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Willow Hill

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Axel looked up and smiled "Oh yea, im definition of show queen, i get rather obsessive and competitive when it comes to showing" she said as she bit her lip. Axel had gotten into some pretty big verbal fights with other competitors and she tried her hardest at shows, making Fitch look her top best and her perfectionist trait got the better of her. "What about you? Do you show?" she asked curiously

- - - - -

Daylea smiled. "Sounds fun". She heard a new horse and rider come up behind her and looked back. Classy's ears flicked back and forth and her head propped up to look at a gopher in the grass.

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"I'm just not much of a morning person really, I mean we only live a few hours away so it wasn't that bad and luckily we hit no traffic. But I was basically glad that I already had my riding clothes on because ya'll were already heading out when I pulled in."

Avery replied, a little more sure of herself now because the other seemed nice. Her name sounded exotic and so did her accent. Avery's was a mere southern accent but barely as much as anyone down south. With a slight pause she began again.

"This place seems nice so far, I came to check it out a few months back. It stills seems weird though that I'll be away from home."

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"I've never been away from home for longer than two weeks. And that was for a horse show so it doesn't really count," Zuri told the other girl with a sigh, wondering why she had even agreed to come here. "And everything's so different here." She left her hand resting on Habibo's neck, playing with his mane as she tried not to think about how much nicer home had been. Zuri didn't know why she'd even agreed to come to this school in the first place. The reasons her parents had presented made sense at the time, but now she wasn't so sure.

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"Hmm, where are you from?"

Avery asked, not knowing if it was the right thing to talk about right now. But she could partially relate seeing as her family could never afford a vacation so her only vacation were traveling for horse shows as well. As for Willow Hill, she knew it was her grandparents that had pitched in and paid for the school.

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Lani looked over at Marissa, an astonished look on her face. "I know, right?!" she exclaimed, but not too loud. "I was always the rider in the background at my barn, I thought if anyone was going to get into Willow Hill it'd be one of the other girls. Crazy, huh? I mean seriously, stable hands never get these opportunities. Well, maybe in movies but this is real life not a mo..." Lani laughed. "Yeah, I'm a rambler too," she added.

--

Ainsley nodded. "Basically every weekend. I'm really competitive, too, and a lot of other riders don't like me for it," she answered. "Looks like we're two of a kind." Bluegrass snorted and Ainsley realized they'd fallen back some behind the crowd. "Want to trot to catch up?" she asked Axel, already shortening her reins a little.

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Axel smiled "wow, never met anyone as competitive as me" She looked back around her and also realized they were quite far behind. "Yea, lets trot ahead and catch up" she said as she shortened her reins, she had let them drop down to the buckle and Fitch dropped her head low, stretching all her muscles. It took Axel forever to get the mare like this. She was an angel on the trails and rarely spooked but in the arena she could be a handful

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Daylea looked over "yup, I have been showing all my life and if there's a show we're at it" she said as she loosened her reins to let Classy have her head. The mare dropped her head and looked around, still being a bit skittish and bouncy every now and then.

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"South Africa," Zuri said, glancing to the other girl to gauge her reaction. Her family had money. Loads of it. Otherwise she never would have been able to ship two of her horses all the way to Willow Hill. Zuri had had plenty of opportunities to travel, she'd just never wanted to. And with people traveling from all over the world to stay at their resort and taste the wine from their vineyards, who could blame her?

Seeing the riders in front of her trot to catch up to the main group, Zuri nudged her horse forwards to a sitting trot in order to keep up without getting too far ahead of Avery, "And where are you from?"

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Marissa had felt instantly calm with the girl; things were going great. Her roommate was normal and down to earth, her mount was adorable, and the instructor already seemed like a nice lady. Her face kept looking forward as she spoke, ?We just have too much in common.? With the last word Marissa adjusted her gaze to meet up with Lani.

?Are you ready to show here?? Marissa said, her tone quite different than the previous conversations. The girl was completely nervous that she wouldn?t have the experience or knowledge that the other girls possessed. She would be the obvious underdog, there was no doubt about that.

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Lani giggled at Marissa's comment about all they had in common. It was entirely true - she'd never met another girl so much like her in her life. When Rissa mentioned showing, Lani grew a little more serious. "I'm pretty nervous. I mean, I've been showing for years, but this is totally different," she said, swallowing hard. "We're competing against other equestrian academies just like us and I've never even shown Fish before." She shook her head, silently thanking the good Lord that she had only made the intermediate team.

--

Bluegrass reluctantly trotted forward, obviously enjoying his casual meandering through the fields of Willow Hill. "What team are you on?" Ainsley asked, referring to the two different equestrian teams at the school.

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Marissa kept a serious face as she spoke, ?Yeah, I know what you mean. Somehow I made advanced, when I think my old barn?s advanced is probably this barn?s beginning.? She tried to smile the comment off, thinking that there had to be a reason she made advanced. True, she had been showing for a long time, never leaving a ring without a ribbon, but these were only local shows. She rarely ever traveled, never having the money to go far and enter classes. She let a smile grow across her face, ?Well, if we do end up sucking, we can suck together!?

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Lani laughed and held out her hand for a high five. "Together, for better or for worse," she said, still laughing. Fish walked along, putting his head low since Lani had given him full rein. This was the opportunity of a lifetime and although Lani was enjoying every minute of it, she just prayed she wouldn't screw it up.

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"Wow, really? I've never really made it out of North Carolina yet alone the country. And it took a lot of sucking up points to get me up to Willow Hill. My parents aren't really into this, but I've lived next door to a show barn my entire life so I've always done my own thing and my grandparents agreed to pay for all of this."

Avery replied, North Carolina was no where near exciting as South Africa. She honestly had a ton of questions she could have asked Zuri but decided that now really wasn't the time for that. Sitting deep she nudged Major with her heel a tad and asked him to trot on. Since his stride was a bit shorter she asked him to work at the trot and she picked up her post, not really picking a diagnol on the straight way of the trail. The chestnut willingly picked up his pace for her.

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Zuri nodded. She had had a friend like Avery back home who had had to beg and plead for permission to go to a show, while their other friends had only had to ask nicely for the money. For Zuri, on the other hand, there had never been any question. If astronomers found an asteroid speeding towards Earth that would hit collide with the planet right after one of her horse shows Zuri's parents would still find a way to get her to the show. They would probably spend the whole time praising the impending apocalypse for causing all of Zuri's competition to stay home, ensuring that Zuri would die with just a few points ahead of the people she rode against.

"Mine are pretty into it. Coming here was my mom's idea. They'd do anything to help me. I think if someone told them that I would be a better rider with only one arm, they would probably fight over who got to swing the ax," Zuri told Avery with a roll of her eyes. Although she doubted that the pressure here would be much less, it would probably be nice to get away from their insanity for awhile.

Edited by Just_Ducky

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"My parents work nonstop, I'm lucky my mom has been to at least one show."

Avery was right, she wasn't even sure if her father even knew she had her own horse. Major was literally given to her because of all her hard work at the barn. And all that hard work mucking stalls, riding horses, and getting up at 5am to braid allowed her to show. She was aware of everything being handed to her for free, and appreciated it more than anything.

"They barely notice me, I just kind of do my own thing. I'm lucky my best friends parents basically took me under their wing."

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"I wish mine would stay home and let me do my own thing," Zuri confided, thinking back to one show in particular. Her parents had gotten her a new mare, a fancy young prospect and they wanted Zuri to take her to the show along with her other horses. Zuri had spent the entire week that led up to the show trying to explain that the mare just wasn't ready to show yet, but there was no reasoning with Zuri's parents. Her parents had both gone to the show to socialize and watch, so of course they had seen the pair get disqualified in both their classes. The mare had had potential, she just wasn't ready. But since she'd done poorly at that one show the mare had been sold before her parents left the showgrounds that evening. "They can get so ridiculous sometimes."

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Axel looked up from her horses mane. "The intermediate team, im working on getting up to advanced, what about you?" she asked her, leaning back in her saddle and sitting Fitch's trot, for a pony he had a smooth, extended trot and it was one Axel loved to ask him for and one she could sit all day.

[ehhh. sorry its quite short :(]

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"I'm just guessing that a lot of girls here have always owned horses and ponies and grown up on barns and always shown. I've owned Major for almost a year now, but I had to earn him big time and my parents just don't get it. I'm fortunate I've have such nice neighbors,"

Avery laughed, more or less to hide the fact of how much less fortunate she was than not only Zuri but probably most of the girls staying at Willow Hill. She remembers the one show her parents showed up to quite clearly. They left right after she went on not bothering to stay and see her win champion for both divisions she was showing in. Before Major came along she'd ride her trainers horses as well as many ponies people had her show to sell.

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"ahh that's cool" Shawn let a friendly smile cover her face as she let Ike out on a looser rein-- not totally to the buckle but looser than normal. He was almost an angel on the trails, and she was totally confident he wouldn't pull anything, even in the new place. "Must be nice to have parents that are into the whole.. horse thing as well.."

She sighed. Her parents weren't into horses at all-they'd support her and come to her shows every now and then, but otherwise she was on her own.

Ike kept up a slow walk behind the horses in front of him, happy to just chill. Shawn had done quite a bit of ringwork with him, and they hadn't gone on a trail ride in at least a month.

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?I had this dream last night,? Marissa began, letting the reins rest completely loose on the buckle, ?that everyone on the advanced team ran a clean round and then I get up there and I have this beast of a horse and I knock every rail and come in with like twenty seconds in time penalties.? She couldn?t keep her face serious; a smile came first then was corrupted by laughter. ?My dad says I have problems.?

She was truly nervous about showing, she wasn?t aware of any of the other advanced riders, who probably already thought of her as a sham at this point. If she wanted to survive at this school, she would have to prove herself in and out of the ring. Marissa planned on doing so the entire time.

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"The grass is always greener, yeah?" Zuri said with a shrugged be sitting deeper to ask her horse to walk once again. Glancing at Avery a moment, she couldn't help but what had been meant by that. Was she saying that Zuri's accomplishments were less because her parents were wealthy? That things had been easier for her because they owned the barn and the horses that Zuri rode? No, she probably hadn't meant any of that, Zuri decided and she didn't particularly care if Avery had meant it. Zuri knew she'd struggled just as much as the other girl, they'd simply had different obstacles they had had to overcome.

"I like him a lot though," She said, nodding at Major. "What breed?"

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JB nodded, she honestly couldn't imagine her life without her barn, well, her home.

"Well, I just don't take everything for granted really. I don't have my parents buy me expensive show horses, they never have besides my bombproof first pony. I like working with problem horses seeing as they're more of a challenge than sitting back and letting any push-button pony take you along for the ride. When Moon came along all she wanted to do is run, but now I've found that she has the most comfortable collected trot. Plus she's truly a jumper at heart I'm just still working on her leads."

And with that she could feel the mare beneath her tense up a bit, the woods was always a 'scary' place to her but JB knew she needed trail experience. The thin girl sat deep into her saddle and asked Moon to pick up a trot, lightly collecting the mare with her third ring fingers half-halting and maintaining contact with her mouth. This way Moon had all attention on her rider rather than the scary squirrels.

---------------

Avery looked down at Major's neck and rolled a piece of his mane between her fingers.

"Appendix Quarter Horse, although I honestly don't really see that he looks the part especially in the jumper ring. You don't see a lot of Quarter Horses out in jumpers, even hunters or much of the english discipline other than their own breed shows, well at least where I'm from."

In fact, when her trainer had picked the chestnut up at an auction it was Avery that insisted she saw something in the young horse. He was started under a western saddle and had never even witnessed an english saddle. A fall out of a barrel horse made up for that in jumping, and he sure had speed around thoughs courses. Of course he was underweight and literally had not much of any muscle, but that was something Avery built up before starting him over fences. He was a quick learner, a hard-worker, something Avery could feel inside herself as well and not just her horse.

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"Why not?" Zuri asked curiously, her brow furrowed as she tried to understand why a horse's breed would exclude him from jumping. She didn't know really know much about American breeds. She had heard of the Quarter Horse and knew that it was the horse that cowboys used on their ranches, but she didn't know what an Appendix Quarter Horse was. "I mean, all that matters is that the horse can jump clean without any time penalties, right?"

Zuri was also quite unfamiliar with all the disciplines that they had in America. In South Africa there had only been showjumping, dressage, eventing and endurance riding. She had learned that there were also hunter classes and equitation classes in the States. Zuri also knew that hunter classes were judged on the horses form while equitation classes were judged on the rider's form, but that was the extent of her knowledge. She knew nothing of the Hunterland fads, history and myths.

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"Well put it this way, you don't see many quarter horses winning jumper classes. He has the speed though and most Quarter Horses do, it's just a matter of training I suppose. You would normally see this breed out on a ranch or competing in Western pleasure and trail classes, all that jazz. He's a quick one though."

Avery lost her train of thought for a moment, maybe South Africa was different, maybe they didn't have all she had been available to over the years. She loved(s) her little quarter horse, and loves the fact that he can beat all those large show ponies and warmbloods.

"Is it different where you're from?"

She wondered aloud.

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"We just have showjumping," Zuri explained. "Well, there's dressage and eventing too, but that's it really. And there aren't as many people that ride, or as many horses. So we'll compete on whatever can get us around a course fast and clean. Even my parents, who say that a horse's pedigree is most important, will always buy a handy horse over something fancy. Otherwise they'd have never let me keep this guy," She grinned, ruffling Habibo's mane a bit.

It was true. Habibo wasn't much to look at. He was large and muscular, but had a clunky look about him. His movement on the flat was rather clumsy and his conformation average. Habibo had a large scar on his left flank from an accident that had occured before Zuri's trainer had found him. Around the house, her parents always referred to him as 'the Beast.' But Habibo had heart and he could jump the moon, so they'd always done spectacularly well when it came time to compete.

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"He looks wonderful to me, a great companion to you probably. I mean I'm not just all riding, Major and I are best friends. The only boy who won't break my heart."

Avery joked, although being completely serious. She probably would even pick major over her parents any day. The horse beneath her was really overly excited, she could feel it. He hadn't been ridden much in the last week because Avery had so much that needed to get done.

"I really need to get out and work him, he needs it. Haven't had the time in awhile with packing and barn chores and such."

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Zuri glanced down at the ground. It sounded like this other girl thought she was some kind of snob or something even though Zuri had just said she liked the other horse and didn't care anything about what a horse looked like. Maybe she was talking about herself too much... So she looked up with a smile, "That's too bad. I bet he missed you a lot."

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"Yeah, I totally agree. I would much rather get on a problem or project horse any day. Which is probably why the only horses I've ever really owned or ridden has been difficult.." Shawn watched as JB moved up into a light trot. "Moon looks great though, I definitely wouldn't really think she'd ever been crazy at all."

Ike's ears pricked forward as a squirrel ran up a tree alongside the trail, but it didn't seem to bother him. he easily kept up with the other horses with his long stride, and Shawn sat back and relaxed. The weather was gorgeous and the trail was perfect. She would definitely enjoy the place..

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"Yeah, I can't wait to start training out here and showing."

Avery replied, running her hand along Major's neck line, bending slightly. Showing always made Avery extremely nervous. Major took them fine and all it's just sometimes nerves got in the way of remembering courses. Luckily Major could put up with her lack of memory on the course and he helped maintain her confidence. They weren't always champions, but always in the ribbons. Showing was something they were still working at as a team.

--------------------

"Looks can be decieving."

JB laughed, sitting deep in her saddle and asking the mare to walk again maintaining their spot within the group of riders.

"I warmed her up nice before we got out here. That usually involves bucking around the arena twice, in other words, her way of cantering. That normally gets her excitement out and when it comes to jumping she's fine with courses. Moon actually does better when competing than she does schooling. I like taking her out on the trails back home and racing her in the open fields."

It was true, the mare could have her extremely good days but was normally hot and over excited, something that had calmed down a lot more over the last year or so. She was a jumper at heart but always could use a nice long gallop through a field.

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