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Life's hurdles

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Life's hurdles The dim clouds hang in the sodden sky like filthy cotton wool. The wind is biting, and chills me to my core. I wipe what remains of the sandman's apparatus from my eye and quake in the cold. My riding boots are sucked down into the mud. I'm sinking. With considerable force I pull my footwear out, making a strident slurping noise as I do so. My jodhpurs cling as the rain saturates my clothing. I feel naked. I survey the scene. Obnoxious brats with riding crops and spurs before me; ponies lustrous from hours of grooming nudging their adolescent owner's pockets for sugar lumps and mint imperials. Excitable murmurs circulate about the forthcoming trial. Occasionally they take a fleeting look my way, disapproval apparent on their plump little faces. No use looking at me like that, I think, I'm going to beat you anyway. I squelch around to the stable door and there he is; the most stunning beast I have ever laid eyes on. The pattern of a blue stars on his graceful neck, and a cloudy dawn on the hindquarters, mane and tail the colour of a summer sky. ...read more.


His ears position themselves toward his purpose as we move toward the cross country course. I hold him steady; he wants to bolt. We are mutually impatient but the time has not yet come. The course is colossal. In my field of vision there are olive fields spotted with coffee coloured mud stains. Ancient trees interweave with one another; part of the landscape, steadfast and timeless. The fences are contained here on this gusty terrain. The wind is ruthlessly thrashing my ashen features, tears flow; I feel as if my eyes will ice over. The driving rain is just an irrelevant detail. It's that moment; we're at the first marker of the course, waiting restless and desperate for the whistle to blow. Hearing my companion grunting feverishly with anticipation I look to the fore and pin my ears back. The whistle blows. We charge forward without hesitation at a gallop. The first fence ahead of us, I know it's an undemanding obstacle. I leave him to his passion. Launching into the air he effortlessly conquers the jump. Now I begin to fret. ...read more.


I put my trust in him and surrender the rein. He has freedom to do now as he wishes; it's his judgement from this time forth. I observe his vigilance and his rhythm beneath me change and as I question the outcome of my actions my heart leaps in unreserved panic. Will he refuse? Am I going to be sent soaring through the air and come to rest a muddle of broken bones? Charging at the malevolent structure that would be a disaster, he takes flight as if he were some fabled creature. He is genuinely an unparalleled miracle for me only. We land steadily and sprint toward the ultimate goal. I'm smiling overjoyed, and awash with relief. I am exhilarated and glowing with pride. As an adult now, I appreciate life is a course just like the one my pony companion and I vanquished. Fear is commonplace and adversity time and time again an impediment we must overcome. I harness the courage I found that day with every breath. I know the overwhelming elation that life can award as I have seen it repeatedly and ubiquitously. I see dark clouds gather from my window as I conclude this piece. I'm smiling again, for I know the sun will without doubt return. Karen Wigham ...read more.

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