1.1.1 Chapter 10

Working with Thundering Glory

The next day we woke up at five in the morning. Alissa and I had to practically drag Sarah out of her bed. She was cranky.

"I don't wanna get up. Leave me alone!" she argued, pulling her blankets over her head.

"Get up!" Alissa yanked the covers off of Sarah.

Unwillingly, Sarah slowly got out of bed. Her blonde hair was sticking out all over the place and her eyes were half closed as she walked to the closet. She stayed over at my house so much that the guest bedroom was practically hers and she had some of her own clothes in it. She grabbed her glasses off of the dresser, put them on, grabbed a pair of jeans and a white T-shirt then changed. "It is too early to put in contacts," Sarah decided aloud as she brushed her hair.

"Could you possibly go any faster?" I demanded.

"Shut up," she mumbled.

When Sarah was done, we went out to the barn. She griped the whole time. "I don't want to get up this early, I don't want to be near that horse. I want to go back to bed. I don't even like horses. They're stupid. Why did I agree to this?" she asked, picking up a lead rope. "Am I stupid or something?"

"Yes," Alissa answered, turning on the water pump to water the horses.

"Okay, dude, that's, like, one of those questions you ain't supposed to answer. I wasn't even talking to you! I hate horses. I hate mornings. That horse is gonna kill me. I don't want to be here. And what the heck is that awful smell?" Sarah yelled.

"Just shut up and quit complaining. We've got to get some work done before everyone wakes up," I snapped.

Sarah rolled her eyes at me.

"I saw that." I took the lead rope from Sarah, opened Thundering Glory's stall door, and led him out. "Thank God he's halter broken at least."

I led the horse down to the arena, followed by Alissa and Sarah. Alissa carried a blue-green bareback pad. She seemed excited to help me. Sarah, on the other hand, drug her feet and seemed half-asleep and angry. We entered the arena and I tied Thundering Glory to a post. Then I took the bareback pad from Alissa and held it out to Thundering Glory so that he could smell it. After that I slowly placed it on his back. Immediately he reared and threw it off his back. I repeated the process again. And again... and again...and again...

"Let me try something," Alissa said.

"All right," I sighed. I exasperatedly handed the bareback pad to Alissa. Then I went to stand beside Sarah.

Alissa took the bareback pad and showed it to Thundering Glory. Then she loosened his lead rope so that it was much longer than I had tied it. "This way he can see what I'm doing," she explained.

"He can also bite you that way, " I warned. I always tied the rope short because I had been bitten too many times before.

"Maybe not." Then she began to lightly rub the bareback pad on Thundering Glory's neck, slowly moving to his withers, then down his front leg. She went on to his back, his back legs, then she did the other side.

"What are you doing?" Sarah asked, skeptically.

"I read this in a book. It's what they call 'sacking out the horse'. It's supposed to show him that the blanket won't hurt him." Keeping the bareback pad on him, she slowly moved it until it was sitting on his back. Then she let go. Thundering Glory didn't throw it; he just looked at it, then stood there.

My jaw dropped. "It worked! It really worked!"

Thundering Glory looked at me as if to say, "Well, duh!"

Alissa smiled proudly. Then she took the cinch. She didn't tighten the cinch, but she fastened it enough to let the horse feel it around him. Thundering Glory spooked and pulled back on the lead rope and broke it. Galloping and bucking around the arena, he tried to throw the bareback pad off.

"Oh crap!" Sarah screamed and ducked down, covering her head and neck with her arms.

"Blonde," I muttered.

Thundering Glory continued to buck. He soon quieted down and stood in a corner of the arena, his head down and a defeated look in his eyes. I slowly walked to where he stood. I was very cautious as I remembered what had happened to my father. He let me walk up to him and take the small part of the lead rope that was still attached to his halter. I talked quietly to him. "Easy, boy, easy," I whispered. I clucked to him, then walked to his side and removed the bareback pad. Then I led him to the center of the arena.

"What time is it?" Alissa asked.

"Time for you to get a watch!" Sarah said. Then she added, "It's 6:30. Can we stop now?"

"Yeah, we made a little progress, let's put him back in his stall," I said. I gave the bareback pad to Alissa and she put it in the tack shed. Then she and Sarah went back to the house. I led Thundering Glory back to the barn and took the lead rope off his halter. "Cheap piece of crap," I mumbled to myself. I brushed Thundering Glory and put him in his stall. I fed and watered him and the other horses, then went back inside to get some more sleep before everyone else woke up at 7:30.

We worked with Thundering Glory every morning for a month, getting up at 4:30 and working until 6:30 or 7:00 a.m. It made me tired, but we were making progress. We could put a bareback pad on him and cinch it up, and he wouldn't buck. He let us put a snaffle bit in his mouth, but I could tell he didn't like it.

One day we put saddle bags on top of the bareback pad.

"Gimme a couple of those bricks," I said. Alissa handed them to me and I put two in each saddlebag. The bags were old, so it didn't matter if they got dirty. "This way he'll get used to having weight on his back. Then, if he doesn't act up, we can put a saddle on him."

Thundering Glory stood straight up and moved his ears forward, but he didn't bolt. I walked him around the arena several times. The weight didn't seem to bother him.

"Can we try a saddle?" Alissa asked, excitedly.

"Well...all right. We can try it. He might go crazy, though, so be prepared," I answered.

"I'm always prepared for that horse to go crazy," Sarah yawned as Alissa walked to the tack shed to get a saddle.

"Get Shawn's!" I yelled to her.

"Which one is it?" she called back.

"One of the English saddles!"

She came out a few minutes later, carrying Shawn's English saddle and riding pad. "Why his saddle?" she asked.

"Because English saddles aren't as heavy as western ones."

"Oh," she said. "What makes western ones heavier?"

"The cantle and pommel," I said. I removed the saddle bags, laden with bricks, and the bare back pad. Then I put Shawn's saddle on his back. He turned to watch me, but he didn't react. I then walked him around with the saddle on his back. He didn't bolt, kick, or buck, even the least little bit.

"Cinch it up!" Alissa encouraged.

"No way!" I called back. I didn't want to push my luck. I was surprised that he hadn't tried to get the saddle off already. After about five minutes, I took the saddle off, brushed him down, and then let him into the paddock behind his stall to have a little freedom. He wasn't supposed to be let out, but since I was watching him, I figured it was okay. Besides, I had been breaking the rules about this horse for that past month, why should I have started worrying about it then? He ran and kicked his back feet into the air, happy to have some time to run and be free. I wished I could ride him, to just let him gallop around the ranch, but if he threw me and I got hurt, my brothers would get angry again and try to sell him. I stayed with him until I saw someone in the house getting up. I decided to put him back in his stall before we both got into trouble. He came as soon as I called him and willingly went into his stall. Then I went inside to see what was going on.

My family was discussing whether or not to have the big rodeo that we always had the first weekend in August.

"I just don't know," Grandpa sighed.

"Well, we haven't done anything else this summer," Danny grumbled.

"Why break the record?" Bryson asked.

"Ha! Remind me to laugh next time," Danny said.

"Why don't you both quit being such smart-" Shawn started.

"Shawn," Grandma warned.

"What do you think, Shayne?" Grandpa asked.

"I want to have the rodeo, but it's not up to me," he replied, looking at the newspaper.

"Well, you're the oldest, you need to make a lot more of the decisions around here now. You're kind'a in charge," Grandpa said.

"Then if I'm in charge," Shayne looked directly at me, "I say we get rid of that horse!"

"Forget about the horse for one minute," Grandpa said, waving a hand in the air. "Concentrate on the rodeo."

"Let's have it. Heck, let's go ahead and open for the rest of the season. Everyone's been callin' and wantin' to reserve certain cabins and stuff. Let's go ahead and open it. It might be a good idea," Wayde suggested.

"It's gonna take a lot of work, getting those cabins ready in time. We'd only have a small amount of time to get everything fixed up," Grandpa said.

"My friends and I can help out," I volunteered. "Sarah will help. And Alissa and I can call some other people to help. Alissa likes to clean and so does..."

"Whoa, slow down, Jenny. Let's just wait a second," Blake said and smiled. He knew how much I wanted to open the ranch. I could tell by the look on his face that he wanted to open it just as much as I did.

Shayne sighed deeply, "We sure could use the money. If you want to, Grandpa, go for it."

Grandpa smiled. "We'll start work as soon as we can get some help out here."

"Why wait?" Danny asked, excitedly, "Let's go start now!"

"Not on an empty stomach, you're not," Olive said, coming into the dining room.

"All right," Danny sighed and sat down.

"Shayne, you and Bryson go with Wayde and check on the cabins," Grandpa said between sips of coffee.

Bryson groaned and rolled his eyes," This is so stupid."

Grandpa ignored him. "Patrick, Blake and Shawn, you go clean up the guests' horse barns. Danny, you go with them. Jennifer and Alissa, I want you to saddle a couple of horses and ride along all the fencing and make sure there are not any holes in it or any broken or rotten rails. If there are, write it down and we'll fix it later. Then I want everyone to come and help load some hay and straw onto a wagon to take over to the guest barns. All right?"

We finished our breakfast, practically in silence. As soon as Alissa and I were done, we ran outside to saddle Degenerate and Take-Time. We rode quickly to the guest part of the ranch. I rode Degenerate. Alissa wanted to ride him until I told her she would probably be thrown. It didn't take her long to change her mind.

It took a long time to ride along the fence, but it was enjoyable. Luckily, there weren't many places where the fence was broken or damaged. We had fun spooking the cattle by running at them on our horses, and then we went to the old barn where we stored the hay. The barn had a metal roof and three sides made of metal, with one side open. Hay was stacked to the ceiling. To the right was a shorter roof, which covered a tractor and a large wagon. When we got there, Danny's, Patrick's, Blake's and Shawn's horses were tied outside and they were hooking the wagon to the tractor.

"Hey, Jenn!" Danny waved to me. The tractor was so loud, I barely heard him. Shawn was backing the tractor up to the trailer and Blake was motioning for Shawn to move back more or stop. When Shawn was finally close enough, they turned off the tractor.

By the time Wayde and Shayne got there, Shawn had managed to get the trailer in the right place (after several attempts). Alissa stood back and watched. Shayne was at the top of the haystack and handed down bale by bale to Blake, who handed it to Patrick, who handed it to me. Then I handed it to Danny, and he, Wayde, and Shawn placed it on the trailer. We spent the rest of the day loading the hay and driving it over to the guest part of the ranch. They let me drive it one time. After we got it to the guest barns, we would have to unload each trailer full into one of the barns. On the last load, Shayne drove and Wayde took Alissa back to the house in the truck. The rest of us climbed onto the trailer and I laid on some of the bales. Shawn, Danny, Patrick and Blake lay on the hay also. The sun had just set and the stars were beginning to shine. It was getting cooler, but it was still pretty warm. I stretched and yawned. Patrick chewed on a piece of hay and crossed his arms behind his head.

"How many stars do you think are up there?" he asked to no one in particular.

"Too many to count," Shawn yawned. Shawn was the second oldest brother. He was tall and slender with reddish-brown hair and golden brown eyes. He was more into the English side of riding than into the western.

"It sure is pretty out tonight, ain't it, Jenny?" Danny asked quietly.

"Mmm," I responded. The stars were now shining brightly above us and the crescent moon shone. A breeze came and went, carrying with it the smell of fresh grass and everything that was country. I loved nights like these, everything seemed perfect. I knew that everything would be all right, now that we were opening the ranch. Things would go back to the way they were before. Except for one thing: Dad wouldn't be with us this year. But I knew we could pull it off. I had to make him proud of me. If I could just ride Thundering Glory, Dad would be proud. I knew he would.