Love of Horses Pt. 02byEgmontGrigor2011©
One of the Western riders, Lana Turnbull asked Ralph could she could transfer to English seat and compete in novice equitation over fences.
She was asked why and said because Kate John was driving her too hard.
Jane was told the transfer would be approved subject to Jane receiving Kate's agreement. If Kate refused and Jane couldn't accept that she'd have to drop out of competitive riding. She said that was fine.
Kate supported the transfer and smiled, knowing Jane had overlooked she supervised the English seat jumping so would still be answerable to Kate but Jane's withdrawal from Western riding would strengthen team performance.
The worried coach asked Kate did she think she was pushing her team too hard.
"Perhaps but I don't believe so. I set their tasks and it's up to them to perform. If they are slack like Jane I ease the pressure on that individual. You are free to question the team without me being involved."
"Well there always are slackers Kate. I want you to consider taking on a novice who's just joined as a non-competitive member. She's come to us after being kicked out of another college for unruly behavior."
"Oh she sounds like a prime recruit for English seat."
"Okay let's talk to her."
Max (Maxine) Dunlop was a disheveled blonde with a defiant attitude. The eighteen-year old had ridden on her grandparent's ranch for most of her life but they'd sold the ranch almost a year ago.
"And that's when your behavior took a dive?"
Max looked at Kate unafraid. "Nobody has ever said that."
"I don't care what other people have said, I was asking for your comment."
There was a defiant silence until Ralph said, "Well moving on..."
"I loved that ranch and the four horses. I went there every weekend to ride, feeling the wind in my face. I was devastated when my grandparents sold the ranch. I cried and cried when I heard of their intention and (sniff)..."
"That's enough. You sound like you've become a hard young bitch Max..."
"Kate," Ralph said sternly.
"... but I'm willing to take you on providing to promise to cooperate fully. I'm not saying don't fight me, I'm saying when I want you to do things, you do what I say."
"Yeah well you act tough yourself."
"I like to think my students call me softy. My first instruction is to resume calling yourself Maxine."
Max smiled and said, "God my mom is going to love you. Okay I'm Maxine. You push me hard to make me good at something. I have the basics but need plenty of pushing and fine-tuning to ride competitively. I have watched horse shows on TV for years."
"Excellent. Coach I'm prepared to take Maxine on."
"Approved but Maxine has asked to be trained for English Riding. If that a problem for you?"
"No providing she in a jumping class as I take those club members already."
Maxine said, "Thanks. Um do I kiss you Kate?"
"No you come with me to the barn. I'd like to check you out riding without a saddle."
"Piece of cake."
"And taking on low jumps."
"Watch your mouth Maxine. Use that foul mouth at a show and be heard by officials and you'll shed potential points like confetti. It's not only the horse that had to be perfectly disciplined."
Kate just smiled and Ralph began breathing easily again.
Kate could see the untidy blonde had a good seat with excellent balance in turns, her riding motion was excellent and she appeared to be thinking ahead of the next move.
"Okay go over that jump. It's set at eighteen inches."
"I might fall off."
"Yes and you know what happens if you do that in competition? You've watched horse shows on TV."
"Don't be a bitch Kate."
"Maxine just do it. I'm teaching you to stay on. Fall off and I'll know I'll have to go back to the basics with you."
Maxine cleared the jump perfectly and Kate put the rail up to 2 ft.
Maxine cleared that and rode back to Kate.
"Piece of cake. I don't know what I was so nervous jumping without a saddle."
"Actually I wanted you to fail to see how you'd react to failure. Oh aren't I a bitch?"
"No comment," Maxine grinned.
"Right this will remove the smile. I want you to practice daily riding without a saddle and jumping at 2 ft until you know with certainty any thought about falling off is gone. If you dare attempt to jump higher I'll kick your butt. Do you understand? We will work up heights with saddle and at my pace, not yours. Do you understand?"
"Yes coach, I mean Kate. You simply wish to push me to hone my basics."
"Correct and I'm very proud of you."
Kate smiled as she turned away, sighting Maxine's dropped jaw.
Anne arrived at the barn with a woman around her age, Carol Wilcox, and they found Kate there with two horses saddled.
"Oh hi girls. Carol I'm thrilled you have accepted Anne's invitation to go riding with her. Anne has been homesick and finding it difficult to settle in and she's concerned about her failure to make friends here."
Anne was standing behind Carol and Kate could see Anne's astonished reaction.
"Oh Anne, you poor thing," Carole said. "We all thought Ralph Hall's pretty young wife from the east was snooty. How could we be so wrong?"
"I have no idea," Anne lied.
"Well I'll be doing things to ease you into the female community here."
Anne glanced at Kate and said, "Would there be any chance of swapping recipes?"
"Oh yes we'll easily fill the hard drive of your laptop in days. Anne I'm sure you will fit in here very well."
Kate said, "That's brilliant Carol. I've saddled my Paint called Chocolate Ice for you to put you on a horse with firepower and Anne this evening you get your wish to ride Cool Lady. Now don't break your necks ladies, this evening you are riding real horses rather than show ring prima donnas."
That night Kate took a call from a woman who sounded she'd been crying.
"Miss John, I'm Shirley, Maxine's mother. Maxine has just called to say you are making her call herself Maxine and you are making her ride over low jumps to build her confidence so that she can reward you by winning competitions for you and for Patrick University. She thinks you are awesome and yet you are only her age."
"That's correct Mrs Dunlop except I can't claim to be awesome. All I can say is baring unforeseen eventualities, your Maxine will win events for us. She is potentially at the very least the second-best rider we have at Patrick."
"B-but Maxine said your equestrian club has eighty riders?"
"Correct Mrs Dunlop. What I was talking about is potential. We have perhaps sixty students who are good riders but most of them will never be better than good or should I say adequate. To rise about that one must have other qualities. Your daughter is a hard-nosed little bitch."
"Oh don't I know that. I must say you are brave talking to me about my daughter in that manner."
Laughing, Kate said, "Maxine is defiant, virtually unafraid and sits on the saddle as if she were born there. Believe me Mrs Dunlop, I've just started here as a supervisor and if I ever seen anyone arrive at this college exceeding the champion rider potential of your daughter, I'll eat a piece of rawhide."
"Mrs Dunlop I would prefer you telling no one what I've just said beyond saying we think Maxine has potential to become a very competitive rider."
"Omigod this is happening for Maxine, the only failure of my four children."
Kate felt like kicking the woman's butt she remained calm as if prepared to ride down a ravine.
"Mrs Dunlop believe me Maxine is shaping up to make this happen; all we are doing is providing the training and support and acting as the conduit to take her to horse riding competition success. This is not Maxine's life; she'll have bigger things ahead of her. Just regard it as her launch pad and please back off and don't pressure her. I must go, bye."
"Stupid woman," Kate said to her phone but she acknowledged not all mothers were equal. Everything now rested on Maxine's willingness to give it all she had. If Maxine wished to be a high achiever in horse riding competition she'd have to get herself there, although replying on assistance from team members and coaching staff.
At training sessions Kate treated all riders equally but on the days Maxine trained she'd stay on late and practice her jumping and before long she said to Kate she was very confident about not falling off when jumping without a saddle.
"Would you try the jump if I blindfold you and shout out direction and distances to you?"
"I-I think so."
"Take some time to think about it. I don't wish to push you."
"It's okay. Let's do it now."
"Choose your horse, the one you think knows you best."
Maxine came out of the barn with Congo.
"Good choice. Congo is very intelligent and calm Maxine. All I'll have to do is to shout the last couple of marks. You'll feel him tense as he prepares to launch and at that point take your mind through your routines. That's what all that extra practice was about um and staying firmly in the saddle."
Maxine said she'd make a couple of jumps and then do it.
"Think about that," Kate counseled. "If you had jumped twice and was about to jump the third time would Congo be more likely to wait for your instructions through legs, and weight shift and hand positions than if making the first jump cold?"
Maxine didn't reply. She just broke Congo into a lope and rode in a circle around the arena and returned.
"Right blindfold me."
"Sorry I don't have anything else but this small sack I found in the tack room."
Kate watched Maxine carefully.
The unruly young woman bristled but said nothing. Maxine turned Congo to face the jump and held her hand out for the sack and placed it over her head and shoulders without a word. Kate said she'd position herself by the jump and for Maxine to think of it as normal drill for the jump.
When Congo was loping and only a short distance from the jump Kate yelled to get ready and Congo and rider took the low jump faultlessly. Although blinded, Maxine turned and came for the return jump a little off line but Congo anticipated and lined up correctly for the jump and went over without Kate calling a prompt.
Maxine dismounted and jerked the sack off her head angrily.
"You didn't call more than one warning."
Kate smiled and thought why waste her breath. She didn't believe Maxine required any warning, that her riding was based on her own confidence and she had feeling through her mount.
"You bitch, you hard-ass bitch."
"And that little outburst could have cost you a title you stupid girl. Won't you ever learn?"
Maxine, red-faced and crying, stormed, "Is there no softness in you?"
Kate stepped up to Maxine, threw her arms around the teenager, and kissed her firmly on the lips unhurriedly.
Stepping back Kate said unsmilingly, "Now I suppose you think I'm gay?"
Wiping away tears Maxine said, "All I know is you do have a soft side and you obviously have humor. Oh and you kiss lovely. But keep on being a bitch to me at times; I appear to respond best to that. I suppose it's because for much of my teenager years I've been bawled out."
"Okay do some circuits on Congo changed from walk, trot and lope and then walk to cool him off and then care for him. Then come and find me."
"I'll miss going to dinner with my friends."
"Then go to dinner with your friends."
Maxine took a few seconds to think about that but said, "No I'll find you. You wouldn't have asked that without a reason unless you a gay but I suppose that's a big reason."
Kate walked away without comment, enjoying her victory. With unruly Maxine it was not unlike finishing a half broken-in horse. She could now assume she had Maxine's complete loyalty.
Kate and Maxine went to late dinner after Kate had questioned her to record Maxine's riding history in far greater detail than Maxine had been required to state when applying to a tryout for the equestrian club. Kate wanted to know the jumping history in detail including the names and addresses of coaches.
"What do you want all this stuff?"
"Because I wish to make representations that will allow you to start in Intercollegiate Equestrian Society riding in the Intermediate Class."
"Omigod that's setting me up for failure."
"Thank you Maxine but there's already enough shit awaiting muck-out in the barn. Please stop whining."
"Um if you can pull that off to jump me past beginner and novice levels, I'll ride to the best of my ability to please you."
"No to please yourself Maxine knowing you have achieved the standards you and I have set. We must now enter you in open competitions so you can build a quick history of success to allow you to enter at intermediate level."
"Will that be permitted?"
"I won't be asking until I have collected compelling evidence of your horsemanship."
"I'll ride Congo in those events and..."
"No. You may ride Congo once and other times you will choose another horse from our barn. At society shows you are required to ride supplied mounts."
"Girl? I'm the same age as you and yet you act the big boss."
"I call older women girls when they are together and many women do in an affectionate sense. I really think you should be running with a guy, but one who won't interrupt your training program."
"Guys find me too aggressive."
"Well link with an aggressive guy."
They entered the dining room with Maxine looking quite stunned.
The meal was self-service and when they sat and began eating, Maxine said, "You know I've never contemplated a full-on guy because mom has always urged me to associate with nice boys."
"Jesus Maxine, start thinking for yourself. Quote me the law of nature that says more aggressive guys can't basically be nice guys, well at times?"
"How is it you are so much more worldly than I am and yet you came here straight off a ranch where you had lived all your life?"
"Well wait till you meet my mother and that will give you some idea and her three brothers who work on the ranch are even more aggressive and then my younger nephews will eye you like a piece of meat."
"Well how come you've survived all that, apparently unharmed."
Kate smiled. "I play the role of super aggressive bitch perfectly. You'll find what it's like during our short break coming up because you're coming home with me to learn real horse riding."
"But my family will be expecting me home."
"Tough but I guess we could zap across and spend the first night there. When your mom sees the change in you she'll confer anything up to a sainthood on me."
"What change are you talking about?"
"Jesus Maxine, don't you know anything?"
Maxine had called ahead to her mom who's already accepted she'd only have her daughter home for one night and she'd be off at 5:00 next morning.
"We're coming in mom. Look out for Old Yeller, Kate's old Jeep Wrangler."
Maxine's father, a civil consulting engineer, had come home early to spend time with his daughter but the two high school aged brothers ran past their dad's Jeep Grand Cherokee to drool over Old Yeller.
"Hi mom, love your hair. This is my riding coach and friend Kate John. Gawd mom, you've lost weight from where it counts."
Mrs Dunlop positively gawked at her daughter before being enveloped in a huge hug.
"Hi Kate I'm the father. Call me Wayne. We've been hearing big things about you from Maxine. I must congratulate you for getting her out of that name Max. Oh you have no idea how we tried."
"Thanks Wayne. You guys take the Jeep for a quiet run."
"Michael doesn't have his license."
"Then the older brother should drive."
"Michael is the elder brother."
"Can you drive Michael?"
"Well jump behind the wheel. Into the back buddy. I have to be in the passenger seat."
"I really don't think..."
"Just think back when you were an eager teenager Wayne. Stymie adventure too much and the urge to immense in it can die."
"Just up and down this street Michael and yes Buddy you can have a turn."
"My name is Simon."
"Don't you prefer Buddy?"
"Well yes I do as a matter of fact."
"Well that sounds like you'll be an engineer like you dad."
"How did you know that? I've told no one but mom."
"Big girls are sometimes smart Buddy. Get your butt on to the back seat."
They drove off.
"Who the hell was that?" Wayne said to his wife and daughter.
"Yeah Coach John might be a little too much for your two but she'd be a good influence on the boys, teaching them that being smart does not equate to a college education. I've had more education than Kate. She's my age but is on partial studies at Patrick and I'll tell you one thing, you'll probably think she has a master's degrees in animal science and farm and ranch management."
"She appears to have changed you darling," said her mom, still holding on to Maxine.
"Kate puzzled me by saying you'd see change in me. What change was she on about?"
"You look happy, very happy darling. You are smiling a lot more and your eyes are bright and your head is up and that aura of resentment appears to have gone."
"Yeah you have come okay baby."
"Baby? Oh daddy it's years since you last called me that," Maxine said, rushing her father, sobbing.
The hardtop convertible two-door Old Yeller went by, Michael at the wheel tooting to horn and his brother making an obscene gesture that only Maxine appeared to notice at the oversized rear side window. She just smiled.
They were still in a hug, chatting when the vehicle re-appeared, coming slowly along the street in a low gear, Simon at the wheel and beaming.
"Oh I say, none of my children will ever be the same again," Shirley Dunlop groaned.
"You have to expect that darling, our children are growing up," said the precise engineer.
At dinner both the boys fought to sit beside Kate. She sorted it.
"Michael you sit by Maxine until first course is cleared and give her plenty of hugs. Then you sit here and then you Buddy sit beside your sister.
"I now prefer Simon as my name."
"Good for you. Know who you are and you'll be a happier person. But loosen up will you."
"Why do you say that?"
"Just because you're going to be an engineer there is no need to go around with an expression like Einstein."
"Who's he or do you mean Albert?"
"He's a guy who works with your dad."
"Yeah he's one of our surveyors, always wise-cracking and talking fondly of his parents."
Buddy/Simon said, "Are they dead?"
"Simon please shut up or say grace," Kate said.
"I would but we don't say grace in this house."
"I think we should start," Maxine said. "Do the honors please dad."
Next morning as the girls drove off just before 5:30, Shirley said to her family, "I know the whirlwind was Kate John but who was that other sweet girl she was with?"
"You daughter Maxine," Michael said. "They're a couple of awesome chicks."
* * *
Kathleen come running out to greet them and kissed both girls.
"I'm so pleased to meet you darling. Kate talks about you often."
Coming out of the kiss, Maxine looked at Kate who was studying the mountains.
Sammy came limping out of the house and without thinking Maxine said, "Oh is this your father Kate?"
Caught on the hop Kate said, "No it's Sammy, my honorary grandfather."
Her mom, already recovering from initial shock, eyed her daughter curiously but nothing was said.
Kate rushed to Sammy and kissed him and he grouched not to put smelly perfume on him or her uncles would tease him.
"Maxine this is our cook Sammy. Call him Sammy."
"Hi Sammy I apologize for mistaking you for Kate's father."
"Kate doesn't know who her father is or was. Her mother won't tell her. For your information Kate is the nearest I have to an offspring. I practically raised her."