#DFRAT Excerpt & Giveaway: Horse Country by Christine Meunier

Posted July 14, 2013 by Rowena in Features | 7 Comments

Horse Country- A World of Horses

Lise looked around her new home, wiping the dust off her hands and transferring them to her faded jeans. Her gaze was rewarded with the tiring sight of boxes – many boxes that still needed unpacking.

“They can totally wait,” she commented to no one in particular, ignoring the voice that was telling her it’d be smarter to at least have her bedroom and breakfast for the morning organised before she went wandering.

Closing the door on her logical thoughts, she stepped away from the house and headed over to the nearest building – a stable. She paused at the entryway, a risen voice thickly accented causing her to just stop and listen.

“I wish they wouldn’t interfere sometimes! Those girls think they can do everything. Women!” the young Irishman muttered, holding a yearling while an older male cleaned a cut on its near hind cannon.

The young horse had escaped the day before and hurt itself. All, Declan concluded, because two of his coworkers were trying to prove a point aout females handling high-strung colts.

“Well, taking that outburst into consideration, I guess you’re going to have a problem with me,” Lise commented suddenly, leaning casually against the nearest box as she gazed down the breezeway at the two men treating the young horse.

“And who are ye?” the broad Irish fellow asked in a bored tone, not bothering to hide his disinterest.

“Your new work mate,” she grinned, stepping forward and offering her hand.

“I’m Trevor,” the older male with slightly greying hair stepped forward, taking her hand in a firm shake while the younger stayed where he was, holding the horse.
“Lise Hemmingway,” she responded, smiling at the man before her gaze traveled to meet the eyes of the other male.

“…and this is Declan. Generally we both deal with the stallions.”

“Mmm… I guess you won’t have to deal with me that often then. I’m possibly taking on the assistant neo-natal position when the breeding season comes back around,” she told them, referring to the numerous young foals that were born and raised on the property.

Declan raised a brow, taking in the young woman properly this time. She stared back, not impressed with his sudden appraisal but willing to sum up the two figures. She noticed a considerable contrast between the older man’s kind brown eyes, well worn clothes and rough hands, and the younger male’s taller frame, neater clothes and challenging blue eyes fitting well with his ebony hair.

“How old are ye?” Declan blurted out suddenly, his gaze returning to her face.

“How old do I look?” she challenged.

“Sixteen, seventeen,” he shrugged.

“That’s an awfully young age to be working in such a specialised field, don’t you think?” she commented, turning from the pair and heading down the breezeway.

“It was nice meeting you, Trevor.”

The older man chuckled as he looked up at Declan; quickly discerning the younger man wasn’t impressed.

“I like her already.”

Declan grunted, turned the horse around and lead it back into its box, removing the bit and head collar before exiting the box and sliding the door shut.

“Another one to put up with who probably thinks she knows everything. Just what we need.”

“I bet you twenty bucks you’ll have changed your mind by the end of the month,” the older male smiled at him, his look telling Declan he knew something the younger male didn’t.

Not likely!

“I’ll take that bet.”

***

Madison grinned as she watched Jacinta manage yet another clear round while under the tuition of Jack. Talented, indeed. I hope he doesn’t push her too hard. She was all too aware of how seriously Jacinta took her competing and riding. But you’re supposed to enjoy it, too. Glancing at her watch she strolled over to the tie up area, aware that her four o’clock lesson would be here shortly. The two young girls that were to be riding were new clients, meaning she’d need to go through the run down of approaching the horse, moving around the horse, untying and leading over to the arena for a lesson.

Many that turned up for lessons were well aware of being around horses and had done so for years but because she never knew how much they knew and how much they thought they knew, it was always safer to explain how things were done at the East Riding School.

She cast her eye over the two ponies that were waiting patiently, half dozing in the shade, taking advantage of the rest before two new bodies were placed on them. Bodies that often represented beginners, legs flapping, insistently asking the loyal creatures to move forward, reins being yanked on, asking them to slow – sometimes the legs and arms at the same time; just to make things a little more confusing. Tucking a strand of auburn hair that had escaped back behind her ear, Madison looked up slowly as she heard excited laughter followed by the constant sound of running feet.

“Well, glad they know how to behave around horses,” she muttered sarcastically, stepping away from the horses and towards the two children; a friendly smile making its way onto her face.

“Geordie and Hannah?” she queried, stopping in front of them, her gaze flicking up to the two mothers behind the pair before refocusing on her students.
The pair nodded, both smiling widely.

“Great! We might as well get started. You can call me Emmy and over here,” she gestured, turning her attention to the two steeds in the tie up area, “are Sheila and Dundee. Geordie, you’re on the chestnut mare Sheila, and Hannah you’ll be riding Dundee today.”

Both girls rushed towards their mounts for the lesson, causing Madison to half smile at her mistake.

“Before you both rush in there,” she called out loudly, strolling after them, “I’d like to show you how we prefer people to move around the horses while at the East.”

“Oh, we already know all that,” Geordie spoke up, stroking the face of Sheila.

“Wonderful! Then you’ll know that I’d much rather you walk up to the side of the horse and pat her from there as a way of hello, rather than directly in front of her,” she commented easily, still smiling.

Frowning, the pair of girls both turned to face her.

“Ok. So let me go over how we approach and handle the horses here,” she stated again, this time having both girls’ attention.

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