“The wind blew Jenny’s and Hazel’s hair into their faces. Their laughs mingled with the repetitive sound of the waves gently lapping onto the shore.”
The wind blew Jenny’s and Hazel’s hair into their faces. Their laughs mingled with the repetitive sound of the waves gently lapping onto the shore. The horses cantered through the waves, splashing onto their hooves. Hazel was wearing riding pants, with riding boots that had small silver stars on them, and a plain black tee-shirt. Jenny was also wearing riding pants and boots with blue and green patterns on the top. She was wearing a white tee-shirt with a horse on it.
“Race you to the stables!” Hazel said to Jenny. The girls took off in a gallop towards Cedar Ridge Stables. There was a big fence surrounding the paddock and a big building with windows in it. Hay was spread all over the floor. Horses whinnied, and people chatted. Horses were riding out the front gate toward the meadow.
“Come on, Ebony!” Hazel yelled.
“Calypso! Let’s go girl!” Jenny shouted. Jenny and Calypso galloped in front of Ebony and Hazel. Ebony reared, and Hazel lost her balance, almost falling off.
“Hey!” she cried, annoyed.
“Sorry! My bad,” Jenny replied and galloped away.
“Whoa boy,” Hazel murmured and slowed Ebony to a stop in front of the stable gates. She dismounted and looked around for Jenny.
“Jenny!” Hazel called. “Where are you?” She led Ebony around the fences of the paddock. The barn smelled of horse manure and hay bales. Horses whinnied, and people talked. She heard hooves clomping behind her and turned around.
“Told you I’d win,” Jenny giggled.
Hazel laughed and said, “Ebony and I would’ve won if it weren’t for you! Anyways, let’s go meet the others.” They led their horses through the gates where a girl and boy were standing. The boy was wearing an old black jacket and ripped jeans.
“Hi!” Jenny smiled, and Hazel waved to him. He mumbled something and walked away. Hazel glanced at Jenny. Well, he doesn’t seem very friendly, Hazel thought. The girl was wearing fancy riding gear and had light blonde hair with bubble gum pink streaks and was grooming her dappled gray appaloosa.
“Hello! I’m Stephanie, and this is my horse, Quartz. She’s already won nine championships, and I bet we’ll win our tenth. Everyone knows she’s the best dressage horse here. By the way, sorry about Alex, he and his lame horse Onyx are really moody. They share the same personality. I don’t even know how he could afford his horse though! But you’re lucky that I’m here!” the girl told them. She kept talking, but no one listened. She seems kinda snooty, Hazel thought. Ebony whinnied. Hazel nudged Jenny.
“You know what, the horses are getting kind of antsy, we better go,” Jenny said and pulled Hazel with her. “What a brat,” Jenny said once they were out of earshot.
“Yeah. I can’t believe she said that about Alex, but he is kinda moody,” Hazel agreed. A tall man wearing a cowboy hat called them over. He had a mop of messy brown hair and was standing next to his horse, a tan thoroughbred with a dark mane.
“C’mon, let’s go see what he wants,” Jenny said.
“Howdy y’all! I’m Patrick Chapman, the owner of Cedar Ridge stables. I’ll show
you around this place and give you some lessons along with Emily Barton,” he told them.
“That’s my cousin!” Jenny said happily. Her lips curled up into a grin. Emily arrived and chatted with Jenny. Emily was the one who taught Jenny about horses and how to ride! Jenny always looked up to Emily and loved to play with her. This was Emily’s last summer before she went to college, and she wanted to spend it with Jenny.
“So, Hazel and Jenny, today we’ll see your skills!” she said. Jenny and Hazel smiled.
“Perfect! That means we can show everyone how amazing Quartz and I are at dressage! We’ve learned a new move, and my private instructor said that I’m the best rider he’s ever seen.” Stephanie appeared out of nowhere, obviously eavesdropping. Jenny looked at Hazel and rolled her eyes. Stephanie saw Jenny and glared at her. She mounted her horse and trotted over to them and stuck out her tongue at Jenny and Hazel. Then went into the middle of the training area. She turned on music.
“Watch and learn,” Stephanie said and flipped her hair. She started doing some elegant moves that looked really advanced.
“I hate to admit it, but she’s actually pretty good,” Jenny whispered to Hazel.
“I know.” Hazel sighed. “Let’s go get our horses.”
They walked over to their horses stalls, but Calypso and Ebony weren’t there! “The horses! They’re gone!”
Ebony and Calypso and some other horses were just waiting for their riders in their stalls, when this strange girl approached them. She opened the doors to their stalls. She picked up the reins and led them out. Ebony reared and neighed, but no one came. Another horse, a North Swedish horse named Emberdust, whinnied and said, “Let’s go! We’re free, finally!” Calypso neighed and took off after him.
“Hey! Wait up!” Ebony cried and ran after Calypso.
The majestic mountains towered over the free horses. They looked like they were piercing the sky. “It’s getting dark… We should go home,” Ebony murmured, trotting up to Emberdust and Calypso.
“Aww, come on! Don’t be a party pooper!” Emberdust complained.
“Yeah, it’s fun out here!” Calypso exclaimed and galloped in circles around them.
“We should go stop and graze,” Emberdust suggested. “I’m hungry.” The horses slowed to a stop and bent down for some grass.
“It tastes so sweet!” Calypso said with her mouth full.
“I usually only have hay,” Emberdust said.
“Fine, I’ll have some,” Ebony finally gave in. He bent over and started to graze. “Hey! You’re right!” He neighed, surprised, “It really is better than the stuff at home.”
Emberdust grinned. “That’s the spirit!”
The horses rested for a bit, then started to walk back to the stables. A deep howl echoed through the hills. Ebony’s ears twitched. “Did… Did you hear that?”
“Oh, it was probably the wind or something.” Calypso nervously pawed the dirt with her hoof. “Let’s keep going.”
“I’m so happy we’re free — ” A loud growl interrupted Emberdust.
“What was that?” Calypso asked, looking around. The horses could almost smell the wet, matted fur of the beasts that lurked in the shadow. A cold shiver crawled up Ebony’s spine. He shook it off.
“I don’t like this, guys… We should go back. Now,” Ebony said, walking a little faster now.
“For once, I agree with Ebony,” Emberdust agreed, hurrying to catch up to Ebony.
“Aww, come on guys! This is supposed to be an adventure. I can’t wait to tell Onyx and Quartz what they missed out on!” Calypso neighed.
Suddenly, a large shadow appeared. Ebony reared and yelled, “WOLVES!!!”
“Where are they?!” Jenny asked anxiously. “They were here before the training!”
“We were only gone for half an hour!” Hazel said. Jenny tried to remember what happened before the horses disappeared.
“We dropped them off, went to the training place, Alex was waiting with us, Stephanie appeared out of nowhere, then we came here,” Jenny said. Then, she looked at Stephanie. “Hazel, can we talk. Privately.” They walked out of the track.
“What is it? Did you figure out who let the horses out?” Hazel asked.
“I think so. Remember Alex was waiting with us for his turn, and then Stephanie came out of nowhere? I heard a faint horse whinny, but I thought it was just the other horses. The only horses that weren’t stolen were Quartz and Onyx, but Onyx never stays in his stall. So that leaves Stephanie,” Jenny explained.
Hazel hesitated for a moment, then said, “She was probably mad that we ignored her. I can’t believe she let the horses free because of that.” Hazel shook her head.
“Let’s go tell Emily,” Jenny said and walked back to where the others were standing. Stephanie was practicing her dressage and talking to her horse.
“Emily, we think we know who let the horses out!” Hazel told her.
“Stephanie! It makes the most sense! She was the one whose horse didn’t go missing, and she doesn’t like us that much,” Jenny said.
Emily nodded. “It does make sense. But we can’t jump to conclusions.”
Jenny sighed. “But… Okay, fine.”
“We’ll go out to find the horses. They can’t have gone far,” Emily reassured them.
“How?!” Jenny cried, “We don’t have any horses! And there’s no way I’m trusting Stephanie around our horses again.”
“Oh! I know!” Hazel piped up. “Alex can do it! He’s a good rider, and he and Onyx know their way around this place better than any of us.”
Emily smiled. “That’s a great idea Hazel! Let’s go get him right now.”
Jenny ran towards the stable, where Alex was taking care of Onyx. “Alex!” Jenny called. He looked around, surprised that someone was talking to him. “I… I know this is a lot to ask, but… Can you please look for Calypso, Ebony, and Emberdust? Somebody,” she glared at Stephanie, “let them out, and we don’t know where they are! Please say you’ll help us!” She begged, bursting out into tears.
“I… Oh, okay, alright… ” Alex answered, getting up onto Onyx.
“Thank you!” Jenny said.
“No problem,” Alex replied, and he galloped away.
“I’m so happy he agreed to find the horses!” Jenny smiled.
“Finally, we’re actually making friends! Unlike at our old school,” Hazel said.
“I wish we could stay here forever!” Jenny laughed and ran to her and Hazel’s favorite place to relax. Beside the lake and under the gigantic weeping willow tree. They could spend hours there.
The shadows formed into living wolves and slowly approached them, their mouths foaming, and teeth reflecting in the light. “RUN!” Calypso shouted. She and Ebony bolted, but Emberdust stayed back.
“My hoof! It’s stuck!” He whinnied. The wolves came closer, their low growls surrounding them.
“Emberdust! Hurry!” Ebony screamed. The wolves pounced.
“EMBERDUST!” Calypso started sobbing. She galloped back to where Emberdust was hiding.
“I’m fine, they missed me. A rabbit distracted them. But my leg, I can’t move it,” Emberdust’s hoarse voice tried to choke out. Ebony galloped over as fast as a he could, as if he were in an intense race. Calypso felt like her heart was going to break her ribs, it was beating so hard. Ebony reared, shouting for help.
Finally, they heard hooves clomping as loud as Calypso’s heart. A jet black horse appeared riding on the hill with a boy with black hair and ripped jeans and a jacket on him. The horse stopped, and the boy dismounted. “We’re here to help, don’t worry.” The horse had a deep voice. He approached Emberdust. “He’s just twisted it, nothing too serious. Did something attack you?”
“Well, it definitely feels serious! It hurts worse than the time I crashed into that tree! We were running from the wolves, but I tripped and got stuck. If I didn’t fall, I could’ve fought the wolves!” Emberdust said. Ebony rolled his eyes.
“I’ll just go talk to Onyx,” Ebony muttered and walked away.
“Emberdust, I’m so glad you feel better! I was so scared!” Calypso cried.
“What’s up with Ebony? Is he still mad we didn’t listen to him?” Emberdust asked.
“I don’t know. Maybe he’s just cranky,” Calypso replied. The boy walked towards where the horses were talking and started to look at Emberdust’s leg.
“You’ll be back on your feet in no time,” he reassured Emberdust. Isn’t he usually really shy? Calypso wondered. The boy wrapped Emberdust’s leg and hoof in a bandage and helped him stand up. He whinnied and tried to rear, but fell over again.
“Forgot I can’t do that with my injury!” Emberdust said and stood up again.
“Come on, I’ll help you,” Calypso offered. “Let’s head back to the stables.”
Alex mounted Onyx and galloped away to try to find the horses. They went through the forest first, but they couldn’t find anything there. The mountains weren’t very far, so Alex and Onyx went there next. Onyx galloped so fast, the wind almost blew Alex off his horse. It didn’t take long to find them. The horses were whinnying and rearing.
“Whoa. It’s alright, calm down,” he murmured.
He slowly went towards a horse who he remembered was named Emberdust. The horse’s leg was trapped under a rock and was causing it great pain. His whinny sounded almost like a howl. He lay helplessly on the grass A small horse, who he thought was named Calypso, protectively moved in of Emberdust. She reared and neighed. A dark brown Morgan horse who must’ve been Hazel’s horse, Ebony, neighed back at her and started to walk away.
Calypso hesitated and followed him. “Sometimes, it seems as though you guys can talk,” he said, laughing.
Alex got the first aid kit from his saddle bag and found the bandages. He searched in his saddle bag for a bottle of water and some towels, and finally found them. He tried to clean the wound, but Emberdust whinnied and kicked at him. Alex backed away and got some treats.
“Here boy, I know it hurts, but you can do it!” Alex reassured and put on the bandages. “There you go! You’ll get better soon. You’re a strong horse, aren’t you, Emberdust?” Alex reassured him. “When we get back to Cedar Ridge Stables, I’ll make you a splint.” Alex mounted Onyx and held Calypso, Ebony, and Emberdust’s reins.
They had to go slow, so they got back to the stables later than planned. Jenny, Hazel, and Emily were waiting for them.
“Calypso!” Jenny hugged Calypso and took her reins.
Hazel ran up to Ebony and said, “I’ve been so worried!” Jenny and Hazel brought Calypso and Ebony back to their stalls to care for them.
“What happened? Is Emberdust okay?” Emily looked at Emberdust to make sure he wasn’t bleeding.
“Don’t worry, he just trapped his leg under a rock. I’ll make a splint for him, the cut isn’t deep, just long. He’s a strong horse, don’t worry,” Alex reassured her.
“Thank you so much!” Emily cried.
“I-It’s alright,” Alex said, who wasn’t used to all the attention. “I should go now… ” he said, and he and Emberdust galloped off towards the stables. This camp is the best thing that has happened to me! he thought happily.
“Come on, Onyx. Let’s get you back to the stables.”
Right before training, Stephanie had snuck into the stables. “You can come on out now!” she told the horses, opening the doors to their stalls. The horses hesitated, not sure what to do. “Come on, go!” she yelled. The horses took off, their hooves echoing off the cobblestone path. Ha! That’ll show them, Stephanie thought.
“Come on girl. Let’s go, Quartz,” she said and mounted Quartz. She trotted over to where Hazel, Jenny, and Alex were. She steered Quartz over to the middle of the paddock and stopped. “You can do it girl. Just try your best, that’s all that matters,” she whispered to Quartz, stroking her horse’s neck. Stephanie started off with a passage, keeping in rhythm to the classical music that was playing. She led her horse into a half pass. “Great job Quartz! That’s the first time we did that move perfectly! I’m so proud of you. Just a little bit more,” she told Quartz. Stephanie guided Quartz to the middle, and slowed her to a stop. “It was good, wasn’t it?” She smirked. Without waiting for an answer, she jumped the fence of the paddock and took off into a gallop.
Stephanie rode towards her home on the beach. She couldn’t wait to tell her parents! They would be so proud of her. “Mom! Dad! Guess what?!”
“What is it, honey?” her mother asked.
“I mastered that dressage move I’ve been learning for months!” Stephanie beamed.
“Uh huh, that’s nice,” her mother said, without looking up from her newspaper.
Stephanie’s face fell. “Aren’t you proud of me?”
“Of course I am, but I’m even more proud of your brother. He got into all the schools he applied to!” her mom said proudly, who finally started listening.
“I — That’s great, Mom,” Stephanie choked out, struggling to keep her voice from cracking.
“We’ll throw him a party of course!” her mother went on. “Want to help plan it? I know how much you love that!”
“Yeah, sure,” Stephanie said, trying to keep her tears in before she got out of the
“I-I have to go,” she lied, rushing out of the house just as the first tears started to
fall. “Let’s go, Quartz.” She sniffled and mounted her horse and started her favorite trail, still sobbing.
After a while, she heard hoofbeats behind her and turned around. “Hazel? Jenny? Go away.” Stephanie galloped away, towards the mountains.
Hazel and Jenny were going on a trail ride through the forest. The birds were singing, and the fresh nature scent filled their nostrils. They were heading towards their favorite place, the tall weeping willow. The girls had just found the place the day before, but they loved spending time there.
“I love these trail rides. I’ll miss it when camp ends,” Hazel said, bringing Ebony to a trot next to Jenny.
“Yeah, same,” Jenny agreed.
Hazel froze. She could faintly make out a quiet sobbing noise. “Jenny… Did you hear that?” Hazel asked, halting her horse.
Jenny listened for a moment, then nodded. “I’ll go ahead. Stay here, Hazel,” Jenny commanded.
“No!” Hazel yelled, scaring several nearby birds.
Jenny looked at her, “Why not?” Jenny asked, confused.
Hazel bit her lip, not sure what to do. “Just… Please, can I go with you?” she begged.
Jenny sighed. “Fine. Follow me.” Hazel nodded and got behind her.
The sobbing sound got louder the farther in the woods they got. They saw flashes of a white and gray horse through the trees. “Stephanie? Is that you?” Jenny asked.
“No. Go away,” she replied.
“Stephanie, we know it’s you. What’s wrong?” Hazel asked.
“It’s none of your business. Go, away!” Stephanie yelled and galloped towards the mountains. Hazel and Jenny exchanged worried looks. They followed her. The mountains got closer, and Stephanie’s silhouette was at the top of the peak. The clouds were getting darker, and rain threatened to fall. Hazel moved up closer to Jenny, but Ebony tried to move away. “Ebony, why don’t you like Calypso anymore?” Hazel asked. He whinnied and tossed his head. They approached the top of the mountains and looked around for Stephanie. “Stephanie!” Hazel shouted.
“Where are you?” Jenny yelled. Drops of rain fell from the dark clouds. Jenny and Hazel dismounted and ran around, trying to find Stephanie. A silhouette was at the top of the mountain. “That must be Stephanie,” Hazel said and mounted Ebony. Jenny followed her to where the figures were standing, against the cloudy sky. Jenny and Hazel approached Stephanie.
“Stephanie, whatever is wrong, you can tell us,” Hazel gently asked her. Stephanie turned around and wiped her eyes.
“I know we haven’t gotten along very well, but I think we can change that,” Jenny comforted. Stephanie opened her mouth, but didn’t say anything. She turned back towards the darkening sky. Jenny and Hazel got off their horses and walked up next to Quartz and Stephanie.
“It’s okay if you don’t want to tell us, but I think we could help you,” Hazel offered. Jenny put her hand on Stephanie’s arm.
“My — my parents, they never listen!” Stephanie burst into tears again.
“It’s okay, just let it all out,” Hazel said.
“It’s like I don’t even exist!” Stephanie blew her nose on a tissue she had in her pocket. The rain started to fall heavily, but the girls barely noticed. Lightning flashed, and thunder boomed. The horses reared and whinnied. The second clap of thunder sent them running back to the stables.
“Oh no, the horses!” Jenny looked back at where they ran to. Stephanie and Hazel turned to look.
“We better head back,” Stephanie sniffled.
“It’s gonna be a long walk without our horses,” Jenny muttered to herself. They started the path back to the stables.
Finally, they arrived and found the horses hiding behind bales of hay. “Ebony!” Hazel ran to her horse. “It looks like we made a new friend.” She glanced toward Stephanie who was grooming Quartz.
Emberdust was almost healed, which meant Calypso could now go out and play with him. Whatever, Ebony thought. It’s not like we’re friends anymore. He looked longingly out of the window of the barn and saw Emberdust and Calypso running around together in the paddock. Ebony sighed and started to drink some water. He heard hoof steps behind him and looked around.
“Who’s there?” He neighed, startled. Hazel walked out from behind the wooden door.
“Hey, Ebony, it’s me,” Hazel said, slowly walking towards him. Ebony snorted happily and tossed his head. Hazel mounted him, and steered him out of the barn. Jenny and Calypso were waiting for them outside. At least Emberdust isn’t here, Ebony thought. Hopefully Calypso will notice I exist. Calypso went up ahead, and Hazel pushed Ebony up closer to her. Ebony walked away from Calypso. “Ebony, come closer to Jenny,” Hazel said. He tossed his head in annoyance, but moved towards Calypso.
“Hey, Ebony!” Calypso beamed.
Ebony grinned. “Calypso! I missed you!”
Calypso tilted her head in confusion. “What do you mean, ‘missed me?’”
Ebony looked down at his hooves, embarrassed. “Well… Just… You and Emberdust have spent so much time together, and I… ” His sentence trailed off, not sure what to say.
“Oh… Ebony! I’m so sorry! I didn’t know you felt left out,” Calypso apologized.
Ebony sighed. “It’s okay.”
Hazel halted Ebony. Jenny and Hazel seemed to argue for a bit, and then Hazel guided Ebony into a trot behind Jenny and Calypso. He thought he heard a sound, and he flicked his tail in alarm. “Looks like there’s a storm coming,” Ebony observed. Calypso nodded.
“I’m so excited for dinner tonight!” Jenny squealed in delight.
“I know it’s gonna be the best!” Hazel jumped up and down with Jenny.
“Barbeque is my favorite!” Stephanie said.
“Same, but I rarely have, because I don’t have a grill,” Jenny agreed. Jenny’s aunt was hosting a barbeque, and Patrick was cooking. Alex, Stephanie, Hazel, and Jenny were all going to dinner together.
“It’s gonna be impossible to wait until six o’clock!” Hazel exclaimed.
Finally, at six o’clock, Jenny and Hazel arrived together. Alex was already there, but Stephanie wasn’t. Jenny and Hazel walked over to the buffet and got some food. The delicious smell of cooking ribs wafted over to the couch they were sitting on. After a few minutes, they heard a car stopping in the driveway. Stephanie stepped out wearing a fancy rose gold dress with flowers. She had her hair in a long braid down her back.
“Wow! Stephanie! You look amazing!” Jenny greeted her and smiled.
Stephanie blushed from the compliment. “Thanks!” Hazel grabbed her hand and showed her around the backyard.
“Be right back, just have to go to the bathroom,” Jenny said and walked inside. She passed through the dining room. She heard voices coming from the kitchen. They sounded like her Aunt Victoria and Patrick Chapman, the stables owner.
“I just don’t know how to tell them,” a worried voice that might have been her aunt said.
“I bet they’ll be fine,” a deeper voice reassured her. They talked a little more a bit, then Jenny ran back outside with a concerned look on her face.