Without further ado,
RUN OUT -- PART II
A bit over an hour later, Adrienne woke Alyssa up. “Come on sleepy!” She said, lifting up her arm that Alyssa head was resting on. “I think I might have to amputate my arm now because SOMEONE decided to rest her big head on it!” Adrienne said teasingly.
Alyssa stuck her tongue out playfully and looked around. They were pulling into the show grounds. Alyssa smiled as she peered out the window. At the front of the show grounds, horses were trotting around in the arenas and jumping. As they drove further in towards the stalls, grooms were hosing horses, people were bent done applying hoof polish and finishing touches, and trainers and riders were conversing.
Christine pulled the trailer up next to one of the two big yellow and striped tents that housed the makeshift stalls. “Alright every one, we’re in the third aisle on the left, all our stalls have Dawn Hill on them, you know the drill. Just put them in an empty stall, unwrap them, then help set up the tack room.” Christine ordered. The girls nodded.
Adrienne opened the door and jumped out of the truck, and Alyssa followed her lead. There were two other girls from Dawn Hill, Alyssa’s barn, were showing today. They were Nikki and Lauren, two talented riders. Alyssa was friendly with Lauren, but Nikki constantly grated on her nerves.
The four girls walked to the trailer and helped Christine lower the ramp. Art, the gorgeous fleabitten gray mare that Nikki owned, was the first off. She pricked her delicate ears up and lifted her exquisite dished head up as she elegantly walked down the ramp. Once her hooves hit the grass, she let out a shrill whinny. “Cut it out!” Nikki snapped, yanking on the lead rope harshly.
The next off was Wallflower, a skittish but very promising young buckskin Warmblood. She was huge, standing at 17.2 hands, but yet she had a lightness to her feet, an elegance. She walked off the trailer and lifted her large head up and nervously tried to drag Lauren off somewhere. Lauren expertly led the horse in a large circle until she lowered her head, blew out a breath, and tried to snatch a blade of grass.
Then, it was Oli’s turn to be taken off the trailer. Alyssa walked up the ramp and swung the partition open. Oli turned his head towards Alyssa and nickered quietly. “Hey bubba.” Alyssa coed, rubbing him between his eyes, the thin part of his blaze.
She snapped his black lead rope to the oakbark colored halter. She unsnapped the trailer tie and led him off the trailer. Oli had been to many shows throughout his three years with Alyssa and he knew the drill by now. Alyssa smiled to herself as she thought about the first several months she had owned him. There had been many tears, falls, spooks, low ribbons or none, and she had considered selling Oli. One day, she toughened up, let him know he had to listen, and the pair had been a force to reckon with ever since.
She led him under the tent and put him in a stall with an index card that labeled it “Dawn Hill Stables.” It was next to Wallflower, and Alyssa knew that Adrienne would come in at any moment with her two horses. Sure enough, she walked into the aisle leading Oberon, a stunning, lightly dappled gray Warmblood. Adrienne put him in the stall next to Oli. Christine came in leading Alyssa’s hunter, Champ. Champ was an attractive black Warmblood with a star and four neat little socks.
Alyssa went into her stall and scratched Oli’s nose. She cooed soft nonsense to him as she unwrapped his legs and set aside the stable and pillow wraps. She pushed them into a corner of the stall. “Time to get food and water for my sweet boy.” She said softly.
Within twenty minutes, all the horses had hay, water, and the barn’s tack room, which was really just an extra stall, was set up. Alyssa grabbed a prize list and checked how far away her first class was. There were several divisions until she did her first division, Level 3 Jumpers.
Alyssa groomed and tacked Oli up. He was turned out in a black baby pad, a fleece half pad, Alyssa’s Beval saddle, a leather girth, a running martingale, a figure eight bridle, and Equifit front and hind boots. Alyssa was neatly turned out in her Tailored Sportsmen breeches, well-cleaned and polished field boots and spurs, a crisp light blue shirt and navy jacket, and her Charles Owen. Her hair was neatly tucked up into a hairnet, and nestled in her black gloved hands was a jumping bat. Her number, 134, was tied around her waist.
Alyssa applied a quick coat of hoof polish and pulled down her stirrup leathers. Christine had placed a step stool just outside the stabling area. As the fifteen year old walked her horse out of the tent, she noticed a few droplets were falling from the sky. “Great.” Alyssa grumbled as she hopped up into the saddle, adjusted her girth, and walked out into the warm up arena. Two jumps were set up in the center of the arena. Alyssa started trotting around the arena, and after some time, cantering. She worked on getting Oli on the bit and responsive. After some more flatwork, Christine came out. Alyssa was the only one who rode jumpers, and the others weren’t showing until later.
“Alright, just pop him over this a few times to warm up.” Christine said, adjusting a jump so that it was about 2’6”.
“Piece of cake.” Alyssa muttered, and she lightly nudged Oli into a canter. He tossed his head when he saw the low jump and tried to rush at it. Alyssa sat quietly and steadied him with her hands. “Whoa boy.” She said in a low voice, rocking her weight back. With an annoyed flick of his tail, Oli slowed down.
Alyssa jumped for another few minutes and the jumps slowly grew larger. She jumped over an oxer a few times, until her trainer declared that the pair was fine to show.
Alyssa walked out of the taped off arena and walked her horse over to where the courses were posted. It was fairly tricky, and included many sharp turns and tricky combinations. Alyssa chewed on the end of her crop nervously. “I’m nervous about that combination. That oxer is pretty wide and just looks really weird and spooky.” She said to Christine, pointing at a triple combination at the other side of the arena.
“You’ll be fine. You wouldn’t be in this class if you wouldn’t be.”
Alyssa smiled to herself. All to soon, she was called into the arena. The rain had been pounding steadily during her warm up, and the course was quickly turning sloppy in a few spots.
Alyssa clucked to Oli and lightly squeezed him with her legs and brushed her spur against his side to wake him up. He pricked his ears forward and sprung into the arena at a strong trot.
“Working now we have number 134, Optimo, owned and ridden by Alyssa Schaeffer.” The announcer said, the loudspeaker crackling as the rain came down stronger. Alyssa swore mildly to herself, but she had no time to muse over the weather conditions for the buzzer went off, indicating that she should start her course.
Alyssa sat down and cued for a canter. Eagerly, Oli sprang into a bright but controlled canter. She turned him to her first jump, a simple 3’3” vertical. The poles were bright, but overall the jump was a simple start to the course. She sharply turned to an oxer. She misjudged how far out she had to turn, and she was too close to the jump to fix the choppy distance she was about to get. She closed her leg and Oli pushed off the ground. The ground was a bit slippery, and he couldn’t get enough traction to really push off and make the long spot work. He brought down the back pole of the oxer.
Alyssa was annoyed at herself, but she had to get over it to continue the course. Most of the course was flawless, and then Alyssa turned to the combination that had worried her. By now, the footing was a wreck. Several puddles had formed in the deep hoof prints that the previous horses had left. The footing that wasn’t under water was slippery and provided little to no traction. “Here we go.” Alyssa muttered to herself as they cleared the first jump. Oli hesitated at the second jump, a single plank that curved upward. Alyssa brought her bat down against his shoulder and nudged him with her leg. He leapt up, and slipped. He crashed through the plank, tripped, and then recovered. The oxer, two curved planks that curved in opposite direction, was right there.
Alyssa gasped. She knew what was going to happen a moment before it did, but she was numb, powerless, in a trance. Oli, who was determined to not get “punished” this time, tried his best. He really did try to protect Alyssa and clear the jump. However, with the horrible footing and tight spot, there was little Oli could do besides turn into a Pegasus and soar over the jump. He grunted and pushed off the slippery ground. For a moment, he was scrambling and Alyssa had a moment of hope, but then his front legs hit the back plank. He landed on his knees, and then started falling, heels over head Alyssa couldn’t quite tell what happened, but all of a sudden both horse and rider were plummeting towards the ground.
And then they made contact with the ground.
Oh cry me a river, build a bridge, and get over it.