There is nothing in this world that will prepare you for riding a thousand-pound animal at a 6-foot wall for the first time.
Louise thought she’d practiced enough. Thought she’d be ready when she saw that looming tower waiting for her. Thought she’d prepared for the worst-case scenario, thought she knew how to stay on and how to fall if she couldn’t. Thought the flimsy fake wall she’d rigged up for practice in one of the rings at home with cardboard and duct tape would make a decent stand in for the solid obstacle she was now cantering towards.
Wrong. Wrong on all accounts.
Are they sure those bricks are plastic?
The noise of the stadium around them fades to white noise and all she can hear is her heartbeat and the steady pounding of Stella’s hooves.
One. Twothree. One. Twothree.
An old nervous habit. Counting canter strides to avoid focusing on the jump ahead.
Not too late to pull up.
She twists her fingers in Stella’s steel-colored mane, wanting to avoid catching her mouth if this went badly.
When this went badly.
Out of the corner of her eye she catches a glimpse of one of Stella’s strange white patches that dots her coat.
Constellated. Her stars.
Letting one of her fingers loosen enough to press gently into the patch, Louise sits up and steels herself.
You are a thing made of stardust and this world could never hold you down for very long.
The steady canter strides matching the furious beating of her heart suddenly break their rhythm. Stella’s body moves in a way that is somehow both effortless and enormous. Louise moves with her unthinkingly, muscles reacting far faster than mind. They both catch their breaths as the ground surges away from them.