she noticed a black metal gate leading to a small wooden bridge that was just wide enough for a horse to get across. Laura’s streaky, highlighted blonde hair was pulled back into a ponytail, and her fringe scruffily covered her right eye as she had probably rushed when she heard the news that her horses had gotten out.
“This is Florence.” she looked down at the fluffy, black and white border collie puppy that was bouncing around Laura’s feet, pulling on her black, floral lead like it was a tug-of-war.
“How many horses have you got?” Melody asked to try and find out how many had gotten loose,
“Alexis, Willow, Conker, Rebecca, Rebel, Gravetye, Wisdom and Traveller, and Willow’s in foal.” counting on her fingers as she went through their names, obviously too tired from searching for them to count them in her head.
“Eight and a half. You?” Laura asked, pointing towards Kay’s herd gathered at the gate they were walking towards.
“They’re my Aunt’s, she’s got….Five.” Pointing them out and telling her each of their names.
“Oh! Over there!” Laura said excitedly, spotting two horses in the top corner of the next field. A short brown and white pony and a stocky white pony stood grazing side by side in the hedge, unaware of the initial panic. Laura jumped over the wooden gate and let Florence slip under it before picking up her lead again, running up to the horses from a side angle so that they could see her coming.
“Lexi! Wizzy! I found you!” Laura hugged the two ponies in turn and took the lead rope she had tied around her waist and clipped it to Lexi’s head collar. She only had one rope and needed to keep a tight hold of Florence so that she wouldn’t spook Kay’s horses as they weren’t used to her. She couldn’t use Florence’s lead, or walk Wisdom by his head collar as Flo was pulling quite a lot.
“Could you please help me?! Can I borrow a lead rope?!” Melody was quarter of the way across the field as she chose to leisurely amble, she held up a thumb in response and spun around to get the rope that was tied on the fence. She jogged up to the horses and clipped the rope to the grey pony’s blue head collar that had ‘Wisdom’ embroidered onto it in metallic silver thread. Once down the field, Melody opened the gate and let Laura through to part the small sea of horses on the other side. They got to the footbridge and Melody opened the gate for Laura, on the other side was a winding dirt track that seemed to lead to nowhere. Over the hedges all you could see were immaculate grassy fields that stretched for miles, Laura let Florence off of her lead and she sensibly walked alongside them.
“Whoa, stand. Good girl.” Lexi stood still, anticipating her owner’s next move, Laura clipped the lead rope to the side-ring of her head collar and tied the other end to the opposite side, creating makeshift reins. She stepped to Lexi’s side, bundling the rope-reins in her left hand and lifted her right leg onto her horse’s back. Her other hand firmly against the other side of Alexis’ withers, she put all of her strength into the right side of her body, pulling herself up onto Lexi’s back. Laura dragged her body forwards, towards Lexi’s neck, so that she was in the correct position to ride her bareback.
“You can ride Wizzy if you like.” Laura looked across to Melody with a bright smile.
“I’ve only ever ridden once and I don’t know how to ride without a saddle or a bridle.” Melody felt slightly disheartened, she had already decided that she kind of liked this girl and she’d never really had any friends. The fact that she didn’t know how to ride was probably a deal breaker in Laura’s opinion, a girl that seemed popular and was totally happy with her life, she probably had loads of friends and didn’t really need Melody in her world anyway.
“It’s easy once you get used to it. He’s a babysitter, totally bombproof.” Laura pressed on smiling, hopeful that maybe she’d have someone new to ride with.
“You can hold onto his mane and I’ll use the lead rope to pony you along if you want, just to be safe.” Melody realised that the deal was too sweet to resist, but she was still doubtful.
“Alright then. How do I get on?” Melody said handing Laura the lead rope, measuring up Wisdom’s body in her head.
“Thank you. Go to his left side and lift your right leg up onto his back.” Melody lifted her leg onto the pony and remembered what she had watched Laura do moments before, gripping a handful of mane and pressing her right hand against his withers, she shifted her weight over and clumsily pulled herself up over.
“Sit forward a bit, when you ride bareback you need to sit closer to the withy’s.” Laura smiled to herself, her mission was completed. She had plenty of friends, but none of them wanted to get their shoes dirty and didn’t appreciate horses as being anything other than ‘pretty’. The kind of friends who were shocked to find out that horses had personality’s and would talk over her when she’d mention horses, it wasn’t that she went on talking about ponies all day, just that they didn’t care about what she had to say.
“Ok, I don’t have a clue what I’m doing, mind.” Melody said looking down around her, repeatedly lifting her legs into the position they would be if they were in stirrups, and losing her strength letting them hang and then pulling them up again. Laura laughed,
“Let your legs hang but keep them away from his legs.” Tapping Lexi’s sides with her feet and clicking her tongue she moved them into a walk.
“I’m probably quite dangerous by the way.” Melody joked, the feeling of her balance shifting side to side felt like she was going to slide off with every step.
“Don’t worry were not going to gallop or do a 6ft course or anything!” Melody was now fully aware of her lack of knowledge on this subject, unsure of what ‘a 6ft course’ meant. As she had now gained her balance and felt more comfortable, the relentless heat made her long for the wind in her hair and on her skin.
“Can we trot maybe?” She already kind of regretted saying it, that doubt seeping back into her conscience.
“Sure, if you think you’re ok to.” She kicked Lexi again and told her to trot on, she followed orders and Wisdom followed suit. Melody felt her balance slipping away from her like she was in slow-motion and she knew she didn’t want to fall onto solid ground, especially without a riding hat. She squeezed her knees into Wizzy’s pale, clean hide, steadying herself momentarily. The sound of hoof beats multiplied as two large horses trotted towards them,
“Ha! Amateurs!” one rider shouted mockingly, purposely making sure they could hear her, the other laughing. Laura looked over her shoulder at Melody looking as if her ego had been bruised, realising Melody was visibly in distress she quickly slowed Lexi down to a walk. Melody was very glad to be walking again and silently sighed a deep breath of relief, closing her eyes for a moment to collect herself.
“Who was that?” Melody asked, now letting the other girl’s words sink in, it was surely hurtful to Laura who obviously devoted her life to riding and her horses,
“Abagail Teedy and her sidekick Tiegan Miller. They board their horses at that really big, really expensive equestrian centre on Greensdon Avenue. I don’t like them, they don’t like me.” Laura told her with little emotion in her voice.
“How come?” Melody asked, there was clearly more to this story,
“I used to take lessons there too, but they bullied me so I started taking them at home, with my parents teaching me.” She said nothing else and Melody understood why she wouldn’t want to. A few moments of silence followed but it wasn’t awkward at all, which was a first for Melody, in her opinion all silence was awkward. A large building appeared to their left surrounded by fields, Alexis turned her head towards it and whinnied to the horses that were turned out around it, Wisdom copied a few seconds after.
“This is my house.” Laura sang, taking a sharp turn into a gap in the hedge. Melody watched as Lexi turned her side against a black metal gate that looked quite decorative, there was a sign made out of a piece of wood that read ‘Horseshoe House’. Laura reached over backwards to open it, letting Melody, Wisdom and Florence through. They stood in a large field, Laura dismounted at the electric fence that was in front of them and untied the rope from Lexi’s head collar, then taking off the clip connecting the ribbon to the battery, therefore disarming it. She opened up a gap in the fence to let her pony through, she walked over to Melody once again untying the rope and holding Wizzy so that she could get off. Melody swung her right leg over heavily hitting the ground, momentarily sending a painful shock through her joints as she had forgotten to bend her knees. Laura lead Wisdom into the field unclipping him as he walked past her. She proceeded to make sure the fence was correct as she didn’t feel like trying to find all of the horses again, Laura stood for a moment counting the ponies happily grazing ahead of her to check they were all there, she counted to eight under her breath but just loud enough that Melody could hear her. Satisfied, Laura turned on her heels and set off towards the house motioning for Melody to follow her, Melody looked down at her now white-hair covered, previously clean clothes and sighed. They got to the front door which had a rusty old horseshoe hung over it and Laura opened it, trudging through the clean, shiny wooden floored hallway in her boots that were covered in dry mud, leaving a trail behind her. She looked behind at Melody who was stood in the doorway unsure if she should still be following her,
“You can come in, you know.” Laura smiled continuing through to the room in front of her. Melody quietly shut the door and traced Laura’s journey into the kitchen, she peered around the doorway before entering and saw Laura sat talking to a slim, brunette lady who was leant across the unit.
“This is Melody, she helped me find Lexi and Wizzy.” Laura pointed to her and the women, who Melody was guessing was Laura’s mother turned to look at her, greeting her with a smile,
“Hi, I’m Claire Myer. Call me Claire.” Melody stepped into the room and shook her hand as she had her daughter’s a while before.
“Thank you so much for helping find the ponies, they’ve been a total nightmare this morning. We didn’t realise the battery was getting low, I guess they did though. They just had to realise at six in the morning, the time when everyone wants to running around.” Claire said sarcastically, looking out the window a them.
“Any news on Willow?” Laura asked,
“Well she’s due any day, and I’d imagine all of that exercise should certainly speed the process along.” Claire answered never taking her eyes off of the horses. Melody stayed a while and then decided to go back to Kay’s house, Laura walked back with her and they talked the entire journey. Melody got back to Kay’s house and as soon as she stepped through the door Kay told her to saddle up.