Dirt and Horses - Chapter 1
The light of the moon vaguely illuminated the world, with a bit of help from the flickering stars. A few dusky, gray clouds drifted sluggishly through the dark sky. Everywhere there was a sense of peace. A sense of dream and sleep. It was still night, a few hours after midnight.
This calm, quiet time of night is the favorite among many to ride. It is not, however, very wise. But for some reason that is why most are attracted to this special time. The quiet, the tranquility, the alone. Escaping from society, in a sense.
That is exactly why Ms. Bartlett chose that cold, dark winter night, to ride. And to escape from the world. From the calamities and stress. True, she could always enjoy a ride during the daytime, but there was something mysterious and lulling in a night ride.
The snow never fell in that Grand Canyon state. The winter nights were close to freezing often times, but they almost never fell below.
Bundled in an insulated coat with a pair of worn brown gloves, she silently shoved a leather boot toe into the stirrup of the saddle. She was forced to reach her leg up rather high considering this was such a tall horse.
With a strong push, she hoisted herself up, sliding her leg over and seating herself comfortable into the seat. She reached to the horse's withers, gripping the reigns in her gloved hands. Immediately she could feel the power and anticipation brewing inside the animal between her legs.
"Alright, Whiskey." She murmured in a thick Texan accent to her gelding. The tall, bay gelding gave the reigns a hefty tug.
Her name was Harley. Harley Jane Bartlett. She was exactly 5'7" tall, with long legs. She had grown up on her grandparent's ranch, where she now lived, so she was no weakling.
The horse's name was Whiskey. He had been raised and trained by Harley herself beginning when she was 13. He was now about 5, and had some very nasty attitude problems. But Harley, consequently, trusted the horse with her life.
Harley clicked her tongue and gave the eager Quarter Horse a gentle nudge with her heel, and he sprang forward in a fast walk.
"Whoa, Whiskey." Harley scolded, pulling the reigns ever so slightly. Obedient, but reluctant, he followed the path she provided, walking away from the hitching post.
He followed her commands of hand and heel, huffing. Whiskey's hot breath churned in the cold, foggy, night air. It was like a moment of magic; and so they rode.
It was several hours later, and about 8:00 AM. The sun had risen, and the hot winter temperatures of Arizona had set in. No more visible breath, no more foggy night. No more peaceful ride.
It as a rather rude awakening; several large dogs jumping up on the bed and licking her face relentlessly. They even pawed eagerly at the blanket when she hid her face.
One down-side to those late night rides, was a lack of sleep. But Harley knew that work needed to be done, and those dogs wouldn't let her go back to sleep for a second.
"Out!" She commanded, launching a pillow at the door as the dogs fought to push out.
There were, in all, 4 dogs. Working on a ranch, they were all large breeds. There was Sam, the overly protective Mastiff, Pepper, a female Australian Shepherd who was generally their cattle herder, Leon their black Kelpie, and last but certainly not least, the elderly Jack, who was an Akbash.
Harley loved all of her dogs dearly, just not as much when they awoke her 2 minutes before her alarm had the honors of doing so.
"Well it's about time you're up! Horses need feedin'!" Came a gentle voice from the kitchen. It may have been cracked with age, but it still attained that thick Texan accent.
"Good mornin' to you to Gram'." Harley murmured, releasing a huge yawn as she stumbled into the kitchen. There as a rule in that house that even her frail grandmother followed. 'Animals comes first.' That basically meant no breakfast until Harley and her uncle fed every single animal on their ranch. It as going to be a long morning.