Clarke scratched Davey's chestnut ears affectionately before slipping the dark green bonnet on to his head, the stretchy material fitting over his ears easily. The blonde gathered her bridle into her right hand, figure-eight noseband and throatlatch together with the crownpiece. Reaching up, she slid the bit into the horse's mouth and settled the bridle on over the bonnet. She carefully inspected each buckle, making sure that the tack was securely fastened without pinching the gelding's sensitive face.
"Good boy," she cooed, giving the horse a quick pat. She pulled her reins back over the horse's head and led him from the stall, grabbing her helmet and crop from her trunk on her way out the door. Clarke buckled her helmet under her chin and walked the chestnut to the mounting block at the edge of the barn aisle.
"Ready for this?" called Raven, appearing at the block just in time to hold Clarke's reins as she put her foot in the stirrup and swung herself lightly into the saddle.
Clarke scoffed and slid her leg forward, leaning down to tighten her girth a hole before settling back into the tack. "Of course I'm ready! I won yesterday, I can do it again today."
The dark-haired girl rolled her eyes. "And you know your course?"
"Yes, mom," Clarke rolled her eyes back. "I know the course. I looked at it this morning when the puddle jumpers were going, but I want to walk it now that it'll be A/O height."
Raven grabbed her backpack, the bag filled with horse show essentials, everything from extra water bottles and sunscreen to a polishing rag for boots and an extra pair of spurs. "Let's go then! I'll meet you in the warm up in 10 minutes?"
Clarke nodded and squeezed Davey forward, making her way through the showgrounds along the path to the busy warm up ring.
Lexa zipped her tall boots up, shoving her battered Sperries into her boot bag, and grabbed her helmet, flipping her pony tail up before settling the helmet on her head and buckling it. Shoving her gloves in her pocket, she quickly finished tacking up her big bay gelding.
Anya rapped on the stall bars, catching Lexa's attention. "The Children's just started, so we've got about an hour. How are you feeling?"
"We're fine," the brunette replied, occupied with adjusting Dino's breastplate and sliding the martingale rings onto her reins.
"You know, you and Griffin are tied for season points. If you win today and tomorrow, you can still beat her, especially if you win the classic on Sunday. Plus think of the prize money from that $2,500 class."
"Anya, I know. I got this. I'm not going to let that girl get in my way this time." Lexa gave her cousin a high five as she checked her girth and rolled her stirrups down. "Leg up please?"
Anya huffed, but quickly vaulted Lexa into the saddle. "Take him for a walk and then let's warm him up."
Lexa ambled the big gelding around the edge of the showgrounds, taking her time and letting him stretch and relax. Despite his big size, Dino tended to be a fiery, hotblooded ride. After a few years of showing him, Lexa had found that a long walk before warming up gave both of them the chance to settle into a show day.
Twenty minutes later, the pair walked into the low-fenced warmup ring. Squeezing the bay into a trot, Lexa began her warmup routine. Encouraging the gelding to bend and stretch, she trotted figure-eights and serpentines before picking up an easy canter. Once his body was properly engaged, she asked for a deeper connection through the bit, sending the big horse laterally through leg-yields, helping to create the flexibility she knew she would need once she was on course. She finished the flat portion of her warmup by extending and collecting the trot and canter, before walking over to where Anya stood at the far end of the ring.
"Well that looked great," her cousin greeted her.
"He feels great today," Lexa replied. "I'm ready to pop over a few fences."
"Perfect, you've got about 20 minutes before the course will be ready to walk. I'll set the oxer in the middle to 1.0 meter for you."
Lexa cantered away, calling out "Heads up, oxer!" before making her way to the jump, balancing Dino's canter.
"Raven, where are you?" cursed Clarke under her breath, walking Davey around the warmup ring. Sliding her phone out of her pocket, she called her friend.
"Yes, oh dear friend of mine?" the sarcastic brunette answered her phone on the second ring.
"Can you come set jumps for me to warm up, please? I want to make sure I've at least jumped something before I walk the course."
"On my way!"
Clicking her phone closed, Clarke vaguely heard a yell from behind her, but didn't pay the noise any mind, focused on her plan for the class.
She turned Davey around, looking across the grounds to the show ring, trying to remember the course. "Heads up!!" The close yell snapped Clarke out of her own thoughts, and she looked up to see Lexa Woods cantering straight towards her, only a few strides away, trying hard to pull her big gelding up and avoid running into Clarke.
"Oh shit!" she cried, urging Davey forward to scoot out of the way of the warmup jump.
Lexa managed to keep Dino balanced and the pair effortlessly cleared the oxer.
Clarke could see the brunette give the horse a big pat on the neck, as she turned him back towards the middle of the ring.
"What the fuck was that?" Clarke heard to her left. She turned to see Anya glaring at her. "Are you trying to sabotage your competition?"
"No, I'd never do that!" Clarke protested. "I'm so sorry, I just wasn't paying attention!"
Anya glared again, as Lexa trotted up. "Could you maybe watch where you're going?" Lexa barked. "You're lucky I didn't run you over."
"I know, and I'm so sorry again." Clarke apologized, before trotting Davey away to where Raven stood waiting at the fence.
"What did I just miss?" Raven asked.
Clarke shook her head. "I stopped paying attention and I cut Lexa off in front of the oxer. Almost got myself run over by the most gorgeous girl on the circuit. Embarrassed myself thoroughly."
"Fuck, Clarke, you useless bisexual." Raven laughed. "There's better ways to get a girl's attention than that!"
"Raven, quit, I've never even talked to her! And now she hates me even more than she probably did before this shit show."
"Oh Clarkey. You're a disaster. Just go jump that vertical a few times, you've gotta jump something, the course walk is in 10 minutes. We'll discuss your inability to ask out Woods later."
The blonde cantered off, making sure to call each and every jump before approaching it in an attempt to avoid her previous mistake.
True to form, the two girls ended up clear in the first round, making it into the jump-off, along with two other riders. With the fastest time, Lexa would go last in the jump-off. From the warmup ring, she heard cheering, knowing that Griffin had just put down an impressive round. The blonde always put in quick rounds with her Thoroughbred, taking risky inside turns.
She shook the beautiful blonde from her thoughts, refusing to think about her competition as she walked over to the entrance to the show ring.
"And last to go in this jump-off, Lexa Woods, riding Dino, number 432." the announcer echoed over the loudspeakers.
"One, three, four, five, seven, twelve, nine a-b, six, and gallop home." Lexa thought, glancing over the course as she picked up a canter.
She pushed Dino to stretch his stride out, galloping through the start timers. She stretched tall, seeing the take off distance to the first jump from several strides away. The big bay gelding cleared the vertical easily, and Lexa shifted her weight, turning to the right towards a large oxer. Each jump came quickly and easily. The pair landed out of the one stride combination, and she kicked on, seeing a long distance to the final fence. The crowd gasped as Dino left a stride out and launched himself over the last fence, coming through the timers three-tenths of a second faster than Clarke's time.
Lexa pumped her fist as she galloped around the arena, seeing her winning time on the scoreboard.
Slowing Dino to a trot, she made her way back to the in-gate, chest heaving with excitement. Dropping her reins, she gave the gelding big pats on the neck, praising him for a job well done.
She walked the bay out of the arena, eyeing the blonde on her chestnut standing on the path.
"Good ride Griffin." she called.
"I'm glad I didn't throw you off your game." the blonde replied. "Could I maybe take you out for coffee to make it up to you? And to celebrate your win?"
Lexa's jaw dropped. "um.. ok?" She stuttered.
"Definitely, yes," replied Anya, directly to Clarke. "You gay disaster!" she hissed at Lexa.
"Why don't you to go cool the horses out together?" Raven suggested, smirking. "Make plans for your wedding while you literally ride off into the sunset?"