As the first rays of the sun peak over the horizon, penetrating the dark, soft light illuminates the mist rising up from the ground, forming an eerie, almost surreal landscape. The ground sparkles, wet with dew, and while walking from the truck to the barn, my riding boots soak it in. The crickets still chirp, only slower now. They know that daytime fast approaches. Sounds, the soft rustling of hooves, a snort, and from far down the aisle a sharp whinny that begs for breakfast, inform me that the crickets are not the only ones preparing for the day.
Sliding the barn doors open, I step into a warm, comforting environment. Musty straw mingles with the sharp aroma of pine shavings, complementing each other. A warm glow from
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She's a red-head, a rich glowing chestnut, behaving like a perfect lady one second, then erupting, fiery and mean the next. I recall numerous occasions where she chased me from her stall, tired of my attention. Her petulance caused me much grief and physical pain. Many times I became airborne, landing in a twisted heap, bruised and battered, after Scarlett, objecting to some trivial annoyance, bucked me off. Her rebellious, unpredictable behavior factored into my nervousness. Often, I was excused from the show ring due to Scarlett's misbehaving. Blaming her for this would do no good. She is only five years old, young and inexperienced. This, added to the fact that she is a Thoroughbred, a breed notorious for unpredictability and flightiness, explains her behavior. But she loves her job, loves to jump, and rarely does she refuse a fence. With time, training, and many horse shows, Scarlett has the potential to shine.
The Hartwood Show Jumping Festival, held near Hartwood Acres, which lies twenty-five miles northeast of Pittsburgh, is, without a doubt, my favorite horse show. This week long exravaganza takes place towards the end of June. Hartwood and summer weather go hand in hand. Parched customers sweep bottled water from the concession stand faster than employees can chill it, and cloudy skies never threaten to darken the mood. However, my tall black leather boots, wool riding coat,