a/n

A short story I had to write for English class. I thought it was kind of fun. Let me know what you think of it! Thanks,

Underestimated

Indian Lake Invitational

To most people, I am known as Mackenzie Madison, tomboy extraordinaire. My favorite activities happened to be along the lines of barrel racing, paint balling, and anything else to do with the outdoors. That just happened to be the reason I found myself lightly exercising my buckskin gelding at the Indian Lake Invitational Rodeo. At six-thirty in the morning we were trotting around the sand arena. The rodeo grounds were still quiet, with just a few people up and about. I had the work arena all to myself.

King Skipper's Jetting Bayou, also known as Jet, was full of energy, and he kept eyeing the barrels set up in the arena. Seeing how I love speed, especially on the back of a thirteen-hundred pound animal, I eased Jet to a halt and lined up with the first barrel. I could feel the energy coursing through his back and into my body through the intricate leather tooling of my custom made saddle. We thundered toward the first barrel, and I felt the adrenaline surge through my blood like a steam engine.

Our pattern was perfect, and I had a great feeling about the rodeo. The feeling vanished as we came around the final barrel and charged for home. I heard it happen. It was a stomach turning sound. Iron on iron, ripping through hoof. It was not a pretty sound. Immediately, he pulled up lame and slowed to a stop. Dread washed through me.

In my haste to tack up, I had not taken the time to put Jet's protective bell boots on. It was something I never forgot to do, but all the excitement of being invited to a national semi-final rodeo had clouded my thinking. Because of my haste and irresponsibility, Jet had clipped his front right shoe and pulled his shoe right off his hoof.

With a glum feeling, I un-tacked my horse and looked up numbers of local farriers. My next half hour was spent calling various farriers with the same response. None of them had time in their busy schedules to reset a shoe for me. I took advantage of the only option I had left and had the people running the announcer's booth page the farrier on the grounds. My luck held, and he had been called away on an emergency call. There was nothing I could do. I would have to scratch from my race.

When I went to scratch from the race, all the excitement that had been building in my body had hit a titanium wall and been stopped dead in its tracks. The woman manning the entry booth was extremely sympathetic as I filled out a form to excuse myself from the biggest race of my life. I was beating myself up for not making sure I put his bell boots on. It was sheer stupidity on my part. It was not as though my horse could remind me to put all his gear on him. I would be scared if he did!

Just as I put the pen on the paper, a quiet voice interrupted me.

"You need someone to reset a shoe?" the commanding voice asked lowly.

I turned and came face to face with a friendly looking cowboy with an open, genuine face.

"I do, but I can't find a farrier." I explained with a sad smile.

"I can help with that." He told me with a generous grin.

I just stood looking at this complete stranger that was willing to help me, my jaw flapping in the breeze.

"Okay," I stammered, taking the paperwork and throwing it away.

It did not take fifteen minutes for the man, who I found out was named Colton Grady, to reset both Jet's front shoes. Before I let him touch my baby's feet, I checked his horse's shoes and was impressed to see such good handiwork. Colton would not let me pay him for his work. The man amazed me. I did manage to feed him a late breakfast for all his trouble. We parted with a mutual "See ya around".

By eight o'clock, I had my hose tacked up and ready to go. By the time I took him out into the warm up arena, it was packed, and there were people filtering into the stands to watch the rodeo. The barrel racing went first, and I was second to last to race. Jet and I were content to wait. More than anything, we both loved the action at the rodeos.

When eight-thirty rolled around I was ready to go. There were only two more girls to ride before me. The adrenaline that had deserted me earlier came rushing back in full force, slamming into my chest with the force of a semi-truck. Jet picked up on my excitement, and all his muscles tensed in preparation. He pranced lightly on his front feet, letting me know he was ready to go when I was. It hit me then. My dream, my goal, was coming true. I had taken a horse, and we had gotten good enough that we were ready to compete at the top with the best riders in the country.

The announcer called my number. Jet pranced, in all his shimmering golden glory, to the chute. I waited for the nod from the time keeper. When I got it, I gave Jet enough rein to get a powerful charge built up. Jet stretched his legs in his customary ground eating gallop and headed for the first barrel. I concentrated on making the first pocket perfect. He hit the pocket, and his powerful hindquarters thrust us toward the second. Again, our pocket was perfect. The last barrel loomed before us, and I started to ask Jet for even more speed. We were on the edge of out of control and racing faster than we ever had before. The third and final barrel was no problem. Everything was centered on the home stretch. Jet knew it, I knew it, and so did everyone in the stands.

If it was possible, his incredibly long stride lengthened, and our speed increased with every thundering step. The people along the rail became nothing more than a blur. Jet raced out the chute and into the run out. I eased him to a canter and the to a trot and finally to a walk. Over his slightly elevated breathing, I heard the announcer call our time over the speakers.

From across the warm up ring, a familiar figure caught my eye. Colton sent me a brilliant grin and a thumbs up. I grinned back and waved. Our time was 16.495 seconds. He tipped his hat am mounted his horse.

We made it to the finals. Not only had we made it to the finals, but we had beaten the fastest time of the day. We stood in first place and grand champion with only one more girl to ride. My heart was pounding in my ears and I could feel Jet's deep breaths under my legs along with the roar of thousands of fans packed into the stadium. It was unreal. We had made it!