April 2009 Story Contest

Team Trainers by Sham_Slam

           “One, two, one, two,” Mrs. Crandal counted to Madison as she and her paint pony, Faith, approached the vertical jump. Madison tried to count Faith’s strides while still keeping the little pony moving. As Faith rose into the air, Madison bent forward at the hip perfectly. Faith’s neck arched and her entire body was a perfect arc. “Well, I’ve got to say, Madison, you have really trained her to jump well. However, you need to work on keeping her gait steady and your transitions. It has all got to be there for the show tomorrow.”
            Madison nodded as she slowed Faith to a walk. She and her two younger sisters, Rayna and Maya, along with many of Mrs. Crandal’s students, were going to participate in the Wiggins County Schooling Show. They were hard at work preparing.
           “That’s enough for today. You’ve all done great.” Mrs. Crandal said as she started walking through the gate. “Oh, and girls, before you go, I’ve been trying to get horses sorted out, and Splash, Daisy, Lightning, Acorn, and Snow White are already booked for almost every class, but Jill still doesn’t have a horse to ride. I was hoping I could borrow Wiggles for a class. It would be novice hunters- so Jill wouldn’t be judged, just Wigs. It would give Jill a chance to ride, and you girls to see how Wiggles is doing in his training.”
           “Absolutely!” Rayna said, patting her grey pony, Anna’s, neck. “Wiggles would love that!” Wiggles were the sister’s group project. All three of them were training the little black welsh to be a well-mannered gentleman. They all liked Mrs. Crandal’s daughter, and they knew the pony did too.
           “Great. Thanks, girls.” Mrs. Crandal closed the gate to the outdoor ring behind her. “Oh, and I’ll have Jill ride him today, so don’t worry about grooming or exercising him.”
           “See you later, Mrs. Crandal,” Maya called after her. The three girls started walking their ponies around the ring to cool out. “I’m definitely going to win,” Maya bragged, stroking her bay pony. “Rain is doing the best on keeping a steady gait.”
           Madison and Rayna exchanged glances. As the youngest, they knew Maya didn’t stand a chance. “I don’t think so, Maya,” Rayna said. “We all know that Anna is best at transitions. That will be crucial.”
           “Hey!” Madison intervened. “You guys didn’t even jump clear! Faith and I were the only ones that did. You will both get penalized for knocking down every fence in the ring!”
           “We did not knock every fence!” Rayna said defensively. “Anna only knocked three!”
           “You know what, I don’t want to be around selfish brats,” Madison said harshly. She turned Faith away and walked to the other side of the ring.
           “Look what you did! And all because you’re not as good as me,” Maya whined.
           “Maya! I don’t want to be around you or Madi.” With that, Rayna turned Anna to another part of the ring, leaving the sister’s friendship in shreds.
           Madison slipped Faith’s halter off. “There you go, girl,” She whispered. “Have a nice night.” As Madison stepped outside of her pony’s stall, she saw Wiggles stick his little head over the door. “Hey, Wigs,” She greeted the pony, giving him a cookie. “Jill’s going to ride you today, so take good care of her, okay?” Wiggles nodded his head as if in agreement.
           “Wiggles!” Maya said cheerfully as she let herself out of Rain’s stall. “How are ya, buddy?”
           “I just gave him a treat,” Madison informed her. But Maya didn’t listen. She pulled a carrot out of her bag and gave it to the black pony.
           “Maya! Didn’t you hear what I just said?”
           Maya paid no attention to her, though. At that moment, Rayna appeared in the doorway of the barn. “Guys, get a move on,” she said snottily. “It’s time to go, and I don’t have all day. I need to rest for tomorrow.”
           “Geez, Ray, don’t have a cow,” Madison said as she came toward the door.
           “Maya!” Rayna snapped. “Were you listening?”
           Maya looked up from petting Wiggles and glowered as she followed Rayna out of the barn.
           “See, this is what happens when you put me in a bad mood,” Rayna said. “Just because I will win the show tomorrow doesn’t mean you all have to be jealous.”
           Madison rolled her eyes. Her sisters could be so annoying sometimes.

           “Morning, girls. Ready to show?” Mrs. Crandal asked cheerfully. Madison was still rubbing the sleep from her eyes as she opened Faith’s stall and slid on her halter. She, Rayna, and Maya hadn’t talked to each other last night or this morning. Madison led Faith out into the isle way and into the trailer, where she joined Wiggles, Rain, and Anna.
           The entire ride to the show was silent. Each girl was in her own thoughts, quietly trying to concentrate on winning the gold and showing her sisters who was right.
           When the trailer got to the show, the three sisters ignored each other as they tacked up their ponies. Their class was the first to show, and the warm up ring was fierce.
           “Relax!” Mrs. Crandal called. “You are all so tense; you’re forgetting how to ride.”
           Maya was up first in the ring. “Coming in now, Maya Teller on Raindrops,” the announcer said. Maya trotted Rain into the ring. She was visibly tense, and Rain’s transition from walk to canter was choppy and forced. Rain had such a nice canter, though, Maya didn’t have to work hard to keep her rhythm. However, the first jump was a disaster. Maya was trying so hard to set the little bay pony up correctly that she wound up stopping Rain completely. Rain looked confused and upset. Maya turned Rain around and tried for the jump again. Rain jumped it, but the jump was hasty and awkward. The pole clattered to the ground.
           The rest of Maya’s round was not much better. She rode out with five knockdowns over ten fences. “And that was Maya Teller, riding out with a score of sixty-four point three. Next up is Madison Teller on Gotta Have Faith.”
           “Beat that,” she hissed as she walked by Madison.
           “Gladly,” Madison responded, nudging Faith forward.
           Madison pushed Faith into an uneven canter, trying to keep balance and rhythm in the pony’s bouncy stride. Turning towards the first jump, Madison collected Faith and they soared over it. However, as soon as the jump was over, Faith returned to her same uneven, forced canter. This is the way it went for the rest of the round, and although the pair jumped clean, their score was not much better than Maya’s.
           “Madison Teller, scoring sixty six point one. We have one more Teller sister riding, here is Rayna Teller on Anna Star.”
           Rayna rode smoothly into the ring. She halted Anna perfectly, then picked up a sharp canter from the halt. Unfortunately, that was all that went well. Her snappy transitions didn’t make up for the four rails that went down over her course. She winced when she heard the announcer’s score.
           “Rayna Teller and Anna Star, scoring sixty four point four.”
           But Maya, Rayna, and Madison didn’t have much time to mourn over their bad scores. Jill was getting ready to show Wiggles in ring three, and they wanted to see how the little pony fared.
           Jill pushed Wiggles into the ring, although she really didn’t need to. His transitions were smooth and subtle. As she asked for a canter, she only had to touch her leg to the black pony’s side to pick up an even, beautiful canter. She kept a steady rhythm throughout the course with no knockdowns.
           “Jill Crandal, coming out with eighty-four point eight.”
           Mrs. Crandal and the three sisters gathered around Wiggles and Jill.
           “Jill! That’s one of the best scores in the entire competition!” Madison exclaimed. “You’re sure to win!”
           As if on cue, the announcer crackled to life again. “And that closes our novice hunter competition, and the first place goes to Jill Crandal on the Teller entry, Wiggles.”
           “Yay, Jill! Wiggles, you were fantastic!” At that moment, all of the anger seemed to melt out of the three sister’s minds. As Jill went in to retrieve her ribbon, Madison leaned in to talk to her siblings.
           “You know, I think that the reason that Wiggles did so well was that we trained him together. We were so mad at each other, we got really competitive and didn’t have all of the components that we needed. Maya is really good at training a smooth, even gait, Rayna has snappy transitions, and I can make a horse jump really well. Separately, we don’t even place, but together we have a champion!” Madison smiled hesitantly.
           “Yeah. You’re right. We should never get that competitive again,” Rayna promised. “None of us won, so it wasn’t even worth it. But when we work together, we can really go far.” Rayna and Madison beamed at one another.
           “Okay. But I’m still the best rider,” Maya said defensively.
           Rayna and Madison looked at each other and laughed. It would never end.