Taylor's Golden Laddybuck
This story is hard for me because I'm trying to show both sides of every coin- english and western, slow train vs fast training. Even harder since I only show dressage, so if anyone could pm me a walkthrough of their show day for eventing, western pleasure, barrels, showjumping, any discipline, that would be great.
'Chapter' one- Which witch is Kelly?
Liz walked between the pens, shaking her head at most of them, thoughtfully eyeing some of them before writing down their numbers on a little paper. The girl that trailed behind her alternated between staring longingly at the horses and shooting nervous glances at her trainer.
None of these horses were perfect. If they were, they wouldn't have been there, but that was what they were betting on- a horse cheap enough to make mistakes on, but good enough to succeed. That one was too fat- probably have to undo as much as needed to be done- that one had funky legs. Too young, too old. Too short, too hyper. That one was lame, and holy smokes, what was that on it's chest? Liz found issues with everyone she looked at, but that was no big deal. She had planned for this. She stepped into the shade of a building as she considered the list.
Obviously, the hyper ones were off - it could be feed, but that was a risk she wouldn't take. Funky legs and frankenhorses were off the list as well. Too short, not as bad, just a line next to it. Too old, marked out, too young as well. They didn't have time to burn, and could turn back the hands of time- which was a shame, because he was a beauty. That left a distressingly short list. Liz tapped the paper, looking at her options
While Liz was doing that, Natalie wandered out a bit, taking a look at the horses for herself. As a horse arrived late, she walked towards the pen it was put in. The same pen as the lame horse, the injured horse, and the old horses. Right away, that sent alarm bells in her head. The kill pen was a myth, she knew that, but this pen, filled with the miscelania of the horse world, was the closest to it. The person who shoved it in was angry, and left immediately.
After giving the horse a second to calm down, she stepped forward, inspecting it. The first thing that she noticed was how skinny it was, at least a 1 on the Body scoring scale. Then she noticed the filth. Tail ,from the bone down, a solid mass. The mane had clumps of dirt the size of her fist hanging from it. She put off looking at the feet for as long as she could, then looked down. The sound of her breath hissing out almost spooked the horses. They weren't quite slipper feet, but they were way too long, chunks missing and starting to curve.
Liz looked up, satisfied with her choice, and turned to tell Natalie. She noticed her missing, and then saw her- the only person at the miscellaneous pen. Sighing, she went to drag the girl away from whatever sob story she found. The horse had to be in the sorriest state she had ever seen at a sale. “I've decided which horse will be your first project. C'mon, I'll show you him-” She stopped, seeing the question in Natalie's eyes before she even asked it. “No. Look at him-her? Can't even tell beneath all that crap. And look how skinny it is! And those hooves. And the conformation-” She stopped, cocking her head. Natalie had seen what she now saw- surprisingly good conformation. Liz drummed her fingers along the top rail, and Natalie squeezed the pipe, hardly daring to hope. Liz's hazel eyes betrayed nothing as she stared at the horse. Natalie knew what calculations she was running- boarding and feed for the extra time it would take, the extra farrier visits. Eventually, Liz spoke again, but it was slower, cautious “It wouldn't take long to get weight back on her. The hooves wouldn't take long either. Grooming will be entirely your responsibility, hear? Her price will have to be lower than what we discussed to pay for the extra feed.” Natalie beamed, and Liz hoped it wasn't a loosing gamble.
Then they walked up to the bleachers, getting a good spot in front. Neither the weanlings nor the yearling held any interest for her. They were good horses- the only ones with pedigrees read off as they were bid upon- but would just take too long. Maybe if Liz had seen the fire in Natalie from day one, but that was like choosing foals- a gamble. Natalie started to pay more attention as they came closer to their chosen horse. As the lame horse was lead out- going to places she'd rather not think about, their horse was lead in. It dragged a toe, head hanging as it was goaded into a trot. Liz waited for someone else to bid, knowing the rules of the auction well. Finally, someone bidded, one of the kill buyers, if she wasn't mistaken, for $25. Natalie looked up at her, and Liz held a finger up, waiting. There were a few different kill buyers, and she wanted to see if they were willing to go higher. Not likely. 1/3 the price for ¼ the meat as it was. Natalie bumped her, and Liz finally made a bid “$30 dollars. Do I hear $100, $100?” the auctioneer asked, and Natalie saw at least one amazed glance being tossed her way. 3, no one looked inclined. 2, people started leaving. 1, it was already being led out. If it wasn't for Liz's hand on Natalie's shoulder, she would have rocketed down. “You have your rescue. You want a true project now?” Liz asked, cocking an eyebrow at her. Natalie shook her head “No. Just because she's a rescue doesn't mean she won't need retraining, or work.” Liz frowned, acting confused “But that could take a month or more to get her to training condition. Don't you want to start training one now?” She asked, and Natalie gave her an exasperated look, as if saying 'You know better.' with her eyes “No. I'll be using that time to make money so I can cover the extra feed. And if I want a decent saddle before I graduate.” Liz beamed, patting her head “And that's why I like you, kid. Let's go collect your horse.” Natalie beat her there.
Natalie couldn't keep the grin off of her face as she lead the horse proudly despite it's issues. Liz barely waited until they were at the trailer before feeling the horse up. “Liz!” Natalie cried, scandalized. Liz looked at her as if she was the crazy one “What? I wanted to at least know the gender! It's a mare by the way.” she added, offhandedly, before trying to look at the horse's teeth. The one good thing about skinny horses, she thought almost-guiltily, was that they couldn't fight for long. The horse gave up quickly, letting her check her mouth “No missing teeth. Spots on all teeth, slightly faded on the first. How old is she?” Liz asked, and it took Natalie next to no time to reply with “8-9, more or less.” Liz nodded “Old enough to be jumped, young enough to learn...” She dropped her hands, letting the horse rip up some grass “You made a good choice, Natalie.” She spoke quietly, and Natalie nodded “I know.” Liz grinned at her “You knew did you? Maybe I should bring you along more- What the heck?” She cut off, seeing a horse tied to her trailer. She looked around, and saw no one there. Liz looked it over, and spotted a note tucked into the halter. She pulled it out and read it aloud “Your problem now.” They stared at each other for a second. Natalie wondering how Liz would take this, and Liz trying to comprehend what she just read. There was only the sound of the mare grazing for a few seconds before Liz spoke “Good thing I brought the two horse then...Let's load her first.”
Natalie reluctantly tugged her away from the grass, lining her up for the trailer. The horse cautiously took a step, and Natalie waited until her eyes adjusted to the dark, then counted to 10 slowly before nudging her forward. The horse moved in with an ease that spoke of experience. Natalie clipped her in and slid out. Liz had untied the other horse, and was watching him carefully “Watch this one. He's not been handled much, it would seem.” It took quite a bit more time to get him in, but it was one of the quieter loadings Liz had experienced. They shut the trailer up and climbed in the truck. They buckled, just sitting there for a moment. “Well.” Liz sighed, for the hundredth time “Today has just been shot to hell, hasn't it?” Natalie giggled at the blunt statement. “Now then, as a starting ration for the mare...”
This is just my first draft, so the title and chapter names were thought up on the spot. I'm more than open to critiquing, and if I screw up how something actually works, then please correct me. :-)
Do more pleas
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It's not a bad story so far, but something is missing and I can't quite figure out what it is. There just isn't the pull to read me feeling in the writing, if that makes sense. I want to read it simply because I started it and hate having an unread book in my head, not because it draws me to read it.
Maybe it's the lack of connection to the characters...I can't see their faces or persons so they just feel like entities lacking substance. I was trying to put faces to both as I read. Maybe I'm just having an off day and will feel differently reading later... Will come back and read it tomorrow while starting my vacation to see how it feels.
Sorry I couldn't give more positive feedback. I never like posting this type of response, but would rather give honesty than to be fake with anyone. It serves you no good for me to lie.
Natalie almost questioned Liz as they stood, pouring bottle after bottle of Gatorade into the bucket. “Liz...” she started, and got a glare in return “She needs the electrolytes. Here, top it up with water. That should work.” Liz effortlessly lifted the full bucket, clipping it into the stall. 14X28 with a thick bed of wood shavings, it was geared solely towards the horse's comfort. Liz opened a medicine chest, rummaging around “she'll need this, and this, and this.” she pulled out bottles, handing them to Natalie, who sat them on a ledge in front of the stall, made exactly for that purpose. Liz wrote out the daily doses on a dry erase, and hung it in front. “Once we can get her system working, we'll give her bran mashes with corn oil, tapering to beet pulp. What are the top two things to remember?” Natalie was busy setting up the other stall, same size, same way, except with plain water “Er...Fiber and protein?” Liz scowled slightly in her direction “Tell me, don't ask me. You're right, of course. Fetch a bale of the bad alfalfa put a flake in a hay net, and put it in her stall.” Natalie sighed, grabbed the haynet, and ran down to the main barn to get the hay. Liz's eyes crinkled as she unloaded the horses “Silly girl. She didn't have to run.” She told the mare, who shook her head. “Of course you want her to hurry- that's your dinner, right?” the first thing the mare did when put into her new stall was lay down with a groan, only to shoot up as Natalie returned with the haynet and tied it. The other horse was unloaded, but Liz had Natalie hold him while she inpected him “He's a weanling.” she blankly stated, sighing “thats two years of commitment before I can do anything...maybe I can flip him at a different auction...” she mumbled, rubbing her face as she put him away and throwing in the 'bad' hay that was sitting there.
Natalie felt so exhausted from their adventure, she almost forgot that it was barely noon, and that she had a barn full of horses to take care of. Liz gave her an expectant look, and Natalie ran back to the barn. This time, Liz wasn't smiling “What have I gotten myself into?” she asked herself, running a hand through her greying hair “I'm too old for this crap.”
Feeding the horses had an odd rhythm to it- 1 2 1 2 3 1, grain, grain, 2,2,1,0. That last one, the horse made angry motions and noises toward her, but the pile of hay in front of him told the truth. He didn't need any more. Then there were stalls to clean. So many stalls to clean... But the entire time she took care of all those horses, there was only one horse on her mind. And after the stalls, there were lessons to prepare for- jumps to set up, horses to be groomed and tacked. Then, bales had to be thrown down and placed in front of the proper stalls. It took nearly all her strength to drag the bales- big, dense bales that weighed more than she did.
Then there were show horses to prep. Coats to be buffed to gleaming, rows of perfects braids to be plaited. Tails to be detangled. Her fingers and arms were sore at the end, and it was with great relief that she collapsed onto the bench outside. Liz came walking in with a glass of lemonade in one hand and a plate of ham and cheese sandwiches in the other. Natalie shot her a grateful look before beginning to eat. Liz sipped at her own glass of water, watching her eat. Once she took more than a minute to eat one, she knew it was safe to say “Want to check on our Gambit?” It took Natalie a second, since she didn't think the horse had a name, but then she was furiously nodding her head. “Well, than, finish that and we can head up.” The quarantine stalls hadn't changed much. They were a little dirtier, and Natalie could honestly say she had never been more relieved to see horse crap than in that moment. Liz threw a flake in, ripped a second one in half, and threw a half in. “She'll be getting free choice hay by tomorrow night.” Liz told her, and Natalie nodded, wishing she could be getting free choice now, but knowing it wasn't an option. The weanling neighed, and Natalie walked over to see it. He was pitch black, but she suspected he would start greying out soon- only one breed threw true blacks, and they wouldn't end up in that inglorious place.
“She'll be getting her first dose of supplements tonight. You'll watch so you can do it tomorrow.” Liz told her as they watched the horse eat “I've been checking on her between sessions. She's been eating and laying down the entire time.” Natalie wanted to pet her, but the mud and much were just too disgusting, even though it had mostly dried. “Tomorrow you'll groom her, and she'll get her feet done the day after.” The sooner the better for her feet, but the stress could be deadly. That was the only reason Gambit wasn't spick and spam already- the stress was the last thing she needed. It felt almost cruel to Natalie to see her frantically pulling hay out of the net while a full bale sat outside her stall, but one misstep could kill her at this point. “$30...This poor girl wasn't even worth half of kill bid.....” she shook her head at the thought, though she could clearly see the reason why. “Refill the net, Natalie.” Natalie went into the stall, and began untying the net. The mare began pulling more frantically at the net, and Natalie had to throw it over as soon as it was free. Liz picked it up, put another flake in it, and passed it in to Natalie. The mare whickered as the food was once again presented, and Natalie had tied it securely with the strings dangling out of the stall. That last detail she made absolute sure of, having heard enough horror stories about it to fuel nightmares for weeks.
They watched her eat in silence for a few seconds before Liz sighed “I don't think I need to tell you this, kid, but this is going to be slow going. She needs to gain at least- at least- 200 pounds. That will take at least two months. Probably three before she can be put into training.” Nataliefinally tore her eyes away from Gambit to look up at her and smiled “She's worth the wait.”
Liz laughed, and the horse's ears turned to her “I don't doubt that. But like I was sayin', I have a group of three-year olds that need to be broken in. You can help me with them for those months.” Natalie smiled widely “I'd like that.” Liz nodded, smirking slightly “Good. It wasn't a question. These old bones of mine can't handle a fall as well as I'd like..”
The three-year olds were fun, to say the least. They required constant attention as she lunged them, first with nothing, then with a saddle with no stirrups. Then worked them with long reins. The only part that she was hesitant about was riding, searching out Liz's eyes as she worked another. Liz saw her, and smiled. Taking a deep breath, She swung herself up in the saddle, taking a handful of rein and mane in case he reacted. The horse's ears went back, but otherwise didn't react as Natalie shifted around, caught her stirrups, then continued moving. The horse stood more or less still, until she nudged him. He exploded forward, but she quickly reined him back. Once he was walking – a quick walk, but a walk nonetheless, she stopped him, and nudged again, gentler, while saying “Walk.” and he did, speed walking around the round pen a few times. After a lap, he slowed down, and his neck lowered. Natalie relaxed as well, and they did a few more laps before she slid off of him. Even if he didn't make a fuss, he was glad to have her off, letting out a gusty sigh. Natalie laughed, rubbing his nose “I'm not that heavy, wimp.” she told him, before dropping the reins and undoing the saddle. He turned his head to see her, but , let her lift it from his back and put it over the fence rail. As soon as the bridle was off, he smacked his lips a couple of times, looking at her expectantly with ears pointing straight at her. She didn't fail to deliver, presenting a peppermint to him. He quickly whisked it off of her hand and crunched it happily, before returning to lick her palm. “Silly horsie. You didn't earn another one.” she cooed at him, pulling her hand back before he had any naughty ideas.
She didn't bother brushing him out, since he didn't sweat, but turned him right out to the field, where he happily ran off to join the others. The horses in the drylot looked up, and she selected one, slipping a lead rope around it's neck. She had just put it into the round pen when Liz called to her “How bout you pop up on this one while I work the other one?” The one she had been working on was already saddled and bridled, and Natalie agreed after just a brief hesitation, mounting her. The first horse she was hesitant, uncertain how to proceed. By the third, she was feeling better about it. The fifth, she was confident, able to sit a bunny buck without worrying.
Liz watched her over the back of Dream, and smiled softly. Now she's getting it, she thought, nudging Dream into a canter, and then her eyes were drawn to her stallion, with his beautiful rocking motion, muscles rippling under his dual colored coat. He was bulking up nicely. Maybe it was time to enter him in shows again. After all, he wasn't getting any younger. And it'd be nice to have Dreamy babies running around again... Then she remembered all the weanlings at the auction, and thought better of it. But still, showing sounded appealing.
“What do you think about riding Dream in a show? You could do training level dressage. Or a competitive trail ride, I think there is one of those nearby...” Natalie's head whipped around, and she almost gave an affirmative reply, but something bothered her about it. She frowned down at the horse's neck, letting her stretch down and out, trying to pinpoint what it was, before it came to her “Wasn't Dream showing level three?” that would be a fall of three levels in the same number of years- not something that endears your stud. Liz nodded, nudging him into a canter. God he was beautiful “Just the first test. Pretty good for a 5-year old, wouldn't you say?” Natalie slid off the horse, untacking her while she waited patiently for her treat. After she turned her loose, she returned to the pen. “Liz, I couldn't. I don't think it's legal for me to handle stallions while I'm a minor.” Liz frowned, letting Dream slow down “Really? I'll have to look into that.” Her eyes never moved from Dream, and her smile reached her eyes and beyond “Look at him – I'm not pushing him at all and he'd still rather trot!” She looked sidelong at Natalie “I'd be a shame to waste this energy lunging. Want to go on a trail ride? Just around the farm?” Natalie nodded, biting her lip “Can we check on Gambit first?” Liz shook her head “Of course, of course...You really love that lil' girl don't you?” Natalie nodded “Of course. Who would've, if not for me?” Liz's lips twitched, but into a happy or sad smile, she couldn't have said. she beckoned Dream to come towards her, unfastening him from the lunge line and leaving him in the round pen. “If not me, who? If not now, when?” she recited, gesturing grandly. Natalie shook her head, embarrassed by her even if no one was there to see her. Liz bumped her “I'll look into you riding Dream. If it doesn't work, maybe you can ride Mystic. Or one of their babies.” Natalie was hesitant when she said “yeah...” Liz peered at her, and stated “You don't seem happy about getting a chance to show.” Natalie shook her head “It's not that. I'm not good enough to do the levels they were in before, and it won't look good for-” Liz held up a hand “Stop right there. You won't make them look bad,since most of the studs round here aren't even backed. This way, I don't only show off my horses, I'm showing you off. It shows I'm not just a trainer of horses, I'm a trainer of people as well. Besides, any showing is better than no showing.” Then they were at the quarantine barn, and Natalie found Gambit to be much more interesting. Liz smiled slightly at having won. Her little student's hesitance was cute- and kept her from falling- but now it was just annoying.
(The hardest part of this is deciding the cut offs...I have 14 pages already typed for your reading pleasure :wink:)
I love this story a lot! I clicked on this thread not planning on actually reading the whole thing. I just wanted to read the first few sentences to get a feel of the story, but before I knew it, I was halfway in the first chapter, so I thought I might as well have finished it. I don't know what it was, but the story really drew me in!
he horse had emptied the hay net, and Natalie once again filled it, while Liz put in just a bit more than last time. Gambit didn't eat so desperately this time “At this rate, we can give her a mash tonight.” Liz noted, and Natalie smiled, rubbing her neck despite the grime. She didn't jerk away, but she didn't seem to enjoy it either. Sadly, neither did Natalie, scraping the filth off on the stall with a quiet 'ew' “She's a lot taller than I'm used to.” Natalie murmured, noting her shoulder was at least a foot over her head. Liz nodded “Yeah, she's close to 17 hands. Good thing- means that the neglect was short term. If it was long term, she'd be a pony.” Natalie rolled her eyes at her trainer's insistence at using every opportunity to teach her something. Natalie checked her water an refilled it, and made a silent promise to clean her stall later, but Liz was dragging her out and to the barn “Go ahead and pull Mystic out. We'll be trotting hills, so plan accordingly.” Liz drawled, grabbing a beat-up bridle that looked as old as herself. Natalie hesitated before grabbing a saddle that could be the bridle's twin and a double- elastic cotton girth. She barely brushed Mystic, just enough to ensure no chafing. Natalie did the girth up one hole at a time on each side, until she couldn't tighten it anymore. It was a good two holes looser on each side than she was used to “Has ickle horse gotten tubby?” she crooned, much to Mystic's displeasure as she snorted. Natalie laughed as she slipped the bridle on, gentle french link snaffle being accepted without fuss. Natalie stopped just long enough to put a helmet on, and grabbed Liz's as she led Mystic outside. Liz had already mounted up, letting Dream adjust to the feeling of her on his back. Liz gave Natalie a look as she was handed a helmet, but put it on when Natalie showed no signs of caving. Liz didn't comment on the saddle as they set off for a circuit of the farm. They swung out to pass the stallion barn and paddocks. Natalie looked over with mild curiosity, since she only knew of one stallion on the place. Liz saw the look and explained “I used to show all of the colts in halter, and only those that had at least 3 firsts in each section would stay studs, and if they placed lower than 3rd, bye-bye balls. I had a pretty good system in place to keep only the top stallions. Lots of people breed only for the color, and I wanted to change that.” They passed the hay field, where Liz made a mental note that the second cutting would have to be soon, and the woods that designated the end of her property was coming up. She clucked to Dream, and he eased into a nice, sittable trot. Mystic required just a shift in seat to follow behind “You'll be in charge of doing this twice a day if you want to show. Once she is in good shape, you can make her slow down going up and down hills, but for now, I'll let them choose the speed.” She looked over, and saw Natalie posting, and her eyebrows rose “We aren't in the arena anymore. You can sit the trot if you want.” She reminded her, but Natalie didn't stop “I know, but it just feels wrong to sit the trot.” Liz sighed, slowing Dream a little bit “Just try it. You have to sit the trot to transition into canter, and it won't be a good transition if you're unbalanced.” Natalie made an uncomfortable face as she tried to relax and sit the trot, but she would just randomly pop up in a post before sitting. The sitting trot looked decent though, so Liz let it go when Natalie started posting again “You need to try trotting bareback. Maybe then you'll be able to sit the trot.” Liz mentioned, letting Dream speed up again. There was a peaceful silence as they went up and down the hills, Liz pointing out birds. At one point, she stopped, holding a finger up to her mouth as she pointed out a deer herd that hadn't quite spooked at the sound of horse hooves. As they came around the other side of the farm, they passed the fruit trees, where Liz slowed the horses to a walk and reached up to pluck a not quite ripe apple, pulling out her pocket knife to cut it in half “We'll walk 'em to the barn, and that should be all the cooldown they need.” she cut each of the halves into smaller slices, digging out the seeds and letting them drop. Half of the apple went to Natalie, and the other half was fed, piece by piece, to Dream after she dismounted. Liz led him back up to the stallion barn while she untacked Mystic and turned her out. The light was fading, and soon group 1 would be brought in and fed while group 2 went out. But that wasn't her responsibility, thank god. It was Avis's. She checked to see if she was actually doing her job, and she was. Not that she really expected anything else. For a 'juvenile delinquent' as her father described her, she was quite dependable, at least about the horses. She was currently trying to put a grazing muzzle onto a halter, forehead furrowed in thought, but she waved when she noticed Natalie “Hey! I heard you got yourself a new horse.” she started, halter forgotten as she trying to get all the details out of her. Natalie laughed, picking up the halter and finishing putting the grazing muzzle on it, which was a lot harder than it looked, and even gave her pause. “I'll tell you as we work, mkay?” Avis popped up immediately, and between them had the horses all in before the light was half gone. Natalie told her about the horses at the auction, and the condition of the horse, and finished with the weanling “And it was just there, tied to the trailer!” Natalie put the last horse in it's stall “And guess what? They left a note on the halter: Your problem now.” Avis laughed, filling haynets and dishing out grain. “Really? Bet Liz didn't take that too well. The only babies she likes are Dreamy babies.” Natalie shrugged “She's going to try flipping it, but I don't think it will work. There was a reason the owner ditched it, after all.” Avis nodded “Wonder if she'd be willing to give it to me?” she stated, but there was a way to how she said it that pointed to the fact she wasn't serious. “Maybe.” Natalie replied,seriously before yawning. “I'm sorry, but I won't be helping much today. Liz wants to take a second cutting on the hay tomorrow.” Avis nodded “Jsut as well. Father won't be picking me up till late.” Natalie frowned, knowing her father normally picked her up rather late. “How late is late?” She asked suspicously, and Avis shrugged, diverting her eyes “midnight, maybe later.” Natalie shook her head “that just isn't right. I'll have Liz call and ask if you could just spend the night, since there is no point going home at that point.” After all, she was dropped off at five o clock sharp every morning. Avis smiled, the bright white of her teeth a sharp contrast to her black lipring. “Really? Then we might get to ride in the morning!”she pushed her black hair out of her face, and squared her shoulders. Liz walked in, sipping a water and holding one more “Okay, so it turns out that you can ride him, but only in breed-specific shows. That isn't what we are going for, since it's already been made abundantly clear that none of those people care for me at all. So you're going to ride either his son, Patch, or Mystic.” She noticed Avis and doubletaked “You ride Mystic in show. Natalie, you have Patch.” Her voice left no room for argument, not that Avis wanted to argue it. Her face brightened considerably, and they talked of miscellaneous things until Natalie remembered “Oh yeah, can you call her dad and see if she can spend the night? He won't be picking her up until midnight or later.” Liz stared at Avis in disbelief “You have got to be sh- kidding me.” She corrected herself quickly, glancing to Natalie, who just blinked obliviously. when Natalie shook her head and Avis looked away, pretending to be very interested in a fat pony trying to graze with a grazing muzzle on, Liz just sighed, shaking her head“I'm going to give that man a piece of my mind one of these days.” before walking off “Yeah, she can stay.” Avis watched her go, nervously jiggling her lip ring, but Natalie bumped shoulders with her “Don't worry. She says that every time, but she is polite as all get out on the phone. Dinner tonight is pork chops and scalloped potatoes. Lots and lots of potatoes.” Natalie smiled, remembering Liz's childlike joy when they lifted their bountiful harvest out of the ground. Very bountiful actually- it was a good thing they liked potatoes. Avis licked her lips, remembering the last time she had such a meal “Sounds delicious, Nat.” She told her truthfully, and Natalie picked up a fork “Lets get started, yeah? Faster we start, the faster we finish.” There was less than half of the stalls to be done, but that would still take forever, and it only got worse as Natalie got stuck with all the nasty, churned up, never-look-clean stalls. Natalie groaned, glaring through her bangs at the German girl, who was several stalls ahead of her “You did this on purpose, didn't you?” she muttered in mock betrayal as Avis tried to look innocent “Why would I ever do that, schatz?” Natalie rolled her eyes, ignoring the tired burning in her shoulders as she lifted another forkful of shavings into the wheelbarrow. “Just because I don't have your motive doesn't mean you didn't commit the crime.” Natalie reminded her, and got a German phrase in reply. She shook her head, and went to the next stall- that was already cleaned. Liz was already in the next one, cleaning it with quick, efficient movements. If Avis thought this was unusual, she didn't mention anything. Why would she mention anything when it meant getting done over an hour early? “Avis, Natalie, go check on Gambit while I get dinner out.” She ordered, and Natalie saw the vague beginnings of rebellion in Avis' eyes, so she pulled her along. The path was pitch black, but memory guided Natalie better than her eyes as she laced her fingers with Avis'. “She's beautiful, A. Just wait till you see her!” Avis tried not to trip at the speed they were going while she pondered what kind of horse it would take to catch her eye. Friesian maybe? Well, she said she liked drafts, so maybe a Shire? Whatever she was expecting, it was not the...thing standing in front of her. She looked at the filthy, skinny horse and tried to see what Natalie saw in her. After a few seconds with her mouth open she shrugged “I got nothing schatz. Why her?” She asked as more hay was placed in front of the starving horse. Natalie beckoned her into the stall while she stuffed the haynet “Look past her skin. Imagine her as just bones and muscle. See how her neck is set? Her shoulder? Her back? Weight can be changed, looks may change, but conformation will not change.” Natalie's voice took on almost a textbook quality as she pointed out the specific points to an ignorant and inattentive audience.
Avis shook her head, thouroughtly amused. Surrounded by horses with pedigrees that read like the who's who of the horse world, and she chose this underfed, uncared for mutt. And then it clicked. “Oh.” She murmured, looking at the horse with new eyes “Oh”Everyone had taken one look at this horse and had written her off, giving no thought to what she was, what she could be. One look at her outside, and they assumed they knew what was on her inside. Natalie smiled at her “I always was a sucker for the sad stories” The walk back to the house was more sedate, and Avis changed the subject “Lucky you, getting to live here. Horses in the morning, horses during the day, horses during the night.” She said, but it was uncertain whether it was a compliment, an insult or a whine. Natalie snorted “Let's see how long that lasts. The first colic scare, or the first night trying to sleep while a stampede happens outside?” She was teasing her though, bumping shoulders “'sides, it's only until my parents come back.” Natalie stopped at the door, taking off her boots and leaving them in the mudroom, followed by Avis. That was the one rule she never challenged. After all, who wanted to know that the floor they laid on had horse poop on it? Avis shot Natalie a sidelong look, feeling like she already knew what no one would say. Then Liz interrupted what could have become an awkward silence
(Current word count is 15,000. I'm afraid I won't be able to post it all since I hope to get published.)
I liked this next chapter too, but I was a little confused about the time. Is it directly after chapter 2 or is it a whole other day?
Same day. From what I know of auctions, Horses tend to go first, early in the morning, so I guessed at a small auction it wouldn't take more than an hour to show them all, and if the auction started at 8, that'd be 9. trail would be 11-2ish, and stalls till 7 (need to edit the 'darkness falling' thing until they were done. I had meant to have Avis be the equivalent of third shift, but it didn't work out that way at all.
Very good!! I love journal-style writing books, and I find it very interesting and effective. Perhaps Natalie could keep a journal about Gambit...?
I'm also wondering-is Liz Natalie's mother or something? Why does Natalie stay and eat supper there?
OOOO.....she must be doing an apprenticeship, right?
Ok, fellow author here.
The first thing, it's got a very good plot. The basic overall design is awesome.
Second thing, you are definetely lacking in details. What color is gambit? How are Liz and Natalie connected? Trainer /student? Aunt/neice? What kind of facility is the story based out of? Boarding stable? Breeding facility? What breed of horses are they dealing with?
Third, your characters need more development. This is something I struggle wit also. You need to sit down with a notebook and describe your characters. Bold? Hardheaded? Shy? Grumpy? Serious? Just write down a list of characters, then write down what their personalitys are like. Then every time you start to write about on of them, make yourself stop and think " ok, does this reflect so and so personality?" If you don't set out definete personality traits, all your characters will run together with the same personality. Normally, they all end up with your personality.
Just personal experience. My first book is in the process if getting published. I hope this helps you and doesn't seem to harsh.
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