September Story Contest

The Kris Series
Story 1
To Ride or Not to Ride
by Horse Lover 101 & Sunny age 10

“Come on, Cassie. Blackjack’s girth is tight enough. Let’s go.” Kris Gessian was waiting for her best friend Cassie Jones, who was taking a while to tighten her horse’s girth.
“I’m sorry, Kris. But I need to get this as tight as possible. I don’t want it to fall off like it did in my last lesson,” Cassie replied. The girls were getting ready for their group lesson at Sabercreek Stables.
“Hi guys.”
Kris and Cassie turned around. There they saw their friend, Sarah Springs, standing there with her horse, Firelight. Sarah Springs was an orphan and worked for Christine Crandal, Pam Crandal’s aunt. In exchange for lessons, she did work around the barn. Soon after the exchange was made, Christine adopted Sarah, and now she lived there.
“The lesson is about to start, so hurry up to get to the ring.” She continued. Since she spoke quietly, it was hard to hear everything she said; but she had a gift with animals. She could calm down a nervous horse in less than one minute.
“Alright. I think that girth is tight enough anyway. Thanks for telling us, Sarah,” replied Cassie as she led her horse, Blackjack, out of the stable.
“Wait for me!” cried Kris. She ran to her horse, Leprechaun’s stall and took her out. Leprechaun was a Connemara pony and had come from Ireland. Kris mounted up and trotted out to the arena where the last student in the group lesson waited: Dana Winsock. Dana’s father had first owned Sabercreek stables but had sold it to Christine a few years ago. Nevertheless, Dana still acted like she owned the place.
“Oh, finally you’re here. I was thinking that I would have to take my lesson alone,” she remarked. Kris didn’t say it, but she thought that Dana wouldn’t mind it if she had to have the lesson without what she called Kris and her friends “Wannabe’s, who try to make-believe they can ride.”
“Hello, girls!” Hailey Carlton, the girls’ teacher, walked out of the office, which was located next to the stable. She put down the clipboard she was holding and began the lesson.
Hailey had the girls walk, trot, canter, and then jump over a small fence that was in the middle of the arena. The instructor leaned against the fence post and watched. As they were all in a line, Hailey had Cassie go first, then Kris, then Dana, and bringing up the rear was Sarah. Kris felt bad for Sarah because riding behind Dana was the worst. Her horse, Midnight Bolt, had a habit of kicking if another horse got too close. That’s what happened. When Hailey asked then all to canter, Firelight jumped ahead. When Blackjack sensed it, he let out his back hoof with a swift kick. Sarah wasn’t ready for it, and when Firelight bolted around the ring she had nothing to grab on to. Sarah fell to the ground stunned.    
“Are you okay?” Kris asked. She dismounted quickly and joined Hailey as she looked over Sarah’s body for any broken bones.    
“I think so. Firelight never spooked like that before.” Sarah said, carefully getting up.
“Lie down for a minute, Honey. Are you sure you are alright?” Hailey asked, supporting Sarah’s back as she pushed herself into a standing position.
“Don’t worry. I’ll be fine,” Sarah responded meekly.
“Girls, why don’t you go untack the horses. The lesson’s over anyhow,” Hailey said.
After Kris and Cassie put away the horses (as Dana didn’t want to break a one of her perfectly manicured nails), all three girls went into the lounge where there was a small TV, a sofa, and a fridge where there were sodas and snacks. Cassie got out three sodas and a box of shortbread cookies and set them on the coffee table in front of the sofa.
“I can’t believe that you nearly killed Sarah,” said Cassie to Dana as they sat down. “She could have gotten really hurt.”
“It wasn’t me. It was Midnight Bolt,” said Dana as they sat down. “I didn’t make him upset.” The girls looked up when Hailey walked into the room.
“How’s Sarah?” Kris asked.
“She’s fine. Thank you for putting away the horses. I really appreciate it,” Hailey replied taking a water bottle from the fridge.
“How come you never drink soda, Hailey?” asked Dana. Whenever you get a drink it’s always water or juice.”
“I don’t drink soda because it’s bad for your teeth, and it’s full of sugar. I have to run. I have a private lesson to teach in five minutes. I see my students now. Bye, girls!” She went out of the lounge and greeted the people getting out of the car.
“Getting back to Sarah, I’m glad she’s okay,” said Kris.
“If she had more brains then she wouldn’t have fallen off in the first place even if Midnight Bolt did kick,” Dana said lightly, taking a sip from her can.
“She is just inexperienced. She was cantering and then all of a sudden her horse spins around and bolts? That would make anyone freaked enough to fall off,” said Kris getting angry if Dana tried to put the blame on Sarah one more time, she would blow her top. 
“Well, it is her own fault.  She rides Western. She could have grabbed on to the saddle horn.”
“That’s it! I’m sick of you always trying to put the blame on everybody else!” Kris jumped up and threw her soda can down.
“Well, it isn’t my fault that she…” Dana tried to explain in vain.    
“It is your fault. Well, partly your fault. You own Midnight Bolt, and you’re responsible for his actions. If he hadn’t kicked Firelight, then Sarah would be just fine.”
“But…” Dana tried to interrupt again, but Kris wouldn’t listen.
“I am sick of your excuses. I’m going home.” Kris threw her plate into the trash, grabbed her can and walked out of the lounge door.
Kris took the bus since the stop was just one block from the stable and her stop was half a block to her house. When she got home her mother was making lasagna.
“Oh, hello Honey.  You’re home early.”
“Hi, Mom. Smells good. I’m home early because Sarah got hurt in the lesson, and then I got mad at Dana; so I left.” Kris explained.
“What happened?” Kris’s Mom asked curiously.
“I’ll tell you later. I hear Dad coming in,” Kris said, heading upstairs to take off her barn clothes. She changed out of her breeches and boots and put on jean shorts and sneakers. Then, she went downstairs and had dinner.
That night, as Kris was getting into her bed she heard hef mother come by the bedroom.
“Hi, Mom.” She called.
“Hi, darling. Is something the matter? Why aren’t you in bed?” Kris’s mom set the laundry she was carrying onto Kris’s desk chair and sat down on the bed beside her.
“I just wanted to talk to you about earlier today at the stable.”
“Oh, yes, you said you were going to explain.”
“Well, what happened was Sarah’s horse was spooked by Dana’s, and then she fell off. Later, when we were having sodas I was kind of mean to her and blamed her for all of the bad things she did and said,” Kris explained.
“So, are you upset about the things you said, is that it?”
“Well, not really.  I think she deserved it. But Midnight Bolt really was the one who had spooked Sarah’s horse. Dana did want to train him out of his habit, but it didn’t help. So, I guess I accused her unjustly,” Kris said and started to fiddle with the bedspread.
“I know how you feel. When I was a little older than you I accused a girl, who was always framed stealing people’s lunch money. One day, I brought my own lunch. After recess I couldn’t find it. I always put it in a cubby by the classroom door. I suspected the girl had taken it. But later, I felt really bad because I found out that the eighth grade bullies were the ones who were stealing everything. Never accuse someone unless you have proof. You may not like someone, but you can’t say anything or you will get in trouble.” Kris’s mom got off the bed. “I hope that you feel better, Kris dear. I think that maybe you should apologize to Dana. I’m sure she will understand.”
“Okay. Thanks Mom. I feel a lot better now that I have talked to you.” Kris lay down again.
“Have a good sleep. I’ll see you in the morning.”
“Good night Mom.”
The next day at the stable Kris went over early so that she could catch Dana before the lesson, but as much as she looked she couldn’t find her. Finally, she went to the office where she saw Christine and Hailey looking over the lesson plan.
“Hi, Kris. You’re here early.” Hailey said.
“Hi Hailey, it’s Christine. Listen, have you seen Dana this morning? I have to talk to her,” Kris explained.
“Dana, I saw her leave abut a half-hour ago on Midnight Bolt, and said she would be back in 30 minutes. I wonder where she is now,” Christine said looking thoughtful for a minute.
“Okay, thanks. Did she say where she was going?” Kris asked.
“No, she didn’t although she was headed south toward the canyon.” Hailey continued looking at the schedule.
“Okay, thanks. Can I take out Leprechaun?”
“Sure, go ahead. He doesn’t have any lessons until yours, so suit yourself.”
“Thanks.” Kris picked up her bag and went to the tack room. She put away her bag and got Leprechaun’s tack. She ran to his stall and tacked him up. She had just finished putting on his bridle when Cassie walked in.
“Hi, Kris. I thought I was the first one here.”
“Nope, third one.” Kris replied leading him out of his stall into the hallway.
“Third? But I thought you were the first one to get here,” Cassie said getting out of the way.
“No, Dana got here a little earlier. That’s why I’m going out. I have to ask her a question.”
“Dana? Why her?”
“I have to apologize how I talked to her yesterday.”
“Well, I would like to see that. Let me get Blackjack.” Cassie ran down the aisle to her horse’s stall. She grabbed his bridle and slipped it over his head. Since Blackjack was her horse, she didn’t have to ask permission and she swung on him bareback.
“Are you sure it’s safe? We’re going to the canyon, and we have to go fast.” Kris warned her friend.
“Don’t worry about me. I’ll be fine.” Cassie replied.
The two girls urged their horses into a canter and rode down the hill to the canyon.
The girls had been riding for about 15 minutes when they reached the canyon.
“Where to now?” Cassie asked. Kris looked around.
“I think I see hoof prints going down this way.”
“But it’s so rough that way,” Cassie cautioned fearfully.
“I told you to ride with your saddle.” Kris sighed.
“It’s not that. I just don’t think it’s safe,” Cassie continued.
“Well, we have to find her. Hailey said that she should be back at the stable when we left, and we would have seen her if she was heading back to the barn.”
“Midnight Bolt is sure-footed. I don’t think that he would trip.” Cassie remarked.
“Yeah, but he has a problem with spooking. He always acts up if something scares him.”
“That’s right. The hoof marks are far apart from each other so it looks like a horse was galloping here. Even Dana would be crazy to get her horse to more than a trot here,” Cassie pointed out.
“I think we had better get going. The more we wait the farther Dana will be.” Kris and Cassie turned their horses onto the trail and got their horses as fast as they could go on the rough terrain. The girls were riding into to the canyon a good bit when they heard a cry for help.
“What was that?” The two girls drew their horses to a halt.
“I think it’s coming from that way.” Kris pushed her horse to a canter since the land was a little flatter.  The girls went on a little farther then they gasped in horror. On the fragile bridge above a deep crevice that Hailey and Christina had warned all of her students not to go on was Midnight Bolt whining in pain with Dana looking very scared on his back.
“Dana, are you alright?” Kris asked running up to the front of the bridge.
“What happened?” Cassie asked joining her friend.
“Why should I tell you? You will just scoff at it like you do everything that I say,” said Dana trying to sound mean but failing entirely due to the fact of her fear of being to high up above the canyon’s crevice on a fragile bridge.
Kris sighed trying to control her temper. “Just tell us. We’ll help.” Kris called out.
“What happened was that I was riding along and all of a sudden a squirrel jumped out behind Midnight Bolt, and he bolted. I tried to stop him, but he just kept heading to the canyon. Suddenly, he ran to the bridge. He would have kept running, but his foot got caught in the moldy wood.  Can you please help me?” Dana asked.
“You can’t dismount?” Cassie asked.
“No. The bridge is to narrow.” Dana replied.
“Well, we can’t go on the bridge then. Cassie, please call the Animal Rescue Society right away to help Midnight Bolt. For now, let’s just think of a way to get Dana down.”
Cassie walked away back to the horses to get her cell phone and called the Society. Suddenly, Kris and Cassie heard a rumbling sound from the top of the canyon. Dana couldn’t hear it because she had near fainted from fright. Kris’s eyes widened when she understood. There was an avalanche coming down the mountain!
“Dana!” Kris screamed above the sound of the avalanche. “An avalanche is coming!”
Dana had fainted, so she could not hear Kris call. Kris knew that he needed to make up her mind. She could either run for her life with Cassie or she could go after Dana and risk her life to help her get to safely. Suddenly, she knew that she needed to put the past behind her. She ran to the front of the bridge and started to walk gingerly to Dana.
“What are you doing, Kris?” Cassie cried out when she finished calling. Kris didn’t reply but kept on going on. When she reached Dana, the avalanche was nearing them fast.
“Dana!” Dana sat up warily. “Dana, you have to hurry. There is an avalanche coming, and you have to come now!”
“How?” Dana asked.  Kris looked around. Since the bridge was really old, most of the railing had come off. But there was still some left just ahead of where Dana was.
“Dana, you can dismount. If you fall, I’ll catch you,” Kris reassured her.
“But what if you don’t catch me. What if I fall?” Dana asked fearfully.
“Don’t worry, we have to hurry, or we will get caught in the avalanche.”
Dana nodded. She carefully dismounted and landed next to the edge. The avalanche was nearly upon them, so Dana nearly ran off the bridge. Right as Dana stepped off the bridge with Kris following her, the avalanche started to roll down the bridge. When everything had stilled, Dana gave Kris the biggest hug Kris had ever felt. Suddenly, Dana looked up and ran back to the bridge.
“Midnight? Midnight Bolt?” When Dana couldn’t hear anything, she started to cry hysterically. “Midnight! Midnight?” She kept calling between sobs. Kris ran next to the other girl. When Cassie had recovered from her first shock from seeing Kris going across the bridge, she ran to join the other two girls.
“I’m so sorry Dana. I really am,” Cassie said.
“I know.” Dana barely got the words out between her choking sobs. The girls still were waiting in front of the bridge when, 5 minutes later, the Animal Rescue Society made it there. Kris looked up and ran over to the off-road van that the workers came in.
“Sir, I think that there is a horse underneath all of this rubble,” Kris said opening the door.
“Hello, Miss. My name is Al Carson, and this is my crew: Ben, Jordan, and Chris. You say that there is a horse under this rubble?”
Kris nodded.
         “Chris, send the crane to the rocks on the bridge and try to plow the rocks away,” Al said.
In fifteen minutes, all of the rocks were plowed away from the bridge, and finally Midnight Bolt was seen under the all of the rocks. For the first time ever, Kris saw Dana smile and start to run on the bridge.
“Wait, little Miss.  Even though all of the rocks have been cleared, the bridge is still dangerous. We need to put up braces to make sure that it will not fall,” Al cautioned, putting a warning hand on her shoulder.
“Sorry, I just can’t wait to see if my horse is okay. “
Kris and Cassie stared with their mouths open wide. They had never heard Dana apologize to anyone before or care that much about her own horse. After the bridge was supported and everything was all secure and safe, Dana and Al walked onto the bridge to where Midnight Bolt was. To Dana’s great relief, Midnight Bolt was just unconscious and was relived in a few minutes. Midnight Bolt’s foot was extracted from the wood and was carried away to the vet’s office in the rescue van.
“Do you want a ride to the vet’s office, Dana?” Cassie asked.
“It’s okay. Al, why don’t you load these girls’ horses into the van and drive them to the vet’s office too? It is a long ride, and it looks like it’s going to rain.” Dana replied.
“Sure. Load them in.” Al replied with a grin. Kris and Cassie loaded their horses into the van and then climbed in themselves.
         It seemed like an hour before Dana came out of the vet’s office with her horse.
“Thanks, Dr. Calvin.” Dana said.
“Well, what did he say?” Kris asked anxiously.
“He said that it’s just a sprain but that I shouldn’t ride him until it heals.” Dana reported sadly.
“It’s okay, it’ll heal fast.”
When they got back to the barn, they put the horses away and went into the lounge for a well-deserved soda.
“That was awesome. But a little scary as well,” said Cassie.
“Not knowing if you are going to live or not is the most frightening ordeal I have ever been though in my life!” Dana said.
“Hey, let’s go see how Sarah is doing,” Kris said.
They walked up to the house and went up to Sarah’s room.
“Hi Sarah.” Cassie said.
“Hi, guys, what are you doing here?” Sarah asked getting up from her table where she was sitting. Kris noticed that her gaze was clearly avoiding Dana’s.
“We wanted to say hi and see how you were doing,” Kris replied cheerfully.
“Thanks, guys. That’s so nice!”
“Sarah?” Dana asked all of a sudden.
“What?” Sarah asked quietly.
“I want to say that I am sorry. I shouldn’t have been so slow while we were riding and for putting the blame on you when I should have been more careful,” Dana said truthfully. Kris and Cassie were staring with their mouths open.
“Well, you are forgiven. I hope that will be the last of the pranks being pulled around here,” Sarah replied curtly.
“Thanks, Sarah. Now what do you say about having a sleepover here tonight to celebrate our new friendship,” Dana asked enthusiastically.
That night the four girls were snuggled in their sleeping bags telling stories and having fun.
“I’m glad that we are all friends now. It was a bummer having to be mean. You know that was all just a put-on. I really am not a mean girl. I just did that because one girl told me that being mean and putting down others was cool. Now I can see it’s not,” Dana confessed. “I was just nervous being a new student, so that’s why I was being a lousy girl.”
“Now you see that being cool is being who you are. Just follow your own heart,” Kris said.
“Thanks, guys. Group hug!” All four girls hugged each other.
“Okay, ew!” The girls looked up. Mrs. Crandel’s son, Jacob was standing in the doorway.
“Go away, Jacob. This is a girl’s party,” Sarah cried out.
“I really wouldn’t mind going away.” Jacob replied. He ran down the stairs. All of the girls laughed. Kris knew that there would be no tension anymore, now all of the girls were friends.

The End