The Dancing with Horses Trilogy

 

Join Jane Mitchell as she rides her fiery show horse, Windsong, through harrowing situations, exciting competitions and rocky romantic relationships.

And We Danced

Nope. No way. Not interested. As in, never!

The giant black horse ricocheted around the indoor riding arena. He leapt sideways, barreled forward, jerked against the reins. Whoa, was that a sliding stop? The rider held the reins tight, clearly afraid that the horse would take off again. I saw him signal the horse to walk, but the beast coiled like a spring. His muscles bulged, his eyes flew wide open, his nostrils flared. He trotted in place, bouncing off the ground and snorting. Spit splashed across his chest as he flicked his head up. If it wasn’t the dead of winter, he could be breathing fire with all the steam coming from his nose.

I wasn’t getting anywhere near that horse. Kate said it was a Grand Prix dressage horse imported from Sweden. Supposedly it had champion bloodlines. Well, they must be breeding dragons over there in their castle dungeons.

Dressage is ballet on horseback, precise, controlled, elegant. What I watched was not poetry in motion—it was a train wreck. A ninja fight between David and Goliath. When the guy didn’t let up on the reins, the horse started to spin sideways.

“He’s an idiot,” Kate hissed beside me.

Join The Dance

 

Teamwork? More like slavery! This was the second time Kate had sent me on the million-mile walk to the secretary’s stand, this time to retrieve a missing bridle number for one of the peewee riders from our barn. I still had to braid Windsong’s mane, polish my boots, get dressed, and—to have a chance at a decent score—warm him up properly before my class. I was here at this horse show for one reason: to get on the team for the North American Junior Team Championships. Only the top four qualifiers made it, and I wasn’t going to let someone else’s problems stop me.

When I complained to Kate, my trainer, that I wouldn’t have enough time to prepare for my class, wasn’t there someone else who could go, she lectured me on teamwork. As a trainer for many students of different levels, Kate was big on everyone helping everyone else at the shows. And just because I was the most advanced rider she taught didn’t mean I was above helping, she informed me. Then I received the Kate glare.

So, I hustled up the stony path toward the show rings, grumbling to myself about disorganized packets and ridiculously big show venues.

Dance from the Heart

The tall black horse’s coat glistened in the sun as his knees bent under him and his belly hit the dirt. A grunt burst from his lips as his hind end flopped against the ground. He groaned as he rolled onto his back, spindly legs waving in the air. Throwing them from side to side, he wiggled his spine into the turf, rubbing his neck back and forth. With a twist, his hooves clicked together and toppled down with a thud. Releasing a mighty breath, his muscles went slack and his body was motionless.

“Windsong!” I called. My chin rested on my arms as I leaned on the gate. “Couldn’t you stay clean for five minutes? I just finished bathing you.”

The black head rose slightly and one eye opened lazily. Then, he settled back onto the warm earth. Nap time, I guess.

I know how he felt. I sunk into the grass, stretching my legs out and sighing heavily. I pulled the folded letter from my pocket and read it for the twentieth time. Closing my eyes, I let my shoulders fall back, weeds tickling my neck.

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