There was one winter Magic spent out to pasture that changed his life completely… In particular it was a rainy day, a cold and dreary day, everything was wet and soaked, the ground had large mud puddles here and there and the sky was gray. A young filly named Sierra and he were having as much fun as a colt and filly could have, splashing in the mess and rolling in the muddy muck.
They nickered and whinnied to each other their enjoyment. They stood up and faced one another; she was a pretty little roan with a white blaze, or really brown, as she was covered with mud. He could imagine himself in her eyes, shining muddy black and long gangly legs. He let a dramatic snort sound from his nostrils. She rolled her eyes and cantered away from him, he chased her.
They played like this for hours when the rain really started to come down. Magic and Sierra decided to call it a day and race back to the big willow tree stand at the edge of the pasture. Sierra automatically took the lead, as she was a Thoroughbred, small russet tail whipping wet behind her. Magic began to pick up speed and somehow his long unbalanced legs slipped and tangled beneath him and he fell, hard. Sierra heard a few crunches and cracks when he hit the rocks he had gotten tangled up in; he screamed out and Sierra neighed for help.
The next day Magic spent lying beneath the willows with Sierra, it hurt terribly to get up and walk so he decided he would stay on the ground. He saw no reason to do something if it hurt, even if it meant lying down until he was old and bent.
‘Magic…’ Sierra nickered ‘You can’t just lie here for the rest of your life.’ She got up on her frail little legs that had more power than one would guess and swished her tail.
‘It hurts to move. I don’t really have another choice.’ He snorted lowering his head.
‘Fine. Pout, see if I care, you would feel better if you moved your lazy tail.’ She whinnied. Sierra tossed her proud head and trotted off across the pasture transitioning into a gallop. Magic looked after her, hurting and sad. He couldn’t take it, he tried his hardest to stand up, each hoof out and he was finally able to pull himself up off the ground. His withers ached terribly and he had to hold his whole body different. He limped after Sierra slowly, she stood up against the white fence, the sun on her red coat made her look like fire, she noticed his approach and whinnied excitedly.
‘See? What did I tell you?’ she nodded her delicate head.
‘I was just lonely… my withers hurt and so does my neck…’ Magic sighed. Why was I so clumsy? He thought to himself. Sierra nuzzled his ear and snorted.
‘Let’s just take it slow and walk for a bit around the pasture, ok?’ He gave in and let her guide him around the pasture; slowly he limped along beside her. They kept up the routine day after day during the week and finally his neck began to feel better but he was always sore in the morning and after he ran and anytime he moved his neck wrong, or too quickly, he would be in crippling pain.
Sierra and Magic were always playing together that winter, some days after his accident he couldn't stand it though and would have to stay still for most of the day. Sierra was always there with him no matter what, she was his best friend. When they did play they always had to be careful that he didn't hurt himself any more, she always had to be gentle and sometimes Magic would just give up. Sierra always tried to encourage him to keep moving but as winter got colder he started to just lie down most of the day, only moving at breakfast and dinner across the field where the humans put the hay.
It was snowy all the time that winter and the pain was always there, Magic could never make it leave. Moving hurt and because he hurt all the time he was always a little grumpy with his friends. Mostly he kept underneath the big willow tree stand in the pasture where the snow couldn't get him. Things were ok, until spring came.
The worst thing ever happened during spring but also the best thing. The best thing that happened was the weather. All of a sudden, like the flick of a switch the earth was warm and sunny. The grass was green and tall and all the fruit trees had big fluffy blossoms on them. The air was buzzing with life and light, slowly the ground was becoming less mud and more solid dirt.
Springtime was good because Magic’s injuries hurt a bit less in the warm air. Sierra was helping him walk around the pasture daily, encouraging him and sometimes downright insisting.
But spring was also difficult for Magic. For one all the horses were now three and started training this year, which included Magic. The strangest part of the season was that there were two new horses that the humans had put in the pasture and they were both a year older than Sierra and Magic.
That day in spring was a very nice day. It was warm and today Magic’s body felt better so he and Sierra were chasing each other around the pasture when the men opened the gate. The big man led in two horses, one horse was tall, lean and white, the other was a smaller brown horse. The human took the rope ties off the horses’ heads and they began walking towards Sierra and Magic. The man shut the gate and walked away.
The pair trotted up to Sierra and Magic, snorted and stamped their hooves. Magic looked at Sierra and she looked at him. The white horse spoke up.
‘Are you the Sierra Thoroughbred I’ve heard about?’
‘I guess so… I’m the only one that I know about. Why?’ Sierra tilted her little roan head. The white horse snorted.
‘The trainers say you’re fast and that you are starting training soon. They say you’re going to be a racer like us.’ The white horse tossed his mane as he spoke.
‘I don’t know about that… What are your names?’ Sierra stepped closer to Magic.
‘I’m Alexander and this is Willie. I race on the track and Willie races barrels. And you, what’s your name?’ Alexander walked up closer to Magic and pinned his ears back. Magic swallowed audibly.
‘I-I’m Magic. I don’t really do much… Sierra and I just play.’ He lowered his head.
‘I've heard that you’re going to get adopted out. That you’re no good for barrels, jumps, racing or trails.’ Willie snorted. Alexander nickered a laugh at Magic and Willie joined in. Magic lowered his head further and he was suddenly terrified; what if I was taken away? What if I was never good for anything because I fell? He thought.
‘Sierra why don’t you come with us for a bit, we can teach you how to deal with the trainers?’ Alexander whinnied to Sierra. She looked at Magic, conflicted, he knew she wanted to practice and that she was afraid of the humans and wanted to be prepared but also that she didn't want to leave him.
He nodded for her to go, she nuzzled his ear and trotted off with the racers. When Sierra wasn’t looking Willie looked back and sneered at Magic. Magic lowered his head and limped, dejected, to the fence of the pasture and looked through the slats at the humans putting the back of trailer up and shake hands.
The man who brought the racers had a young girl with him, she had been tugging at his arm since Magic stopped at the fence and she finally gave up and walked quickly over to him.
“Hi pretty horsey, aren’t you handsome! Look at that pretty dark coat you have. What’s wrong? Why are you sad?” She reached her long white arms through the slats and scratched between his ears. He sighed.
“What are you doing Debbie?” The man asked as he stormed up behind her. Magic backed quickly away from the fence in fear. The young girl looked up at the man with defiance.
“Petting the horse I was trying to tell you about. Can I have him?” She asked flatly. The man began laughing.
“No. Get in the truck.”
She rolled her eyes. “Well bye horsey, I wish you could come with me!” Magic walked cautiously back to her extended fingers and let them brush against his nose. She smiled and followed her father to the truck.
A few days after Magic had met Debbie two more humans approached the pasture, they were not the same people as before. Two men came inside the pasture carrying ropes, Magic was very cautious of them and tried his best to side step one but the man was very smart and soon enough Magic had the rope wrapped around his face. He shook his head and tried to pull free of the binds but nothing worked. He quickly gave up, having experienced this before he wasn't scared, and when the men pulled on his head he reluctantly walked after them. Magic looked over his shoulder and saw Sierra being pulled away from her new friends, she was squealing and prancing but he couldn't decide if it was excitement or resistance.
The men guided them through the gate and out to the wooden posts where they tied the two up and began grooming them until all the mud had been removed. As they groomed the horses the men talked about who would break who and Sierra and Magic looked back and forth with worried eyes.
‘What do you think is going to happen?’ Magic asked her with a nudge. She sighed.
‘I don’t really know! Alexander and Willie said to just go with it and to not worry, I’m kind of scared though.’ Her eyes were anxious. The men untied them and led them to separate round pens, this, at least was familiar.
The man stood in the middle and cracked a whip on the ground and Magic bolted at the sound and ran in painful circles around the pen. His whithers ached and it was difficult to keep running in such a tight circle so he started to slow down, the man took this for him being tired and yelled to the man working Sierra,
“Boss is right, this horse has no spirit in him! He’ll be very easy to train!” Magic got so excited then, I’m going to be useless! He thought. They’re going to train me for something! He walked up to the man and he stroked Magic’s nose and began to swish the rope over his whole body, around his hooves, his legs and his back, he wrapped it around his neck and around his face and Magic stood frozen and wary as he did so.
When he wrapped the rope around Magic’s withers he got scared and jerked his head back. The man pulled on the rope and tried to wrap around where his whithers were again and he yanked back so fast that the man fell on the ground. Magic scampered to the other side of the pen as fast as possible and watched the man get up out of the dirt.
“Stupid horse..” he muttered, glaring at him. The man stomped quickly forward and grabbed the rope under Magic’s chin and pulled him to the middle of the pen, the man put the rope across his withers and swished it around his body there, and even though it didn't hurt, Magic was on edge and his skin quivered each time the rope touched him there. The man patted his neck and told him he was a ‘good boy’ and then let him go back into the pasture, as he led him by Sierra Magic saw that she had a padded blanket on her back and she was standing perfectly still as the man moved it around on her. He couldn't image that thing on his back. He wasn't looking forward to the next few days.
The days progressed like that, the man would run Magic around the pen and each day it was something new, one day he had to walk on a bright blue tarp, another day he had to walk through red fabric pieces, another day he had the blanket put on his back, finally he got used to that and then they put a ‘saddle’ on his and that took some getting used to but finally he was able to tolerate it.
Today, however, the man had taken him into the big pen and tried to mount him. The man was trying to climb up on him by holding onto the ‘saddle’ and Magic ran away as fast as he could leaving the man on the ground. They did this dance for some time when the man finally had his friend hold onto the ropes on Magic’s face, the man heaved himself onto his back and when the man’s weight fell into the saddle sharp pains went shooting up Magic’s neck and down his back, he shook his head free of the man holding him and with all his strength he kicked and reared and bucked to get the man off of him and to stop the searing pain. They did this probably ten times before the man threw down his hat.
“I give up!” He shouted. “This horse is not trainable, he’s useless. Put him back to pasture, tell the boss he has a dud.”
The man who had held Magic to let his friend climb on his back tugged at the ropes to lead him back to the pasture, his back was throbbing and he was breathing heavily. The man took the ropes and saddle off of Magic; he trotted quickly away from him and laid down to rest under the trees. Shortly after Sierra came running up to him.
‘Training is so fun don’t you think? I love it so much! I’m learning so many new things!’ She nickered excitedly as she skidded to a halt beside him. Suddenly she noticed his mood. ‘Magic, what’s wrong?’ Her eyes grew concerned. He sighed.
‘I don’t like training. It hurts and I’m no good at it.’ He looked up at Sierra. ‘I’m trying so hard! I want to be good at it but I just can’t. They said I’m useless.’ She shook her head vigorously. Her eyes were big and earnest.
‘Magic, you are so special. You are not useless, you have an amazing purpose.’ She nuzzled his cheek and then snorted. ‘I have to go.’ She tossed her head to the humans calling her name. ‘You’ll do great Magic!’ She nickered.
He watched as she trotted off to the humans, they put ropes on her and then spent a long time trying to get her into a trailer at the back of a truck. He watched as the truck drove away and she called out to me well wishes. That was the last time he saw Sierra, for a while.
The next morning something scary and amazing happened; as Magic was munching on his morning hay a familiar truck pulled up and the same young girl he had met before hopped out. She immediately ran up to the fence and called out to him. He walked cautiously up to her extended hands and was rewarded by endless scratches around his ears.
“Hi there pretty horsey. You’re a handsome boy aren’t you?” She patted his nose and pulled a small carrot from her pocket and fed it to him through the fence. “I’m so excited to take you home with me!” He paused in chewing, am I leaving?
“Debbie, this is John the owner of Magic.” She turned around quickly and extended her hand to the man.
“Hello John.” She said brightly and then turned her attention back to Magic. As she was petting him he could hear her father talking to John. “I have the check right here, we have a trainer lined up and everything is ready for him.” Magic didn't know what all of that meant but John smiled and took the piece of paper from Debbie’s father.
“Very good.” John said, “I hope you enjoy him, you folks have a nice day now.” And then he turned and went back to his house. Debbie grabbed a rope from her father and she came inside the fence and tied it to Magic. She led him out and coaxed him on to the trailer.
The drive to the ranch that Debbie’s father owned was loud and scary for Magic, he couldn't wait to get out and walk around. After what seemed like a very long time the truck came to a stop and Magic could hear Debbie close the door to the truck and start to open up the trailer. She led him out and as he got his bearings he looked around. There was a very big barn with a lot of horses neighing out hello to him; there was a big pasture and an arena with a horse getting trained by a woman. There were big flowery trees dotting the grounds, a manicured lawn and a big house set in the distance.
“You did so good Magic!” Debbie told him, she scratched his cheek and led him forward to the barn. He looked around at the other horses as he walked down the isle, they all nickered to him in welcome as he walked by, they got to the end of the isle where there was one open stall. Debbie rolled open the door and led Magic inside. She undid the ropes and patted his forehead. “I’ll see you in the morning! We have to start training for the big trail ride!”
Magic turned around in his stall a few times, it was roomy and smelled like hay. He wandered his way out into the paddock and was greeted by a horse next to him on the other side of the fence.
‘Hello!’ He nickered. ‘My name is Shadow, what’s yours?’ The horse was a grey dapple, he was very tall and seemed friendly too.
‘My name is Magic. Nice to meet you.’ He replied, ‘How long have you lived here?’ He asked.
I've lived here as long as I can remember; it’s the best place on Earth. What do you do? I’m a jumper.’ Shadow held his head high at that remark which he seemed proud of.
‘I don’t do anything… The trainers I had said I was useless…’ Magic hung his head. Shadow’s eyes softened.
‘Oh I bet that’s not true, you probably just had bad trainers!’ Shadow nickered kindly.
‘Well everything they did hurt, I can’t even really move around well. I fell down over winter and hurt my withers and I’ve never been quite the same.’ Magic looked up at Shadow. Shadow nodded his head and snorted a laugh.
‘Oh! You’re like Lucy then! She was just like you when she came, but when she met Sue everything got better. Sue is like what the humans call a “vet” but she’s different.’ Shadow explained.
‘Really? What does she do?’ Magic asked, very interested at the idea of someone like him who had been fixed and of course interested in the person who did the fixing.
‘It’s amazing, she puts her hands on you and presses in gentle, swift pulses and you feel parts of your body shift and it’s like… well… magic!’ Shadow’s eyes were bright with excitement. ‘We don’t really know how it works, but it does. All of the sudden every hurt or ache you had is gone!’
‘That sounds amazing!” Magic exclaimed, his mind started racing, if this “vet” could fix him then he would be able to be useful! He would be able to do something amazing like Sierra had said. ‘When does she come? Will I get to see her?’
‘Actually I think she will be here in the morning.’ Shadow replied to Magic’s excitement. ‘We all see her, so I guess you would too.’
With Shadow’s reply some of the ranch hands showed up and started tossing hay into the paddocks, it was late afternoon now and Magic had a new hope for the morning.
The next day was gloriously warm, the first truly hot day in spring and Magic would normally feel great in the heat but today he was very sore. The morning hay was delivered over the fence and as he ate it his new friend Shadow walked up on his side of the paddock to eat his own hay.
‘Are you excited to meet Sue?’ Shadow asked Magic after he took a bite. Magic shook his head.
‘Yes very!’ he exclaimed, Sue could fix him and then he could train and win the big trail ride Debbie had talked about. Shadow snorted.
‘Good! I think she will fix you right up!’ After he had said that a car pulled up on the gravel road and as the woman driving got out the horses started whinnying and nickering to her, they tried to neigh over each other and some were even tossing their heads. Magic stood there in amazement over the commotion a human could cause. He watched her skeptically as she got a big black hay bail looking thing out of her trunk and walked towards the barn. Debbie’s father came out with Debbie to meet Sue.
“Hello Sue!” He said to her and shook her hand. “How are you?”
“I’m great thanks!” She said boisterously, “Who are we seeing today?” She asked.
“Shadow, Lucy and we have a new horse named Magic I would like you to see. He hasn’t had any chiropractic work before and it sounds like he needs it from what the previous owner told me.” Magic’s ears perked up at the sound of his name.
“Alright, well let’s start with our veteran Shadow and then we’ll do Lucy and Magic.” She said. Magic could hear the three of them walk down the isle of the barn and unlatch Shadow’s stall, his stall and Lucy’s stall. Debbie came in Magic’s paddock and tied the halter around his head and led him out to where there were four tie posts, he was tied to the middle and Shadow and Lucy, a buckskin horse, were tied on either side of him.
Sue had Shadow walk around a bit and she analyzed the way he was moving, when Debbie’s father brought him back and tied him up Sue immediately went to work. Magic watched intently as she laid her hands all over Shadow’s body, little pulses here, a leg lift there, a neck tweak here, sometimes she had to stand up on her black hay bail shaped blocks to get to his back, but after about fifteen minutes she had him walk around again and even Magic could see the new spring in his step and the straightness of his back.
Sue gave Shadow ample scratches and pats and then made her way over to Lucy. Lucy’s head was low and she seemed shy when Sue patted her neck, she looked a lot how Magic had when he hurt himself. Sue had Lucy walk around and she had an awkward stepping pattern and her back slumped more to one side as she walked. Sue had Debbie walk Lucy back and tie her up and began repeating the same process. After a lot of attention to Lucy’s neck and whithers and several other adjustments and about fifteen minutes as well, Sue had Debbie lead Lucy around again. Lucy was walking evenly and happily, and her head was high and she seemed full of spirit.
“Ok, Magic, your turn.” Sue said to him, she approached him and began petting his head and scratching his ears. Magic relaxed into her rough strokes on his face and let her feel around his head. She had Debbie walk him around and he could feel the sharp pains in his withers with each hoof step. “Oh you’re all messed up huh big guy?” She said to him. Debbie led him back.
“Sue’s going to fix you up and then we can start training!” Debbie whispered in his ear. Sue came up to magic then, when she began with her strange pulses of pressure things in Magic’s body started shifting and feeling better. When Sue got to his withers Magic began to shy away but when she adjusted him there all of the sudden a rush of relief washed over him, the constant nagging soreness in his whithers was gone and he could move without pain. Magic, astonished, turned his neck and wrapped Sue up in a big horse hug. She chuckled at him and moved on down his body and finished with her adjustments.
Debbie took Magic and led him around the yard, he could walk with energy and bounce and not feel pain, he could move and turn and everything was fine. Sue was magical after all. “You look much better.” She told him, scratching his ear. “You did a good job.”
‘What did I tell you?’ Shadow nickered to him. ‘Feels like you’re a brand new horse huh?’
‘It really does! I haven’t been this comfortable in a long time.’ Magic sighed. He knew he was capable of anything in that moment; he would be the best horse to train and win that trail ride for Debbie, his little savior.
Magic ended up taking a day off of everything and relaxed in his stall and paddock, Sue’s orders. He daydreamed about the trail ride and what it would be like to win it, he had a new hope and enthusiasm for training and wanted to be the best he could be.
Magic heard his stall door roll open and Debbie was standing in the entrance with a halter and lead rope in her hand.
“Hey Magic!” She called to him, “Are you ready for training?” She walked towards him then and tied the halter on him; she led him out of the stall and down the isle. She tied him up outside and brushed his coat, combed his mane and tail and cleaned his feet. She saddled him up and Magic didn't have a problem with it this time because it didn't hurt, she put the bridle on him and led him out to the arena where a woman waited in the middle.
“This is Magic.” Debbie said as she led him up to the woman.
“He’s a handsome horse.” She said patting his neck. “Let’s see how he does with some ground work and light riding.”
So the day progressed like this: Magic was guided on the ground over very short jumps, between poles and barrels, walking through strips of brightly colored material. Debbie mounted him a few times and at first, despite how hard he tried, he got scared and bolted and she fell off. Once Magic realized having a human on his back didn’t hurt anymore he was able to tolerate it. Then they did a few exercises with Debbie on his back and finally called it a day.
“Magic you’re doing great!” Debbie said to him as she took off the saddle and bridle. She brushed the sweat out of his coat and led him back to his stall. She fed him an apple and stroked his nose. “We have the summer to practice and train, the trail ride is in September.”
Magic spent that afternoon happily basking in the warm sun in his paddock; he ate his evening hay and visited with Shadow. He was so excited to be feeling good and able to do the training to become something amazing. He was looking forward to the rest of summer and what it would hold for him.
Summer was a wonderful season for Magic; he excelled in training but had to see Sue still almost every week to keep his body in tiptop shape. His training went from groundwork and some riding to some ground work and mostly riding; Debbie was a wonderful equestrian and was always gentle and patient with teaching Magic so they almost never had any confrontations. Magic made friends with Shadow and Lucy but often found himself wondering where Sierra was and missing her. By the beginning of September Magic, though still young, had transformed into a completely new horse, he was agile and very good with a rider on his back.
The day before the big trail ride Debbie took Magic on the trail they would be racing the next day to prepare him for the landscape. The trees were thick on either side of the trail as it led downwards to an open landing that had a view of a canyon. After that the trail led upwards towards the ridge and had a beautiful view of the land surrounding it. They walked,relaxed, along the trail in the late afternoon light, Magic could hear birds singing and the creek flowing down in the gully. The trail took an hour to walk, beyond the ridge section there was a meadow that opened up and a small pond that the horses would have to splash through. By the time Debbie and Magic got back to the ranch the sun was setting.
Debbie washed Magic with warm water and soap; she combed out his mane and tail and got all the sweat and dirt off of him. She dried him with a towel and brushed out his coat. She pet and spoke to him, “You’re going to do amazing tomorrow. You were born to be a racer, you’ll be the champion and we will win our first race together.” She kissed his velvety nose and led him back to his stall. “Goodnight Magic, get lots of sleep for tomorrow!” She handed him a carrot before she shut off the lights in the barn and headed back to the house.
Magic woke on race day right as the sun was peaking up over the trees; he ate his morning hay slowly and tried to calm his jitters. I can’t believe I've finally accomplished this, even if I don’t win today, the fact that I have the ability to race is enough. He thought to himself.
‘Are you excited?’ Shadow asked as he finished his breakfast. Magic stomped his hooves a bit and tossed his mane.
‘I’m so excited! I hope I place!’ He said, eyes bright. Shadow snorted a chuckle.
‘I remember the first day you came here you looked so sad and broken, today you look strong and happy. Sue really helped you didn’t she?’ Shadow asked. Magic lowered his head.
‘I owe all of this to her. If it wasn't for her I would still be in pain and I wouldn't be able to compete today.’ Magic said. The morning had grown bright and several trucks with trailers began trickling into the drive of the ranch.
‘Looks like the competition is here, I’m sure Debbie will be coming to get you soon.’ Shadow said, right on cue Magic’s stall door rolled open and Debbie stood there smiling at him.
“Ready to win a race boy?” She asked. Magic trotted up to her and she gave him lots of love as she put on his halter. She led him out to the post where she always tied him and brushed him until his chocolate colored coat glistened. She cleaned his hooves and saddled him up, she put his bridle on and got on his back. Magic was directed towards a small crowd of horses near the arena, the first thing that caught his attention was a flaming red coat glinting in the sun. Could it be?
Sierra turned her head and nickered brightly at Magic. She started fussing with her rider as Magic walked up to her side.
‘Magic how are you?’ Sierra exclaimed, she head bumped his neck and immediately froze. ‘Oh my gosh I’m sorry did I hurt you? I know your neck is sensitive. Oh, wait, how do you have a rider on your back?’
‘Sue fixed me! She’s what the humans call a “chiropractor”, she made all the pain in my back and neck go away and now I’m going to win this race.’ Magic said triumphantly. Sierra did the strangest thing then, she laughed.
‘Oh Magic! You’re not going to win! I've been training for this longer than you and even then, I’m not going to be able to beat Alexander.’ She said, amused. Magic pinned his ears back.
‘I can win, I've worked really hard and I’m really good at racing.’ He said, frustrated by her lack of encouragement. Alexander was next to Sierra and overheard the commotion and chimed in.
‘Face it Magic, you’re not going to place just leave the race up to the trained racers, ok?’ Alexander sneered. Magic snorted and stamped his hoof defiantly.
‘Bring it on.’ He muttered to himself. Debbie could sense the unease between the horses and moved Magic toward the other side of the group, her father came out then and spoke to the riders. He held a big wreath of roses, a silver trophy and a big blue ribbon.
“You have all ridden this trail numerous times, as guests, boarders, etc. Today is a race of not only speed and endurance but also cleverness and strategy, you have each been assigned a color when you were given your ribbon and you also have a clue with it, that clue is a hint to where your next ribbon and clue lies. Not only do you have to come back first, but you must come back with all of the ribbons as well. There are five total.
Good luck! The winner will receive this wreath for their horse to wear in the picture, the ribbon and the trophy and your picture will be mounted in the lounge room for the riders here at the Babbling Brook Ranch.” He paused then. “There is a time limit of an hour and thirty minutes. Go!”
The first clue read, I’m giant, immovable, cold, and I have a beautiful view. Debbie decided it had to be the big boulder that overlooked the canyon, dug her heels into Magic’s side and they took off at a lightning pace. Sierra was up in front of him and a flash of white told Magic Alexander was in front of her. They came skidding to a stop after they had charged down and out to the edge of the canyon where the boulder was. A bright green ribbon was there with another clue. Sierra and Magic left that area at the same time, The clue read I’m old and bent and pale from the sun. Debbie had deciphered the clue to mean the old oak tree that was bleached and dead on the ridge. Sierra and Magic were trudging neck and neck up the hill, Alexander was leaping to the top as they reached the midway point.
Debbie stopped Magic at the oak, big pale branches were broken and they hung down to touch the ground. Sure enough another ribbon was tacked to the tree’s trunk. Sierra and her rider were still walking around that checkpoint as Magic took off up the hill again towards where the meadow was. Murky and deep, I might scare your horse, so be ready to walk. The next clue meant the pond. Debbie encouraged Magic to run full speed towards the meadow and to let all his strength out on the meadow stretch.
Magic could see Alexander rearing up in the distance and his rider struggling with him on the ground. Alexander refused to step foot in the water. Magic laughed to himself and trotted past him and splashed into the pond belly deep, Debbie snagged her floating final clue and with much excitement and spurred Magic forward. With a quick look over his shoulder he could see Alexander put his front hooves in the water hesitantly and Sierra sprinting through the meadow.
Magic ran as fast as he could down the trail, Debbie knew the last clue which read I’m decades old and I've seen many miles would be on an old broken down truck that had been abandoned on the trail for years and years. Debbie coaxed Magic gently towards the hood of the truck where her last green ribbon was tied. She undid the ribbon when Alexander came up the hill behind them. Since it was the last ribbon it did not have a clue, now it was just a race to the finish. Magic was off but it didn't take Alexander’s rider long to find his last ribbon and start up behind him.
Magic and Alexander were neck and neck up the last hill, Debbie knew at the top there would be a ribbon to run through tied between two trees to mark the end of the race.
“Come on Magic, the finish is right up there!” She encouraged him to give his all and Magic delivered. He took a look at Alexander, who was struggling to run up the hill, and pushed through the burn in his muscles to make the finish line first. He collected all of his strength and determination and ran as fast as he could up the hill.
He felt amazing, like he could do absolutely anything and when he reached the top of the hill and the ribbon broke against his chest joy swelled up in him like he had never known. Debbie yelled her happiness and her father, trainer and Sue were all rejoicing in Magic’s accomplishment. Alexander was a horse length behind him and Sierra only a few moments behind Alexander.
The rose wreath was placed over Magic’s head and around his neck, the ribbon and trophy were handed to Debbie. The picture was taken of the champions and everyone walked back slowly to the barn together.
Sierra approached Magic wide eyed. ‘I’m so proud of you. I mean, I knew you could but wow! You were amazing! I just didn't see it coming this soon, but I always knew you’d do great things.’ She nudged him with her nose and Magic nudged back happily.
‘I never thought it would happen either! I was going to be happy just to place but I worked hard and Sue helped so much. She made it possible.’ He said.
The smell of barbecue was thick in the air and the riders all untacked their horses and groomed them, then everyone was led out into the big pasture where there were apples scattered liberally throughout the grass. Magic and Sierra ate apples and chased each other all afternoon while the humans all went and ate together. It was like old times, before the accident, Magic and Sierra chased each other around the pasture and played until sunset when the riders came to get their horses and go home after the festivities.
‘Magic, I think my humans are going to bring me here. They always complain about the place I’m at now so hopefully I’ll see you soon. If not, I know they bring us here to ride all the time. I’ve missed you!
Congratulations again for winning!’ She nuzzled his cheek and Magic leaned into her.
‘Thank you Sierra! I missed you too. Hopefully I’ll see you soon.’ Her rider led her off one way and Debbie led Magic back to his stall. She scratched his ears and stroked his nose. She stood in his stall with him for a while and before she left she whispered to him.
“You’re the greatest horse that ever lived! All you needed was a little love and the right people to help you be a champion, it was living in you the whole time.” She smiled and kissed his velvety nose. “I love you Magic, we’ll do something fun tomorrow. Promise.” With that and an apple she left his stall and made her way back to the house.
Magic wandered out in his paddock in the fading evening heat, there was still light in the western sky and stars in the east. Magic sighed, he kept thinking today would make him something amazing, but now he knew he was always something amazing, it just needed some help to come out.
Shadow wandered out to stand with Magic; he reached over the fence separating them and nudged his neck.
‘Good job Magic. I knew you would win the day I met you.’ He said.
Magic smiled to himself, he knew he would win the day he had met Debbie, his little savior.
Story written by Marisa Sandquist
Copyrrite © 2012
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