The Champion Rider


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Glancing up from beneath a black velvet riding hat, the girl on the beautiful dun gelding smiled and took a deep breath. Today had been something she had waited four years for, it hadn’t been an easy journey to where she was today; countless failures had followed success at every opportunity.

Tizzie Sheppherd had been born into a horsey family but that never meant she hadn’t had to work hard to be the rider she was today. As Tizzie clucked her gelding, goldensunshine – sunny for short – into a trot up the tree lining driveway, she thought back to the first time she’d known it was her destiny to come here. She’d been thirteen, and had just been presented with her rosette and a red and gold sash for winning the national junior showjumping championships. Little did she know that day was the first part of her journey to get here.

“Hey! Watch what you’re doing with that trunk!” Tizzie heard a man yell just ahead of her. He was shouting at a groom who was unloading the heavy trunks filled with tack off a luxurious looking horse lorry. The man made no attempt to assist the poor groom, who was clearly struggling with the trunk by himself, instead he stood by moaning about incompetent people!

“Yikes! We’ll make sure to stay out of his way ‘eh boy!” Tizzie murmured to Sunny.
As if to answer, the gelding shook his mane and snorted! They continued on their way until they reached the small cottage, Tizzie dismounted and tied Sunny to a hitching post at the side of the cottage.  “I’ll be right back boy, be good and stand still”. She whispered quietly as she patted the dun’s glossy neck.

The cottage was warm and surprisingly bright inside despite the low beams and small doorways, she wandered into the lounge. Various pictures hung precariously on the magnolia walls, she looked around taking in the room. One picture in particular captured Tizzie’s attention; it was an oil painting of a beautiful bay horse, soaring over an enormous double oxer in a showjumping arena. Its rider wore a grey show jacket along with a look of pure determination on his face as he tackled the jump.

“I see you’ve let yourself in missy, do you let yourself in everywhere?!” At the sound of a man’s voice behind her, Tizzie spun around quicker than a ballerina.
“I…erm…I’m sorry. Nobody answered when I knocked, but I thought I heard voices inside so I came in. My name is Tizzie Sheppherd and my horse is tied up outside, his name is Goldensunshine, sunny for short.  I believe you’re expecting me, I’m here to see Max”
The old man grunted and raised a grey bushy eyebrow. “Max? You’re here to see my son? Hmm, typical he didn’t mention anything to me!  My name is Jim by the way, Jim Tiller.”
“Nice to meet you Jim. Yes that’s correct, Max knew my mother when they were both out competing on the two star eventing circuit, I’ve dreamt about being here and training under him for years, it’s been non-stop work…she paused and smiled kindly at the old man who had proceeded to flop down into an armchair.

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