From the Darkness

               

I salute the light within your eyes
where the whole universe dwells.
For when you are at that center within you
and I am at that place within me,
we shall be one.

                                                                              ~ Crazy Horse

The third book of the Two Ponies Trilogy, From the Darkness, picks up four years later with Katherine pursuing her dream of qualifying for the 2000 US Equestrian Team. Meanwhile, her family and friends
have become emotionally fractured and spread 
out across the country. 
A loss to the family brings each
member back home momentarily,
while  setting into motion a
a chain of events that
challenges and questions
each of their paths.
As tragedy strikes the family
again, a shadow hangs over
Two Ponies, shattering hearts
and dreams.
Can the strength of family
and their love of horses
see them through the
darkness and into the
light of hope and
happiness once again.

Josephine's story continues as  extraordinary success is blindsided by  unimaginable tragedy. Will she find the courage and strength to move past her anger and self-pity to not only accept her life-changing affliction, but challenge it?  Can the love of one special horse and  the forgiveness of  the man she abandoned, pull her from the darkness?

Josephine arrived at the fairgrounds in Browning late. Her father received an emergency call right before she planned to leave and her mother already had her truck hooked up to the trailer, packed and ready to depart for Winnipeg. The cheers from the crowd let her know a race was in progress. She worked her way through the crowd and up the bleacher stairs to get a view of the track. The competing teams were about to make an exchange in front of the grandstand, the next leg of horses waited while the riders raced their mounts around the track jockeying for position. A young woman stood beside her with some sort of program in her hand.

     “What race is this? Who’s racing?”

     The woman nearly threw the sheet at her, not taking her eyes off the track while screaming for her favorite team. Josephine quickly glanced at her watch then to the schedule, her finger running down the list of heats and team members, finally resting on the current race and the name, TJ Black Feather, rider for team Piegan Pride. This was their race!

     Josephine studied the teams on the track. Immediately, she recognized Talon holding a flea bitten gray in line with the other horses and handlers preparing for the next exchange. Matt stood beside Talon, most likely ready to catch the horse TJ was riding in on. Four of the horses, out of a field of six, came out of the far turn in a tight group racing down the back stretch. They were so tight; she couldn’t identify TJ right away, but just before the pack approached the switch line, she recognized him riding a dark bay. In one fluid motion, TJ slipped from the bareback of the bay, ran a few strides and hoped onto the gray bareback, effortlessly, and charged for the rail. Other transfers didn’t go as smoothly; one horse rearing in anticipation and spooking another. The spectators, mostly of American Indian decent, erupted as all the teams eventually made a clean switch of horses. The six-horse field spread out around the clubhouse turn but three of the horse-and-rider teams began to put some distance between them and the others down the backstretch.

     

     Josephine leaned over the rail straining to follow TJ as the three raced in a tight pack going into the far turn. With another light-colored horse in the group, she had to look for the Piegan Pride team colors of red and black to identify TJ. He was positioned just to the outside of the lead horse, a black running on the rail. A chestnut ran just behind him and to the outside. As they came out of the far turn, he gave his horse his head, pushing for what was left of the big gray. Then the chestnut made a move on the outside pressing TJ and his gray tight between it and black horse, the three running neck-to-neck toward the finish!   

     Caught up in the excitement, Josephine screamed, “Go TJ!”   

     Josephine froze as TJ glanced toward the grandstands, his eyes locking with hers. The rest seemed to play out in slow motion...

Excerpt - Chapter 5: Hide  and Seek

AVAILABLE  NOW on Amazon

Excerpt - Chapter  8: The Games

Just outside Barn F, Katherine slipped into her protective vest, secured it, and put her helmet on. She glanced toward the spectator parking one more time hoping to see Steven before mounting Major. Quietly, Sadie led them toward the warm-up area near the starting box as she tightened and secured her helmet strap. The announcer’s voice rang out across the complex, keeping everyone abreast of each competitor’s progress through the course. Just as she picked up the reins and Sadie set her free, she heard a rider was down at the number twelve jump and a loose horse was heading toward the barns. Suddenly, a gray rider-less horse galloped by, setting Major and other nearby horses into their instinctive flight response to possible danger. If one horse was running from something, perhaps they needed to, too. Having not gathered her reins yet and riding only on the buckle, Major scooted from under her and spun in the direction of the free horse. Katherine nearly came unseated but managed to stay on by gripping with her legs until she gained control. Pain shot through her bad leg, almost bringing her to tears.

                                                   *    *    *

      Following a warm-up canter and a few jumps, Katherine headed for the start of the course. When she glanced back, she was surprised to see Sadie and Steven appearing to have an engaging conversation as they followed. She hoped Sadie didn’t mention her leg. It felt better and she didn’t want to worry Steven. Major was calmer than usual which helped her calm down. Normally, it was the other way around. No sooner than she met with the cross-country steward, they were announced in the hole, two riders to go ahead of them. Steven and Sadie approached her.

     “Major looks great,” said Steven, keeping pace as she moved closer to the starting box. “How’s the course?”

     “It will be a good test of a rider’s training at speed and precision. But we’re ready!”

     Following an update on a few of the riders on course, the announcer called her to the on-deck position, next to go. She thought, how funny they always find an announcer from the UK with a wonderful British accent, giving the event a touch of class.

     “Next up, we have Katherine Walker onboard her Thoroughbred gelding, Major Command, from Elkhead, Montana, number sixty-three,” said the announcer, calling them into the starting box.

     “Well, here we go.”

     “Good luck, Kat!” said Steven, with a wink.

     Sadie gave Major a pat on the hind end. “Have a great ride. See you in eleven minutes.”

     Katherine waved back. As she circled in the box to face the starting line, the nerves hit her like they always do; until the second the buzzer goes off. Then it’s all about Major and the next obstacle. She stroked her boy’s neck. “Let’s do this.”

     She shortened her reins as the crowd became a palpable hum, her senses as sharp as the tips of Major’s ears, working back and forth between the anticipated course and her. Katherine could feel her big bay gather himself beneath her. They were ready. She glanced at her watch as the buzzer sounded. And they were off!