Character's Name: Ryan O'Neil
Career Shown: Competitor
Horse's Name: Icarus
Career Shown: N/A
Show Tier: Local
Event: Show Jumping
Class: SJ D-2
(If you consider this entry more edited, please move me to the appropriate class, but all I did was patch some stuff, paint a little tail hair, and used Reshade for the blur)
"You really don't know the story?" Bella Goth stared at her friend Madison in disbelief, "I thought everyone knew about the accident."
Ryan had the two girls oiling every bridle, saddle, and girth in the tack room, but naturally neither had even picked up a rag, and now sat face-to-face on the wooden bench at the center of the room sharing gossip and idly flipping through dusty old magazines, which is how the whole conversation about 'the accident' began.
Madison had stumbled upon a picture of their trainer, Ryan O'Neil, on the cover of Horse & Hound. The fact that the picture was on the cover was hardly surprising, but what shook Madison Blackburn was Ryan's expression. He looked distraught, which if anyone knew Ryan at all, was highly uncharacteristic, thus prompting the question, "What happened here?"
"It happened a few years ago. The famous Ryan O'Neil was traveling all over Europe, competing in various show jumping circuits with his prized stallion, Icarus. You know, the lazy chestnut everyone always sneaks sugar cubes to, with the really long ears?" Maddie giggled, hugging her legs to her chest as Bella continued her story...
An Early RetirementAugust 13th, 2015
Ryan was at the top of his game.
Nothing could stop the "Dynamic Duo." Ryan and his prized show jumping stallion, Icarus, had grown during the last year from good to great to the absolute best in the nation, earning Ryan a treasury of awards and cash, girls and lavish parties, and an endless limelight in the industry. Finally, finally, no more second best, and the Yeatman Classic Cup would be no different.
Ryan was a known risk taker. It was the edge that earned him scowls and scoffs from his horse's caretakers, but it was also what granted him the win and paid their salaries. He knew his horse better than anyone, knew his capabilities, knew what they would have to do to conquer the show jumping course at Yeatman. Yes, the rain was unexpected, the wet sand was sure to be a challenge, but Icarus could handle it.
Things were going as planned, but the wet sand had slowed them down considerably. It was hard on Icarus, his breathing became shallow and too fast, like Ryan's nervous heartbeat. He needed to make a decision, they'd have to make up for the time somewhere.
He found their opportunity. It was riskier than usual, but with just the right pacing, just the right angle on the rollback, they'd make it.
Ryan was certain they could pull it off, was positive they were in the clear until he heard the unanimous gasping of the crowd as Icarus rounded the turn too sharply, and bless his heart, didn't even hesitate at what was asked of him. Ryan realized they wouldn't make it before his stallion's hooves were off the ground, but Icarus trusted him too much, and by pure instinct and a love for jumping, gave it everything he had.
They barreled into the second rail, snapping it in two.
It would be the last risk they'd take on a course together like this. Ryan knew it the minute his wrist hit the ground, breaking his fall and shattering like splinters. He knew it when his vision went blurry, when the air was sucked out from him, and all he could make out from under his helmet was Icarus struggling to get up as people rushed in to help them. They yelled at him, but their voices were muffled by the pain and chaos and worry that Ryan felt in his gut as he watched his horse limp away gingerly. Ryan's heart broke at the sight, regret engulfing him as he tried to stand, to get to his horse and comfort him.
"Don't move! You don't know if something's broken, we got you. Icarus is in good hands, stay still," a medic knelt beside Ryan, pulling out a flashlight from her bag. He rolled onto his back, wincing from the pain as he stared up into the gray sky, rain softly falling onto his face. Ryan raised a thumbs up to the crowd to signify he was okay, the announcer reiterated his message over the loud speaker as the crowd gave him a round of applause, but inside Ryan felt what they could not see, a pain he knew he'd never forget.
Maddie was wide eyed with intrigue by the time Bella was finished, "And then? What happened next?"
"Well, Icarus would never be able to jump at that level again, his leg was in pretty bad shape. Ryan spent thousands of dollars on surgery and rehabilitation just to get him back to normal. But obvs, he's fine now so things worked out."
"And Ryan? He went on to compete again, right?" Maddie glanced at the trophies on the shelf that lined the top of the room.
"Yeah, he came back to the States and found himself a few good prospects. Took up some breeding offers for Icarus eventually, which earned him enough money to buy this place," Bella waved a hand in the air, gesturing at the tack room and beyond, "That's about all he's told me, really. He says there's more to it than that, but it's depressing and 'none of my business'.