I find I love to write about things I know...one of which is my mare I love and ride...so I tried for the first time to write something loosely based on her. It's called Queen and I and I might post some of it here and if any of you want to critique go ahead! I am a teenager and my style isn't developed yet and sounds rather childish but I think I need to just keep writing until I find a way that works for me. I have not yet gone through and done a first edit so ignore glaring faults... So here is the first chapter... Chapter 1 “Sarah!” a sharp voice turns me away from grooming Queen’s red coat. Its Meagan, my trainer, and she doesn’t look happy. “Yes?” I mutter quietly because I’m sure I know what this is about. “Queen’s tack is all in a disarray. Leasing a horse comes with responsibilities and owning a horse is just one of them.” Queen is my lease horse. Well, her real name is Saluut the Queen and she is out of a world famous show jumper, R Saluut II. For years at my barn I dreamed of riding her and eventually competing on the A circuit but it seemed as if I would never get there. It was a huge honor when I was invited to join the advanced team and offered a lease on Queen, my favorite mare. It had gone pretty well…until now at least. I turn back to Meagan, brushing my long black hair out of my eyes. “Yes m’am. I realize the responsibility. I guess I wasn’t thinking.” Earlier, after our flatwork session, I had been putting her saddle away when my best friend Talia had called me to see Pokey, the miniature pony do a trick and I had forgotten about the half covered saddle. Meagan smiles, “Well, just remember next time. Speaking of saddles, go grab your Pessoa and tack up for your jumping lesson. We are working on gymnastics and I want to work with you on your height!” I feel a rush of excitement pulse through me. I love jumping more than anything in the world. The feeling of flying over solid obstacles and the complicated courses is the best thing ever. Queen gives a snort too. She loves jumping…she was bred for it. I run into the tack room, almost tripping over a tack box and uncover my Pessoa jumping saddle. It was given to me for my 14th birthday party after I had just won my first pony jumper event and was offered to move up to the junior team which competed on horses instead of ponies. It is immaculately clean, the leather is supple and soft. I hoist it up onto my arm and walk through the aisles of stalls back to where Queen is cross tied. My barn, High Ridge Performance, is huge. I don’t mean to boast or anything, but you could get lost in the aisles. Meagan has a whole aisle for her young warmbloods that she is training. It’s incredible. Each stall is roomy, with ample bedding and sparkling clean feed bins. The pony riders have a section for their mounts and the juniors have half the barn. Queen is crosstied in her stall and has one leg lifted off the ground, and her eyes are drooping. “Queen!” I giggle and stroke her soft neck, “Wake up!” She jolts awake as I nestle the saddle on her back and tighten her girth. I gently push the bit into her mouth and tighten the pieces. We are ready! On the way out of the barn to the outdoor ring, I meet Jasmine and her Danish Warmblood, Finley. Jasmine doesn’t even turn a head as I walk past her. That’s the problem with being the only 15 year old on the team. No one notices you. Everyone else is 17 and 18 and about to age out of junior riding. Meagan says I’m cool because I’m just embarking on my journey through junior riding and am already better than they were at my age. The ring is a spacey enclosure with synthetic black footing. Colored schooling jumps set to 3’6” are set in an elaborate course throughout the ring. In the middle, a grid of four jumps looms in front of all of us. Right now it is set with the highest one only at three feet, but Meagan will usually move it up to four or five by the end of the lesson. I mount onto Queen and take hold of my reins. Meagan always pushes a strong warm up before intense lessons so I begin to do a long, stretchy walk. Jasmine is doing trot sets with Finley to improve his top line. After about fifteen minutes Meagan breaks the silence. “Alright. That’s enough! Come into the middle!” Each of us trots into the center and halts before Meagan. “Today we are working on our form by doing gymnastics. Grids like this will drastically help both you and your horse to have a cleaner jump. Jasmine rolls her eyes and makes a face at Lisa, her friend. She probably thinks she’s above this. “Alright, Lisa, you can go first.” Meagan gestures to the line of jumps, “These are set small to warm up our bodies and our horse’s so remember to adjust your two point to each height. Lisa trots Bella, her Hanoverian mare in a circle and adds pressure from her inside leg to ask for the canter. I watch, taking mental notes on their stellar position. They jump the grid, in and out…in and out, perfectly. Bella’s ears are flicked back, listening to Lisa’s cues. Lisa’s gentle riding never interferes with Bella’s style. Of course to Meagan, nothing is perfect. “You had too much leg to the first one. If Bella wasn’t so well trained you might have gotten a chip. Don’t release so much over these little ones, they’re only two or three feet. Your leg was good but don’t jump ahead on the first one, wait for your horse.” She turns to me, “Sarah” Queen shakes her head; she hates the warm up rounds. She always wants something bigger. I check her with a half halt, reminding her to listen to me. She picks up the canter and pops over the first fence easy as can be. The next two are the same and the last one is even smoother. I hear Meagan bark, “You let Queen ride the whole thing, you were a passenger!” I cringe and wait for the next section. “You stayed with her but your lower leg was flying away! Turn around and do that again!” I trot Queen around, tears breaking through my eyes. I can’t let Meagan get to me though. It’s not personal. She wants me to become the best rider I can be. Queen picks up her canter again and we jump the short grid again. This time I focus on pressing my heels down and asking Queen to slow down her canter. Meagan nods, “Good. We’ll do it again with a higher fence” I turn around and face the 4 foot fence looming in front of me.