A little scene to fulfill a prompt to write approximately 500 words that cover only 10 seconds.
It should have been the final stride, Beethoven’s hooves hit the ground just a few feet in front of the multicolored front rail of the oxer. Her countdown was over.. three… two… one… takeoff. Eagerly, a bit too eagerly, she allowed her hip angle to close, pushing her hands into his crest midway up his neck. She was ready to feel his body lift into the air and to follow its bascule over the fence. It wasn’t a huge jump, just a 2’6” oxer on the quarter line for the equitation challenge class. A long approach following a tight rollback at the opposite end of the arena. The red and orange striped poles a left-over from the jumper classes run previous. Usually the equitation had softer colors, more natural rails and no loud, construction zone-esq obstacles. But that was part of the challenge she supposed, that it was different, that it might make a horse look, that the rider must have complete control in any situation.
There she was in that should-have-been final stride, fingers touching her lucky braid half way up his neck. The one the braider had done in purple string. She imagined that she could feel it, feel that it was the different one. She knew that she shouldn’t jump ahead, that she should ‘wait for the motion of his jump to push her out of the saddle’ how many times had she been told that? Still, she was eager in that last stride, that last few feet.
And he didn’t go, didn’t lift her out of the saddle. He shifted left, in a split second he was no longer beneath her. His nostrils flared and his eyes flashed the white around the usually calm chocolate brown. Her grip left his neck, fingers curling around the lucky braid, pulling it loose as she parted ways with him. The colored front rail came closer, filling up her field of vision but she couldn’t process it. Her boots tugged out of her stirrup irons, the left stayed caught for just a moment longer pulling it over Beethoven’s back as he darted left and she continued straight.
In the commotion his front hooves sent the potted marigolds flying; red, yellow, orange petals took to the air, the plastic pot cracking beneath the force of his feet. She tried to hold the reins, out of habit not real-time thought processing. One hand on the thin leather the other out in front of her, towards the sturdy wooden pole, waiting for the impact. A snap, the buckle on the rein gave out, Beethoven’s outburst overpowering the small metal tab. The leather slipped through her hand, writhing like one of those blow-up attention grabbers that car dealerships used. Wriggle, twist, gone. Now both hands in front of her, she was above that front pole now, but close, very close to the slightly higher back pole.
It seemed as if time slowed down for her, she felt as if she were paused mid-air, but at the same time everything felt too fast to process, too fast to act. Behind her now, Beethoven was two strides away, time had not slowed for him, it only took him a second to cast a stride in full flight. The onlookers let out a collective gasp, she thought that she could hear it, but it could also have been the whooshing in her ears as she moved ever closer to the ground, to the colored rails. Three..so close now, time seemed to catch back up to her, two.. one… she closes her eyes.