“Helloooooo, sunshine!” Jennifer declared to the bright blue sky above her.
It was a gorgeous sunny day at Shooting Star Stables. Jennifer took in a deep, satisfying breath of the stable smell surrounding her. She rested her cheek on her horse’s shoulder, feeling the warmth of the sun on his hair. She pulled up the saddle flap to tighten Firefly’s girth one more time before mounting, and the leather felt hot to her touch. Jennifer was ready to enjoy the first afternoon of true springtime weather Albany had had this year.
She swung into the saddle and began her lesson warm-up in the ring. Jennifer was always the first one ready for the after school semi-private lesson she shared with her best friend Holly and a few others. Today Holly had told her she would be running late, which was no surprise. Holly tended to get distracted by just about anything, which often turned her grooming time into long beautification sessions of her stunning bay mare, Aphrodite.
Jennifer looked up after a lap or two to see Holly leading Aphrodite out of the white, weathered barn. Close behind her followed Casey, one of the sweet younger girls, with her horse Blaze. Jennifer contemplated how they wished Casey could truly call Blaze her own, but he was only a lease-horse, meaning Casey paid his owner a certain amount each month for the chance to ride him and help care for him.
“Hey, Jen! We’re almost ready!” Holly called across the ring. She helped Casey mount Blaze, and then swung lightly onto Aphrodite. It looked like Holly had helped Casey saddle up Blaze that afternoon, too, because Jennifer could see the tell-tale signs of pink ribbon in Blaze’s mane that meant Holly had definitely been there.
Casey needed a little extra help sometimes because she had cerebral palsy, making it difficult for her to do some of the tasks required in horseback riding. Fortunately, Jennifer or Holly was almost always at the stables to help her out, and neither girl minded. Casey was one of the sweetest, most genuine girls they knew, and they cared about her almost as if she were their little sister.
Holly trotted over to the round pen next to the jumping ring where Jennifer rode, and deftly unlatched the gate to let Casey through. Casey rode Western because it provided a little more stability in the saddle, and she would work Blaze while she waited for Holly and Jennifer’s jumping lesson to finish.
Holly and Aphrodite entered the jumping ring just as their instructor, Katie, strolled out of the barn . . .
Read more about Holly, Casey, and Jennifer tomorrow!