About the Author

Shelley Peterson

Shelley Peterson was born in London, Ontario. She appeared there in her first theatrical production, Pinocchio, at the Grand Theatre at the age of ten. Her professional acting career began at the age of nineteen with a production of A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Neptune Theatre in Halifax. Since then she has played over a hundred roles on television, in film and on the stage.

Shelley Peterson was educated at the Banff School of Fine Arts, at Dalhousie and at the University of Western Ontario. She has had a lifelong love for animals, big and small, and horses in particular. Her trilogy of books about girls and their love affairs and adventures with horses has been enjoyed and praised.

Books by this Author
Abby Malone
Excerpt

Chapter One

Merry Fields

And, though she be but little, she is fierce.
-- Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream, III, ii

It was hot. Muggy and hot. Abby's skinny legs sweated in her jeans, and she squirmed in an effort to get comfortable. The supply teacher, Miss Smithers, droned on in a monotone punctuated with peevish sighs about English grammar, and how few people bothered with the finer points any more. No one in the class had any idea what she was talking about because her subject had been off the curriculum for years. She'd been going on for hours, it seemed to Abby, as the classroom baked in the heat of this Thursday afternoon in June.

Abby had a difficult time tuning in.

'And so the categorizing of subject and predicate is not only ... blah blah blah ... when parsing a sentence, but ... blah blah blah ... between the topic of the phrase and what is being observed about it ...' Blah, blah, blah. Abby's mind continued to drift. She idly observed her fellow grade-eight classmates.

Her best friend, Leslie Morris, looked almost bug-eyed in her effort to appear interested. Abby smiled affectionately. She knew Leslie wouldn't want to hurt anybody's feelings, however boring the person was. Her golden-brown skin glowed with sweat and her black hair was even curlier than usual from the humidity. Leslie was sensitive and kind, the only kid in the class who didn't ridicule Abby about her father.

Leo Rodrigues, the self-declared class bully, slept on his desk and occasionally uttered a short snort that sounded very much like a hog, the animal that Abby thought he most resembled. His sidekick, Larry Lloyd, was carving something for Pam's amusement on the inside of his desk. Pam Masters, sitting next to him, was more interested in her nails and whether Tommy Singh was watching her. Tommy couldn't care less about Pam's nails, and was finishing off a sketch of what he thought Annie Payne would look like in the nude. Abby turned her head to assess Annie, and decided that Tommy had a vivid imagination. All this time the teacher's voice drifted in and out of Abby's consciousness.

'Most educational institutions today are returning to the complete parsing of the sentence after experimenting unsuccessfully with other ... blah blah blah. May I have your attention, now, while I ... blah blah ... the various usages of the Subjunctive ... blah blah blah....'

Abby gazed out the window of the one-level yellow brick school and sighed. There were so many things in her life that were troubling her. So many things she was confused about. So many things more important than this interminable grammar lesson. She studied the day outside.

The sky over the fresh green pastures was a Mediterranean blue, and the little wisps of cirrus clouds flitting over the tree-tops made Abby think of ocean spray at sea. New corn was growing in the field next to the school, and wild spring flowers shot vivid colour into unexpected places along the fence line. Past the fence Mr Pierson's Hereford cows grazed calmly, watched over by the huge chestnut-and-white bull.

Their farm was called 'Merry Fields' in honour of Maryfield, Saskatchewan, the town where Mr Pierson grew up. Mr and Mrs Pierson, both in their mid-seventies, were her friends. Ever since she was small, they had always been glad to see her whenever she dropped in to ask advice about keeping little homeless animals alive. They'd remained stalwart supporters of her family throughout the long and very public trial. The view of Merry Fields out her classroom window comforted and cheered her.

Abby's eyes travelled hopefully across the road. There she was, the most beautiful horse that Abby could imagine. The little mare was silky and fine-boned, with long legs and an intelligent, pretty little face. Her mane, tail and legs were jet black and her healthy, glossy coat was dark brown; a true bay. Abby often watched her from her desk by the window, wishing more than anything to have a chance to ride her someday.

She could picture herself on the mare's back. Racing over fields, splashing through rivers, jumping huge hurdles effortlessly. This horse, with her elegant action and smooth gaits, would feel as if she was gliding instead of trotting. Abby was sure they'd be a great team, maybe almost as good as Hilary James on the famous Dancer, who'd won countless competitions and was the toast of Caledon. Abby sighed, imagining herself winning the Caledon steeplechase, and having the red ribbon pinned on the bay mare's bridle by Hilary James herself. Hilary, exclaiming what a brilliant rider Abby was. Hilary, smiling in admiration. Dancer bowing his famous bow, nose touching the ground, just for her. Abby was happy now, deep in her favourite daydream.

From the time she was little, she'd loved horses. Her Irish father, Liam, was an experienced horseman who'd been raised just south of Galway, the home of the Galway Blazers. Over the years, he'd entertained Abby with countless stories of the famous hunt and the courage of the Irish horses. He'd ridden ponies before he could walk, and had won many prizes for his riding skills. His most treasured memory was winning the first-place ribbon in the Limerick steeplechase when he was just her age.

When she was seven years old, he'd given her a little Welsh palomino pony named Goldie. Abby had ridden her all over the countryside, sometimes spending all day in the saddle. Often, she'd simply catch Goldie in the field, hop on her back and off they'd go. She loved that pony. They jumped fences, raced down the back roads, and won ribbons jumping at county fairs. Liam often said that Goldie was her best teacher. Abby had thought of her more as a friend, but she'd learned how to understand the animal's emotions as well as how to master the required technical skill.

When they had needed the money to pay the lawyers, her mother had sold Goldie. Abby's legs were starting to hang too low to the ground anyway, but the loss of Goldie had left her feeling empty, especially so soon after her father's departure to jail. She hadn't had a chance to ride since then, and she missed it. Right now she yearned for school to let out so she could give the carrot in her pocket to that little mare across the road. Abby could daydream and watch this particular horse forever.

A little wren sitting on the branch beside the open window suddenly chirped his cheerful message and startled her. Abby gasped out loud, jolting the sleepy classroom.

'Miss! With the blond ponytail and red shirt. Stand up.'

Abby turned quickly to the front. Did the supply teacher mean her? What was she wearing today? Oh. A red shirt. She rose slowly.

'Do you have a comment to make on the subject matter, or do you have something to share with the class?'

'Abby doesn't have anything,' Larry snickered, 'so how could she share it?' The class started to rouse itself from its sleepiness. Some of the kids joined in laughing.

'Is your name Abby?' the teacher asked.

'Yes.'

'Abby, what is your last name?'

'Malone.'

'Maloney baloney, your daddy's a phoney!' Larry hooted, made confident by the class reaction to his previous remark.

Not stopping to think of the consequences, Abby spun around and threw her pen directly at Larry. It hit him squarely on the forehead. Larry leapt to his feet howling with rage, and lunged for her. The loyal Leslie stuck out her foot and tripped him, and he fell hard onto the floor in the aisle.

'Class! Class! Enough!' Miss Smithers, knowing things were already out of control, rang the bell frantically. She was hoping to get the attention of the principal, Mr Edwards. The classroom erupted into a full-scale battleground, everyone out of their seats and happy to be relieved of their boredom. The noise level rose to playground pitch.

The only one not screaming and laughing was Abby. She felt mortified. What Larry had said about her father was a low blow. Abby turned her face to the window to hide her deep crimson colour.

What was this? With unbelieving eyes, she saw that Mr Pierson's Herefords had broken down their fence to eat the young corn in the next field. She blinked and stared.

Probably thirty head or more were devouring corn. They had to be put back. They'd get sick from eating too much corn, and the crop would be ruined. And Mr and Mrs Pierson were always doing nice things for her. She wanted to help, and it had to be now. Abby quickly thought of a plan.

Unnoticed in the commotion of the classroom, Abby quietly opened the window just enough to slip out, and dropped down onto the grass a few feet below.

She ran as fast as she could to the field across the road where the pretty young quarter-horse mare was grazing. Abby'd been told that the breed had been named 'quarter' horse because they can run the quarter mile faster than any other breed of horse, even beating out thoroughbreds for that distance. They tend to run in bursts of speed, tire, then speed again.

As she ran, she pulled the piece of binder twine that she used as a belt from her jeans belt loops. She grabbed the fence post with both hands and vaulted over the fence. She always had carrots in her pocket to give the mare a treat on the way to and from school, and now she was very glad she did. Normally this habit only caused problems in the laundry.

Abby gently called to the mare, trying to disguise her urgency. 'Come on. Come on, pretty thing.' She held out her hand, offering the carrot as she walked closer, repeating soothingly: 'Come on, come on, pretty thing.'

The little mare looked up from the business of munching grass and watched the girl approach. She was pleased to see her. This person brought her treats. She tilted her ears toward Abby and came to meet her and take the carrot.

'Good girl.' Abby was beside her now, and the young mare snatched carefully at the carrot with her teeth. Abby held the binder twine ready in her left hand. As the mare stretched her neck to get the carrot, Abby grabbed her leather halter, popped the middle point of the twine into the horse's mouth and threaded it through the halter on both sides for reins. She'd ridden this way on Goldie.

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Christmas at Saddle Creek
Excerpt

CHAPTER 1: BACK AT SADDLE CREEK FARM
’Twas the night before Christmas …
Alberta Simms awoke with a start. Her eyes flew open to a wall of blackness. The cozy bedroom overlooking the front field at Saddle Creek Farm was totally dark, and apart from the steady pinging of freezing rain on the windowpanes, totally silent.
Her cellphone read 11:33 p.m.
What woke me up this time of night? she wondered. She slipped out from under her warm covers, and her bare feet felt the cold of the old pine as they touched the floor. She padded the two small steps to the window, pulled open the curtains, and peered outside into the darkness.
Alberta Simms was known by her nickname, “Bird.” At sixteen, she was still slight and sinewy, but rapidly changing from girl to woman. Her skin was the colour of caffe latte, her eyes were a deep chocolate brown, and she wore her shiny dark hair long and loose. Bird was proud to be First Nations, and she looked far more like her First Nations father than her blond, blue-eyed mother of British heritage.
Her eyes began to adjust to the murkiness outside, and with effort she could make out the line of split-rail fencing that followed the laneway. Through the hail and fog she could see the three big maples on the lawn. One stood right in front of the house beside her window, and the others were on either side of the front walk. They looked blurry, but their forms were recognizable.
She could identify nothing that might have awoken her from her sleep.
Tonight was Christmas Eve. Tomorrow was Christmas. So far, her sixteenth Christmas was shaping up to be just like the fifteen that came before — full of disappointment and stress.
Her mother, Eva, was throwing hissy fits and bickering with her latest husband, Stuart. Bird and her little sister Julia joked that “Eva stole Christmas.” But it was true. How much fun is it when somebody in the family is miserable and brings everybody’s spirits down? No fun at all.
Bird groaned as she replayed this week’s scene. Eva, with her face red and streaked with mascara, clothes strewn all over her bed and floor, whined that she didn’t have anything to wear to Stuart’s annual Christmas party. In Bird’s opinion, Eva was right. Nothing in those rumpled piles suited her. She should throw out all the ribbons and bows and flouncy short skirts. It was embarrassing. Add overbleached, overcurled, long blond hair, plus too much makeup, and Eva looked like a cheap, wrinkly teenager trying out for the 1980 high school cheerleading team.
But she shouldn’t have said it out loud.
Here was yet another example of how living with elective mutism can be an advantage. It was a horrible, frustrating affliction, and it had caused her untold misery, but when Bird was not able to speak, she never had to watch what she said.
Bird had been misdiagnosed with autism when she stopped speaking at age six. She was not typical in most ways, with her unusual ability to communicate non-verbally with animals, so it must have been difficult for the doctors, she conceded. But they got it right when they landed on a diagnosis of elective mutism. Her vocal cords worked just fine, but she couldn’t get the words out of her mouth.
Now the words could come out, and her mother had not taken kindly to being called a 1980 vintage, wrinkly teenager. She “thought it best” that Bird stay with Aunt Hannah over Christmas. So Bird had been dumped unceremoniously at Saddle Creek, while thirteen-year-old Julia stayed with Eva. And now, instead of coming to Aunt Hannah’s for Christmas, they were going to Stuart’s parents’ cottage in Muskoka for a big family gathering. Bird pictured an ornate tree, succulent turkey, lavish gifts, and joyful people hugging each other and laughing. But not with me, Bird thought. She sniffed back the aching feeling of hurt.
It wasn’t news that Eva loved Julia more than she loved Bird. Julia was far more lovable, Bird admitted, and a blue-eyed blonde like Eva, of which their mother made a big deal. Bird didn’t miss all the fuss and anxiety that accompanied Eva, but she wished that she could at least spend Christmas with her half-sister.
Bird curled her feet and stood on their outer edges to avoid the coldness of the floor. She was shivering but stayed for another minute at the window, just in case she’d missed something that might explain her disrupted sleep.
She had actually been looking forward to the Christmas celebration this year, but what had started out to be a decent-size dinner at Saddle Creek Farm had dwindled down to four people: Aunt Hannah, her veterinarian fiancé, Paul Daniels, Bird, and her grandmother, Jean Bradley. Not exactly a barrel of monkeys. Now it would be a very small gathering, with a very small turkey.
The real blow was Alec, who was now spending Christmas with his mother, which Bird understood completely. But having Alec there for dinner would’ve made everything great, even if nobody else came. She sighed deeply.
During those times when Bird couldn’t talk and acted out in abnormal ways, Alec had been there for her. Everybody in the entire world thought she was a weirdo misfit, but Alec had always stood up for her. Bird smiled as she remembered how he used to translate for her when she couldn’t speak, and how he’d faced down bullies at school when they were cruel.
They’d had a crush on each other for the last few years.
But now, things had changed. His father and her Aunt Hannah were engaged, and Bird wondered if their relationship might be too awkward. She wasn’t sure how it would work at family get-togethers, like Christmas, which were always difficult, anyway. Alec refused to think there was a problem, but Bird had told him that they should talk about it, and until it was resolved one way or the other, at least they could remain friends.
Friends can’t kiss each other, she thought. That might be difficult for her. Wow. Talk about confused emotions. Anyway, he wasn’t coming for Christmas dinner so it wouldn’t come up, but she was disappointed. Very.
She willed herself to focus on happy things. She loved being here at Saddle Creek with Aunt Hannah, Paul Daniels, and their funny brown dog, Lucky. She loved her cheerful little room in the farmhouse, with red, blue, green, and white tartan curtains and matching bedspread, and lively red sheets. She loved her interactions with Cody, the enigmatic coyote who appeared on a whim, or whenever he was needed, and disappeared again just as mysteriously. He’d been around for as long as she could remember.
More than anything else, she loved being with Sundancer, an undisputed jumping champion and her best friend. He was an athletic chestnut gelding who jumped anything that Bird faced him with and in stellar style. They’d had many adventures together, and they usually came home from competitions with trophies and ribbons galore.
There was never enough time to be around horses, she thought. Sunny gobbled up all her attention and still wanted more. Since arriving, Bird had done nothing much other than ride him, clean tack, and help muck out stalls, which was just how she liked it. If she could choose any place on Earth to be at any given moment, it would be right where she was now.

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Dancer
Excerpt

Chapter One
The Royal

This was it. The Royal Winter Fair. Tension electrified the air. It was even scarier than Mousie had imagined, and she'd been having anxiety dreams for a week. She took a deep breath and carefully positioned her reins. Dancer quivered in anticipation. Mousie reached down to pat his sleek neck. The elegant chestnut stallion pawed the ground and nickered quietly to her, giving her courage. She mustn't, she couldn't look into the stands where her mother sat. One glance at that hopeful, loving face and Mousie knew she'd crumble into a useless heap. She was thankful that she couldn't see any faces at all through the glare of the floodlights. Mousie thought she was going to pass out.

'Get a grip,' she scolded herself through clenched teeth.

The starting whistle blew. She steeled herself. She nodded to the judge and whispered into a silky, delicately pointed ear, 'Time to get the job done, Dancer.'

'Number ninety-seven. Daring Dancer. Owned and ridden by Hilary James.' Mousie hardly heard the announcement as she and Dancer started their gentle canter into the first jump. There were so many noises from so many directions that Mousie's ears muffled everything into an indistinguishable hum. It was just the two of them alone in the enormous ring.

'Easy does it, Dancer.' Dancer set himself properly on his haunches and sprang forward. 'Yes, that's it.' They cleared the imposing oxer with inches to spare and sailed on to the next. Dancer arched his neck and held his tail proudly while Mousie judged his position and faced the next hurdle squarely. Over they went in perfect harmony, horse and rider completely synchronized.

Way up in the stands, hardly daring to breathe, sat Christine James, Mousie's mother. In her early forties, she was still attractive in her slim, refined way. She wore tan pants and brown paddock boots, with a cream turtle-neck sweater and tweed jacket, her fine dark shoulder-length hair swept off her classic features. Even though her clothes were well past their prime, they were of good quality and worn with style.

Christine watched her sixteen-year-old daughter and the young horse with wonder. Tall and lithe, pretty and bright, Mousie was a beautiful sight on her powerful mount.

Who would've believed it, she thought. Absolutely no one. Just about two years ago, with no money to spend, they'd bought this creature. He was a rebel horse. Mangy and mad, that's what they'd said about him. No one could get near him to look after his feet, and he kicked and bit. No wonder they could afford him. And look at him now. A hair's breadth from becoming a winner at the Royal Winter Fair, Canada's greatest horse show. Mousie's patience and kindness, consistent hard work and an uncanny communication with Dancer had turned him around. Christine looked in awe at her child.

Hilary had been nicknamed Mousie by her father, and the name had stuck. Auburn-haired and passionate, he'd been very close to his only child. They were soul-mates, aligned in spirit and sharing the same sense of fun. Mousie had been devastated by his death two years earlier. Peter James had been a wonderful man and a loving father. He'd been larger than life, a compassionate and generous person with a booming laugh that matched his humorous temperament.

The cancer that claimed him had also taken the light out of his daughter's eyes. Mousie had gone into a serious depression, avoiding friends and dropping all her interests. She didn't have any energy, and her teachers complained that she fell asleep at school. Her health was failing, too, because she had no interest in food. Christine had been at her wits' end trying to help her overcome her grief, until the day that crazy horse had come into their lives.

And into their lives he'd come. At a full gallop! Christine and Mousie had been out in the barn doing the chores when pounding hooves echoed louder and louder until coming to a dead stop in front of the barn. They'd run out to see what was happening. There he'd stood, head proud and unrepentant with nostrils flaring from his escape from his owner, who'd been leading him down the road to a prospective buyer. The two of them had stared at this chestnut vision, and it was then, Christine reflected, that the light had returned to Mousie's eyes.

The farmer had been overly eager to sell, and the price was suspiciously low, but Christine had asked no questions. People had warned her against buying him, and the vet was truly alarmed. But Christine knew what she was doing. Her daughter needed this horse. Heaven knew Christine didn't. It was hard enough making ends meet without the expenses of a seventeen-hand, underfed, ill-mannered, pig-headed, wormy stallion.

Christine's eyes continued to follow her daughter's brilliant ride around this very difficult course. She marvelled again at what love can do. There was no question in her mind that the strong bond between horse and rider was creating this magic.

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Dark Days at Saddle Creek

Dark Days at Saddle Creek

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Mystery at Saddle Creek

Mystery at Saddle Creek

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Stagestruck

Stagestruck

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The Jagged Circle
Excerpt

Chapter 1: The Calm Before the Storm

Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.
— Vivien Greene

Evangeline Gibb’s spirits were low. It was Monday of the spring break, and all her friends were away with family, either skiing down snowy slopes in faraway lands or sunbathing on romantic beaches. And here she was, mucking stalls in her grandmother Mary Parson’s four-stall wooden barn. Sixteen-year-old Evie envisioned a lonely week of boredom.

The snow should have melted by now, she brooded. Flowers should be shooting up. Birds should be singing. Leaves should be sprouting. But no. The tree branches were stark and budless against the grey, unsettled sky, and she was bundled up in her old winter jacket with her blue knitted toque pulled over her long red hair. When she exhaled, she could see her breath. The water tap was stiff with frost, and she’d had to use the hairdryer on it to get the water running.

At least the pipes weren’t frozen, she thought begrudgingly. She switched on the old barn radio beside the telephone.

Good morning this Monday, March twelfth, at two minutes to eight. The current temperature is minus four, but good news, folks! By two this afternoon we’ll hit plus seven. You heard right! Our wintery weather will be moving down to New York. Might as well &8230; they blame us anyway.

Dumb joke, Evie moped, as she put down her pitchfork to empty the wheelbarrow. The very idea of a spring thaw seemed like a distant dream.

Followed by her tall black dog, Magpie, Evie pushed the heaped cart over icy ruts to the manure spreader. In her irritation, she shoved it harder than necessary up the slippery ramp, and the whole thing tipped over, spilling horse manure and urine-soaked wood chips onto the ground.

“Arghhh!” she yelled. “Shh-shoot!”

Magpie scampered for cover, and Evie stomped back into the barn to retrieve her pitchfork. Angrily, she forked up the mess and refilled the barrow. “I can’t stand this!” she muttered aloud.

The winter had been especially long and harsh. With intense storms, high winds, and frequent power outages, it had been so bad that her grandmother had finally invested in a generator. Evie was glad, since no power meant no water, and no water meant driving miles away to haul it back for the horses to drink. And they drank a lot of water.

She dumped the twice-handled load in the spreader and carefully backed the wheelbarrow down the slick ramp. This time she managed to keep the front wheel from sliding off.

“Calm down, you jerk,” she told herself. She was acting like a spoiled brat, and she knew it. Being on a horse farm surrounded by beautiful countryside wasn’t a bad way to live. She filled her lungs with fresh air and counted to ten.

She gazed over the sloping fields and winding driveway fenced with ancient cedar split rails. The property had been in the Parson family for years, and from the first time she’d laid eyes on it, Evie had thought it was totally charming. As she stood at the barn door, to her right the lane curved up to the yellow Victorian farmhouse with a white wraparound porch. To her left, the lane ran down to the gravel road and across a meandering stream by way of the quaint wooden bridge that gave the farm its name, Parson’s Bridge.

Her spirits lifted further as her gaze landed on the four horses in the big paddock out front, munching on the round bale of hay that Glen Judge had dropped off the day before. Each horse was attractive in its own way, Evie decided, from tall and thin to short and curvy. And all with such different personalities. She took pleasure in how pretty they looked against the white snow.

Each horse wore a different coloured blanket. Calm and collected Paragon was a lanky bay, and his blanket was bright green. He’d been Gran Mary’s show hunter and was still elegant and in surprisingly good shape. The retired old chestnut racehorse, Bendigo, who’d won half a million dollars in his career and was still feisty, wore burnt orange. Christieloo, Gran Mary’s cheerful, willing hacking horse, was a palomino. Her deep-blue rug contrasted perfectly with her coat.

Last —but certainly not least, Evie thought —was her horse, No Justice. He was a sleek black and very nicely suited up in his blanket of crimson red. She called him Kazzam.

Her eyes rested on him. He belonged to her, she reflected, but really, she belonged to him. Kazzam’s bad temper was legendary, but Evie understood what angered him and why, and she felt he usually had good reason. She loved him for his distinctive personality. He returned that love by trusting her and allowing her to ride him. Together, they made a great team.

How proud she was to have a horse like him! A smile slowly brightened her freckled face as she thought about the ebony gelding. His ear tips almost touched together when pricked forward, and he had a crisp white heart on his forehead. His alert eyes shone with intelligence, and his profile was patrician, lending him a regal bearing and an air of confidence. He was small but mighty, standing only fifteen hands, but possessed of powerful speed. He was a Thoroughbred, bred for stamina and swiftness.

Nine months earlier, against all odds, Kazzam had won an upset victory at Canada’s most prestigious Thoroughbred race, the Queen’s Plate. Evie had been the rider. She’d just turned sixteen and had barely made apprentice jockey in time. It sometimes felt like it had all been a dream.

A training injury had sidelined their plans that year, and Evie worried about further damage being done to the gelding if they raced again. She was contemplating what other career might suit him best. For the past few months, when the weather permitted, she’d been training Kazzam to jump. It had begun as a strengthening exercise, but the small black horse had such an aptitude for the sport and was so eager to work that Evie had expanded their training schedule. She’d found the book How to Train Your Jumper at BookLore in Orangeville, and Gran Mary helped her pace out the proper striding. They did gymnastics and triples and bounces and oxers. Evie dragged out old lawn furniture for Kazzam to jump, and an old blue tarp from the barn became a water hazard. She admired his talent and his brains. He learned very quickly, and once he figured something out, he never forgot. Plus, they were having lots of fun.

She stretched out her arms and shoulders, noticing how the sun was trying hard to break through the clouds. The day was starting to look promising.

Normally on school mornings, she would get to the barn by six o’clock. She’d feed the horses their grain and blanket them while they were eating. After turning them out into the field, she’d scoot back to the farmhouse for a shower and a bowl of oatmeal before catching the school bus at seven-thirty. She mucked the stalls after school, unless Gran Mary had time to do it.

But today was a school holiday, and Evie could take her sweet time. Like mucking stalls is a holiday, she thought wryly. To be honest, though, she really didn’t mind because where there’s manure, there has to be horses.

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The Saddle Creek Series 5-Book Bundle

The Saddle Creek Series 5-Book Bundle

Christmas at Saddle Creek / Dark Days at Saddle Creek / and 3 more
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