A dark haired girl astride a chestnut pony cantered into the ring. The pony’s neck glistened with sweat as he snorted spray from his nostrils. The crowd gasped as the pony careered around the course at break-neck speed, clearing the jumps with inches to spare. At the last jump the pony skidded to a halt, and the rider sailed over his head to land with a thud on the grass.
Jane dashed under the ropes and managed to grab the pony’s reins, avoiding the his flailing hooves. She waited as the rider got to her feet and gave her a leg up onto her pony. The girl rode out of the ring looking dejected and was eliminated from the competition.
Jane crawled back under the ropes and joined Sally on the straw bale, brushing blonde hair from her eyes.
‘That was dangerous you could’ve been hurt,’ said Sally frowning at her friend.
Jane shrugged her shoulders as they watched the rest of the riders complete the course. The girl on the bay cob won the class, with the only clear round.
By late afternoon the girl’s rucksacks were crammed with odds and ends. Sally paid a pound for a prancing model palomino horse. Jane spent two pounds on a turquoise bead necklace which she found in a church bazaar tent. The raffle was to be drawn shortly, they fished tickets from their pockets.
A breeze whipped up straw from the bales to spiral across the field like mini-tornadoes. Weary stall holders began to pack up their goods and load them into the back of their vehicles. The judge tapped the microphone in the commentator’s box and began to read out the winning numbers for the raffle.
The crowd clutched their tickets in anticipation. An elderly couple won a crate of wine and a family collected a food hamper from the attendant at the ringside.
‘Number seven is first prize winner’ announced the commentator.
Sally shrieked ‘Oh that’s mine,’ in Jane’s ear.
The two girls ran up to the commentator’s box to collect the prize. A tiny pink piglet peered through the vents in a small crate snuffling with excitement.
‘Dad can take the piglet home in the Land rover,’ exclaimed Sally, as she handed her crumpled ticket to the man.
Meanwhile the rider of the chestnut horse ran up to them.
‘Excuse me, I just want to say thanks for catching my pony.’ Said the girl handing a five pound note to Jane.
‘Oh that’s alright,’ said Jane blushing.
‘My name’s Anna Henson,’ said the girl as she took off her riding hat and tucked it under her arm. ‘Do you like horses?’
‘Yes we ride at Appletree stables on Saturdays,’ Said Sally.
‘I wondered if you’d like to come to my house and see my other ponies?’ said Anna.
Jane nodded her head as Anna handed her a card with her name and address printed on the front in smart black letters.
‘Can you come over to see me next Saturday?’ said Anna.
‘We’ll have to ask our parent’s permission first. We’ll ring you one evening next week after school to let you know,’ said Sally, admiring the girl’s smart riding attire.
‘Great I look forward to that!’ said Anna and turned to run back to the horsebox and load up her pony.
‘Look’s like your good turn has paid off.’ Said Sally grinning at her friend.
‘Yes but she looks a bit posh,’ answered Jane looking downcast.