Malibu trotted obediently around the practise ring, her head hooked under neatly, quarters down and powerful while her legs drove her forward effortlessly in a prance.
Grant sat almost still in the saddle, his hands keeping the most minimal of contact on the bit, driving her with his seat and with his legs – there was no need to yank her around, the mare was far too smart to require anything like that to be beautiful.
He let the reins go loose with one hand to pet her shoulder gently, running his fingers through the loose bits of hair at the end of her braid, murmuring sweetly to her, knowing they were in such harmony that nothing could dis—
“Oi!” He yelped, hanging on tightly as Mali reared up half way, jumping to the side to avoid a nastily little chestnut horse that had dived into the arena, inches from the mare’s flank. “Watch it!” His temper flared and Mali’s body tensed as she felt the anger growing in the centre of her partner.
The rider seemed vacant, holding the mare, or gelding... or whatever, tightly up, hooking the horse’s head under unnaturally, froth seeping from its mouth. Grant’s hands loosened subconsciously on Mali’s slack reins and she walked forward slowly, her body still rigid with Grant’s frustration. She walked into the centre of the arena, turning on her quarters on her own, watching the little man drive the chestnut horse forward. It grunted and squealed, sweat and froth flecking its beautiful golden neck as it cantered looking like there was something bending its neck back on itself – the pain evident in its eyes.
Mali flinched as though she was being hurt as the horse was whipped harshly across its quarters, and its body clenched as though it were about to buck when the rider’s spurs drove into its flanks.
“Barbaric.” Grant muttered, pushing Mali into a trot and out to the arena.
“What are you doing!?”
Mali drew up and back again, spooking to the side, dodging to avoid the nastily little chestnut as it thundered past, 2hh shorter but with a nasty, spiteful eye, and rider with, quite obviously, a short temper.
“Control your animal! Don’t let him wander around like that! Pick up your reins, man!”
Grant growled to himself, pushing Mali on into a canter, drawing up beside the other rider and horse.
“Why don’t you let go of that pony and stop acting like you’re in the middle ages! The rollkur is cruel!”
The man drew up his horse that bucked and kicked out, stopping Mali in her tracks. He raised his Dressage whip threateningly and locked eyes with Grant, whose heart was thundering a mile a minute.
“Let me tell you something, boy, don’t tell me how to control my horse and what's ‘cruel’ or not until you can effectively ride yours. Look at her!” He lashed the whip in the air above Mali’s ears and she rose into a half-rear, whinnying.
“Stop it!” Grant yelped, looking around desperately for someone to help him.
“Now, get out of my way.”
Grant exited the arena within the half second after the last sentence had been said. He trotted Mali directly to the arena and stood outside patiently until it was his turn – paranoid and inwardly terrified that the mean little man and his chestnut horse would come up beside him again.
“Contestant number4, Grant Meryz, riding Beaumont’s Malibu.”