The Horse Woman

by Donna and ABs

 

At the sound of the starting bell, Charity Lee Collins booted her big warmblood stallion out of the chute, pointing him at the first fence. As usual, the thrill of feeling the power of the huge beast underneath her gave her a huge adrenaline rush. She was one of the top competitors on the circuit, and was in contention for being chosen for the next team of riders to go to the Olympics. If she managed to win this combined training event, it would make her on of the top ten American riders in contention for a spot on the team.

Galloping full tilt over the course, Charity and her mount cleared each obstacle easily. The next fence had a rather risky option, rather than the safer, more time consuming, route. But Charity didn't get that far by playing it safe. She jumped over a huge log into a dark, shaded area surrounded by trees. Most of the horses didn't like that spot because they were convinced that there was a horse eating monster in it, but her bold stallion jumped into the darkness without hesitation. Bursting over another log fence and out of the trees, Charity looked for the next obstacle, but it wasn't there. Neither was the large crowd that had lined the course.

Instead she saw nothing but forests and green valleys. It was as if she had stepped out of one world and into another! So far from the maddening crowd, there was now no sound at all to be heard!

"What the hell?" she said, pulling up her horse and looking around. She turned her horse around, but the little hollow she had jumped into was gone. "Where are we, Bonaparte?" Standing in her stirrups, she looked all around her. In the far off distance, she saw the faint trendles of smoke rising into the sky. "Where there is smoke, there is a chimney," she muttered to herself, then with a shrug, pointed her horse in that direction.

The home in the distance was very like a British country estate. It looked very inviting, especially with smoke curling from the chimney.

She had trotted most of the way, but the last bit, she pulled her horse down into a long strided walk. As they passed a fenced pasture, a herd of mares came running up to the fence to say hello to the new boy in town. Being well trained, Bonaparte ignored their loud bugles of welcome, even though he was very aware of them. Tucking his head, he put a little extra lift to his step, showing off to the girls. Hearing all the ruckus, a slender, blonde haired man came out of a barn.

Grey had recently returned from a trip, gathering wild mares, and he was still afraid they would bust loose. Methos had encouraged him to gather as many as he could; horses would be needed by everyone. As he came out to check the mares, he saw a lovely young woman astride an enormous stallion, and he smiled up at her politely. "Ma'am? Yer frae around 'ere?"

"No," she said with a wry smile. "You are probably going to think I'm crazy, but I was taking part in a combined training event in the central part of Texas. One moment I was there, the next I was here. My name is Charity. Charity Collins. The big guy here is called Bonaparte."

Grey nodded. "Nae, I dinae think yer crazy. We're gettin' used ter it. Would yer care fer a cuppa? I hae room fer ‘Imself in ther barn."

"Sure," she said. As he held the big beast’s bridle, she kicked both feet out of the stirrups and did a flying dismount off of him. Farmer Grey couldn't help but admire her. She was dressed in skin-tight riding britches and a form fitting polo shirt under a back support. Once she was on the ground, she undid the harness holding her safety helmet and took it off. Her dark, reddish brown hair was done up in a long braid that cascaded down her back.

He watched her with a smile on his lips. Whatever force sent people to this world, It sure knew what it had been doing when It sent her. And that was not including his growing admiration for her figure.

Charity led her big horse into the barn, where a black stallion in one of two large box stalls tossed his head and bugled a challenge to the new stallion. Grey laughed and told Beauty to behave himself.

"Nice horse there," Charity said as she pulled Bonaparte’s bridle off and replaced it with a halter. She then tied him up in a set of cross ties and began to untack him. Once the saddle and breast plate was off, she squatted down and took off his splint boots, running her hands over his legs, looking for any signs of swelling or heat. In the meantime, Grey had brought out a grooming kit, and the two of them chatted as she used the curry comb in a circular motion on his back and sides to remove all the dried sweat, and then applied the body brush vigorously leaving the big horse’s coat shining. Last of all, she picked up each foot in turn, cleaning out his feet thoroughly with the hoofpick.

While she worked, she told him about the big horse's breeding. He wasn't familiar with any of the names of course, but he knew the bloodlines that had been used for centuries to breed an animal capable of being both ridden and driven. Once the horse was groomed, she untied him and led him into the deeply bedded stall, while Farmer Grey filled up his water bucket and hay manger. Ignoring the inquisitive snorts from Beauty, the big warmblood immediately started eating.

Grey laughed. "Don' mind 'im," he said to his guest. "'E though' all those mares were fer is pleasure!"

"They all think that," she chuckled. "Even though there were nine other stallions in the barn, Bony here thought he owned all the mares. He has had two foal crops, and everything he sired was absolutely wonderful. I sold one as a weanling for $10,000."

That seemed like a great deal of money to Grey, and he said so, though of course he did not understand American money, and he was from a much earlier time. Then they went inside to tea. "Yer can clean up while ther kettle's on," he offered, indicating a stairway that led to some rooms.

She grinned at him, and then pulled off her boots, leaving them next to his in the mud room. Going upstairs, she poked around until she found a quaint, old fashioned bathroom, complete with claw foot tub. She let down her hair, finger combing it out, then washed her face and hands. She unfastened the body armor she wore for safety while competing, and then pulled her polo shirt over her head so she could sponge the sweat off of her body. Feeling refreshed, she bounced down the stairs, her abundant waves of hair dancing over her shoulders.

Grey eyed her admiringly. More women were coming every day, but this one knew horses, something that was near and dear to his heart. He wasn't far from town, but the place did get lonely some times. He invited her to sit down and while they drank their tea, he explained to her about the place she was now in.

She listened carefully, a solemn look on her face. "So I'm stuck here?" she asked. "I can't go back home?" Grey told her that regrettably, that was true. "Oh well," Charity sighed. "If life hands you a lemon, make lemonade. If I'm stuck here, I'll just have to make the best of it."

Grey smiled shyly, ducking his head. "Can't say I'm sorry yer here," he said. then, flushing, he added, "I could use 'elp! Methos wants me ter collect as many wild 'uns as I can, an' it isnae an easy job."

"That's for sure!" she chuckled. "I've been on more than one roundup in my days. I can help you to the best of my ability. But, is there a bunkhouse or someplace I can stay at? Or should I go house hunting like you said some of the others do when they get here?"

He looked astonished. "A lady ina bunk'ouse? When I've got plenty er room under this very roof? Nonsense, Lass. Yer'll stay 'ere. In yer own room, of course?"

Charity shrugged. "If it doesn't put you out any. Once we get the horses rounded up, maybe I can do some exploring of my new home. Looks like I'm going to be here for the duration!"