Disclaimer – I own nothing of the Thoroughbred book series. Everything belongs to the wonderful Joanna Campbell. 'Nuff said.
Italics are thoughts and flashbacks.
A/N: Thanks to my friend Marie S Zachary for the title idea.
Summary: AU: Makaylah Townsend – daughter of Parker Townsend and Christina Reese – is an expert horsewoman. But when she gets thrown from her horse, she fractures her wrist and is afraid she'll never ride again. Will a miracle happen or is it the end of the line for Makaylah?
Mikki Townsend sat up and stretched. She glanced behind her at the alarm clock – 5:45 AM the red letters glared back at her. Mikki smiled and climbed out of bed, hoping to get a quick ride in before heading to school. She quickly put on jeans and a sweatshirt before heading to the barn.
The cold Kentucky wind nipped at her ears and nose, but Mikki didn't care. She was almost to the barn when a movement caught her eye. Four white-tailed deer leapt out of the brush and out of sight. Mikki took a deep breath and entered the barn. Twenty Thoroughbreds had their heads hanging over their stall doors, anxiously waiting their breakfasts.
"Hi mom. Hi dad." Mikki greeted her parents as she entered the feed shed and helped ration out grain for the horses.
Mikki measured out the grain for her horse – a four-year-old light bay Thoroughbred colt named Rocky Horror Picture Show, named after her favorite movie. As Rocky ate, Mikki took off his light sheet and leg wraps, inspecting his long legs, seeing if there were any cuts or scrapes on them.
"Good boy." Mikki praised her horse, exiting the stall. She went back to the feed shed to measure out the grain for her best friend's horse, Splash of Color, a dapple-gray Thoroughbred mare.
"Hi girl." Mikki greeted the gentle mare. She also removed the light sheet and leg wraps, also inspecting the mare's delicate legs and body for scrapes or cuts she may have gotten during the night. Mikki smiled and exited the stall.
"Honey, you have some time before school if you want to ride Rocky for a while." Parker told his daughter.
"Actually, I was going to visit Lady Antebellum and Little Big Town." Mikki told him, mentioning two of the mares who were about to foal.
"Go ahead, sweetie. Your mother and I will be up at the house." Parker told his daughter. Mikki smiled and headed to the broodmare barn.
Alec, the broodmare groom, smiled as Mikki entered.
"Thought you would be here." Alec told Mikki, leading the way to Little Big Town's stall. The big black mare stood in the middle of her stall, licking her newborn foal.
"Aww! What a cute baby!" Mikki whispered, looking at Alec.
"She had a colt." Alec said, looking at the mare and foal.
Mikki stayed with Little Big Town and her baby before going to check on Lady Antebellum. The chestnut mare was close to foaling, but probably wouldn't deliver until earlier in the week.
Mikki visited some other special broodmares – Wonder's Victory, Bella's Wish, Over the Moon and Ghost – before exiting the barn and sprinting back up to the house. The sun was just coming up as Mikki poured herself a bowl of cereal and drank some orange juice.
"So, is Jennifer coming over to ride today after school?" Christina asked, not looking up from making scrambled eggs.
"You always know the answer to that, mom." Mikki answered, taking a bite of cereal.
After Mikki finished her cereal, it was time to catch the bus to go to school.
"Oh, before I forget, mom, dad, Little Big Town had her foal – a little colt." Mikki said, grabbing her book bag and ran out the door.
At the bus stop, Mikki looked around for her best friend and fellow horse nut, Jennifer Adams. Mikki smiled when she saw Jenn's red hair glowing in the sunlight.
"Hey." Mikki greeted her best friend.
"Hey!" Jenn greeted her back.
"Wanna come for a ride after school?" Mikki asked as the girls got on the bus.
"Sure." Jenn answered as the girls slid into a seat towards the middle of the bus.
The bus dropped them off at Henry Clay High School at 7:45. School started at 8:15 and ended at 2:45.
School finally ended and both girls ran for the bus, talking and laughing the whole time.
"So, where do you want to ride?" Mikki asked once the girls got off the bus and headed to the training barn, where Rocky and Splash were stabled.
"Oh, Little Big Town had her baby. Want to see him really quick?" Mikki inquired. Jenn nodded and followed Mikki to the broodmare barn.
"Hi girl." Mikki greeted the mare. Little Big Town nickered and flicked her ears back and forth, listening to Mikki's kind words. Jenn laughed as Little Big Town nudged her for some carrots. Jenn rolled her eyes and handed Little Big Town a carrot.
"Have you thought of a name for the little guy?" Jenn asked.
"I've been debating between a few names. I was thinking that his sire is Jazzman's Fire, what about Little Fire?" Mikki said.
"Little Fire – I like it!" Jenn exclaimed, nearly startling the little colt. "Sorry boy."
"I'll talk to my dad about it if you want to get Rocky and Splash groomed and tacked up." Mikki said. Jenn nodded and headed back to the training barn while Mikki went to find her father. She found him in the stallion barn, looking at a young stallion named Practically Perfect.
"Dad – I thought of a name for Little Big Town's son." Mikki told Parker.
"Really? What?" Parker asked, his eyes focused on Perfect's right front leg.
Parker put Perfect's leg down and turned to face his daughter.
"I love it, sweetie."
Mikki smiled and headed to the training barn. She slowed to a walk when she entered, as to not startle the young horses in training.
"Hey. What did your dad say?" Jenn asked, leading Splash into the sunlight. Mikki followed behind her leading Rocky.
"He liked it." Mikki said, checking her girth and stirrups before mounting Rocky. Jenn held Rocky's bridle while Mikki mounted. Jenn had a groom nearby hold Splash's bridle while she mounted.
"There's no one on the oval – want to ride them there?" Mikki asked, looking for the trainer Charlie Burke Junior. Charlie was in his mid-thirties and acted exactly like his father before him.
"Okay." Jenn answered, pointing Splash for the training oval.
"Girls, where do you think you're going?" Charlie asked, walking over to the girls.
"We're going for a ride in the oval – is that a crime?" Mikki inquired.
"No, but be careful. Walking, trotting and cantering only – no racing." Charlie told the girls, letting go of Rocky's bridle.
Once the girls were in the oval, Mikki steered Rocky so he was on the outside. She motioned for Jenn to do the same with Splash.
Twice around the oval, the girls motioned for their horses to trot. Suddenly, one of the horses in training came up on the outside, startling Rocky. Rocky broke into a gallop and chased the other horse around the arena. Mikki tried not to panic as she stood in the stirrups to slow Rocky down. He wasn't listening.
"Rocky, whoa boy. Easy." Mikki told him. Rocky shook his head and ran faster. Mikki eased up on the reins, still talking to Rocky in a soothing voice. She saw that Jenn had exited the oval and dismounted Splash.
Finally, Rocky started to slow down, which Mikki was thankful for. She patted his sweaty shoulder and pulled him to a trot and eventually a walk. She exited the oval and dismounted Rocky, who was now breathing heavily.
"What the hell were you thinking?" Charlie asked, outraged. Mikki looked down at the ground as the trainer lectured her. She could feel the tears in her eyes as she led Rocky back to the training barn. Splash stuck her head over her stall door as Mikki put Rocky in his stall and untacked him.
"What's going on here?" Christina asked, making her way over to Mikki.
"Charlie yelled at me." Mikki said, the tears streaming down her cheeks. Christina entered Rocky's stall and helped Mikki untack Rocky.
"Why did Charlie yell at you?" Christina asked, taking the saddle off Rocky's back as Mikki put on his sheet. Mikki told her mother what happened as she buckled the sheet onto Rocky's back.
"I'll have your father talk to him." Christina told Mikki, patting Rocky's hindquarters as she exited the stall.
Once Mikki was done with Rocky, she went to the broodmare barn.
"Hey Mikki! Wait up!" Jenn called after her friend. Mikki looked over her shoulder and smiled as Jenn caught up to her.
"I was going to visit some of the mares that hadn't foaled yet." Mikki told her friend, entering the broodmare barn.
"Why did Charlie yell at you?" Jenn asked, stopping at the feed room and stuffed her pockets with carrots. Mikki explained as they visited the mares that hadn't foaled yet.
"Hey Victory." Jenn greeted Ashleigh's Wonder's great-great granddaughter. The light chestnut mare was due to foal any day now. Victory had had four foals – three colts and a filly. Recently, her oldest colt, Breaking Bank, had won all three legs of the Triple Crown.
The girls visited Ghost, Bella's Wish and Over the Moon before visiting the mares that had foaled already.
The girls walked all the way down the barn where Black Cat was stabled. The mare had delivered twins, which was rare with horses. Black Cat was lying in the straw, both her foals' heads on her hindquarters. All three were sleeping peacefully.
"What are you naming these fillies?" Jenn asked Mikki.
"Well, I was thinking, since there's two of us and two of them, so we could each name one. I already named the black filly with the back socks – her name is Ashleigh's Whisper." Mikki told her friend. Her grandmother, Ashleigh Reese, had passed away three years ago. Mikki thought it would be special to name a foal after her grandmother.
"I love that name." Jenn complimented, focusing on the other filly. She was a deep brown, almost black with a snip at the end of her nose. "Jazz Cat."
"Because of her sire?" Mikki asked. Black Cat had been bred to Parker's prize stallion named King of Jazz – a pure black Thoroughbred. Sadly, King passed away two days after being bred to Black Cat due to a massive colic attack.
The girls spent some time with Cat, Whisper and Jazz before exiting the barn.
"I have to go home now. I'll see you tomorrow for our lesson with James, right?" Jenn asked.
"You bet. I probably will ride one of his horses instead of bringing Rocky." Mikki answered. James Nelson was the son of Samantha and Tor Nelson, now the owner of Whisperwood, the jumping stable that he took over from his parents after they died.
"I'm going to try that show in September – why don't you sign up with me?" Jenn suggested. Mikki shrugged her shoulders. She was into jumping and dressage, but she was more interested in racing. She was sixteen years old and was hoping to ride in her first race soon. Both her parents were eventers – they had competed in jumping and dressage. Her mother was pleased that she wanted to follow in her grandmother's footsteps and become a jockey. However, her father wanted her to do eventing.
"I'll think about it, okay?" Mikki told her best friend as Jenn's mother's car pulled into the driveway.
"I'll see you tomorrow. Do you think you could bring Splash over?" Jenn asked. Mikki nodded and watched her friend drive off.
Mikki spent the rest of the night helping her parents with feeding the horses, doing homework and taking care of her dog – a black lab named Lacey.
That night, Mikki dreamed that she was a famous jockey, sitting aboard a horse that she had trained herself.
She hoped that her dream would come true, sooner or later.