512 Words

The Way to a Horse's Heart

M. Stanley Bubien

I don't know why I did it. I think it was just plain stupidity. That's how I remember it anyway.

"She's so cute," I told Dave Schneider as we leaned on our mountain bikes, watching the horse-trail entrance. "Especially riding her horse."

Dave wasn't my best friend, but because we lived in the country, he was my only one.

"You love her," Dave chided. "And you've never talked to her!"

"I know her name!" I almost sighed when I said it, "Gabrielle. Awesome!"

"Heh," he chuckled. And I think he would've made fun of me more, but the thunder of hooves interrupted him. Instinctively, we split, and a Thoroughbred bolted from the trail and onto the road.

It clopped away, riderless.

"That's Gabrielle's!" I cried, and pedalled after.

Horses are fast. Really fast! That's something I never completely realized until then, puffing up the hill as hard as I could. I did know a few things though---I had worked at the local Rider's Club---like that when they're spooked, horses eventually gallop it off.

My lungs hurt by the time I finally saw Nadia, Gabrielle's Thoroughbred, sauntering along the roadside. I dropped my mountain bike and grabbed a handful of the long, dry grass sprouting about like weeds.

I approached Nadia---not quietly, but steadily, so she knew I posed no threat. She shook her head and her reins scraped the ground. Slowly, I lifted the handful of grass. "Nadia," I mumbled. "Here you go."

She looked.

I kept the grass raised, and continued calling in a soothing voice. Nadia took a few tentative steps, nodded and blew through her nose. I soon had her eating out of my hand as I caressed her muzzle. Fortunately, the Riding Club had also taught me the way to horse's heart---through its stomach!

With reins in hand, I lead her down the road, passing my mountain bike with a pang. Sure, this was the country, but that didn't protect an unlocked bicycle---and a new one at that! Hurrying a bit more, I caught sight of Dave jogging toward us.

"Hey!" I said, with a glance back and a sigh of relief. "Here. Take Nadia. I gotta get my bike."

I placed the reins into his reluctant grasp. "She won't bolt, don't worry. Here's some grass to keep her calm."

Walking to my bike took longer than I expected, but I was too tired to run. I even coasted it down the hill.

I spotted Dave handing Nadia to Gabrielle, and skidded to a stop. The wind carried Dave's voice over. "No problem," he said with a grin. Eyes wide, I cranked the pedals and rushed at him, but seeing Gabrielle's reaction, I jerked and crashed into a bush.

Laying in the sage, the sight still haunted me. Gabrielle had kissed Dave---right on the mouth! I brushed twigs aside and watched them leaving together. That's when I felt the full impact of my mistake.

Face in the dirt, I knew one thing for sure---I'd never go mountain biking with Dave again!

Copyright ©1999 M. Stanley Bubien. All Rights Reserved.

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October, 1999
Issue #42

512 Words