[[ I AM SO SORRY. I ... I kinda forgot to post this .... But it will be worth it I hope!! Ladies and gentlemen, the beginning of the climax. From here on out, it should be pretty quick posting. I'm excited to keep on writing this one out!! ]]
The next morning came quickly as I knew it would. I was quickly getting used to it though, and was even happy about it. We dressed and were on our way to the barn in a blink of an eye, Jared throwing me a small pre-packaged pastry to eat on the way to the barn. I was done by the time we were there, and we got tacked up. The cross country courses ran early in the morning, while Stadium ran at the end of the day. This was so that the horses could have the biggest break possible in the middle, and gave us riders time to rest as well. Northgate looked best in his Cross gear. 5-star breastplate and close contact saddle, lined with a white fleece pad laid against a light green saddle blanket, with “Green Lantern Stables” embroidered in gold lettering in the corner of the pad. It was very sophisticated, and I thought about asking Trina if we could do it for our barn. Green SMB boots completed the look, which I knew would be replaced with leather open fronts in Stadium. Jared shut his tack trunk, hiding a green fly bonnet for later use. I smirked, “I’d like a nice ret fly bonnet like that!” I turned to stroke Kiro’s ears, “I think my boy would look mighty fine with a nice little red hat!”
He already had a matching suit of red, much like Jared’s green – red saddle pad and wolf boots for the Cross portion, and leather open fronts for Stadium. We were both dressed to the nines, and proud of our mounts. We hopped on, and began walking over to the Cross warm up area. It was a small field, sectioned off with some temporary fencing. A few small jumps were set up, a log and a Liverpool with poles. Kiro cleared both with ease, so I knew we would need little warm up. Northgate, on the other hand, was giving Jared problems with the Liverpool. He looked hard at the jump, and refused twice. He tried ducking out both times, but Jared was a strong enough rider to not allow such behavior. It was clear that it was really annoying Jared, though. “Anything I can do to help?” I came near to Jared and asked, hoping there was anything I could do to help the situation. He simply shook his head, before glancing at me and changing his mind. “Do you … do you need your spurs?” I quickly shook my head, and reached down to remove them. I didn’t use them for cross, only Dressage, and had forgotten to take them off my boots. “I won’t dig him too hard, but he does need a little something extra, and I forgot my crop at the trailer. Thank you, Kat.” I nodded a “you’re welcome,” and handed him the spurs.
That seemed to do the trick. The next trip around, a sharp jut to the side got NG over the tricky obstacle, and the team had no more issues. I smiled, glad we could continue without a hitch. Me and Jared had a strong standing to uphold, and though I knew winning wasn’t everything, it sure was nice. I had always been pretty competitive, and having Kiro come into my life only rekindled that type of fire that had been dulled for years from the accident. Thinking about it for the first time in a while, I was proud of how far I had come. I was finally jumping again, really riding again, and even competing! The tragedy was all but behind me completely, and I was happy to know I could overcome it.
I wasn’t far into my daydreaming when the announcer called my name. Jared smiled my way, “Good luck! I’ll be watching closely for you when you come around the bends!” I nodded thanks, and made my way to the start box, ready to start. We had gotten the chance to take a look at all the jumps before, and nothing really screamed out at me. Not even a single barrel in sight. Water didn’t faze Kiro, so the small, shallow pond we would have to gallop through should provide no problems. I glanced to the stewards in the small viewing area next to the start boxes, showing them I was ready. They nodded, and a bell rung. I was good to go. With a short nudge to the side, me and Kiro were galloping down the straight stretch before us, getting to the first jump in good time. The optimum time for this course was a bit shorter than I was really used to, so I knew we would have to keep a good pace the whole time. Even then, I did check my new watch when I had the chance. The beeping that it did at certain time intervals definitely helped though.
The jumps in between the stretches were also a little more complicated than the previous event’s had been. They were wider and taller obviously, but the actual course itself was even more troubling than I had thought. Many tight turns, with jumps coming out of odd places, some sneaking up on you over blind hills. It definitely was something I had to pay attention to, but I was up for the challenge. Soon enough, the watch on my wrist beeped four times – one minute to the optimum time mark. Thankfully, 16 out of the 17 jumps were complete, and the finish line wasn’t long after the final jump. The very, very long run to the final jump would also eat up the time I did need it to consume, so I was feeling good. I glanced down to Kiro’s sides and legs, and noticed quite a bit more sweat than he had accumulated the first event. His breathing wasn’t too labored, but you could tell he was pushing himself. I didn’t want to race him any faster than he was going, and decided being a little over the time was better than not having a horse to run in Stadium. Thankfully, the last jump was a simple, open distance, and we were out of the course in nearly perfect time. I pat my boy very graciously, and we walked on a loose rein back to the start to watch Jared.
When I got there, Jared instantly praised me. “Awesome time, Kat! I had you going on mine here, too. So he took everything okay? Anything jump out at you? What’s the hardest part of the course?” I snickered, “Slow down, one thing at a time! Nothing is really scary, but jump 9 is coming out of a blind turn, and it can get kind of tricky, so watch yourself there.” Jared nodded, and we went over the rest of the course. We were able to converse and compare like this because these jumps were actually adjustable. It was a big bonus, and extremely rare in such big events. The jumps were very heavy though, so it definitely took some time to switch between divisions. We were able to untack, rub down, and re-tack the horses next to the cross country course before Jared’s trip, and the horses were thankful. Not long after Jared was back up and walking around, it was time for his trip. “Go get ‘em, buddy!” I called after him. He grinned and waved behind him before the bell rung. And he and NG were taking off down the grass.
I did the same for Jared as he had for me, and restarted the watch I was holding. I decided to walk Kiro around to find the best places to watch Jared’s course. I timed the place I went with where he should be on the course at certain times, and was able to catch the perfect spot where I could see three jumps and the finish line. I managed to get there just before Jared did. When he came into view, I was appalled at how amazing NG looked in full stretch. He pounded against the ground, muscles rippling with the power of his stride. Jared held him back gently, using a Pelham with both reins attached. He sat out of the saddle lightly, using his legs to hold himself up off of Northgate’s back. They came up to the first obstacle in their way in the three that I could see. It was a simple jump, logs tied up with just a bit of brush under them. The team cleared it more than easily, with the next two jumps readily coming ahead. After they were gone and out of the way, the two galloped home to end up just a bit short of the optimum time. “Well, I’d personally take too fast over too slow!” I called to no one, and trotted Kiro down to where the two had stopped.
“Awesome runs for the both of us! Come on, let’s get these guys up and check the standings! You guys rocked it, I want to see how you guys are doing!” Jared smiled wide, and nodded, “Heck yea! You two are doing better than we are! I’d love to see the smile on your face when you see your name by a number one!” We grinned and laughed, trotting on loose reins back to the barn. After getting everyone untacked and put up in their stalls, we made our way to the barn office to find out for sure how we were doing.
Sure enough, our names graced the top of the papers for both of our divisions. We were doing excellently. The competitors weren’t too terribly far behind in Cross Country, but we had gotten them pretty well in the Dressage. “As long as Stadium proves no problems, we are set! What a perfect show to come back and tell your trainer about!” Jared chanted, patting me on the back. I smiled, “Same for you! Except your trainer is expecting such a victory; mine is expecting more along the lines of … a rock!” We laughed out loud, and decided to head out for lunch before coming back to ready for the stadium portion.
After lunch had gone and past, and we had tacked up and warmed the horses, we checked out the ring and our courses. They were both the same, but very complex: rollbacks, half-moon turns, hairpin corners, the works. The jumps weren’t exactly going to be an easy over either. The show grounds spared no expense in making the jumps absolutely stunning, something I would expect to see in the Rolex. “Uh, Jared? These are kind of … scary.” He turned to the ring and glanced it over, but appeared to be much more comfortable than I was. “No, Kat you’ll be fine. These two will go over anything if you ask them right, they are good honest horses. I guarantee you are more nervous about them than Kiro is. He sails over stuff like he’s done it nine thousand times!” I gave a half grin, hoping Jared was right.
He must have been spot on – we both had clear rounds. The turns were very tight, but Kiro took them with no problems, and Northgate looked graceful as a doe spinning around the course. We came out beaming, knowing we had simply taken the show ground by storm.
After cooling and untacking our horses, I noticed a man, maybe 30 in age, come up to me and Jared in the golf cart on our way to the truck to get the trailer loaded so we could get home. “Young lady! You own the big black that won the 3’6” division today!” I nodded warily, “yes, this is true. Can I help you?” He smiled wide, reaching for my hand, “It’s good to meet you! That horse of yours, he is really something. I’d love to see him up close and personal, really meet him. Maybe we could make a little deal. He’d make a great addition to our show team at Willikur Ridge, and I’d be willing to pay a generous price.”
I couldn’t help but snort and withdraw, rejecting his hand shake. “My horse is absolutely not for sale. He is not for sale now, and never will be. Sorry, but no thank you. Go on, Jared.” I turned my head inside the cart, and Jared slammed the gas almost before I could finish speaking. I looked at him with disgust. He shared the look, responding “welcome to the world of upper class eventing. It’s the same in the hunter world I’m sure.” I remembered back, and realized he was right. What was different then, was that Trina usually handled them.
After getting the trailer back to the stall, I noticed someone was at Kiro’s stall. Someone I didn’t know. Or did I … “It’s that creep!” I sneered. I jumped out of the truck, half-running to the stall. “What do you think you’re –“ My words were cut off. Suddenly, there was a crazy thud at the stall door, where the man was leaning against. Kiro’s nose came shooting out of the small cut out, ears flat and eyes nearly glowing with rage. His teeth extended toward the man, who narrowly escaped the powerful jaws. Kiro reared up again, kicking at the door, screaming. The man turned ghost white with fear, running away from the stall. “You’re insane for going anywhere near that horse! That horse is crazy!!” He took off, jumping in his golf cart and buzzing away before I could reply. I rushed to the stall to make sure my horse was okay.
Sure enough, Kiro was just fine. He was happy to see me even, with his usual loving attitude toward me. “That’s my boy. Teach people to mess with you, won’t it?” I turned to Jared, who looked afraid to come up to my horse. I laughed, “Jared, he’s fine! I’ve told you, he doesn’t like strangers. You’re not a stranger. It’s fine!” He simply nodded, and sure enough, Kiro allowed him to pat and caress him as normal. Jared shook his head, and we continued to load the trailer.
After everything was packed, we loaded the horses and began the long drive home. About halfway, Jared turned to me. “Hey, Kat? You up? I’m getting seriously tired. Are you good to drive?” I had actually just woken up, so was very alert and more than ready to finish the trip. I nodded, and we pulled over to switch drivers. I took the truck down the interstate, found the ramp easily, and pulled off. It was quite a few intersections before we got to the barn, and I got all the lights – or so I thought.
Suddenly, I noticed two very different lights coming from the side. White and blinding, and coming too fast. There was no sound, no nothing, just light. I turned to see what it could be that was shining so brightly, and that would be the last motion I would make that night. In fact, it would be the last motion I did for the next week. A strike of painful fear shot through my body, before everything went black for the second time in my life.
~ When I Die, Remember Me By My Horses ~
* Because They Are Responsible *
.: For Letting Me Live :. (c) xJumperx