The Champion Rider


2. 2

Nearly one hour later, Max Tiller walked through the front door, kicking off his muddy muckboots in the process. Hearing a sudden burst of animated chatter, he called out to his father. “Dad, is that you? Where are you?”
“We’re in here son” his father replied from the lounge. We? Thought Max, as he walked towards the lounge, they weren’t expecting company were they?
“Ah Max, we’ve been waiting for ages for you”. Jim said to his son. Max turned around to see a young, tall, blonde haired girl sitting on the sofa. “This is Tizzie Sheppherd, I believe you knew her mother, Amber, back when you were younger and riding the lower level one day events. Tizzie’s horse is outside, we’ve put him in the round pen with a haynet since you were taking so long getting back!”

After a few moments looking from the girl to his father, he smiled. Of course, the memories of those shows brought it all back, now that was a blast from the past! He suddenly remembered that he had called up Amber almost a year ago and asked how she’d been, when Amber had told him about her daughters’ ambitions to be a top class rider, he had immediately suggested the girl came along to his yard.
 She could assist in the barn and also compete some horses for him, she would also get one private lesson a week and was more than welcome to bring her own horse along to any events. How could he have forgotten! It had been a hectic month getting the up and coming youngstock out to shows, to get the experience under their belts, and today had been busier than usual, he would have to apologise to her for forgetting about their meeting, which he now felt bad for doing considering she’d ridden over half an hour to get here.

“Hi Tizzie, how are you? I’m so sorry for keeping you waiting, if I’m honest I completely forgot it was today you were riding over! As you probably saw we’ve been out at a show today, although the lorry got back over an hour ago, I had some bits I needed to sort out with some owners who are looking to sending their horses to us to be trained up.” Max paused, smiled and pointed to Tizzie. “And that is where you come in! Most of my team here will be too busy with my own young jumpers so I’d only have one groom rider and myself to be available to school and compete any new horses. So you could not have come at a better time! It’ll give you some valuable experience, both with riding a variety of up and coming horses as well as the experience of working on a yard like this one”  Max finished with a grin.

“Hi Max, it’s a pleasure to finally meet you. My mum used to always tell me stories about you two riding against each other, as well as constantly reminding me if I wanted to one day train under you I’d have to stop daydreaming and focus!” Tizzie groaned, pulled a face, and then looked up at her idol with a dazzling smile. “I’m ready when you are!”


Leaving Jim in the warm cottage with a cup of tea and a plate of biscuits, Max and Tizzie grabbed their boots and heaved them on outside the front door.  The pair set off at a brisk walk towards the roundpen, chatting as they made their way across the yard. As they rounded the corner, Sunny whinnied to Tizzie. He’d finished his haynet and had been pacing about impatiently for his girl to return.
“He’s gorgeous Tizzie! You must be very proud to own him. Shall we get him tacked up and put you both through you’re paces?” Max laughed and winked at Tizzie. “I want to see what he can do over some poles, and then we’ll get you on one of my competition mounts. I’ve been quite preoccupied with the younger inexperienced horses, as it’s them who I need to have ready for some of the bigger events that are coming up this summer.”

So for the next hour and a half, Tizzie rode over the small jumps that had been erected around the school, with Max calling out instructions as he sat perched on the wooden fence panels of the school assessing the bay mare Tizzie was riding’s movements, Diamond was the mare’s name, she had gotten her name because of the white diamond shape on her head.
Yes, these two are good together. Bit more refining and they’ll be ready to compete in a month or so. Max thought to himself as Tizzie cantered the mare towards the cross poles in the centre of the school.
Diamond was a higher level jumper but her training had taken a back seat with all the other horses to school up and compete. She’d only been brought back into work a fortnight ago but had since been ridden three times at the most so it surprised Max to see the mare so calm and collected in Tizzie’s hands! He could already tell that together the pair would go far in their partnership.
Earlier, about half an hour ago, he’d watched as Tizzie collected her own gelding, Sunny, up and popped him around the small course he’d constructed in the indoor school, to Max’s  amazement he’d watched as Tizzie executed a perfect flying change – a movement where a horse changes one leading leg to lead on the other leg in mid-air.

“Okay, that’s enough for one day Tiz. You’re mum will kill me if you return home unable to move from exhaustion!” Exclaimed Max as Tizzie trotted the mare to the gate, grinning from ear to ear.
“Ha-ha. She’s a great horse, I’d love the chance to compete her! I know I’m being cheeky asking to ride her but she’s talented. Plus you said yourself she needs to be out doing things; I’ve still got Sunny to compete of course but…” Tizzie stopped and looked over at Max’s face. He stood completely still, his face grave. Tizzie was sure she’d been too forward in asking about Diamond, but in their short session they’d really clicked.

Max took a deep breath and sighed. “Tizzie, I’m sorry but…” he paused and looked the girl in the eye.  If Tizzie had looked closer she would’ve seen the corners of his mouth creasing up into a smirk before he continued. “But it’s no point you asking to compete and ride Diamond, I’ve already decided you’ll be riding her this season!” Tizzie was speechless; she sat astride the mare gaping at Max like a goldfish.
“Ah, no but’s or excuses! If she has bonded with you in that short space of time then why put someone else on her” He replied with a smile, and with that he jumped down from the fence and strode purposely off back towards the house leaving Tizzie to untack Diamond, give her an evening feed and bed her down for the night. Once Tizzie was finished with the mare, she tacked Sunny up and walked him over to the cottage to say goodnight to Max and Jim before hacking back home.

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