Name of Horse: Garnet OE
Stable Represented: O'Neil Equestrian
Handler: Phillip Short
Handler age: 32
Division: IV. WARMBLOODS / THOROUGHBREDS
Class: III-A. Senior Handlers (Edited)
“How’s my girl?” Phillip approached the chestnut mare with an irregular pep in his step. He’d have whistled too, if he knew how, for the elation stirring in his chest was simply irrepressible. The cheering of the crowd, the approving looks of the judges, the flashing of the cameras, the PRESS asking for his interview. He could still see it, feel it, even taste it, the earning of what he was long overdue. Finally, some sweet, motherf*cking righteousness.
The lad holding Garnet was bored as hell. Slumped against the fence, his bony fingers plucked at the Finnish flag on the hem of his sleeve, then unhurriedly moved to situate his name tag as Phillip reached him.
“She’s been usin’ you like a scratch post,” Phillip gestured to the red hair that stuck in a hundred places to the kid’s chest, but his attempt at humor didn’t breach the boy’s expression, which was devoid of all normal human emotion.
“Good luck,” was all he had to say about that before unhurriedly handing the reins over to Phillip and heading toward his next charge.
On the other end of those leather straps, the chestnut mare sighed deeply, as though she knew what was coming and dreaded every minute of it. He looked at her, and thought about his record with mares at these events. “I’m oh for one here, Garnet,” he lifted her head so he could meet her in the eye, “And you look a bit nervous.”
“Do you always talk to horses, Mr. Short?”
Phillip smiled without turning around, “You ought to know, Ms. Chambers.”
“Is this your next entrant?” The distance closed between them, a physical shift that put sparks into the air and made his stomach perform somersaults. A hand lifted to the mare’s neck; dainty, feminine fingers with nails almost the color of the hair they raked over so tenderly.
“Yeah,” he turned his gaze toward a wispy head of hair the color of cherries. She smelled of cherries too, sweet and tart like fruit juice. Even Garnet took notice and pushed her nostrils out toward the woman’s hands. “What are you doing here, Mo?”
“My job, Lip.”
“Nobody calls me that anymore.”
“Well I do,” she looked up at him from under her messy bun, eyes the color of chocolate searched his face as though they were taking meticulous notes of all the changes in it, "and I always will.”