Back In The Ring
Seth looked up at the big black stallion a little fearfully. “Don’t worry.” Desmond muttered from around the side of the horse. He was checking Thunder’s girth because the stallion had an annoying habit of puffing out his stomach when he was saddled.
“He’s very gentle. Come on, I’ll give you a leg up, shorty.” The dread-head boosted Seth into the saddle. They adjusted the height on his stirrups and Seth looked to where the other students were waiting in the arena. All of them had been going to SIACS for lessons for a few months now, but today was Seth’s first day. His two Warmbloods had yet to come in, so he was borrowing of the better jumpers at SIACS, Thunder. He wasn’t used to the wide barrel of the black stallion, or his height. He was very solid though, and when he urged him forward, his movements were fluid.
Seth entered the ring where the other two students were waiting for him, along with their instructor, a man who liked to be called Klik. He was currently on a crutch, with a cast holding his hip in place and two broken fingers. Seth thought he might have been better off in bed.
He pulled Thunder around to stand next to the chestnut paint his friend Eve was riding. The two stallions sniffed noses and the paint snorted, bucking a little.
“I suggest you stand around the other side of Castiel. Strider and Thunder aren’t too taken with each other.” Klik motioned to the red dun stallion on the other side of Strider. Seth flushed and urged Thunder around next to Castiel. The blonde boy astride the stallion looked at Seth with an almost pompous expression.
“Good. Now, all of these horses are far better jumpers then you three are. So today, we’re training you and not your horses.” Thunder was giving Klik an inquisitive look, as if to say ‘why aren’t you riding me?’ when Klik motioned for Seth to go first.
Seth started Thunder into a trot around the arena once, before pushing him up into a slow canter. They came around toward the first jump, a square oxer and Seth felt himself tense up before the jump, unsure of how this stallion would go over. Thunder’s entire weight shifted to the back before he lifted himself over the jump easily. Seth shook a little at landing, and breathed in relief.
The rest of the jumps went well, Seth loosened up and felt good about the course when they came back around to where they should be standing. Klik hummed a little. The instructor didn’t look much older than Seth himself. Nineteen at the most.
“That was very good, but you were stiff going over the first few, and a bit too loose on the last one. Don’t get overconfident.” Klik’s eyes traveled from Seth’s, down his own body and back, signifying what overconfidence could do for someone. Seth swallowed, suddenly trembling. He didn’t expect that Klik’s injuries were from a riding accident.
“Wulf, you’re next…” Klik shifted his weight, watching Wulf take Castiel over the course. Seth was amazed, even in his condition, Klik was still there, still working with the horses, still in the ring.
“What happened to him?” Seth whispered to Cross, the stable hand, later. Cross leaned on his broom, watching Seth untack Thunder. “The thoroughbred gelding, Bold, threw him two weeks ago, during their first competition. Stirrup got caught on his leg, pulled him up just in time, saved his life. But messed up his hip really bad.” They both looked down the hallway to where Klik was leaning against one stall, talking quietly to the horse inside. Seth slid Thunder’s saddle onto his arm and took a deep breath. “Thanks…” he muttered to Cross, heading down the hall.
“Excuse me, Klik? Where’s the tack room?” The trainer turned to look at him, smiling a little, though his eyes were dark. “Just down the way.” He motioned down the hall, turning back to the stall. Seth glanced inside before walking down the hall, listening to the trainer click his tongue at the black horse standing near the back.
When Seth returned the horse hadn’t budged, looking at Klik shyly from where he stood in the back. “Come on buddy, I just want to give you this carrot.” Klik was trying to tempt the horse out now, frowning deeply.
“Shy, is he?” Seth asked cheerfully, and Klik turned away from the stall. “More like guilty. He won’t hardly look at me now…” Making a small ‘o’ with his mouth, Seth glanced at the horse’s nameplate. SIACS Jolly Sailor Bold was his name and it was easy to conclude this was the gelding Cross had mentioned.
“Come on, Camella made lemonade this morning and I don’t want Eve to drink it all before I get there.” Klik shot Seth a mischievous smile as they began to walk back out of the stable. He took a step away from the stall and caught his crutch on the rubber mat on the ground, wobbling a bit. “Whoa!” Seth gasped, reaching out to catch him. Klik steadied himself, and Seth could feel him quiver.
“You should sit down.” Seth was interrupted by a nicker behind them, from Bold. The TB was sticking his head out of the stall as far as he could, to see if Klik was alright. The trainer waved his hand, smiling at the gelding. “I’m fine, buddy.” He called and Seth helped him out of the barn.
“You know, that fall scared the hell out of me. But I promised Bold I wouldn’t give up on him. And I won’t.” Klik told Seth later, while they were sitting inside the clubhouse, drinking lemonade. Camella made the best lemonade.
Seth smiled at Klik and nodded. “It’s amazing what we’ll do for them isn’t it?”