this is the first chapter in my new story.
|Kacey Wilkins pulled her last riding boot on over her foot and zipped it up from the back. 6am was not at all a fun time for her to wake up, but knowing she had horses to take care of made it a little easier for her to do so. She could just barely make out the sun poking up over the horizon, but the weather today promised to be in the mid-70s, so maybe she’d be able to take a trail ride with her special horse. |
She unlocked the front door and stepped out in the morning air. The breeze brushed against her cheeks as she turned left towards the barn. She could hear a few of her horses pawing at their stall floors and snorting loudly. All horses loved routine, so that was her signal to hurry up and get them fed. She smiled to herself as she unlocked the stable door and flipped on the light.
The horse closest to the barn door was Kacey’s five-year-old Tennessee Walker, Buttercup. Buttercup had what was called Tobiano markings, which meant a large spot of white covering her left shoulder and ended right above her stomach. All four of her legs were white and the rest of her was a beautiful chestnut color. Buttercup was the calmest of all of Kacey’s horses and she was used by Kacey for kid riders and beginners. She was one of the most affectionate of the horses in Kacey’s barn and loved a head scratch or two.
“Good morning, Buttercup,” Kacey cooed, giggling as Buttercup nudged her head against her chest. She wrapped her arms around Buttercup’s neck and petted her hands through her long mane.
“We’ve got to trim your mane there, babe. It’s getting long,” she mumbled, causing a snort to come from Buttercup’s nose. The one thing Buttercup didn’t like was having her mane trimmed. She tolerated it, of course, but she always gave Kacey the side eye whenever it was trimmed. Kacey swore Buttercup was prideful about her mane. Not that Kacey really blamed her. Buttercup did have a gorgeous mane.
She gave Buttercup one last pat on the neck before heading to the next stall.
The next horse in line belonged to her sister, Amanda. Amanda owed an absolutely stunning Appaloosa named Rhett. Rhett was seven years old and his coat was the darkest black Kacey had ever seen. Among all the black were white spots that covered every inch of his body. Amanda called them “Rhett’s night sky” while Kacey called them little snowflakes. Rhett was another calm horse that Kacey—with Amanda’s permission—used for kid riders. Kacey rode him too, but Amanda didn’t want him used for lessons.
“Hello there, Rhett,” Kacey whispered, reaching up a hand to scratch behind Rhett’s wiggling ears. The one thing Rhett loved more than anything else in the world was being pet behind his ears. Kacey and Amanda always believed this was because of the flies, but that was between them. No one else knew of their theory.
Rhett snorted loud enough that his head shook and tried to nip at Kacey’s hand. To Rhett, anything and everything that came close to his mouth was food.
“My fingers are not for eating, boy. How am I supposed to feed you if I don’t have fingers,” she questioned, all the while stroking Rhett’s nose.
Rhett’s only reply was to back away from her gentle hands and give her a disapproving look. Why on earth was she messing about when he needed to be fed?
“Alright, alright. I’ve got to say hello to everyone else and then you will eat.”
The next horse Kacey visited was the newest member of the pack. She’d bought the three-year-old Thoroughbred, whose name was Rusty, from an older horse trainer about six months ago. Rusty was what most horse people called a spitfire. Kacey just called it being young and still in training. He hated having a bridal on but he loved to run. Even Kacey, as experienced as she was, sometimes had a difficult time keeping him under control. His coat, including his mane, tail, and legs, were pure white. Amanda had often requested Kacey change his name to Snowflake, but Kacey refused, quite liking the irony of the name compared to his color.
As usual, Kacey found Rusty pawing away at the stall floor, his nostrils flaring and his snorts loud, as if making sure he was heard. Rusty’s two favorite times of day were feeding time and running time. No horse Kacey had owned loved food as much as Rusty.
“Well, good morning to you too, Rusty. I see you are hungry. Don’t worry, you’ll be fed soon.”
Rusty wasn’t the most affectionate horse, but he allowed Kacey a few seconds of peace by allowing her to scratch underneath his forelock. It didn’t last long, however, as he soon returned to pawing and snorting.
Kacey chuckled and rolled her eyes as she moved on to the next horse, who was poking her head out of her stall and looking at Kacey with complete interest.
This next horse was the most special horse in the stable. She’d belonged to Kacey’s mother about fifteen years back and she’d been mainly used as a dressage horse. Kacey’s mother was the best dressage rider and her horse, a Morgan named Chloe, was the best show horse. In dressage, timing means everything, and Chloe timed every step perfectly. She was so daintily on her hooves and held her head up high when she was walked past other horses, as if to say “try and compete with that!”
The arthritis in Chloe’s back legs and the blindness in one eye stopped her from being ridden, but Kacey had taken her in after her mother’s death. Chloe had the prettiest yellow-gold coat, also known as the Palomino color. Her mane and tail colored silver and they were the waviest mane and tail Kacey had ever known on a horse.
She snorted softly as Kacey hugged her and gently nudged Kacey’s shoulder with her nose. Although she missed her original owner quite terribly, Kacey and Chloe got along quite nicely. Chloe was the most affectionate horse in the entire barn.
“Good morning, Chloe,” Kacey whispered, kissing Chloe’s cheek as her hands gently massaged her neck. She smiled as Chloe stretched out her neck and whinnied. Yes, Chloe was the biggest fan of neck massages. Although Kacey hadn’t known any horse who didn’t like neck massages, Chloe was the most into them.
“I know you miss mamma, Chloe,” Kacey continued as she moved her hands from Chloe’s neck to her shoulders, “but you know I’m doing my best to take care of you.”
Chloe’s ears stood straight up on her head and she looked at Kacey with her one good eye. Kacey’s mother often told her that you could tell a lot about a horse by their eyes. Morgans were known for their gentle temperaments and in Chloe’s case, this was a known fact. When she was younger there were times Chloe got a little crazy, but then again, that’s the life of any young horse. Chloe was the horse Kacey used the most when teaching kids how to groom a horse. Chloe loved being groomed. It was almost a sure thing that she’d fall asleep when someone brushed her.
Kacey knew she had to leave Chloe to say hello to the next horse in line. She patted Chloe gently on her neck before turning away from her stall to look at the horse sticking his head through the stall gate.
This next horse, an Arabian named Eclipse, was the horse of one of her riders. Eclipse was six years old and one of the smartest horses Kacey had ever known. His coat was a gray color and three of his legs had white stockings. His owner was always willing to let other riders use him, although it had taken the efforts of both the owner and Kacey to get Eclipse used to others. He loved learning new courses and was the best jumping horse Kacey had. She always admired his dignified face and those eyes of fire. He didn’t have as many tantrums anymore, but Kacey only used him for more advanced riders.
The way Eclipse pranced in his stall let Kacey know he was in a very good mood. He was either eager to get out in the fields and run or do a new course when his owner finally arrived. He’d be getting a chance to do both today and Kacey smiled as she rested her hands on the stall gate.
“Hi there, handsome! Looks like someone feels good today.”
Eclipse neighed and jerked his head up and down a few times, doing his best to reassure Kacey that he was, indeed, in fine form this morning.
Kacey patted along Eclipse’s neck and rolled her eyes when she noticed some dirt spots along his cheek.
“You’ll be getting a good face brushing today, pretty boy. We simply cannot let you go to a lesson looking like that!”
Eclipse let out one small snort and turned around in his stall. He was the most dramatic horse in the barn, but Kacey loved him all the same.
“Got one last horse to greet and then y’all will be getting your breakfast,” she called out softly to the other horses. Rusty impatiently pawed at his stall door as Kacey turned her attention to the last horse in the barn.
Shadow softly whinnied as Kacey made her way over. An American Quarter Horse who was about eight years of age, Shadow was another boarder horse. Her rider was a worker at the stable, helping Kacey out with lessons, but since her owner was on vacation, Kacey took over watching her.
Shadow’s color was a light tan, almost golden, but her tail and mane were black. In the horse world, this color combination was known as buckskin. The only other person allowed to ride Shadow was Kacey, but Shadow hadn’t been ridden in almost a week because of an injury to her hoof. The vet had made a visit the day before and told Kacey that Shadow was only a few days away from being able to be ridden again. Shadow was a very gentle horse, but at the moment she wasn’t too happy with Kacey. She adored being ridden. She was very similar to Eclipse in that learning new courses was one of her favorite activities.
“I know, girlie. I’ll be able to ride you in a few days,” Kacey whispered, scratching behind Shadow’s ear. Shadow instantly leaned into Kacey’s touch, her head starting to tilt sideways as her eyes fluttered.
All too soon, Kacey was being pulled away from Shadow by the sound of angry horse snorts. These horses were hungry and had waited long enough to be fed.
Kacey pulled away from Shadow and trotted towards the end of the barn. Ah, the life of a stable owner.