Below you’ll find a piece from In Pursuit of a Horse, book 2 in the series! If you haven’t read this book yet, you can check out a piece to see what you think 🙂
Jacqui grinned as she trotted along on the little grey pony Prince that Jan had helped to saddle up for her that morning. She was riding in a smaller paddock with Geordie and Hannah also trotting on their ponies. Jan stood in the middle, watching the three.
“Now I know that I said the main points to focus on whilst here are safety and fun, but that doesn’t mean that we should stop learning. In fact, learning is fun, especially when it’s about horses! So girls, do you each know about trotting diagonals?” she questioned, gaining a nod from the three.
Jacqui suddenly thought that she was glad Kara had taught her what they were and explained why it was important to rise to the pattern of a particular foreleg.
“Great! Now I want you to all look down at the outside front leg of your horse. Are you moving in time with it?”
Jacqui realised she wasn’t and so sat two beats of the trot before she started rising again. This changed her diagonal so that she was rising and falling with the outside leg.
“Good job, Jacqui! Now all three of you are on the correct diagonal.”
Jan encouraged the three girls to change direction and their trotting diagonal, one at a time. She reminded them about the importance of riding at a safe distance from each other, pointing out that Geordie and Hannah’s two ponies sometimes didn’t get along.
Geordie and Hannah wanted to jump, expressing this to Jan. With a smile she told them that there would be plenty of time for that in a few days. She wanted them to get to know her ponies first – and for the ponies to get to know the girls! Jacqui liked this idea. She’d done a tiny bit of jumping on Banjo with Kara, but the idea of jumping on a horse she’d only ridden once seemed a bit scary to her.
The girls rode for an hour before cooling out their ponies and wiping them over with a damp sponge. Jan pointed out that now that they’d tended to their ponies, they’d better refresh themselves!
The three were thankful for the fruit and cool drinks that Jan offered them.
“So what are we doing next?” Geordie asked curiously, munching on a piece of watermelon.
“How many riding ponies do I have?” she asked a question of her own.
“Umm… six,” Geordie replied uncertainly.
“And how many did you three ride this morning?”
“Three!” Hannah responded.
“So how many still need to be worked today?” Jan asked, earning exclamations of surprise.
“We get to ride a second horse? We’re riding twice today?” Jacqui asked.
“Of course! As much as you three might be having fun, I’m happy to put you to work and my ponies need to be worked regularly! Before it gets too hot, you might as well each try out another horse! Tomorrow you can each ride once, which will give three of them a rest, and then we’ll reverse that the following day. How does that sound?”
The three thought it sounded wonderful. Refreshed from their break, they took the head collars and leads offered to them and followed Jan back to the paddock to catch their next mounts.
Geordie wondered aloud if this was what heaven looked like. Hannah nodded, thinking it must be. Jacqui grinned.
“I’m sure it says a lot in my bible about heaven. I’ll have to look it up,” she mused, putting a head collar on a little brown pony this time.
The girls enjoyed another lesson with Jan teaching them about getting their horses to lengthen their stride at the walk and trot. Jacqui realised after the two riding sessions that none of them had cantered yet. She was surprised to find that she didn’t mind at all – she’d been learning so much and enjoying trying out two of the ponies that it hadn’t felt like there was time to canter!
They chattered over lunch about the two ponies they’d each ridden. Jacqui couldn’t decide which she liked better. They’d both been well behaved ponies and she had really enjoyed herself. Geordie had preferred the second pony that she rode whilst Hannah felt that the first she rode had been a little bit more fun.
The girls were excited to think that they would be riding a different pony the following day.
“I can’t believe that in such a short space of time, we will have ridden so many different ponies!” Jacqui stated in wonder, causing Jan to smile as she directed the girls to put their dishes in the sink.
Once they’d done so, she took them outside to a wooden bench that was in the shade of a large tree. Hannah looked around, confused.
“What are we up to?” she asked her aunt.
Jan explained the discussion she’d had with Jacqui that morning about sunflowers.
“I know you will have lots of memories about your stay here, but I wanted to send you home with something concrete to remind you. So! I’m going to give you a pot, some potting mix and a few sunflower seeds each and we’re going to do some planting!” she announced.
Geordie seemed unsure at first, but shrugged her shoulders. Jacqui was thrilled. The three got to work filling their pots with potting mix before placing a few seeds in them, spacing them out well. Then they covered them over with some more mix, watered them well and placed them in a shaded spot that Jan said would get sunlight in the morning.
“Just you watch, by the time you three head home, they’ll have turned into little seedlings for you to show off,” Jan commented as she headed back inside to the cool air conditioned living room.
The three followed, Jacqui thinking how wonderful this would be. She realised too that it would also be sad because it would mean the end of their stay at Jan’s.