I threw my shoulders into the sliding barn door, and it opened with a groan. The runners got a bit squeaky in the winter, much like I did. I quickly scurried inside the heated barn and closed the door behind me. “Mornin’ Trina!” I called into the aisles. Concreted and matted floors, graced with beautiful wooden stalls made up the amazing barn. I was always so jealous of her, having something so … pretty.
“Hey Krista! Give me two seconds, I’ll be out!” I just nodded to the air, and decided to check the whiteboard while I waited for my trainer. On it were listed the lesson schedules for the day - the kids’ names, along with the horse they’d be riding. I smiled, knowing I was once amongst the names. But ever since I became Trina’s stable hand, she usually just ended up telling me who I rode, for it would and could change – If a lesson horse had been naughty, I was the one to set him straight. If she needed someone worked, I rode that one instead. I was fine with this system, for it worked fine with the both of us. Today, we were skipping the lesson, though. Krista occasionally went out and grabbed project horses when they came on the market. Considering I was always the one to ride them when she didn’t, she always brought me along. It was a fun time, and I enjoyed it.
The training process was quite simple – I’d ride the horse first, and give him the basic groundwork methods needed in the Hunter ring. I would also give the horses dressage bases, to make them more supple and easy to work with for the Hunters. After they had passed all their flatwork tests, Trina would take over to put jump training on them. I didn’t jump, and hadn’t since … the accident. Fear overtook me, and after Ghost had lost his trust in jumping too, I had decided that he knew best. We both became flatwork masters, but decided to keep it to that – flatwork.
I walked over to his stall now, and clucked gently, “Ghostly grey, come sweet boy!” I called to him softly, from the outside of his stall. He pricked his ears and lifted his head from his pile of hay, sticking his nose through the iron bars of the stall. I tickled his nose playfully, and he in turn played with my finger with his upper lip. “Oh, you know I’d never forget your peppermints!” I reached in my pocket and offered his favorite treat. He still wasn’t mine, and would likely never be, but he still remained my favorite. The problem was, Trina also loved him, and I knew she’d never sell. He munched happily, as Trina turned the corner. “Ready to go?”
I turned to her and smiled, “As ever! Let’s go!” I said my goodbyes to Ghostly, and we jumped in the truck to leave. “Got the trailer hooked up already? Did you get him sight-on-scene?” I asked quizzically, for it was hardly something Trina ever did. She liked to check for potential first, to see what the horse would be like to work with. She wasn’t one to go off a hunch. “Yep, sure did. I liked him. You will too.” She was being so short – she was normally one to talk for hours. It was clear something was a secret, so I let it lay. I casually turned up the radio (Country, of course!) and gazed out the window as we drove to our destination.
“Uh, Trina… I don’t think this is the horse we want,” was all I could manage to say about the topic. The gelding was black as coal, with nothing but a tiny, yet glistening, white snip. His eyes were a deep, almost orange amber color that blazed with fury. He had an attitude to match. “Now, Tee, I told you that this horse wasn’t for your little girl to ride. He’s a-goin’ to need all your attentions, and I mean yours, Tee,” spouted Vince, a horse trader Trina had done business with for … well, forever. She liked to buy youngsters off of him, for he was good at finding some nice bloodlines in the auctions. How he did it, I’d never know, because I’ve never been one to be auction savvy.
“She can ride anything I’ve got, and I know she can ride him. He’s got some fire, but she’s dealt with that before. Haven’t you, Kristene?” She only used my whole first name when she needed me to say something very specific. In this case- “Yes, of course! I’d love to give him a spin, he looks like he’d be .. er, fun.” I choke out as I walk up to the dark horse. He gave a few short, upward bursts with his head against the reins Vince held, connected to a bit that the horse chomped on unhappily. I gently placed my hand on his toned neck, as if he could shock me like an electric fence. He was a beautiful animal, really, if you weren’t focused on the fact that he had ambitions to kill you.
Trina helped me into the saddle, as I gathered my reins. We were in a large round-pen, with high metal fencing. It looked safe to ride in, as I had ridden horses like this one in open fields, with no fencing at all. Yet Vince was still standing in front of me and the horse, with his hands on his hips and a troubled look on his face.
“Now, Kristene, I don’t think this is a very good ideal, do you?” I sucked back a ‘no,’ and recited what I knew Trina would want me to say, “No, thank you Vince, but I’m fine. He’s being good, I’m sure he’ll be fine. Thank you though,” I tried to explain to the insistent man. But he shook his head, “No, I won’t allow it. I don’t usually deny customers, but I’ve known Tee too long. I ain’t goin’ to let you ride this horse, ma’am, seen him throw one a-too many. He get wild real quick, he don’t warn you or nothing. Just takes off buckin’. Threw a good ol’ cowboy into these fences. I’m a do you a favor, and get you down from there,” He began to walk to the side of the black horse, and as he did I gently squeezed the horse into a forward walk, away from Vince. “No, thank you. I’ll be fine. Ask Trina!” I called back, taking in the horse’s movements. He moved … largely. He was big, and powerful, like sitting on a hot wire. Ready to burst in flame at any given moment. Vince stood in the middle of the arena nervously. I kept a tight rein on the animal, hoping to limit his abilities to take control. Hesitantly, I asked for a trot.
Surprisingly, the horse moved into the higher gait beautifully. He accepted my contact, and moved out into a lovely stride. He pulled his hind quarters into action, and floated into the air. He felt simply wonderful. I smiled, now knowing what Trina came to see this horse about. His ground manners could use some work, but he just floated under-saddle. He’d be the perfect dressage prospect. But what about what Vince said? There was no way this horse could throw people, not with the way he was behaving now. I reached down carefully to pat his neck, remembering he said he’d blow without warning. After recollecting my reins, I reversed the horse, and trotted the other way. The same reaction. I looked to Vince, wondering what he thought. His face was awestruck. “Impossible …” he muttered. I just shook it off, and decided the horse was ready for a canter. He rocked back into it, knowing exactly what I wanted, almost before I asked. He pushed into the bridle, but careful not to pull through it. He rounded up, and took the gait like it was all he ever did. More magical than his trot, he danced through the arena. I loved him.
“Thank you Vince, he’s absolutely wonderful! Trina, your turn! You’ll love him, he’s such a dream!” Trina unlatched the gate and walked into the pen as I dismounted the black. I turned to Vince, realizing something about the horse, “I never got his name? What is it?” He still had that same stargazed look in his eye, but told me, “Kiro. The horse’s name is Kiro.” I nodded, liking the exotic name. I turned back to the horse, now admiring his blazed eyes. It was almost if he held secrets, that he didn’t dare share to just anyone. I stroked his small white snip, that acted as a flashlight against his coat. He accepted the touch, and pressed into it gently. “He likes you, Krista, I really think he does,” Trina said in a sincere, caring tone as she hopped into the saddle. I backed away, to the outside of the pen, and sat on a bench just outside it’s gate, watching to see how Trina did with Kiro. What I would see, would simply shock me.
She asked for his walk, which he did just fine. I could tell it was halfhearted, and not as forward and full as he had before, which I didn’t question – Trina was likely holding him back, fearing what Vince had told her about the horse. But then, she asked for his trot. I expected his beautiful, round, cloud nine of a trot he had produced before. What he gave Trina was not that. He was flat, with pinned ears. He brought his head into a rollkur motion, which was extremely unnatural, and I could tell Trina was not asking for it – she never trained with rollkur, and swore against it. I stood, confused by Kiro’s action. Why was he not behaving the same way he had for me? Trina kicked him forward, and he finally shaped up. Brought his head out of the twist, and rose his hind quarters. “That’s more like it…” Trina thought aloud. I smiled too, knowing Kiro would need to make a decent impression if Trina were to buy him. I wanted to keep him, more than anything. To have the opportunity to ride such an amazing animal every day would be a god given grace.
Trina then asked him for a canter. Asked. Not received. Kiro broke out into a hideous run, throwing his head into the air, nose level with his ears. He ran through the bridle, and stole away Trina’s reins. As soon as she had lost her grip, the horse threw his head down quickly and deliberately. She fell forward immediately, as Kiro then threw himself to the side, twisting his back into an awful buck. Then, for the first time in all the time I’d been with Trina, I witnessed her being thrown off of a horse.
She flew to the dirt, as Kiro ran away from his dismounted rider, coming directly toward me. He stopped dead at the gate, and stared at me, with the whites of his eyes glowing against the amber glare. I raced into the pen, and grabbed him, making sure he couldn’t run back to trample Trina or Vince. Vince went to Trina then, and helped her to her feet. She snarled, and pointed to me and Kiro, “Krista!! Get back on that horse, and you teach him to behave! I won’t have a horse get away with something like that! But I’m not getting on that wretched thing…” She snarled, walking quickly out of the arena. It was such a shock to me. Trina didn’t seem like the person that wouldn’t get back on after a fall. She was strong, able, and knew how to ride, and did it well. It was puzzling, but I ignored it, and did as I was told. Expecting the same treatment from Kiro, I treated him like a bomb, careful with my aids. But there was no need. He was an angel. Rounded back, on the bit, just the perfect horse I had been on just minutes ago. Trina was completely shocked. I expected her to go on a fit, running back to the truck, not even worried about getting her money back from Vince. But she surprised me, yet again, a popular trend now-a-days.
“Load the horse in the trailer. He’s coming home tonight.” She said quickly, but softly. She turned on her heel, and opened the trailer doors. I dismounted and untacked Kiro. The entire time I handled him, he seemed lovable, careful, and calm. Nothing like I had walked into, and nothing like I’d seen Trina ride. I started to walk him to the trailer, but Vince decided he’d take him from me, and let me go sit in the truck. I began to oblige – but Kiro did not. He planted his hooves, and threw his head into the air as soon as Vince took the lead of his halter. I turned back to him to see him throwing himself backwards, away from the man’s grasp. He called, “Trina!” as she came running. She grabbed the horse as well, and tried to hold on to him as he went back, but he only went faster, shaking his head. I came to them now, managing to snag the end of the rope, and called to Kiro, “Woah, boy, enough!” The horse stopped dead in his tracks. No movement forward, no movement back. Just nothing. Vince and Trina looked to each other, to me, to Kiro, then back to me. And let go of the rope. I collected it, and asked Kiro to walk on. He did just that.
I loaded the black gelding onto the trailer, hooked him up, shut the door, and walked to the truck. He sat in the trailer quietly, and munched away at his hay. Trina came into the truck just watching me. I looked back to her to express that I knew just about as much about the situation as she did. Absolutely nothing.
~ When I Die, Remember Me By My Horses ~
* Because They Are Responsible *
.: For Letting Me Live :. (c) xJumperx