by Heartbeat for horses
Chapter One: Horse on the Hill
"G'morning Sunshine!" Sam Bailey called to her dark chestnut mare grazing in her paddock. She lifted her head and whinnied a greeting.
Sam climbed on top of the fence watching Sunshine eat mouths full of fresh green grass. She lived on a large cattle ranch in Nevada with her Mom Sandy, her brothers Chad and Joshua, her Father Jacob and her sister Madison.
"Ready for a ride up to the meadow?" She asked Sunshine as she hopped off the fence. Sunshine answered with a low nicker and started towards Sam.
"Be right back girl. I have to go get a brush and your tack."
She headed up to the barn and down to the aisle to the tack room. She grabbed a brush and the heavy western tack set she had gotten for her birthday. She lugged it into her arms and headed back to the paddock.
She opened the gate, placed the tack on the fence rail and started brushing Sunshine's dirty coat. Sam groomed her until she shone. She saddled and bridled her mare then placed her boot in the stirrup and lifted herself into the saddle.
"Dad!" Sam called as her Father walked into the barn. "I'm going up to the meadow!"
"Okay!" Her Dad replied.
"Come on Sunshine, let's go!" Sam said and asked her for a walk.
Once out of the barn yard, she squeezed her into a steady lope and rode across a wide field where the cattle were kept and grazed.
Sam loved living in Nevada. She could ride almost anywhere she wanted. She lived on a ranch full of horses and the weather was almost always beautiful.
They soon arrived at the bright green meadow full of wild flowers. A bubbly creek gurgled at the edge of the shady woods offering a cool refreshing place in the summer.
Sam dismounted and led her horse over to the creek to give herself and Sunshine some water. She ground tied Sunshine and let her drink while she waded into the water to cool off from the blistering summer heat.
Just as she was about to wade in a shrieking whinny rippled the air. Sam jerked her head around to see a beautiful palomino standing on the hill. His golden coat shone like sun against the bright green grass. His creamy mane blew softly in the warm breeze as he stood tall like a proud stallion.
Sam just stared.
All too soon, the horse broke into a gallop and took off down the hill out of sight.
Chapter Two: Menace (Rewritten)
"Dad, do you know of any palominos running around loose?" Sam asked at the dinner table that night.
Her father looked up and nodded his head. "Yeah, that's old Mr. Carter's horse, Shasta. Keeps on getting loose, the menace."
"He isn't a menace. He's beautiful!" Sam protested. Her Dad shook his head and went back to his meal.
"He's the most beautiful horse." Sam told her Mom. "His coat shines like gold and he's so proud looking!"
"Sam, he isn't your horse so don't get any ideas," her Dad said as he stood up from his chair and headed outside.
At 5:00 A.M the next morning, Sam hurried down the stairs from her bedroom and out the front door. She wanted to go and see if she could find the palomino gelding, Shasta before school.
She hurried to the barn and bridled Sunshine. She hopped on bareback and trotted across the cattle field up towards the meadow where she had seen the horse the day before.
She squeezed Sunshine into a lope. Soon, she was at the creek. She trotted up the hill to see if the horse was anywhere in the fields below. She glanced around once she was on top to see the palomino standing in the bottom of the field grazing.
Slowly, she walked her horse down the hill to get a little closer to Shasta. The horse glanced up once he heard the sound of hoofbeats and the smell of a horse and rider nearing. He threw his head up and snorted taking a step back.
"It's okay boy." Sam said and hopped off of Sunshine. She ground tied her horse and pulled an apple out of the saddle bag.
"Here handsome thing," she said holding out the apple.
The palomino cautiously took the apple from Sam's outstretched hand. Smiling, she ran her hand over his soft golden neck. He relaxed under her touch and stood still while she petted him.
"You're not a menace, beautiful thing," she said to the gelding and planted a kiss on his soft muzzle.
"I wish you were mine. We could do everything together." She told him.
With a final pat, Sam looked at her watch. It read 6:30. She had to hurry if she wanted to be on time for the bus.
"Bye, Shasta. I'll see you soon, boy." She whispered and hurried over to Sunshine.
Chapter Three: Promises
"Dad, can I talk to you for a minute?" Sam asked after she had groomed and put Sunshine in her paddock.
"Sure honey," he said and set down his pitchfork.
"You see, I went down to Mr. Carter's house earlier to tell him I knew where Shasta was running off too if he hadn't already gotten him back. Shasta was there and he's for sale. He's only $500 and well, you have been promising me a new horse since Sunshine is getting on in her years. You said I could have any horse under $1,000." She blurted out.
"I could even work around the ranch more," she said searching her father's face.
He stood there for a minute and sighed. "Honey, I know your Mom and I promised you a horse but that palomino is a handful. I don't know if I want you around him."
"Dad, please. I promise I'll work really hard with him before I ever even think of riding. I could always get Chad or Joshua's help too." Sam begged.
"Right now, the answer's no." Her father said. "But if you want to talk to Mr. Carter about helping out with working with the gelding and bonding with him a little bit, I might consider it."
"Really?!" Sam exclaimed. "I'm going straight over there!"
Before her father said another word, she quickly bridled Snow, a white quarter horse mare, hopped on bareback and nudged her to a trot.
Once she was down the hill, she urged Snow into a lope and rode down the dirt road to Mr. Carter's house. She slowed Snow to a halt and ground tied her. Sam raced into the barn to find Mr. Carter.
"Mr. Carter!" My Dad said he might consider buying Shasta if I could help work with him and bond with him a little bit," she said breathlessly.
Mr. Carter smiled. "That's fine with me if you come over here a couple hours a day to work with the gelding." He replied. "Does your Dad know you came down here?" He asked her.
"Yes." Sam replied.
"Well, you can go ahead and get started then." Mr. Carter said.
"Thank you so much Sir!" She said.
She quickly took care of Snow, put her in the paddock and went to see Shasta.
Chapter Four: Bonding
"Hey there, Shasta!" She said as she opened the gate carrying an apple and a peppermint.
"Here boy." She clucked as she closed the gate.
Sitting in the dirt, she waited for him to come to her. After a moment of hesitation, he started to walk over to her hesitantly.
"That a boy," she whispered as he lowered his head to eat the peppermint from the palm of her hand. He lipped it up and tossed his head happily. He searched her pockets for more treats and nickered softly. She pet his soft golden neck lovingly. His muscles relaxed under her touch.
Slowly, Sam stood up and placed her hand on his back.
"I know you have been ridden so why not try sitting on you for a minute?" She said aloud.
She stood on the fence beside Shasta and calmly and swiftly slid onto his back. His muscles tightened but he stood still.
"It's okay," she said patting his soft neck. "You're okay, my good boy."
She grabbed a handful of mane and softly touched his sides with her heels. Shasta obediently started walking. She walked him a few laps around the arena then halted and slid off. She kissed his soft muzzle and fed him his apple as a reward for being so good.
"I have to go now but I'll be back tomorrow, boy." She said. "Bye, Shasta."
Chapter Five: Riding
Sam continued going over to Mr. Carter's house everyday to see Shasta. Their bond was growing stronger and their walks around the arena were becoming even more special.
"How about a real ride today?" Sam asked Shasta one afternoon. Shasta nuzzled her hair in reply.
"I'll be right back, buddy," she said and went into the barn to find a bridle and saddle she could use.
She found some and went outside to get him saddled. He was already clean. She lightly placed the saddle blanket and saddle on his back, tightened the cinch and bridled him with only a little trouble with the bit.
She placed her foot in the stirrup and climbed into the saddle with ease. She lightly touched him with her heels and sat a bit deep in the saddle. He broke into a lively trot.
"Good boy!" She exclaimed and patted his neck. She trotted him a few laps around the arena then slowed him to a walk.
"I don't want to rush you." Sam told Shasta. She cooled him off a little bit then halted and slid out of the saddle.
As she worked on unsaddling him and brushing his soft coat, she started talking to him.
"Once Dad sees how amazing you are, there's no way he is going to say no. But I want to make sure we're doing really well before I have him come out here and see for himself."
She put away his tack, kissed him goodbye and headed off towards home.