Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Horse - Extract From My Newest Story

I don't like sharing my first drafts much, but this is a story that popped to mind yesterday, and it was begging to be written now. So I thought I would share it because I would like some feedback. This is only part of the first chapter :) 

The Horse

The grey wasn’t a challenge for me. I knew that as soon as I saw him standing in the ring quietly. This horse wouldn’t fight, he’d go along with it. The owner wasn’t anywhere to be seen, so I lent against my own horse, Kizzy. She let out a puff of air. 

I stroked little circles on her coal black coat. ‘Whatcha think?’ I asked her. I knew people thought I was weird. I heard the whispers when I passed them in the school hallways. Just because I was different. 
They grey wondered over. Kizzy stiffed her muzzle, and the grey squealed. Kizzy withdrew her head, but I just laughed. I cheeked my watch. I was 5 minutes early, like I had planned. Kizzy pricked her ears. I glanced up. A man with a young girl tagging along approached the ring. 

‘Hi!’ he called. ‘You must be Fanny.’ I tipped my Stetson, a gift from my father to say sorry. I snorted at the thought, then banished him from my mind. ‘Daddy.’ I could hear the little girl saying. ‘Is that girl going to make Ruffian a good horse?’ The man patted the girls head. ‘I sure hope so sweetie.’ He replied. 

Instead of thinking of what it must be like to be the little girl, I tried to drag up some facts about the name Ruffian. Ah, thats right, a race horse. A dark brown filly. A sad end, brave horse. Well named then. I hoped they grey was worthy of the name. 

‘Your not very old, are you?’ The girl stared at me. I just smiled. 

‘You don’t have to be old to do things.’ I replied. 

‘Ruffian’s going to be mine, you know.’ She looked pleased. ‘Is this your horse? She’s very black, isn’t she?’ Kizzy let the girl pat her.

‘She sure is. Her names Kizzy. Do you want to sit on her?’ I asked. The girl gave an eager nod. I sat her up on Kizzy’s big back. The girl sat silently, seeming to enjoy being perched up there. The man was leading the grey over. Good, the horse led. That cut out some of my work then.

‘Sorry I haven’t introduced myself yet. I’m Ty. My daughter Emily was right here…’ He glanced around. ‘Oh my, is she safe up there?’ His eye’s were fixed on his daughter. 
‘Kizzy’s very safe. She’s never hurt a fly.’ I slipped through the rails and took the offered rope from Ty. ‘It should take about an hour, but you’ll still have to take it slow, it takes a long time for a horse to be child proof.’ I nodded at Emily. 

‘Oh.’ Ty smiled. ‘I’ll be riding Ruffian until Emily’s a bit older. We are getting her a pony for the meantime.’ 

I nodded. Ty left the ring and stood next to Emily and Kizzy. I took off the halter and lead rope. Ruffian stood there for a few minutes, then wandered off. I followed him and flicked the rope at his hindquarters. With a snort of surprise Ruffian took off at a trot. 

‘This is called join up. Basically I’m treating Ruffian as if we were in a heard.’ I kept up a running commentary to my small audience. I flicked the rope again, moving into the centre of the ring. Ruffian began cantering. I kept him going for 5 minutes, before stepping slightly toward him. 

Ruffian turned and started cantering the other way. Soon I got the sign I was waiting for.
‘See his ear?’ I asked ‘Its going floppy. He’s saying he would like to stop, But I’m going to make him go around a few more times. Soon he will start “chewing” the air, but I want him to really ask, by putting his head near the group.’ As I spoke, Ruffian began chewing, and slowed to a trot. A few more circles then he stretched out his neck and put his muzzle near the ground as he trotted. 

I turned away and dropped my shoulders and head. Unsure, Ruffian stopped. He stood there for a few minutes, then I herd the soft pat of hooves coming closer. I felt a blow of warm air on my neck. I walked away. Ruffian followed. I did circles, figure of 8’s. Ruffian followed. 

I stopped back in the middle, and stroked his face. Ruffian nicked. I began patting him. His legs, stomach, neck - everywhere. He stood stock still. Without looking over my shoulder, I said 
‘Ty could you please bring the tack in.’ I herd the thump of the tack hitting the sand behind me, then Ty returned to his place next to Kizzy. I let Ruffian sniff the tack. He snorted when I picked up the saddle blanket, but sniffed it. I rested it on his back. Nothing. 

I picked up the saddle. Ruffian stood still. I swapped sides and reached for the girth and started doing it up. He still stood there. I buckled it up so it couldn’t fall off. I clicked my tongue. Ruffian took a step forward and bulked. 

I picked up the rope and flicked at him. He took off at a canter, bucking. Soon enough though, he settled back into cantering around. I made him go back the other way, and we went thought the processes of joining up again. It was quicker this time, Ruffian had the idea. 

This time I slipped the bridle on him. He chewed on the bit, but didn’t protest. 

‘Wow.’ Emily was watching intently. I smiled, and tugged my hat down more firmly. I put my hand in the stirrup. I pushed down. Swapped sides and did the same thing. Ruffian stood still. I carefully lay over the saddle. 

Ruffian shifted feet, and I forced myself to stay calm. He took a step forward then stopped. I clicked him on. He made a circuit of the ring. I slipped off and rubbed his forehead. Ruffian lowered his head and snuffled my hand. 

‘Ok.’ I cheeked my watch. It had been a half hour. ‘Now I’m going to get on him, so please don’t give him a fright.’ I put my boot in the stirrup. No reaction. I swung over, put my other foot in the stirrup. I sat up slowly. Ruffian tried to adjust himself to this weird weight, and took off at a trot. 
I used to try to use the reins from the start, but now I let the horse wonder around and get used to having a human on its back. I just hung on. When Ruffian had stopped, I gently pulled on the left rein. He bent is head in surprise. The same with the right rein. 

When my watch read 1 hour since I’d started, Ruffian was acting like he’d been ridden all his life. He needed polishing still, but I had no doubt Ty could do that.

‘You’re amazing!’ He exclaimed when I swung off. I just smiled. Emily chatted away, but I wasn’t paying attention. My eye’s were fixed on an envelope in Ty’s hand. He handed it to me. On the front it said ‘Money for training Ruffian. Agreed price. Check.’ I nodded a thanks. 

Emily sung goodbye, and I swung up on Kizzy, who wore only a bridle. Their eyes burned holes in my back as I cantered away, the envelope clutched in my sweaty hand. I banked it strait away, tying Kizzy up outside the bank. People started. I ignored them. 

My balance was just over $15,000. I had lost track of how many horses I had broken in to achieve that, but it had taken more than 3 years. I bought a loaf of bread and a jar of raspberry jam. I suspected mum hadn’t shopped since eating that last piece of bread this morning.

I dragged my feet once Kizzy was back in her paddock. The front door was open and I walked in. Mum was at the table. She was having a good day then; the kitchen and table were clean. She had the newspaper open and was circling adds.

‘Oh good, you got food. Where have you been? I’m looking for a job.’ She glanced up. I threw the bag on the bench. Mum never asked how I got the money for food. I don’t think she cared. I don’t even know if she had ever noticed that I had a horse, or that I cleaned up the paddock for Kizzy. 

I had always wanted a horse, but we never had the money. Our old next door neighbour had owned Kizzy, but she was moving into the city. She saw me cleaning up the paddock one day and asked what I was doing. As a 10 year old I had told her I was cleaning up for my horse. 

She had laughed, and said ‘You don’t have a horse.’ I informed her that Blue was offended by the fact He was considered imaginary. She had laughed again. The day I finished cleaning up the paddock, I had lit a bonfire with our old neighbour. 

We burnt all the weeds and junk I had dragged into the middle of the paddock. She had helped me with some of it, without giving me a reason why. We even roasted marshmallows over the flames. The next morning she was gone.

Kizzy was in the paddock, grazing. There was a bridle, halter, lead rope and cover in a pile on the doorstep with a note. Enjoy - your old neighbour. I didn’t even know her name, but that didn’t matter. 
I had a horse. Kizzy and I grew together. I took to riding for hours, and joined the local library so I could get books out on horses. One day when I was 12, I stumbled on one about training. I devoured the book, and a week later offered to train someones horse. To my - and theirs- amazement, I succeed. They paid me.

Not much, but as I got older, more. I began saving. On one of her ‘good’ days, mum helped me set up a bank account. I put all my money into it. I only ever bought things I really needed. Food, mostly, but only after mum ran out of money. 

Thats why I’m different. Because even though I’m almost 17, I already have been earning a living for years. 

What do you think? Would you be interested in reading more?


  1. I love it! I want to know what happens next!

    1. Thanks :)
      The word count is now at about 16,600 :D