Friday, February 17, 2012

Shooting Star Stables, Chapter 3, continued

 . . .  In no time at all, it was Holly’s turn again. She took deep breaths as she cantered Aphrodite once around the ring to settle them both before approaching the jump. She tried to clear her head and concentrate on each of Aphrodite’s strides as they happened. Then they were at the jump, Aphrodite was bravely leaping over, and they were landing. Far from perfect, Holly knew, but it was much better than before. She breathed a sigh of relief and saw Katie and Jennifer smiling in approval. She mustered a small smile back.

As the girls began their cooldown, Katie told them goodbye and walked back to the barn to help a little girl get ready for her private lesson. Since it was a school night, the girls wouldn’t be able to go on their after-lesson trail ride. They took their horses back to the barn, both a little quiet and each contemplating the things she had done right and wrong in the lesson.

Although the rest of the lesson had gone well, Holly was still feeling down about her continual rushing-the-fence problem. That good last jump was probably just a fluke, she thought. She stroked Aphrodite’s beautiful mahogony neck for comfort. After untacking her sweet mare, Holly brushed her down.

“Such a good girl,” she cooed. “Thank you for putting up with me when I screw up.”

Aphrodite responded by nudging her, as if to say “It’s okay. Now please take me back to my stall. I’m hungry!”

Holly lovingly tucked Aphrodite into her stall for the night, checking that all her feed was there and that she had clean water. The stable hands always did a great job of caring for the horses, but Holly never felt right about leaving unless she checked everything first.

She gave Aphrodite one last kiss, latched the stall door, and headed toward Firefly’s side of the barn. Jennifer was still giving him some last-minute kisses, too. 

"Mom just texted. She's pulling in," Holly said.

"Okay. Bye, Firefly. I love you," Jennifer took one last whiff of his sweet horsey smell. She turned to walk with Holly. "Holl, you did really good today. Don't beat yourself up. Everyone has lessons they're less than happy with, even periods of time in their riding they're less than happy with. Don't worry, k?"

Holly sighed. "You're right. Thanks, Jen." She smiled, but she still felt uneasy. Maybe in the morning she'd feel better about everything. 

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