Saturday, February 4, 2012

It's that time of year again when school gets even more busy than before, so I won't have much time to post! Boo. It's a good time to share some more stories from Shooting Star Stables, though, since they're pretty much all pre-written! Enjoy and please let me know what you think!! 
If you feel the need, you can catch up by reading Chapters 1 and 2 here!

Shooting Star Stables ~ Chapter 3

Within thirty minutes the girls were arriving at the barn. Jennifer and Holly rode to the barn together on lesson days, which made those days even more exciting than they already were.

Holly’s mom’s champagne-colored Lexus SUV rolled to a stop in front of Shooting Star Stables.

“Bye, Mom! I love you!” Holly called as she dove out the door.

“Bye! I love you too! I’ll pick you up at 5:30,” her mom answered.

The girls hurried into the barn to change into their riding clothes. They had less than a half hour to get themselves and their horses ready for their lesson at 4.

Jennifer zipped up her riding boots and speed-walked to Firefly’s stall. She knew better than to ever run in the schooling barn, what with so many young students around whose horses might spook.

She called Firefly’s name a couple times as she neared, and he popped his finely-shaped gray head over the stall door.

“Hey, buddy! I missed you today at school!” Jennifer told him, pulling her long curly hair back into a low ponytail. “Let’s go get you ready for your lesson.”

She slipped inside his stall, slid the light purple halter over his nose, and led him out to the cross-ties. This was going to have to be a speed-brush if she was going to make it out to the arena with a few minutes to spare like she wanted.

Luckily, Firefly was fairly clean and it didn’t take long to brush him down. Soon Jennifer had him saddled up and ready to bridle. As always, Firefly stood still and sweet while being readied, and he accepted the bit easily. Jennifer knew it was because she was always careful not to clank the metal bit on his teeth, and had it fitted just right to not cause discomfort. Plus, Firefly was just a really good boy.

They walked out to the arena. The sun was still high in the late summer sky, and Jennifer tried to appreciate it as much as possible, knowing that in just a few months it would be setting during their lessons.

Holly was out a few minutes later, and they began trotting around the ring like Katie liked for them to do to warm up. Soon their perky instructor with chin-length dirty blond hair strode out of the barn.

“Nice form, Jennifer! Ask Firefly for a longer trot now, please; remind him he’s working today!” she called. “Holly, beautiful position! Your hands are getting much steadier. I would tighten up your reins just a little bit more and Aphrodite will tuck her head prettier.”

Holly did as she was told, pleased with the compliment and determined to do well this afternoon.

“Good! Now keep that tension the whole time, giving just enough when you go over a jump,” Katie praised her.

The girls did a warm-up fence a few times each, practicing collected, even strides with their mounts and a slow, non-rushed landing. Holly could feel herself rushing the jump in her head, which caused Aphrodite to do the same in real life. This caused their landing to be hurried and rougher than it should be.

“Holly, remember to breathe! Focus on feeling Aphrodite as she approaches the fence; be in the moment. 

Your body knows what to do on the landing so let it do the work without overthinking,” Katie advised.

Overthinking. It wasHolly’s major problem with just about everything, including algebra and apparently horseback riding, too. She felt discouragement creeping into her heart and head as she watched Jennifer’s near-perfect jumping style. Thank God Blair wasn't out here to make her feel even more self-conscious. She tried to push the negative feelings aside as it was her turn again, and remember what Katie had just said about being in the moment.

She counted down the strides in her head as Aphrodite rocked toward the jump. I’m ready for the jump, she told herself. She leaned forward preparing to meet Aphrodite’s bay neck mid-leap.

“Whoa!” Holly exclaimed as Aphrodite took a giant leap from way too far back. They made it over the fence, but it was a jolting, unbalanced landing that led to several very quick cantering strides. Holly regained her seat and began pulling Aphrodite back in to an acceptable speed. She was humiliated. That should never happen to a good rider, she muttered to herself.

“You all right, Holly?” Katie asked, looking at Holly’s face in concern. Holly saw Jennifer looking worried across the arena. Great, now I suck at jumping AND they feel sorry for me, Holly thought sadly.

“Yeah, I’m fine. I just can’t believe I rushed that jump right after we talked about it!” she said in frustration.

“It happens to everyone,” Jennifer called reassuringly. “I used to do the same thing all the time; I promise!”

Katie suggested the girls each take one more jump and then work on dressage. She wanted Holly to end on a good jump, even though she knew taking another fence was probably the last thing Holly wanted to do.

She was right. Holly did not want to risk rushing poor Aphrodite through another fence, but she knew Katie had her best interest in mind. Holly watched Jennifer take the jump once more, observing how she and Firefly seemed to be like one being. She longed to ride like that . . .

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