Daddy held the reins as I mounted Big Blue. The horse shifted his massive weight under my small frame. His eyes burned a hole through the three red and white striped barrels laid out in the ring. His body tensed in anticipation for the run.
“He’s focused today. He should give you a good run,” Daddy said in his deep voice, raspy from years of hard work on the farm.
I picked up the reins as I heard the announcer call out, “Number 56, you’re on deck.”
“Go gettem girl!” Daddy said as he patted Big Blue on his strong, muscular haunches.
“Thanks Daddy,” I called back as I studied the course, mentally drawing the cloverleaf over and over in my head. I knew the pattern well. I knew the number of strides until Blue and I made the fist turn. I knew when to lean in, spinning like a top around each barrel.
“Number 56, you’re up,” the loudspeaker bellowed as the wooden gate was swung open.
Men in black Stetsons stepped aside as the regal white stallion high stepped into the ring. Prancing sideways, every chiseled muscle tensed in anticipation for his next run. Blue’s nostrils flared as he snorted hot breath at the broad white line painting the start of the race.
“Easy boy, wait for it,” I cooed. I grasped the horn and prepared for the explosion. I was a sentry on top of the mighty horse, waiting for our call. Time stood still as my heart thundered in my chest. My legs, molded to the flanks of the mighty beast, felt his every move. Together we waited as the world faded away, leaving us alone in the ring.
The horn sounded and we were off! A rocket shooting from earth, we raced towards the first turn. As one, Big Blue and I leaned in, our knees nearing the soft sand of the arena floor. The Red and white blur just millimeters away as we sped past.
Across the arena we flew. Big Blue’s metal shod hooves hammered the ground, pulverizing it into a fine mist which rained down on the brown earth. We made the turn and headed for the final obstacle.
Faster and faster Big Blue ran. Frothy foam coated his neck and legs. His nostrils breathed fire. Throwing his weight to his haunches he made the turn and headed for home.
I leaned forward in the saddle, pushing him forward with my legs. My hands dug deep into his mane where I felt each ripple of muscle in his neck as it pulsated towards the finish line. I could see their wings racing us down the straight away. We were free!
Big Blue led us to victory that day, but the blue ribbon hanging around his neck paled in comparison to the joy of riding on top of one of God’s finest creatures as we ran with the angles.
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