Dynamite: Chapter 2 part a
Wow. I just discovered all the lovely posts to chapter 1. Im sorry but I totally forgot about it because it lay dormant for so long. I will post Chpater 1 again because I have adjusted some of the things that members noted. As for why cant you write about other breeds, yes I agree there are many other breeds but I know the most about TBs and I am playing with the idea of an Endurance riding novel....just need the inspiration lol
Three years later
The raucous yelling could be heard well before it could be seen. Jo sat dejectedly on the veranda in the warm early morning sun with her Biology assignment watching Mick and Steve wrestle with the colt in the round yard. At about three years old he no longer looked like the gangly uncoordinated foal that arrived on that cold winter’s night. The young horse had grown into a luxurious tall colt almost 16 hands and had by no means finished growing; his dark mahogany coat became a bright fiery red colour that glimmered in the late morning sun. His mane and tail danced like flames as he reared up to evade the bridle in Mick’s hand. Standing tall and graceful, he moved like a ballerina on his long legs with a dainty, head high in the air, nostrils flaring and liquid eyes wide. Without a doubt he earned the name, Dynamite. Jo loved the name, simple and unlike the silly show horse names but nonetheless effective and descriptive. Watching him slew about on the end of his lead rope he truly appeared like a spectacular dynamite explosion to watch.
“Get back to your work. You should be inside where you can’t be distracted by the colt,” her father muttered gruffly coming out of the house.
Jo watched her father stride down to the round yard, slide between the rails and roughly snatch the lead rope and bridle off Mick who looked sheepish. Steve looked across at his twin sister and shrugged. Jo knew how he felt.
Looking up into the cloudless, blue sky she frowned, her forehead creasing. It had barely rained in two years. Even the winters had been mild and had brought hardly any snow to feed the rivers when they melted in the spring. So the creeks that meandered through their highland property lay dry and barren. And with the lack of water the farm’s losses became phenomenal. They sold off more than half of their stock. Mick refused his wages, insisting it be spent on other, more important things. Even Grandpa Bob grew reserved in spending a lot of time sitting on the veranda staring absently into space or with the remaining cattle that hadn’t been sold, yet. With the losses her father became very short fused, snapping at the silliest things. In fact it seemed like a miracle Dynamite hadn’t been sold yet. The colt reared up again, his hooves brushing so close they knocked Andrew’s akubra hat off, Jo knew it would only be a matter of time unless something drastic happened.
She knew that they should feel lucky, already four families had to sell their properties just in Echo Gully and that they still had some feed and enough heifers to provide a nice return of steers for the next year. But she didn’t, her father had become unbearable in the last six months particularly. The family that had seemed so strong now teetered on the brink of disaster.
Grandpa Bob pushed open the screen door, leaning heavily on his stick. Jo leaned over and held open the door as he manoeuvred out before setting the cups of coffee on the table.
“How’s it going?” he murmured.
Dynamite pig-rooted, his hoof hitting the metal rails making it clang and rattle. Andrew began yelling at Mick for being a useless layabout before throwing the bridle down and storming off toward the shed; likely to pretend to mix up feed, just like he had for the last two years. “Does that answer your question?” Jo replied.
Grandpa Bob sighed. “Your father is going through a tough time. Money is short; supermarkets aren’t paying what they used to for beef even if they can sell it for triple the price per kilo.” Jo could hear the venom in his voice, a feeling she shared along with just about every cattle, sheep and pork farmer in the country.
“I know. We’re all suffering. If I could do something I would, but he sticks me in these dumb books and tells me to ‘study Jo study’, get a future, as what? A useless uni student?” Jo snapped frustrated, looking down at the words on the pages that evaded her.
“Maybe there is something you can do,” Grandpa Bob said wisely, “Break the colt in yourself.”
Jo blinked. “Dad would go troppo. He doesn’t want me in the yards like Steve he wants me to get an education.”
“An education is all well and good but out here you’ve got to be able to do more than read,” the old man paused staring at the biology book before pulling a slightly terrified look. Like most in his generation they were lucky to be able to read and do sums as school took back seat to farm work. Even Steve had left school a year ago to be of more use around the farm, in fact quite a few local boys did. “Break that colt in Jo. I’ve seen you with him, he listens to you more than these two hooligans.”
Jo looked back at the colt trotting about the round yard. His stride was long and he looked as if he floated. “And then what? So Dad can sell him?” she said.
“We’ll cross that bridge when it comes,” he muttered.
Jo looked curiously at her grandfather. With a keen look in his eye he watched the colt come to a halt and stand like a statue in the round yard; the wind rustling through his mane, his head high the look of mightiness in his ardent eye. Knowing all eyes rested upon him, he felt as if the entire world watched as though he were something great. What could her grandfather be thinking? Jo wish she knew.
Evening fell, the family ate dinner before each went off in separate ways, her father to pour himself into the accounts, her Grandfather off to read a Western novel and the boys to watch telly. Jo left alone in the kitchen with the dishes felt sad. Before her family would sit together in the living room, laughing about the events of the day while the telly prattled on in the background. But now each went their separate ways, mostly to avoid Andrew who would be liable to bite their heads off for absolutely nothing. Jo flung the tea towel down in frustration and went outside.
The cool alpine night air smelled fresh and clean as Jo walked down the front steps. The colt stood in the darkness staring out at the mountains as a dingo howled through the clear nights air that twinkled with a billion stars. Jo smacked her lips which jerked the stallion to life as he whickered and trotted to the fence. Maybe Grandpa Bob was right. If she could break him in they would have a stock horse to replace Grandpa’s old mare that had died a few months ago. But as she rubbed his nose, looking into his clear deep eyes she knew he felt almost too special to use rounding up cattle like any old nag.
Lifting the halter off the post she haltered him easily and tied him to the fence. Discarded nearby lay the bridle her father had thrown down this morning. The colt snorted warily and shifted about uneasily but with none of the earlier drama. Jo let the colt examine it, his flaring nostrils breathe in the scent of old leather. Carefully Jo lifted it up to eye level. The colt snorted and shook his head but soon settled. The cicadas hummed loudly in the dry grass and the moon shone through the trees. Once the colt appeared happy, the young girl held the bit near his teeth. She felt her heart pound as he sniffed it, flicking his ears warily.
After some persuasion he accepted the bit and Jo carefully lifted the brow band over his ears and settled it into place. He threw his head up, flaring his nostrils, his liquid eyes wide. Jo murmured comfortingly and soon he dropped his head. Once he grew quiet Jo slipped the bridle from his head, taking care to let him spit the bit out so as not to clip his teeth.
Ten minutes, and those two galahs spent an hour just trying to get near him with the bridle without success. Jo patted the colt, telling him in crooning tones he was the best horse in the world. Dynamite arched his neck, snorting, snuffling his sweet horsy breath into her cold hands. As she looked up at the moon, the girl wondered if maybe Grandpa Bob might be on to something. But she couldn’t explain that keen look in both her grandfather’s and the colt’s eye? Did Grandpa Bob have a special plan for the Dynamite? What made the colt so special anyway? Only time would tell.
Three mornings later produced dark storm clouds. Storms now as more than ever, seemed more anticipated than the National Rugby League Grand Finals, of which Jo usually lost out on. But the two minutes of steady rain barely stirred the dust before shifting on towards the coast. The disappointment hung so thick in the air one could cut it with a knife. Andrew looked down at his mug before letting out a thunderous sigh. As the last rumble of thunder died away he looked toward the mountains.
“I’ve been offered four weeks mustering and stock work up in the Katherine. We need the money otherwise we’ll loose the bulls but-,” he began, his voice tight. Those bulls meant the world to him. Their father, an expensive stud bull had been a wedding present from Jo‘s mother, and Bill and Ben had been his first two calves and had formed his now successful herd. Also it meant the herd would go with bulls spelling the end for the farm.
“Go Dad. Anything to save the last of the herd,” Jo cut him off firmly.
“Yeah. We can manage the fort for a few weeks,” Steve nodded.
“Ok. I’m glad you agree. It will give us a little more cash. But I want that colt broken and rideable by then otherwise he goes. I’m sick of feeding the mongrel,” her father rumbled threateningly.
“If only you knew,” Jo thought nodding. Last night as the storm clouds began to build Jo leant across the colt’s smooth back. He shifted about warily but didn’t do any of the things she had seen young horses do which made Jo feel sure he had done it all before. She stayed there for only a few moments before sliding carefully to the ground. But of course her father wouldn’t know this.
Within a week they stood on the tarmac and farewelled Andrew as the small 4-seater Cherokee mail plane he’d boarded soared into the air. The smile on his face made Jo smile. Although he’d be working it would be the break away from his fading property that he needed. In fact, Jo doubted he could take any other type of holiday, Andrew could simply not go more than a few days without working before he’d get increasingly bored and antsy. Not that been able to afford a holiday, the last had been when Jo and her brother had been nine, the had taken a trip up to the Gold Coast and gone to Sea world, a large ocean theme park. Jo smiled at the memory of going on rides, eating ice creams that melted faster than they could be eaten and the dolphin show had been a massive highlight.
As the red bellied Cherokee disappeared over the horizon Grandpa Bob turned to his Granddaughter snapping her to life. “Show me what you’ve been doing with this colt.”
Jo blinked in surprise. “How on earth did you know?”
“I was answering the call of nature one night when I spotted you bridling him like he was an old hand at it. I was right wasn’t I?” He grinned, as the group headed back to the battered old Ute. Steve and Mick stared at each other blankly as Grandpa Bob swatted his hat in their direction.
Jo carefully swung her leg over the colt’s back and slowly sat tall. His flesh felt warm and smooth. As he took in a deep lungful of air, Jo could feel his lungs contract and expand underneath her denim-clad thighs. He shifted carefully. Grandpa Bob quietly clapped.
“Good show Jo. You’ve been doing well with him now-,” he began but loud moo cut him off.
The colt spun around, Jo grabbed his mane to keep her balance. Mick and Steve on their two stock horses with the last fifty or so cattle suddenly appeared over the ridge. Despite being raised in the poddy shed and being put in the paddock with them, Dynamite had always been spooky of the chunky Herefords. But as a couple of young steers came lumbering down the slope, bucking playfully Dynamite lost it.
Like his name he exploded, going straight from dancing on his hind legs to flat out gallop. Luckily Jo had been riding all her life otherwise she would have come off in a heap immediately. Instead she shifted into his mad gallop and began fiddling with the bit, trying to wriggle it from between his teeth. Murmuring softly to the colt Jo saw him flick his ears, listening to her as they cleared the ridge.
Dynamite began to slow as they reached the flat, treeless grazing plain. Jo almost took the bit off him when Steve and his palomino gelding, Honey, galloped up beside them, Steve intent on being the hero and rescuing his sister. Jo rolled her eyes as she had been riding just as long as her brother and was about to turn and tell him this when she felt Dynamite change. Jo swore that she heard the cogs in the colts brain snap as he accelerated forward at the speed of sound it felt like. Suddenly he transformed, his neat little ears snapped back, his wide nostrils flared in a massive lungful as Jo felt his stride lengthen and stretch out. In all her years of riding she had never felt a horse take off underneath her like that. He flew. It looked as if a falcon had lent him wings and he flew.
At a flat out gallop he roared across the plains, through the yellow dry grass the dust flying from his pounding hooves. But as Jo clutched the reins she realised with surprise that unlike before he did not bolt out of fear, the bit between his teeth. He raced in perfect control. Honey coming up behind him awakened an instinct that racehorse breeders could only dream of passing on to their foals; an instinct to run, fly, and leave the other horse so far behind him it seemed like Honey stood still. As the drying creek neared, Jo leaned back on the reins, the colt slowing to a canter, and then a trot came to a halt. Jo turned and looked at her twin. Despite being an almost a mile’s distance across the flat plain the look of awe and surprise seemed clear.
They met half way across the paddock and for once her brother stood entirely speechless. Jo then spotted the tall, sapling-like figure of Mick and hunched over figure of Grandpa through the trees, coming over the ridge. Steve and Jo rode toward them in silence. Rarely speechless Steve looked blown away. Grandpa Bob stroked the colt’s nose.
“I haven’t seen a runner like that since Phar Lap in the Cup,” he murmured.
A bit later, as Jo hosed down Dynamite’s shiny red coat her Grandfather began a tale she had never heard before. “I was not always a cattle farmer you know.”
Mick stopped shovelling the manure and leaned on his spade. Steve plopped down on the hay bale he off loaded from the truck. “When I was a young lad in the 50’s all the way up to the late 80’s where I met your Nan I was surrounded by racehorses, first as a stable boy then as a track rider then later as a trainer. Before that so was my father who worked at Flemington in the early days before he retired here after winning big.”
Jo blinked in surprise and turned off the hose. “You never told us that.”
The old man sighed deeply. “Of course not, that’s how I lost your Nan and ended up raising your Dad and your aunties and uncles just like your Dad had to raise you. Your Nan was a track rider. One day her horse spooked, turned and ran the wrong way and crashed dead on into another horse. I saw the whole thing happen, she was only 32 years old and looked just like you Jo, with that free look in her eyes just like you,” Grandpa Bob said fondly. Jo heard Nan had died tragically young but never knew the circumstances.
Mick wandered over and joined Steve on the hay bale. Dynamite stood quietly, his fire red coat dripping wet had changed it to blood red, his mane tousled. The wind blew softly through the trees and somewhere down the paddock a cow mooed. “In those sixteen years that your Nan and I co-trained and she rode horses for some of the great trainers like the Harlow Family and the truly great Tony Wormwood, trainer of four Melbourne Cup winners I saw and trained some of the greats. Rising Fast was the first great I saw as a lad followed by Think Big and Rain Lover; it takes special horses to win back-to-back Melbourne Cups. Then today I saw Dynamite race. He wasn’t bolting, he saw Honey and saw it as the opposition and my word he flew better than so many racehorses I’ve seen who simply don’t have the heart. I think he has potential.”
Jo looked stunned. She had never really known, or asked for that matter about her Grandfather’s past. But for her grandfather, who knew so much about racehorses to pin such a label on her little nuisance colt that could be sold if he wasn’t rideable when her father returned felt almost heart stopping. Looking into Grandpa Bob’s grey, watery eyes, she asked the million-dollar question. “So what do we do?”
The old man, dug a wrinkly hand into his pocket and dug a leaflet out his pocket. Jo accepted it and looked at the crinkled pink piece of paper. JINADYNE PICNIC RACES stood out in bold. Jo had attended the races before when times were easier. It seemed like more fun than anything. The blokes came to drink and pick up the sheilas in their frilly dresses, not that Jo ever dressed up anyway. She looked at her colt and as if he knew the attention focused on him he looked back with his big liquid eyes. If Grandpa Bob was right it would prove him so. “What’s the purse?” Jo asked distantly.
“$5,400. It would pay off the some of the debts and have a bit to repair the tractor to put feed in the bottom paddock,” the old man replied, “It would be a good race, easy, no handicapping with minimal competition, mostly stock horses and their semi-sozzled riders.”
“What’s the entry fee?” Mick piped up, swatting away the flies with his akubra.
“$450. I know at the moment that’s a lot but I have some stashed away,” Grandpa muttered.
“I have a bit that I won from last years races,” Mick added.
Jo shook her head. “Dad would go troppo. He would not let me race and I doubt either of you two could handle Dynamite.”
Mick and Steve shared sly looks. “Well he doesn’t have to know does he?”
sorry its so darn long lol
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