Back on the Saddle
Wednesday morning came quickly, I didn’t feel like getting up; I felt like lying in bed all day but at seven I got out of bed. I greeted everyone warmly and headed into the barn where I found Jesse in the equipment room getting the grooming tools.
“Good morning,” I said heading next to him to grab another set of grooming tools.
I smiled, “Have you ever been riding before?”
He shook his head as we headed into the barn, “Once or twice.”
“I’m going out with my friend for a trail ride around noon; you are more than welcome to join us.”
He shook his head, “No thanks, I’m good.”
“Okay, well if you ever want to, it’s not a problem.”
He nodded, “I guess you ride often?”
I shrugged my shoulders, “Umm, not too often.”
He nodded, “Well I better get to work.”
“Hey do you mind grooming Gerry? Sara, my friend, will be riding him.”
He nodded, “Sure.”
Jesse headed down the barn and let himself into Gerry’s stall. He patted him lightly on the head and began grooming him. I was surprised by how quickly he learned. It was only his second day and it looked as if he had been working with horses his whole life.
The morning went by quickly; Sara showed up at 11:30am and found me in the barn with straw in my hair because Snowflake was eating his hay while I was grooming him.
Sara gave me a big hug when she spotted me, “It’s about time you find time to hang out with me.”
I smiled lifting her off the floor, she was so tiny, sometimes I was envious, “I know, you’re early.”
“I figured I could groom Gerry, I miss seeing him all the time.”
“I actually got Jesse to do it earlier but you can go and have a chat with him and reacquaint yourself. I will just finish up here.”
She nodded, “Take your time.”
Ten minutes later I entered into Gerry’s stall, “Ready?”
Sara led Gerry out by the lead rope; she tied him up and went to grab his saddle. Jesse was walking into the barn when Sara came back, “Sara, this is Jesse.”
They shook hands, “Hi.”
Jesse smiled and headed back to work.
When he was out of sight Sara turned to me and whispered, “He is gorgeous.”
I shook my head, “Do you ever have anything else on your mind?”
“Like what? School? Work? I would much rather have that on my mind,” she winked as she glanced over her shoulder, “As if you never noticed his looks, I’m sure you were sizing him up in the interview.”
I laughed, “I don’t size people up Sara. I ask them questions.”
“He fits your description of a guy perfectly. You always said brown hair and green eyes were a great combination.”
I did always say that but I hardly noticed the colour of his eyes. I began to think of Jesse and realized that he was attractive behind the awkwardness and apart from his attitude.
“I never really noticed. He’s an employee.”
“How old is he?”
I smiled, “If he is so perfect, you can have him.”
“You are trying to tell me you are not attracted to him at all?”
I nodded, “That is exactly what I am saying. I don’t even know the guy. Yes, I will admit he is cute physically but he’s not my type.”
“You get to see that all day,” she commented when we exited the barn with the horses.
“You can have him.”
“No thanks, I have enough boy drama. Plus, I wouldn’t feel right, you saw him first.”
I laughed, “Don’t let me stop you.”
Slowly I put my foot into the stirrup and lifted myself up on the horse loving the feel of it.
“Are you okay?” she asked.
I nodded, “Yes, it feels weird though. I can’t believe I haven’t been on a horse for a year. It feels like ten years.”
“That’s because you love it.”
I nodded and patted Snowflake, “I missed riding you Snowflake. Did you miss me too?”
We rode for a while in silence; I was absorbing every part of the ride into my memory. We finally stopped when we got to my favourite spot, two trees side by side. We both got down and went to sit on the grass.
“So what’s going on?”
Sara laughed, “So remember I told you about Frank?”
“That’s the one who asked you out three times now and you keep turning him down?”
She nodded, “Yes, well he asked me out again.”
“Stop torturing the guy and just go out with him.”
“I said yes.”
“Finally,” I smiled, “What took so long?”
“I like him.”
“That’s why you kept turning him down?”
She nodded, “Yeah, it’s not the same going out with guys who don’t really mean anything. I go out with them and they pay. The date ends and I go on the next date. I actually like this guy. What if it doesn’t work out, what if we go out and he doesn’t call back?”
“He’s already asked you out three times, of course he will call you back. He clearly is into you, otherwise he wouldn’t be so persistent.”
She nodded, “Yeah I know, you are right.”
“I wouldn’t worry about it too much, take it easy, go on your first date and see where things go from there.”
She nodded, “Since when have you been the advice giver?”
I shrugged my shoulders, “I have always had good advice.”
She nodded, “So what about you? How have you really been?”
“I’ve been okay. I want to start training again.”
“That’s great, you should.”
“I just don’t know how to tell my dad.”
“Just be honest with him, I mean, I could see a part of you is missing, training horses is your life.”
“I love it but I know my dad doesn’t want me to.”
“Have you asked him about it?”
I shook my head, “I could see he didn’t even want me to come on this ride. He didn’t say it but I could see it all over his face.”
“Well maybe mention the idea to him and see what he says.”
I nodded, “I will soon.”
“What about Eric?”
“What about him?”
“You guys broke up two weeks ago; you can’t be over it already.”
“You dated the guy for one year.”
“And it was a big mistake. He never understood my passion for horses; he didn’t understand how much I missed it after my accident. I should have broken up with him a long time ago. I didn’t even see him often.”
“I know but that’s besides the point.”
“I miss having someone to talk, but at the same time I feel like he never really listened to me. Plus, I talk to you and I have my dad to talk to. Honestly, he is the last thing on my mind.”
“Alright, well if you say you are over it then I believe you.”
“Good, because I am.”
She nodded, “Shall we head back?”
I looked at my watch, we had already been out for two hours, “Yeah we should.”
As we got back on the horses we began to jog lightly through the open field, “Where are you going?” Sara asked, “That’s the wrong way.”
Sara smiled and nodded, “I’ll follow you.”
I lightly pushed Snowflake to go faster; once we were cantering I wanted to go faster so I encouraged him. I looked back and saw Sara shake her head. I slowed down and waited for her to catch up.
“Really? Galloping on your first time back on a horse? I thought you said canter.”
I nodded, “I couldn’t control myself, let’s do it again.”
“You go; I’m going to take it easy.”
I smiled, “Be back in a jiffy.”
I nudged Snowflake and we took off, the wind blew my light brown straight long hair back. I closed my eyes and felt the wind on my face. I opened my eyes to see a piece of wood on the ground that should not be in the open field but took it as an opportunity to jump it. I set Snowflake up for the jump and we ended on the other side.
However midway in the jump I lost hold of the reins losing my balance. I tried to reach and grab the lost rein but Snowflake continued to gallop. I couldn’t balance myself any longer and as I leaned forward as a last attempt to grab the rein, I went flying over Snowflakes head first onto the ground.
I gasped for air as I hit the ground. Snowflake immediately stopped running and came back nudging me on the floor.
“Hey boy, I know you didn’t mean to. It was my fault. I am okay,” I said trying to stand up.
I stood up slowly, feeling a little dizzy. I rubbed Snowflakes mane, “You did good boy.”
I was about to get back on when I raised my arm but I couldn’t. I felt a sharp pain through my right arm. I held it tightly against my chest. This was all I needed, my father to condemn me for going against his word. Of course this would happen. The Bible said we should honor our parents and the first thing I did was disobey. It wasn’t because I was being rebellious, it was because this was my passion and my father didn’t seem to completely understand that I was born for this. I took a deep breath and tried to roll my shoulder but the pain shot through my side prevented me. I took another deep breath trying to forget about the pain.
Shortly after Sara approached and jumped off Gerry, “Are you okay? I saw everything.”
I looked at her and shook my head, I kept taking deep breathes to prevent the dizziness, “I am afraid to look at the damage.”
“Of course this had to happen. I told you it was too soon.”
“It’s not too soon, I just wasn’t holding on hard enough and I didn’t see the log soon enough.”
She frowned, “What is your father going to say now? Your dad is never going to let you start training again; it’s more dangerous than this.”
“He won’t find out because you are not going to tell him.”
Sara shook his head, “Can you get back on the horse?”
“If you give me lift.”
Sara bent down and I put my boot in her hands but my arm felt really weak.
I shook my head, “Give me a couple more minutes.”
“Maybe we should just walk back.”
“That would take too long and my father would get suspicious don’t you think?”
“How’s your arm?”
“You probably have a bruise.”
“I’m not going to look now,” I said knowing she was right, it was a good thing I wore a long sleeved shirt.
“Maybe it’s bleeding.”
I nodded, “I am sure it is but there is nothing we can do here so there is no point in looking at it. Give me a lift, we’ll try this again.”
This time I let out a little shout of anguish but I managed to throw myself over Snowflake again.
“You okay?” Sara asked before getting back on Gerry.
“Yeah, let’s get back.”
My father was not going to find out, he couldn’t or Sara was right, he would never let me train again. He might not even let me on a horse again. We got home around three in the afternoon. I used the gate to help me dismount. I brought Snowflake into the ring and set him free to cool down a little bit.
My father came around the corner and scared me, “How was your ride girls?”
“Hey Mr. Bailey,” Sara said giving him a hug, “We had a great time.”
He smiled and looked at me, “Did you have fun?”
I nodded not making eye contact, “It was amazing dad, I’ve missed riding.”
He nodded, “I know.”
“I’m just going to let them cool down a bit before taking them in,” I said trying to hide the pain in my arm, “I’m going to go wash my hands.”
Sara followed me into the equipment room where there was always an emergency kit. I made sure my father wasn’t coming in before rolling up my sleeve as Sara got some rubbing alcohol and a cloth. As I rolled up my sleeve my skin was already turning purple, there were a couple scrapes that were a little bloody but other than that it was nothing.
“Looks like you will be wearing long sleeves for a while.”
I sighed, “It’s pretty big.”
“That is an understatement; it’s practically your whole arm. I can see why it hurt so much.”
“It’s really nothing, it could have been worse.”
“Could have been prevented!”
“Oh come on, you’ve been trying to get me to ride for months.”
“Yeah to ride, not to gallop and fall again.”
“It’s not a big deal,” I said as Jesse walked in and nearly scared me to death thinking it was my father.
At first he glanced from Sara to myself then he looked at Sara as she rubbed the alcohol on my arm.
“Some ride,” he said.
I hated his attitude, I felt like he was the type to think the world revolves around him, that he was better than everyone else.
“It was,” I said, “It was the best ride I’ve had in a long time.”
“I’m suddenly reassured of my decision not to come with you girls,” he laughed, the first time he laughed since he arrived.
“Did I say something to bother you? Did I offend you? Or did I do something to you?”
“No,” he shook his head.
“So you are naturally rude?”
He looked into my eyes, “I’m just saying.”
“Well next time, don’t.”
Sara unintentionally pressed my arm and caused me to squeak, “That hurts.”
“Sorry,” she finished wrapping the cloth around my arm with a look of amusement on her face.
“Are you okay?” Jesse said, suddenly feeling bad.
“Does it look like it?” I raised my voice.
“Look who’s being rude now.”
“I guess your attitude it rubbing off on me.”
“Look, I meant nothing by it okay? I just don’t want to get attached.”
Sara cleared her throat, “I’ll bring in the horses.”
She shook her head, “No, I’ll do it. Don’t strain your arm.”
I sighed and nodded, “Thanks.”
I looked up at Jesse, “You don’t want to get attached to what?”
“To anything, people, work, this place.”
“Because you are going to move?”
He nodded, “Eventually.”
“You said not for a few months. I hope you are not leaving for a few months. I mean, I hope I didn’t waste my time hiring you if you are going to quit.”
“Don’t worry, unless something urgent comes up which I doubt, I will be here.”
I nodded feeling a little more at ease, “Okay.”
He nodded, “Sorry if I made you feel awkward earlier, I know we just met and I haven’t been very friendly, I just like to keep to myself.”
“I understand. I’ll leave you alone, but I can’t promise you won’t get attached to this place, it’s way too beautiful. This is only your second day; I would be surprised if you weren’t attached by the end of the week.”
“It is nice out here.”
“Are you here on your own?” I asked him.
“What do you mean?”
“I mean are you here with your parents, siblings, friends?”
He shook his head, “Just me.”
Not wanting to further the conversation if he didn’t want to I smiled, “Well you have been doing great, I’m honestly surprised at how well.”
“I told you, I learn fast,” he smiled.
“So I’ve heard.”
Just then Sara came back in, “They are away in there stalls. I gave them a quick rub down.”
“Thanks, you’re the best.”
“How’s the arm?”
I shrugged, “Numb.”
“You better role the sleeve down before your father sees it.”
“What happened out there?” Jesse finally asked.
“Don’t you not want to get involved?” I curiously asked.
“I believe I used the word attached and I am sorry if curiosity got the best of me.”
I rolled my eyes noticing for the first time that his eyes were a beautiful shade of green, “I fell.”
“Fell? Is that what you call it?” Sara said, “She flew off of a galloping horse which she shouldn’t have been galloping on in the first place considering it was her first time getting back on a horse. Cantering would have been good enough but noooo, not for Jen.”
“Canter? Gallop? You are forgetting that you are speaking to a guy who knows nothing about horse terminology.”
“Fast, she was going really, really fast with the horse, canter is like running and galloping is sort of what horses do when they race in competitions.”
Jesse looked into my eyes, “Can you do that? I thought you only go riding every so often.”
“Every so often? Can you do that?” Sara laughed, “Jennifer hasn’t been riding in a year and yes she can do that. Hell, she can do more than gallop, she used to race in competitions, not gambling ones but still…”
Sara stopped talking when I shoved her with my good arm, “Okay, I think he gets the picture.”
Jesse glared at me, “Why didn’t you tell me this when I asked you about riding earlier?”
I shrugged my shoulders, “I didn’t think it was important.”
He nodded, “So I’m guessing all those awards and medals in the back room are yours?”
Shyly I nodded, “Yes.”
“Wow, you don’t appear to be that type.”
“What type?” I asked defensively, “You don’t know a thing about me.”
“I know, but someone who has won all those medals shouldn’t be cleaning out stalls, she should be out there doing what she loves, at least in my opinion.”
I smiled at his words, “Maybe, but I don’t love it.”
“She just loved training them,” Sara pointed out.
I rolled my eyes, “Really? Why don’t you just tell him my life story? I’m sure you would do a better job than I could.”
Jesse laughed, “Come on, it’s just me.”
“Yeah, the one who doesn’t want to get attached to people, places or work. So why are you still here listening?”
He sighed, “You also seem like the uptight type. You need to relax a little bit. Just because I want to know some of your history doesn’t mean I am going to get attached.”
“What’s with the sudden interest?”
“I guess when I first met you, you intimidated me a little, I mean, come on, you’re so young and yet you were giving me an interview. Now, I can see you are a lot older than you seem. You’re mysterious.”
“There are so many things in that sentence that bug me but since you think I need to relax I will ignore your interpretation of me.”
“I’m just saying.”
“Well don’t! Just so you know…I had my own interpretation of you, but I am not going to tell you.”
Sara started laughed as I made my way to the door, I turned to face Jesse, “Shouldn’t you be getting back to work?”
Sara continued to laugh and pointed at me, “You think she is mysterious?”
“I guess she’s not?”
Sara continued to laugh making me put my hands on my hip, “Really?”
I still didn’t laugh.
Jesse followed me out, “Why did you stop training if you love it so much?”
I turned to face him wondering if I should tell him or not, “I got into an accident.”
I laughed, “No, horse accident. I fell off of a horse onto a fallen log in the forest.”
His smiled disappeared as he turned serious, “Are you okay?”
I nodded, “I am now, I broke a few ribs but that’s all.”
Just then Sara walked in and joined in the conversation, “She was stronger than anyone I’ve ever known.”
“It was nothing, it wasn’t even that bad.”
“It’s understandable why you wouldn’t want to ride again. It sucks that you fell off today though, the first time you got back on the horse.”
Sara shook her head, “It wasn’t her choice not to get back on the horse.”
“I wasn’t afraid,” I said, “I wanted to get back on when I got better but I could tell my father didn’t want me to,” I frowned then raised my voice, “Which is completely unfair.”
“I’m sure he only wants what is best for you.”
“He’s being selfish. If he knew what was best for me, he would be happy to let me train again,” I said not realizing what I just said to a somewhat stranger.
Sara’s eyes grew wide, “What she means is…”
I cleared my thought, “Sorry, I didn’t mean that. He only wants the best for me, you’re right, but sometimes parents don’t know what is best. Anyways, we have a lot of work to do so I’m going to go start in the other barn.”
“Yeah, me too, I finished this barn.”
I nodded and turned to Sara, “We’ll do this again soon?”
She nodded and gave me a hug, “Hang in there okay.”
I nodded, “I’ll call you.”
Together Jesse and I walked to the second barn. I wanted to say something so he wouldn’t think I was crazy.
Instead he began, “Don’t worry.”
I looked up, “What do you mean?”
“I won’t say anything to your dad. Clearly you didn’t want me to know that stuff so I will pretend you didn’t tell me.”
“It’s not that.”
“And I don’t think you are crazy.”
Again he surprised me, “How did you know I was thinking that?”
“I’m pretty good at reading people.”
“That could come in pretty handy.”
He nodded, “It’s from experience. When you travel you meet a lot of people.”
I nodded as I went into Blackjack’s stall and began grooming him. Jesse went in the next stall as we continued to chat.
“Now that you know about me, tell me something about you?”
I could tell he felt a little uncomfortable but immediately cleared his throat, “What do you want to know?”
“Where were you born?”
“Wow, you can’t get any more city than that. Is that where your family is?”
He nodded, “Mom, dad and younger brother.”
I nodded, “So you’re the traveler of the family?”
He nodded, “Yeah.”
Just then Blackjack snorted, “You like being groomed, don’t you?”
“Again she talks to the horses,” Jesse joked.
I rolled my eyes, “I can’t help it.”
“You know what I think?” he asked.
“It may not be any of my business but I would tell your dad you want to start training again.”
I looked up into his green eyes which were being reflected in my eyes, “I know, it’s just really hard. If he says no…”
“What if he says okay?”
“That would be a miracle.”
“Do you believe in miracles?” he asked.
I sighed, “You are really different than what I expected you to be.”
“Is that good or bad?”
“A little bit of both I think.”
He frowned, “That’s not good.”
“It’s good because I don’t dislike you anymore. It’s bad because I may not be able to stop myself from getting attached.”
I could see the shock in his eyes so I continued, “By attached I mean, I might actually consider you a friend if we keep this up.”
He smiled, “Well we could always be friends if you like, even when I leave, if I leave.”
I nodded, “I would like that.”
“Can I tell you something?”
“I might not be able to stop myself from getting attached either. I mean now that you see through this tough guy routine, I can’t be rude anymore.”
I shook my head, “Not unless you want to lose your job.”
He laughed, “I have to ask you something else.”
“Ask me what?”
“What did you think of me when you first met me?”
I laughed, “I’ll never tell!”
He shook his head, “Fine, I thought we were friends but…”
“I never said we were friends…I said it might lead to that.”
“You sure are complicated.”
I bit my lip, “Maybe a little bit.”
“So do you go to school at all?”
I shook my head, “No, I dropped out when I was sixteen.”
Jesse nodded, “Why?”
“I guess I wanted to be here, I didn’t feel like school would be worth it for me. I knew what I wanted out of life. How about you?”
“I did school for business and engineering.”
“You could probably give my dad some tips, he does our accounting.”
“I’ll be sure to mention it to him next time we chat.”
“You’re staying for dinner tomorrow night right?”
He nodded, “Yeah.”
The rest of the day flew by. At the end of his work day Jesse left, shortly after Mary and Luca left.
The rest of the evening consisted of spending time with Snowflake, having dinner and secretly getting to know Blackjack. It’s important to get to know a horse before you train it, ride it or jump with it. You need to know their stride, their moods, the way they feel the ground. I wanted to get to know Blackjack because I wanted to be the one to help Luca train him and ride him ensuring that he is properly trained for racing.
By the time I headed inside it was night out. I watched a little bit of TV but fell asleep on the couch. I woke up around midnight and trudged my way to my room. I closed the blinds for I was planning to sleep in just a little bit the next day. I was drained.
My arm was beginning to hurt more and more which worried me. I constantly woke up because I would turn over onto the bruised arm. I wanted to scream in pain but knew that would only encourage questions. So around four in the morning I took an Advil to relieve some of the pain.
The next thing I knew, my father came into my room and woke me up. It was already ten in the morning!