Shamrock Stable #6

No Horsing Around

by Shannon Kennedy

"Not Just a Horse&" by Shannon Kennedy When the school year ends, Sierra and her friends plan to have a horsy good time riding their horses, teaching summer day camp, and helping their favorite riding instructor arrange a wedding to the local animal-control officer. Difficulties arise before they even pass their final exams. Robin wants to work at the vintage car lot with the beautiful, classic Mustangs she loves. However, her parents are sending her to horse camp whether she likes it or not and she doesn’t!

Meanwhile, Vicky intends to train horses. Does her dream job mean she can’t spend time with her boyfriend before he leaves for college? Horse camp brings in much needed income to the McElroy’s Shamrock Stable, so how can a talented athlete like Sierra tell her family she wants to join the high school basketball and soccer teams at their training camps instead of teaching little beginners again?

After a stunning performance in the spring musical, will Dani ever be able to let her glory-hungry parents know she’d rather be at the barn this summer, not on stage in a theatrical company in Oregon? Catch rider, CeCe worries she won’t be ‘emancipated’ and allowed to remain with the people who offered her a ‘real’ home but are her new friends too busy to help when she needs them most?

It’s a drama-rama summer at Shamrock Stable. What will the five of them do to stay together and ensure each girl’s dreams come true?






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Chapter One

Marysville, Washington

Tuesday, April 16th ~ 5:30 p.m.


I offered my rescue horse, Twaziem, one last carrot. He considered it for less than a heartbeat before he did the ‘crunch, munch, gone’ routine. Okay, so he wasn’t the bay skeleton I’d saved from starvation last September, but he still had food issues. Maybe, I should sign him up for a horsey shrink, not that his sessions with my older sister, Felicia when she was home on spring break from Washington State University did him much good.

He didn’t like it when she tried braiding his mane the way she did her humongous Appaloosa-Warmblood, Vinnie’s although she’d fed Twaz horse cookies from the feedstore the whole time. He preferred the chunks of organic apples my boyfriend, Bill Petrie brought, even if it meant Twaz had to earn them by doing the horsey stretches the massage therapist taught us. She said he needed to build up his muscle tone and flexibility if I wanted to ride him this summer. I didn’t.

I hadn’t rescued him because I wanted to ride him. I just wasn’t leaving him to starve to death. I didn’t make a secret of the fact that I only brought him here to teach my horse-crazy family a lesson when they decided I should follow our Gibson tradition of choosing purebred horses on our sixteenth birthdays.

Not me. I wanted the presidential blue classic 1968 Mustang I’d dreamed about forever. I’d even talked the owner of the vintage car lot down to fifteen thousand cash, but my parents totally didn’t understand my passion for old Fords. Luckily, Bill did. He gave me the hulk of one for Christmas, a frog-green body without an engine or tranny. I’d been restoring it for the past four months and figured I’d be driving it this summer.

I’d painted it over spring break, going for the shade of deep blue I preferred. Luckily, it went well with the saddle brown and white interior. When I’d saved Twaziem, I warned him I wasn’t into horses like everybody else who lived here. I wasn’t a keeper kind of person. He’d be moving onto a good home when I found him the perfect owner. I’d use the money I got for him to finish fixing up my car. Tires were next on the list and those were super spendy.

My best friend, Vicky told me to be prepared to give the cash to my dad who paid beaucoup bucks to return Twaziem to reasonable horse status. Dad might want repayment for the veterinarian, the chiropractor, the massage therapist, the farrier, the trainer, and the unending feed if or when I sold Twaz, but I could talk around my father. I wasn’t his spoiled rotten youngest daughter for nothing.

Blonde, brown-eyed, five feet, six with a great figure, I made friends easily, and I insured everyone wanted to hang out with me. Of course, I had an ulterior motive. People who say they don’t have agendas are lying. I don’t. Truth may hurt. Too bad, too sad. Get over it. If somebody doesn’t want me to use him or her, then walk away.

My dad, the accountant who tracked down every cent and my mom who aided and abetted him in his penny-pinching ways only allowed me a certain number of animals. It meant I needed to find homes for any extra dogs, cats, rabbits, hamsters, ducks, snakes, sheep, goats—well, that was the idea, and I did the go along to get along dance. I’d done it for years, so my friends knew if I started the charm routine, I was hunting a home for something with paws, claws, hooves, or webbed feet.

All cowboy in jeans, boots and a western shirt, Jack came up behind me. Twazeim promptly glared at my tall, dark-haired older brother, stomped his hooves, and pinned back tulip-shaped Arabian ears. “Wow, he still hates me, and it’s been seven months. I’d think I’d get credit for feeding him and mucking his stall on a regular basis.”

“I do it most of the time.”

“Yeah, but who do you think picks up the slack when you have practice or a track meet? I don’t feed the rest of the critters and skip him. Come on, Princess Robin. Dad will freak if we’re not on time for dinner since the tax season ended and he’s not burning the midnight oil anymore.”

“I’ll be right there.” I took the carrot he handed me and held it out to my horse. “Here, you big baby. It doesn’t have Jack cooties, so you can eat it.”

Twaziem tossed his brown head with a shake of his black forelock, eying the long, skinny carrot suspiciously. He sniffed at it one more time, then gobbled it up when I started to take a step down the barn aisle toward Jack’s off the track Thoroughbred. Nitroglycerin wasn’t one of my faves, but he didn’t bully my horse when the two of them were out in the pasture together. I had to give him that much credit even if I thought it was too bad Jack hadn’t brought home a real horse when he and Dad did the sixteenth birthday, male bonding trip.

Two gold and white collies met us on the way to the house. They must have had doggie business to take care of since the mom, Lassie usually hung out in the barn with me and her youngest son, six-month old Zorro always kept us company too. They knew the rules about staying in the mudroom, an inside back porch area during meals. I gave them each a beef chew stick, homemade treats from my friend, Dani who lived in an exclusive gated community with one of Lassie’s daughters.

Another rescue. I’d found Lassie and her litter of tiny puppies at a cross-country meet last fall. Zorro was still here, but his brothers and sisters had gone to homes with the closest members of my squad, Vicky, Sierra, and Dani. The other two were with members of my track team. I had a feeling that CeCe, a catch rider at Salmon Pond Stable might take the last of the pups once she settled into a permanent home, but that was still up in the air since my older sister also loved him dearly. Sooner or later, CeCe would share what she wanted with me and if it wasn’t a half-grown puppy, I’d keep her on my list of potential adopters.

In the kitchen, Mom turned from the counter when she heard us. I smelled meat, tomato sauce and cheese. Yum, it was lasagna night which meant she’d stuffed a frozen casserole in the oven because she never had time to make it from scratch and my control-freak father hated it when she served supper later than six pm.

I suspected she’d been conditioning her Arabian for one of their extra-long competitive trail rides, but I didn’t need to ask. She wore cowgirl clothes, faded blue jeans, a western shirt and laced-up riding boots, her favorite Ropers. She’d tied back her strawberry blonde hair, and a smile lit her bright blue eyes. “Wash up first. Finish the salad and set the table for me, Jack. Robin, your cats are giving me the heebie-jeebies tonight. Feed them in the pantry please, then get your dad. He’s in the study.”

“Why? Didn’t he file all the taxes for his clients by midnight?”

“Yes, but that doesn’t mean all of the e-filing went through.” Mom swung back around and began cutting into the lasagna again. “He spent most of the day on the phone with the IRS and now he’s re-sending the forms they claim not to have received.” She heaved a huge sigh. “It’s the same every year.”

I didn’t say they should plan for electronic snafus. I had in previous years and been lectured for my crappy attitude too many times. It was the same every April, August, and October when the deadlines fell due. Dad would send in all the paperwork, then battle with the government to accept the forms without penalizing his clients and the other agents who worked for him. He said it was why he got the big bucks, but personally I thought he enjoyed the challenges.

Mom claimed his hang-up about everything starting and ending on time was just a personality flaw and nothing to get in a dither about. Of course, she was the one who said no animals, no TV, no iPods or cell phones at the table. We had to talk to each other like civilized people or she’d make us wish we had. I lived with two total control freaks for parents and Felicia and Jack were pretty much the same way.

While we ate, Mom talked about the upcoming endurance trail rides she planned to compete in this summer. She and her mare, Singer, usually topped out at fifty miles in a day. I knew all the details about them covering the ground in twelve hours and successfully passing the various vet checks at each and every event. I’d certainly heard them often enough. Even if they were considered one-day contests, they weren’t really. Mom and our neighbor, Linda generally hauled out the Friday morning, spent most of the weekend wherever the ride would take place and hauled the horses home on Sunday or Monday.

Jack went off about the gaming competitions. He’d already been accepted to Washington State University for the fall semester and intended to take Nitro with him. If they scored highly enough at the various gymkhanas, he’d be able to join the western equestrian team at college. He was a valued football and basketball player at our private high school, but he only played for fun. Although he didn’t say it a lot, we knew his passion was for his art classes and then for writing poetry.

He’d had his share of offers to play ball at different universities, not just in Washington State, but turned down all of them. He was going to W.S.U. to study business and then applying to the law school in nearby Moscow, Idaho. He and my BFF, Vicky had plans to eventually open their own stable after college, but my brother was super smart about everything he did. He’d said everybody thought horse people had deep pockets, were extremely rich and would try to take away what they had. His law degree would protect him and Vicky.

After Jack finished, it was Dad’s turn. He shared his own plans of team roping on his Quarter Horse, Buster. I liked the big solid horse. He was quiet in the barn, always looking for extra hay in the manger or crumb of grain in his bucket. At competitive roping events, he went from zero to zoom when he was in the box and saw the steer waiting in the chute.

Finally, they all looked at me. I reminded them that I had a track meet on Friday afternoon, work on Saturday at the car lot in Marysville and would shadow Dr. Larry, the premier veterinarian from Equine Nation on Sunday after church when he went on emergency calls. That took care of my business.

Mom and Dad shared a glance, then she said, “Rocky was here to work with Twaziem today. He’s turning three this month.”

“If you think I’m throwing him a birthday party, get over it,” I said. “I’m not Sierra who makes everyone come to the barn and sing to her horse on New Year’s Day before we can have cake and ice-cream. Twaz isn’t the sentimental sort, and neither am I.”

“Sierra’s great. She helped Bill and me hide your car at Shamrock Stable last Christmas,” Jack said, “and I know her boyfriend, Tom assures everyone she walks on water.”

“Okay, so she’s a real hero who helped save Twaz when he had colic a few months ago. I’ll tell her that she has to hostess a party for him, and I love all of you, but this family is way too gaga about their horses.”

Another long look between my parents before Mom said she’d order a cake from the local bakery, chocolate with custard filling and there’d be chocolate ice-cream in the freezer for the two-legged guests, but I’d be in charge of the organic carrots and apples for my horse as well as the other four-legged wonders in the barn.

“Rocky brought the summer camp applications I wanted.” Mom pinned me with a steady, blue gaze. “We need to discuss which weeks you’ll be at Shamrock Stable this year.”

“No way!” I nearly dropped my fork on the table. “I helped set up a peer-counselor program for her tween students so I wouldn’t have to go there to help with Pee-Pee camp.”

“It’s Pee-Wee camp.” Dad leaned back in his chair. “Be specific, Robbie.”

“I am. I spend all day taking the little piddlers back and forth to the bathroom. They always have to go potty when it’s time to brush their ponies, clean the hooves, and lead the ponies around the ring. The only time the kids don’t have to use the toilet is at snack time when I barely get to drink water because I’m watching them to be sure they eat their sandwiches before their goodies.”

“I thought the little kids only came for a few hours in the morning or afternoon.” Jack barely hid his smirk. “You’re exaggerating. It’s not that bad, is it?”

“It’s worse. Yes, the first bunch leaves at noon, but before I can finish my lunch, I have to help meet and greet the afternoon group. And of course, the first thing they have to do is go potty before they can even put on their helmets.”

“All right then.” Mom pushed her empty plate far enough away to fold her hands on the table. “We’ll sign you up for the weeks in June, July and early August when Shamrock isn’t offering Pee-Wee Camp.”

“Hello! Are you even listening at all? I’m not going there this year. Brenna says she’ll increase my hours at the Mustang Corral. She’ll let me do tune-ups and oil changes on the cars she buys. I’ll be able to get real tires for my car, new ones at Les Schwab, not have to go to the salvage yard for pull-offs.”

“For safety, new tires are a must,” Dad said. “I agree with you, Robbie.”

“Great. I’m glad somebody’s finally hearing me.”

Dad held up his hand. “Here’s the deal. I’ll put good tires on your Mustang, but you’re going to Shamrock for at least six weeks this summer. You need to build your skills so you can ride Twaziem and stay on him. Young horses make mistakes and falling off him isn’t an option.”

“Dad’s right,” Jack agreed. “If you teach him that people go splat, he’ll figure that’s what you want, and he’ll dump you six ways from Sunday all the time.”

Tears burned and I shoved my chair back from the table. “You people never freaking listen. I told you on my birthday I didn’t want a horse and you all ganged up on me until I brought one home. Now, you think you’re making me ride him. And it’s not happening!”


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