The soft glow of daylight spread across the farm, greeting Indyia as she slipped into Otto's stable and greeted him with a fond kiss on his pink muzzle. Despite still being a new arrival, the tall stallion had never put a hoof out of place and was now used to the early intrusion into his stable at dawn. He'd been picked up by Scotty at his breeders' yard in Sweden and shipped to England just weeks ago, and Indyia had taken great delight in being his groom and temporary rider whilst Scotty was away competing with his two other horses.
"Good boy," Grabbing her tatty old riding hat, Indyia gathered the reins around Otto's neck and led them down the cobbled path to the outdoor arena. "Stand...good boy....breathe in!" She scuttled around under the saddle to tighten the girth and pushed the borrowed quarter sheet down his body.*
Scotty had arrived back two days ago and broken Indyia's heart when he insisted on riding Otto himself. He'd been just as impressed as he had been that cold autumn day in Sweden, but the girl's forlorn expression had him handing Otto's reins back to Indyia the same day. Now he was trotting around on his tall grey Hanoverian, not even casting a glance at Indyia until she led Otto closer to the mounting block.
"Warm him up and then we'll start working him over some poles." He drew the grey mare alongside Otto, rewarding her with a quick pat.
It’s going to cost a fortune…”
“Define a fortune,” Scotty had propped himself up against the back wall of the tiny office crammed at the back of the barn, his arms folded impatiently as they all watched Alma tap away at her laptop.
“Maksim doesn’t want to send the stallions out this winter,” Mary-Margaret leaned forward in the overstuffed armchair, pushing her oversized glasses back into their place. “He already said no when Callixta asked him.”
“Let me worry about him.” Alma muttered.
“I want to take Otto!” Indyia piped up, hopping up onto Alma’s polished black desk. “And Agatha will probably want to ride Panther too.”
Alma looked up with a scowl. Panther was her beloved bay gelding but she was much more comfortable causing hell back on the yard than competing in front of crowds.
“We’re looking at over ten thousand pounds already,” Scotty sighed, squinting over Alma’s shoulders to the laptop screen. “I don’t think Callixta will agree. And, don't you need to ask me before taking my horse to a show?” He cast a sourly look Indyia's direction.
“We just need to be firm and not take no for an answer,” Indyia insisted. “I mean, we all want to go and compete in Michigan, right?”
“Right,” Mary-Margaret nodded. “But we need the bosses to agree too, Indyia. They have to pay for it all.”
Scotty Ward - 26, the farm's most promising show jumper
Indyia Skelton - 20, likes to get her own way and always happy to take over any spare rides at a show
Alma Waddell - 42, Yard Manager. Severely grumpy and abrupt, not to be approached before her third cup of morning coffee
Mary-Margaret Lumpkin - 35, eventing rider and usually the brains behind the scene
Thanks for reading!