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Authors: Stacy Gregg

Destiny and Stardust

BOOK: Destiny and Stardust
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Destiny and Stardust

and the
Wild Horses


and the
Daredevil Ponies



For my mum, who never liked horses
at all, but loved her two horse-mad
daughters. Thanks for everything.

One of the best feelings in the world is waking up and thinking,
Ohmygod, I'm late for school!
That isn't the good bit obviously. The good bit comes in a sudden rush a few seconds later when you realise that you don't have to go to school after all because today isn't an ordinary Monday – it's the first day of the summer holidays!

Issie was savouring that exact moment right now as she lay snuggled up in bed. She gave her legs a big, wriggly stretch underneath the duvet. There was something so luxurious about lying there, knowing that she didn't have to hurry up and put her uniform on and pack her book bag. No school for two whole months. And this summer promised to be the best ever.

Issie had big plans for the holidays. And most of those plans involved Blaze, her chestnut Anglo-Arab mare. Summer meant pony-club season. There would be gymkhanas, ribbon days and one-day events to ride, and Issie had Blaze in perfect condition ready for competition.

Her pony had been schooling beautifully ever since Issie got her back from Francoise D'arth. They had been having regular dressage lessons with Tom Avery and she was amazed at how responsive and clever her horse was. Now that Issie and Tom knew Blaze's real background – that she had once been part of a famous troupe of dancing Arabians – they had begun to try new things with her. Under Avery's tutelage, Blaze and Issie had easily mastered fancy moves like shoulder-ins and piaffes.

“That mare is the perfect school mistress for you,” Avery told her. “We're going to make huge strides in your training this summer, Issie.”

Avery was confident that Blaze was ready to compete in the summer series dressage competitions at the Chevalier Point Pony Club which began that weekend. “You'll only be in the novice section so there certainly wouldn't be any piaffes in your dressage test,” he said.

Still, Issie was nervous. She had never done dressage on Blaze before. What if the mare got all heated up and panicked in the arena? What if she forgot the test and got lost halfway through?

“Don't be ridiculous!” Stella had told Issie when she blabbed her fears. “You and Blaze have practised your test, like, at least twenty times! I still don't know it and Coco is being so stubborn lately she won't even lead on the correct leg when she canters. She's being a total nightmare!”

With the competition looming, Stella, Issie and Kate all agreed that they needed more dressage practice, so Tom Avery had arranged a training session for the Chevalier Point riders at the pony club that morning.

Issie gave one last squirm under the duvet. It was so warm and comfy she still didn't want to get up. “One, two, three!” she counted herself out of bed, jumping up on three and making a dash across the bedroom to the pile of washing on the floor. She pulled on her jodhpurs and grabbed a hair band off her dresser, sweeping her long, straight, dark hair back in a ponytail as she headed down the stairs.

Her mother had left for work early that morning but she had left Issie a note on the kitchen table.

Gone to work (obviously!). Have to pick up groceries on the way home so won't be back until six. We need to talk about the holidays – make sure you are home by seven for dinner. Mum x

Issie read the note, popped two slices of wholegrain bread in the toaster and poured herself a glass of orange juice from the fridge.

What did her mum mean “We need to talk about the holidays”? Her holidays were already decided – she planned to spend every minute at pony club with Stella, Kate, Dan and Ben. What else was there to talk about?

After a second round of toast she finished getting dressed, grabbed her bike out of the garage and cycled off to pony club.

When Issie arrived at the club she found her two best friends Stella and Kate staring at an expensive-looking silver and blue horse truck that had just pulled up at the club grounds.

“Wow! Very flashy,” said Kate.

“I've never seen that truck before. It doesn't belong to any of the Chevalier Point riders, does it?” Stella asked. Her question was answered instantly as a girl with a sour expression and two ramrod-straight shiny blonde plaits emerged from the truck to open the gates.

“I should have known! Stuck-up Tucker's mummy has bought her a brand new horse truck,” Stella sighed.

They watched as Natasha stood sulking beside the truck, refusing to move until her mum asked her for a third time to help lower the ramp. Issie had been expecting to see Natasha's palomino mare Goldrush coming down the ramp. Instead the girl led out a very refined-looking rose-grey with a white heart shape on his forehead and a steel-grey mane and tail. He wore a dark navy wool rug and matching floating boots to protect his delicate legs. As Natasha removed the boots the girls saw that his hind legs had two pretty white socks.

“Check out Natasha's new horse!” Stella gave a low whistle of admiration.

“Issie! You have to go and ask her about it!” Kate demanded.

“What? Why me?” Issie groaned. “Natasha can't stand me!”

“At least she speaks to you! She won't even bother to talk to me or Kate,” Stella countered. “Go on! Go and ask her.”

“All right, all right…” Issie muttered as she walked off across the paddock. The truth was, she didn't need much coaxing. She was dying to know about the new horse too.

“Hi, Natasha, I didn't know you were riding with us today,” Issie said.

“Hmmph? Oh hello, Isabella,” Natasha said.

“It's Isadora,” Issie replied flatly. One of Natasha's favourite games was to accidentally-on-purpose forget Issie's name.

“What-ever,” Natasha sniffed. “How's your little circus pony?”

Ever since Issie had beaten Natasha Tucker at the pony-club one-day event, the bratty blonde had been spiteful towards Issie and her chestnut mare. Natasha had called Blaze a “scruffy pit pony with no papers” until the truth about Blaze was discovered: she had once been one of the El Caballo Danza Magnifico mares, the famous Anglo-Arabs with immaculate bloodlines dating back to the great desert-bred Arabians.

Of course even this news didn't stop Natasha. Now that everyone knew just how valuable Blaze's breeding really was, Natasha had taken to teasing Issie about having a “circus pony”, even though everyone knew that the El Caballo Danza Magnifico wasn't a circus at all – it was a
haute ècole
riding school that travelled the world performing fantastic dressage movements to music. Blaze had once been the star of the school. But now, thanks to a mysterious benefactor, the chestnut mare belonged to Issie.

“Blaze is fine thanks, Natasha,” Issie said. She turned her attention to the beautiful rose-grey gelding. “Is this your new horse? What happened to Goldrush?”

“I told Mummy that Goldrush simply wasn't up to my level any more so we got rid of her,” Natasha said coolly. “This is Fabergé. He's a sport horse, bred by Iggy Dalrymple, so you can just imagine how much he cost us. Mummy says it's vulgar to talk about money but she did tell me that he cost more than all of her Prada handbags put together.”

“He's really beautiful,” Issie said as she ran her hand gently down the crest of Fabergé's neck. “Are you going to enter him in the summer dressage series?”

“Uh-huh. I'd say we're bound to win it actually.” Natasha smirked. “Fabergé has been off at Ginty McLintoch's stables for two weeks being schooled up. Ginty herself has put in hours of work on him – Mummy paid her an absolute bomb to do it.” Natasha wrinkled up her nose. “I couldn't be bothered with doing all that training myself! Anyway, now he is positively a push-button ride apparently. I can just sit there and Fabergé knows exactly what to do. It should be a piece of cake to win the novice ring this season.”

“Well, I guess we'll see you at the dressage test on Saturday,” Issie said. “Blaze and I are in the novice ring too.” Issie was sure she saw the smug look on Natasha's face fade for a moment. And then the blonde regained her haughty composure.

“They don't give you points for doing circus tricks in proper dressage, you know.”

“That's a pity because Blaze can balance a ball on her nose while doing a dance on her hind legs,” said a voice behind them.

Issie turned round to see Stella on top of Coco, smiling brightly at her. Kate, who was with her on Toby, was trying to suppress her giggles. Natasha's scowl deepened.

“You always have your little gang with you to stick up for you, don't you?” Natasha snapped. “I wonder how cool you'd be if you were all on your own with no one else to look after you.”

They were interrupted at that moment by Tom Avery's booming voice.

“Riders into the arena now, please!” he instructed.

Issie gave the rose-grey gelding a pat. “Anyway, it was nice to meet you, Fabergé,” she said. Natasha continued to glare at her. “Bye, Natasha.” Issie shrugged and began to run back across the paddock to the tethering rail where Blaze was waiting for her.

“Can we all line up, please?” Tom Avery said.

The riders had been warming up their ponies. Dan and Ben had arrived a little late, but had quickly tacked up Kismit and Max and joined the others. Now the six riders all stood in the centre of the arena awaiting Avery's instructions.

Avery slapped his riding crop against his long brown leather boots to get their attention. “With the dressage test approaching this weekend, I think you're all ready for some more advanced schooling,” he said. “Does anyone here know how to do a flying change?”

Without hesitation a hand shot up amongst the riders.

“Ah, Natasha. Of course. Please come forward for a moment,” Avery said. Natasha cast a glance at Issie as she rode Fabergé past her to stand at the front of the ride.

“Now Natasha here is going to demonstrate a flying change,” Avery said. As you all know, a flying change is when we ask our horse to canter with a leading leg, and then we ask with our aids and make the horse change legs in midair.” Avery paused. “You might have seen this on your Olympic dressage videos at home. It looks a bit like the horse is skipping, doesn't it?”

“Anky makes it look really easy when she does it on Bonfire,” Stella said.

“Well then, let's see how easy it really is, shall we?” Avery said. “Natasha, why don't you work your horse around the arena at a canter and then ride a flying change through the middle of the school to show us how it's done?”

Natasha set off on Fabergé with a look of grim determination on her face. She cantered the rose-grey around the arena and then turned him down the centre of the school to begin her flying change. In the middle of the school Natasha gave Fabergé a big kick with her heels. Nothing happened. She looked exasperated. Poor Fabergé looked confused.

“Try again, this time with nice, clear aids. You don't need to kick your horse! Just put that right leg forward on the girth,” Avery instructed. Natasha rode around and down the centre line again. This time, though, she ignored Avery's advice and gave Fabergé an almighty boot with her right leg. Fabergé shot up like a rocket, putting in a vigorous buck. Natasha gave a yelp of horror as she flew over Fabergé's head and sailed through the air, coming down in a heap on the sandy surface of the arena. Fabergé gave a terrified snort and cantered off. Dan and Ben quickly clucked their horses and rode after him while Natasha stood up grumpily and dusted herself down.

“Are you all right?” Avery asked her. Natasha, who was bright red in the face, nodded quietly.

“He's a very sensitive horse. If I were you I'd master the basics on him before you try a flying change again,” Avery said kindly. Then he gestured to Issie. “Isadora, why don't you give it a try on Blaze? Remember, you need to move your right leg to the girth.”

“Good girl, c'mon,” Issie clucked to Blaze as she set off around the perimeter of the arena. As she rode down the centre line in a canter she sat tall in the saddle and tried to think about arranging her legs into the correct position. Right in the middle of the arena Issie did exactly as Avery had instructed – she moved one leg forward and the other leg back and squeezed hard. Beneath her she felt Blaze rise up and throw out her front legs like a schoolgirl skipping down the street – a flying change!

BOOK: Destiny and Stardust
4.18Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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