn’t help but jump for joy.
“Someone is in a good mood,” Jesse scared me.
I swallowed as I questioned whether he was in the stall the whole time, hearing the conversation I had with Susan.
I nodded walking towards the stall, “Yeah, I’m pretty happy.”
“That’s good,” he said walking out of the stall, “I better get back to work.”
I sighed not knowing what to say. Things were weird between us and I didn’t know how to fix it. It was my fault, Jesse tried to apologize but I pushed him away.
When I turned around Jesse was behind me, “Oh geeze, are you trying to give me a heart attack?”
I hoped that would break the spell we were under but it didn’t.
“Can I take my half day today?” he asked.
I frowned and nodded, “Yeah, of course.”
He nodded, “Thanks.”
I locked myself in the office until Susan was back trying to think of a way to tell Jesse I was sorry.
As I walked out with Susan I called to Jesse, “Do you have an hour?”
He thought about it and walked over, “For what?”
“I need your help,” I said.
“Shifting the jumps in the ring, I would do it but I want to show Susan…”
He cut me off, “Don’t need to explain, I will do it.”
He walked into the ring as I rolled my eyes thinking it was going to be harder to make things normal between us than I thought.
I grabbed Snowflake and rode him into the ring, “Okay, look at my posture.”
Susan analyzed me for a couple moments then tried to place herself the way I was.
I called out to her, “I want your toes to be facing the sky and I want you to lean forward without bending your back.”
Susan did as I said, “Okay now lift your weight off the horse and put your weight into your legs. The less weight you have on Woody, the higher he is going to jump.”
Susan did as I said, “It hurts.”
“Good, it is supposed to hurt,” I said as I caught Jesse’s eyes.
“I want you to follow Snowflake okay?”
I gave him a small squeeze which was all he needed to break out into a nice trot. I brought him over the first jump which was the lowest level. I turned around to see Susan clear the jump. I brought Snowflake to the second jump which was an inch taller and Susan cleared that one to but then her position began to get sloppy again, “Keep your position. I don’t care if it hurts, it will hurt less the more you do it.”
Susan picked up her position and continued to follow me over the last jump, which she also cleared.
I dismounted from my horse and told Susan to get off too, “You are not working with Woody. You guys need to be one, you need to move together. You need to trust your horse, he knows when to jump, he will go, you don’t need to pull on his reins or squeeze him tighter, we trained him already, and you just have to ride him.”
Susan frowned, she needed to be pushed.
“Okay, get back on and let me see you do it again.”
I brought Snowflake to the side and stood next to Jesse not saying a word. I watched Susan clear the jumps but again she was pulling on the reins.
I sighed and whispered to Jesse, “She’s pulling on his reins again.”
Jesse didn’t say a word.
I shook my head, “Do it again,” as she began I could see her tensing up, “Loosen up your reins.”
As she brought the horse to me she looked frustrated, “I don’t know what the problem is. We are doing the jumps.”
“Yeah you are,” I said, “because it’s practically the lowest level. Once you lift the jumps up, you are not going to clear them.”
“I think we will; can we just try it?”
I looked at Jesse, “Put them up.”
He brought all the jumps up two inches and came back to stand next to me.
“Do you think she can do it?” he asked.
“No,” I said with attitude, “She’s trying too hard.”
“Not everyone can be like you,” Jesse pointed out.
As we watched, Susan didn’t clear any of the three jumps, “Okay so maybe we didn’t clear them but maybe it’s Woody.”
“Woody is fine, Mary jumped him last week, a lot higher than that.”
I thought about it, “Look you have to want this Susan, more than anything.”
“I do!” she protested.
“Do you trust him?” I asked.
She nodded, “Yes.”
“Okay, then Jesse can you bring one of the jumps back down, maybe the first one?”
Once he left I faced Susan, “Give me your reins.”
“What?” she asked.
“Give me your reins,” I repeated.
Susan dropped them to her side as Jesse returned by my side.
I removed the reins so she was left with nothing to hold, “I want you to jump the first jump.”
“I don’t have any reins to steer him.”
“Exactly, do it with your legs. Your problem is you don’t trust Woody, when you get to a jump you pull on his reins and in doing so you are pushing all your weight down on him.”
Susan tried to steer with her legs, “I don’t know what I am doing.”
“If you want him to go right then put your weight in your right foot. Same thing if you want to go left. When you are about to jump, let him lead you.”
I watched as Susan struggled, “This horse doesn’t know which way to go,” she dismounted, “Maybe this was a mistake. Mary was getting so much further with me.”
I bit my lip, “Mary is the one who told me your problem, so if you want to win ribbons you will just listen to me.”
Jesse cleared his throat, “Why don’t you show her how to do it?”
I huffed and faced Susan, “Do you want to try it following me?”
She nodded, “Fine.”
I took the reins off of Snowflake and gave them to Jesse, “Okay, watch first.”
I brought Snowflake in a tight circle before moving him towards the jump. I should have practiced this before but I didn’t know I would need to do this. This was the way my mother taught me to trust a horses instincts. As we headed for the jump I brought my hands to my side and lifted my weight off of Snowflake as he took off for the jump.
“Your turn,” I said.
Susan continued to struggle but after a couple minutes she mirrored exactly what I did. On the other side of the jump she lost balance for a moment which was normal. I smiled as I knew she could do it.
“Did you feel that?” I asked.
She smiled back at me, “Wow.”
“I know,” I said knowing the feeling, “Now do it again.”
I got her to do it ten more times until she made the jump perfect without reins. Then I hooked the reins back onto the halter and gave them to her, “I want to see the same thing now. You have the reins in your hand but that shouldn’t change the way you ride. Pretend you have nothing in your hands.”
She nodded as I went on, “Wait,” I faced Jesse, “Put them all the way up.”
He squinted, “Are you sure?”
I nodded, “Oh yeah!”
At first Susan looked doubtful but after clearing the first one, the others were a breeze. I began to clap when she came back. She jumped down and gave me a hug.
“That is what I am talking about,” I said grinning, “Now, if you do that when you are in a competition, you are not only going to be as good as I am, you are going to be better.”
“I doubt that. Thank you so much,” she said hugging me again.
“That was incredible,” Eric called from behind.
“You saw?” Susan asked.
He walked into the ring, “I was here the whole time, I just showed myself when you were done, I didn’t want to distract anybody.”
This is exactly what I missed about training, I missed having a break through because the feeling I get when it happens is unexplainable.
Eric spontaneously grabbed me in a hug catching me off guard but I was too excited not to wrap my arms around him.
“I can’t believe you got her to do that, I thought she was going to tell you off at any moment.”
I laughed and widened my eyes, “I thought she was too. Sometimes that’s all someone needs though, a little push.”
“Well, I am glad,” he said, “Hey listen, I was wondering, do you maybe want to go out tonight?”
I glanced at Jesse whose eyes were on me, then glanced at Susan who winked making me smiled and nod, “Yeah, sounds good.”
He smiled, “Pick you up at seven?”
“Perfect,” I replied as I watched the two of them leave.
Once they were gone I turned to smile at Jesse who was already on his way to the barn. I frowned not knowing why Eric always had the worst possible timing.
Jesse punched out at twelve without saying goodbye. I only knew because he walked right past my office.
I ran to catch up to him, “Hey, can I talk to you for a second.”
He nodded standing still, “What?”
I took a deep breath, “Thank you.”
He acted as if he didn’t know what to say, “I didn’t do anything. I was only doing my job.”
“I’m not talking about that,” I said, “My dad told me.”
Jesse’s eyes dropped to the ground, “I wish he didn’t.”
“Why?” I asked.
“Am I fired?”
I shook my head, “Would I be thanking you if you were?”
I took a couple steps closer to him, “I am sorry.”
Now he looked up, “For what?”
“Not listening to you when you were trying to apologize.”
He nodded, “I really am sorry.”
“I know,” I said, “I just, I was angry. You once told me you wanted to know everything and I guess I wanted to know everything too but you are right, it was none of my business.”
He sighed, “Look, you have nothing to be sorry for. I just, I don’t like talking about some things.”
“Why?” I asked, “Oh, sorry. Forget I asked that.”
“It’s okay, remember you once told me that some things just hurt you too much to talk about?” when I nodded he went on, “It’s sort of like that.”
“I guess I just wanted to be there for you the way you were there for me but you didn’t let me so I got angry with you.”
“So maybe we are both at fault a little bit.”
I smiled, “So are we okay?”
He nodded, “Can we go back to normal?”
“I would like that.”
“So then, you still like my eyes right?” he winked.
I jokingly frowned and punched him lightly on the shoulder, “You are never going to let me live that down are you?”
He shook his head, “Nope. It is not every day a girl tells me I have nice eyes. To make you feel better though, I think what you did out there with Susan was pretty great.”
“Pretty great?” I asked.
“It was inconceivable.”
“That’s better! So where are you going?”
“Just have a few errands to run,” he said not realizing how abrupt the reply was.
I realized I had to accept the fact that he wasn’t the type of guy who openly gave you his life story, “Okay well I guess I will see you tomorrow.”
“Have fun tonight.”
“Tonight?” I asked.
“Your date,” he confirmed.
“Oh,” I bit my lip, “I already forgot.”
He laughed, “Figures.”
“Are you jealous?” I asked curiously.
He laughed, “Why would I be jealous? He has to listen to you all night.”
My mouth dropped, deep down my feelings were hurt but I knew he was only joking, “You really are a piece of work. I don’t know why I put up with you.”
“Neither do I,” he winked.
As I watched him get into his car I walked up to it and tapped on the window.
When he rolled it down I smiled, “It didn’t work.”
“I tried not to care, but I couldn’t. I hated not talking to you and feeling like you were mad at me.”
“I wasn’t mad at you; I don’t think I could ever be mad at you. I just didn’t know what to do,” I admitted, “but I didn’t stop thinking about you.”
“I’ll see you tomorrow!”
The rest of the afternoon, I couldn’t help but wonder what Jesse was thinking. I wanted so desperately to know how he felt. I liked him, I really did but I also liked Eric and with Eric I felt like he was an open book. However Jesse was more mysterious. Eric I knew liked me; Jesse kept giving me mixed signals. Eric asked me out. Jesse said he couldn’t stop thinking about me but wasn’t doing anything about it.
So as I went out with Eric, I didn’t think of Jesse. I wanted to see what it was like to go out on a date with Eric without having any thoughts of Jesse. I wanted to see what it would be like to have a guy tell me I was beautiful and hold my hand, which Eric did.
Eric had to be one of the best dates I’ve ever been on; the only problem was I couldn’t stop thinking about Jesse. I couldn’t stop wishing it was Jesse who I was on this date with. I had to keep telling myself not to think of Jesse.
At the same time, I was having a good time, so maybe I didn’t know what I wanted after all. What I did know was, Eric was doing something about his feelings and Jesse wasn’t.
When Eric brought me home, he opened the car door for me, walked me to the door and when he tried to give me a good night kiss, I didn’t pull away.