Bright rays entered over the valley wall, the buzz of competition seeped into the bones of all. My confidence pushed the nerves back into the bottom of my stomach. Trucks filed in like clockwork invading the green mass. Piercing whinnies intensified the atmosphere as people rushed around left, right and center, preening over their prized possessions, displaying them as the best they can. The trustful parent wandered off, relying completely on the beast to bring her beloved girl back safe and sound. Atop of my trusty steed I set off to tackle the advanced course. Steady beat of footfalls focused me on the job at hand, distracted me from the small niggling doubt at the back of my mind. Pristine lawns set on rolling hills, mowed to perfection. Vibrant flower pots decorated the daunting jumps.
“10 seconds”, the small man bellowed from his prime position next to the start box.
It hit me then, I had to go fast and clear to qualify for the championship team, I had to push myself to the absolute extreme.
“5,…..4,…..3,…..2,….1, Good luck, ride safe,”
Loud drumming of hoof beats echoed through the valley, spectators filled the grandstands like bee’s to honey. I could feel the fatigue settling in, but I kept pushing on, one jump after the other, one foot after the other, one medal after another. Eyes were streaming with tears from the wind surging past, my throat was a desert, adrenaline pumped through my veins. A brown object filled my view, the last obstacle, the announcer’s hopeful voice rode with me into the last jump,
“And here she is, coming into the last jump, what a smashing round she has had so far, she should be a top pick for the team with this performance.”
As I kicked on there was lack of energy, no impulsion. I prepared for take off, weight in my heels, eyes up focused on the flags and a squeeze my legs to signal the upwards motion needed. But there was no upwards motion, we just kept going straight, plowing into the jump. Bile rose up my throat at the horror of what was going to happen. My stomach plummeted like I was on a roller coaster. Sudden force lurched me forwards, over his neck and a loud “thunk” as I hit the solid wood. My head was thrust back with the motion, pain cracked up my spine. My blurry vision came and went. All four legs were scrambling around me as I tried to get my bearings. I could see one large hoof coming towards my face as it struggled against the wire fence. Just before it went black the commentator said in a panicked voice,
“Can we please have an Ambulance and Paramedic team here…….as soon as possible!”
Hearing this sent a huge wave of regret through me. Everything faded out as a dark, murky black colour clouded my vision. Hushed voices ringed in my ears, talking about the unpredictable fall, I could only make out parts of it as I faded in and out of consciousness.
The loud sound of thunder woke me up from my deep slumber. Determination fought the dread that was at constant battle in my head. Dark depressing clouds covered the early morning sky matching my mood just fine. Mum’s hard worn hands fidgeted on the steering wheel. Tension rose up between us like dark grey smoke gushing out of a chimney, it then lingered over us. We filed in behind the long snake of traffic that lead to the battle field. Mellow whinnies echoed around the valley. Bitter aromas of cleaning products smelt pungent as they wafted through the morning mist. The mirror cast back an image of a different girl, a girl with scars, a girl that had been damaged. I clipped my $1000 dollar helmet on that is supposed to keep me safe, not like the other one. Steady beat of footfalls seemed to drum with my heart, building up my nerves that were creeping from my stomach. Rolling hills were covered in lush grass ready to catch me if I fell. Flower pots with wilted vegetation paired well with my confidence.
The young man at the start box called “10 seconds,”
This is when I remembered to before. I remembered the excitement, pushing my limits, the lack of energy, I remembered the shock, the horror, the force and the electric feeling up my spine, blurry vision, but I mostly remembered the guilt, the disappointment, the regret. Mum’s anxious eyes reflected the fear she and I both held.
“5,…..4,…..3,…..2,….1, Good luck, ride safe,”
‘Ride safe’ stuck in my mind as we leaped out of the start box. It drummed over and over with the solid sound of hoof beats on the dewy morning grass. Power propelled us around the track. Every meter we went I felt more and more at home. Wind howled past my ears, it caught in my eyes, trickles of salty water swept down my cheeks. They were soon brushed off like a caring mum would. We flew around the last twist, the last obstacle came into view. The nerves arrived then, they traveled through my body reaching to every end. I raised my eyes from under my helmet to see the giant looming, only a couple of strides away. Legs shaking i squeezed to see how much gas was left in the tank. It wasn’t the reaction I had hoped for. My heart plummeted but it was too late to pull out now. It was like a replay of before, I thought I had put that disaster behind me. I closed my eyes, wrapped my hands around some mane, kicked and hoped for the best.
No scraping sounds of a solid force hitting a jump at speed came. No gasping of shocked crowds filled my ears, but it was the sound of cheering. Relief flooded through me. Ecstatic tears glided down my cheeks. Flinging myself of my trusty steed I was enveloped by a swarm of people who had supported me, who believed, trusted and invested in me. This was the feeling of dedication, determination and courage paying off. This feeling was over coming a fear, an obstacle, a hurdle.