The compact bay mare’s eyes widened, nostrils flaring at the thin trickle of water crossing the trail. Gathering her well-muscled hindquarters, which should have been clue enough for the chatting rider, Lena leapt over the offending water, the force jerking her passenger’s head back and pitching her off to the side of the saddle.
Jen groped for the saddle horn. Hauling herself back to the center of the saddle, Jen reached down Lena’s thick black mane to find the reins she had let go. She patted the mare’s red-brown neck, “Sorry girl.” Turning to Beth who was riding behind her, “She always launches herself over these little bits of water, and yet she’ll walk right through a raging river!”
The mare whickered, a soft, deep hum from her throat, and walked on through the green, gray grove of Aspen. Jen and her cousin Beth had gone for a lunch ride. It was Beth’s last day on the ranch, and Jen so wanted her to love the beauty of it the way she did. But Beth had just said, “ I’d choose the ruggedness of Chicago over this back-of-beyond wilderness.”
Beth wore riding breeches with tall dark leather boots, and a new Gap sweater with a
matching maroon ribbon holding back her curled black hair under the velvet helmet. Jen’s wild brown curls were everywhere but under her rabbit felt cowboy hat. Her red-checked flannel was long untucked from the tooled leather belt and Levi’s cinched around her slim waist. Jen’s chocolate brown lace-up Ropers were hanging loosely by her stirrups. Beth had been trained in the English style, and executed that discipline flawlessly. Jen was, though, by far the better rider, with a deep sense of how a horse moves and thinks enveloped in her bones.
(Part two tomorrow)