Riding Lessons
by Andrew Todd


Chapter 21

Spin awoke in the middle of the night. Mattie was snuggled up against him fast asleep. He turned and looked at the clock on the night stand; it was just after 2 am. It was now or never.

He slipped out of the bed. He grabbed a pair of shorts and a t-shirt and tiptoed into the bathroom. He quickly got dressed without turning on the light. He did not want to chance waking Mattie; he knew his cautious boyfriend would try to talk him out of this. He padded barefoot out of the bedroom and then pulled his sneakers on.

Spin knew he should be nervous, but since he had seen the black horse, Revanche, earlier that evening, he had been obsessed with him. All he could think of since then was that horse. Even when he and Mattie had had their fun before falling asleep, he was distracted by his thoughts about the big black horse.

Spin went through the sitting room and quickly exited the bunkhouse.

He walked quickly to the far barn and the paddock where his horse was kept.

When he came around the corner, he saw the beautiful horse racing around the paddock. Even in the middle of the night, Revanche had this much energy. It was like this horse was made for him.

Spin quietly and calmly approached the paddock.

He spoke quietly to the horse, “Hey, buddy. What’re you so mad about? You look like you need a friend…me, too. Do you wanna be friends?”

The horse stopped running around the paddock and locked his eyes on Spin. Revanche walked over to the fence where Spin stood very still. The horse reached his neck over the fence towards Spin. Spin slowly reached his hand up and stroked the horse’s neck.

He kept talking calmly and in a low voice to the horse. He stayed close and stroked the horse’s neck and side from his side of the fence. After a few minutes, he slipped between the two lowest planks of the fence.

Spin stood beside the horse. He continued his patting and stroking and scratching of the horse, getting him used to his presence.  Revanche started to nuzzle Spin’s hand and lip at his arm. Spin laughed. This was going better than he had hoped.

He walked around the horse, touching and stroking him all over. Then he walked away from the horse. Revanche looked around for the little redhead and followed him around the paddock. Several times Spin would stop and Revanche would stop right behind him and rest his head on Spin’s shoulder.

Spin was bursting to go further, but he knew enough to know he had to move slowly.

He kept walking around the paddock and Revanche stayed right with him. The horse seemed to be much calmer than he had been earlier in the day. Spin knew if he did this right, he would have ‘his’ horse.

He walked back toward the paddock fence. Revanche followed him. Spin led the horse so that he was parallel to the fence. Then he scaled the fence and sat on the top plank.

Spin reached out and laid his hand on Revanche’s back. He just stroked the horse’s back, neck and mane talking to him soothingly.

He placed his feet on the next plank down and leaned towards the horse. Keeping most of his weight on his feet he placed some weight on his hand that was still on Revanche’s back. He kept adding a bit more weight every few seconds and the horse did not budge.

He was reaching the point of no return. He steeled himself and put all his weight on his hands. Revanche took a small step to steady himself but stayed right next to the fence.

Spin took a deep breath and slipped his left leg gently over the horse’s back and sat down. He held his breath, but Revanche did not even shift his weight.

Spin exhaled. He leaned forward and hugged the horse around the neck, whispering words of encouragement.

Spin sat back up and looked down. This was the biggest horse he had ever ridden. He was only a few inches shorter than Onyx who was the biggest horse at the Triple J.

Spin took another deep breath and exhaled. He kissed at Revanche and the big horse moved forward at a walk.

Taking it slow, Spin had the horse walk quietly around the paddock several times. After a few cycles, he had the horse move into a trot. Before he knew it Spin had Revanche circling the paddock at a gallop. He was beside himself. He wanted to shout at the top of his lungs, but figured that would probably not be a good idea at three in the morning.

He kept riding Revanche around the paddock. He was so happy he lost all track of time. He slowed the horse to a walk and circled the paddock one last time. As he returned to the spot in the fence where he first mounted he was surprised to see Nick standing there smiling at him.

Spin stopped Revanche and slid down. He walked over to the fence where Nick stood and Revanche followed him over.

“Oh my God!!” Nick exclaimed. “I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it. This horse hasn’t come near anyone since he got here. What did you do to him?”

“I didn’t do anything to him,” Spin responded. “He just seems to like me.”

Nick nodded, “Well, that’s an understatement.”

Revanche came up to the fence and stood beside Spin; he stuck his head through the planks of the fence and reached towards Nick. Nick reached out and scratched the horse’s cheek and stroked his neck. He laughed as Revanche nuzzled his cheek. It was like this was a whole new horse.

Nick looked at Spin and raised his eyebrows.

“What?” asked Spin.

“I want to ride him,” Nick answered. “I’ve been thinking about this since the day he got here.”

“Are you sure?”

“Look, Spin, I know my dad will let you adopt him, since you are the first person to get through to him. I just want to ride him once before you take him.”

Spin’s face lit up. “Do you really think I can adopt him?”

“Of course. The plan was always for Revanche to be adopted. He’s too young and too skilled to be put out to pasture. Look what you’ve done with him in just a few hours, in the middle of the freakin’ night.”

Spin laughed. He motioned for Nick to scale the fence while he maneuvered Revanche parallel with it.

Spin stood next to Revanche, stroking his neck and talking to him. Nick balanced on the second rail of the fence, just as Spin had earlier. He quickly slipped his leg over the horse’s back and took his seat.

Nick was over the moon to finally be riding Revanche. When the horse had first come to the rescue he had hoped and prayed that this would be his new horse. He loved Red, but he was getting up there in age and Nick needed a younger horse that could keep up with him. He knew that he would have to keep looking, because it was obvious that Revanche was Spin’s horse. He just felt so lucky that he would get to ride him this one time.

Spin started to walk around the paddock and Revanche followed him like a puppy. When he was sure that the horse was going to stay calm and easygoing, he stepped over to the fence and watched Nick take off.

Nick rode Revanche around the paddock for a while and then he rode over to where Spin was waiting and slipped down.

Nick rushed over and hugged Spin.

“What was that for?” asked a shocked Spin.

“Spin, I’m just so happy. I thought Revanche was going to be my horse when he first got here. I’ve been trying to get near him every day and he wouldn’t have anything to do with me. I was starting to worry about him. And now, thanks to you, he’s great. And I got a chance to ride him. Don’t worry, he’s your horse. I knew that as soon as I saw you earlier tonight. I’m just so happy and grateful that I got a chance to ride him before you took him.”

Spin grinned at Nick. The blond boy seemed to have the same energy and outlook that he had. He had been smiling non-stop since they met. Spin thought if they lived closer he and Nick would be great friends. He’d have to make sure he got an e-mail address from him before they left.

The two boys stood in the paddock talking and playing with Revanche for a while.

Nick looked at his watch. “Oh, wow!!” he declared. “It’s late…or early depending on your point of view.”

Both boys laughed.

“Hey, do you want to see something awesome?” Nick asked excitedly.


“Ok, let me go get Red and a bridle for Revanche and I’ll be right back.”

Nick ran off towards the barn and Spin laughed thinking this must be what Dusty, Zak and Mattie think when they watch him.

Nick was back in a few minutes. He was riding Red bareback and he tossed a bridle to Spin.

Spin quickly bridled Revanche and led the horse out of the paddock. He climbed up the fence and quickly mounted the horse.

The two boys rode across a large field. As they were coming to the top of a hill, Nick stopped and pointed over the horizon.

Spin was stunned by the beautiful sight before him. The boys sat on their horses and watched the bright sunrise over the hill.

“Sometimes I come up here by myself to watch the sunrise,” whispered Nick. “It’s like God is starting a new day and blessing us.”

Spin wasn’t sure about God, but he did feel great having his new friend share this experience with him.

After they had watched the sunrise, Nick and Spin continued their ride around the field until they decided it was time to head back and wake their friends.

In the bunkhouse, Mattie woke to find himself alone in bed. At first he assumed that Spin was in the bathroom. He waited a few minutes, but he needed to go to so he ran in and was surprised to find it empty. He relieved himself and then went back into the bedroom and quickly got dressed.

He went out into the sitting room. Dusty and Zak were sitting there waiting.

“Where’s Spin?” Mattie asked.

“We thought he was with you,” Zak answered.

“Yeah,” Dusty added. “We haven’t seen him.”

“Well, he’s not in the bedroom,” said Mattie.

Just then Noah came out of the third bedroom. “Hey, guys, is Nick out here with you?”

All three shook their heads.

“No,” answered Mattie. “And Spin’s not here either. I wonder where he wou…Oh, shit!! You don’t think he…”

The bulbs went off for Dusty and Zak at the same time.

All four boys ran for the door and took off for the far barn. When they turned the corner they found the empty paddock.

“Oh, shit!!” cried Mattie. “What did he do?!?”

“Hold on!” yelled Noah as he ran back to the barn.

Noah came running back out a few seconds later. “Red’s gone too, so chances are they are together. Nick is a bit of a daredevil, so who knows what he’s lured Spin into.”

Mattie laughed, “Spin doesn’t get lured, he’s usually the instigator.”

“Hey!! Is that any way to talk about your beloved?!” Spin yelled as he and Nick rode up behind the boys.

All four boys spun around.

“Where the hell have you been?” Mattie demanded.

Spin and Nick slipped off their horses and excitedly told their friends about Spin’s middle-of-the-night ride and how Nick had found him and then rode Revanche himself. Finally, they excitedly told the others about the sunrise ride they had taken.

Zak went over to Spin and gave him a huge hug. “So, I take it you got your horse.”

Spin smiled as big as his cheeks would allow. “Oh, yeah.”

Spin and Nick went to take care of Revanche and Red, while the other four boys went to take care of the morning feedings.

After they were all finished they headed to the main house for breakfast. Jeff and Jen listened as Spin and Nick repeated the story of their midnight excursion.

Spin finally looked shyly at Jeff. “So, sir, I guess I’d like to adopt Revanche, if it’s possible.”

Jeff grinned at Spin. “Spin, it’s more than possible. We were starting to think that horse was going to be a real problem. We do our best to rehabilitate the rescues we take in here, but he was just so wild and ornery. If he’s as taken with you as you and Nick seem to think he is, then I can’t think of any better place for him than with you.” Jeff thought for a moment. “I’ll tell you what. Why don’t the six of you go on your trail ride and then when you get back I’ll have all the contracts drawn up for the adoption. Ok?”

Spin nodded excitedly. “OK!!”

All the boys laughed at how excited Spin was. When they finished breakfast, Spin, Zak and Nick ran back to the bunkhouse to change clothes. Spin wanted to have Revanche do a few rounds in the arena when they came back so they decided to put on their riding clothes. Dusty, Mattie and Noah stayed behind and started cleaning out stalls since they all figured they were dressed for a trail ride already.

The three English riders met their boyfriends at the barn and the six quickly finished cleaning stalls. Nick told Dusty, Mattie and Zak to grab whichever horses they wanted.

Zak went right for Apollo the Arabian. Mattie took Whisper and Dusty went to get Storm. Noah took Lady. Nick came out with a large grey mare. All the boys looked up. “This is Mist. She’s a Percheron cross. She’s only been on the trails a couple of times and today will be good for her to get some practice since there are so many of us.”

The boys quickly groomed and saddled their horses and took off on the trail.

The boys quickly broke back into their groups of three. Zak, Spin and Nick rode three abreast, while Dusty, Noah and Mattie came up behind them. When they got to a large field, Spin and Zak looked at each other expectantly and then they looked at Nick.

Nick just laughed and shook his head, “Oh, no, this one is built for strength not speed. You two go ahead.”

Spin and Zak looked at each other and as if communicating telepathically each boy kicked his horse into a gallop at the same time.

Mattie saw the two take off and decided he would join them. Without saying a word, he spurred Whisper into a gallop and took off after the other two boys.

Dusty stayed behind with Nick and Noah and laughed at his friends.

“Dusty, you don’t want to race them?” Noah asked.

Dusty shook his head. “I don’t think ol’ Storm here could keep up. What about you, Noah?”

Noah blanched. “No, I’m not much for speed. I’m still kind of a novice. Nick’s the daredevil. If he had had Red or one of the other horses, it would be you and me here alone.”

Nick laughed and nodded in agreement with his boyfriend.

The three stayed in the middle of the field watching Zak, Spin and Mattie race around them. Mattie continued to surprise everyone. The usually unflappable, quiet boy was riding balls-out after his boyfriend. Zak was bringing up the rear, enjoying letting Spin have fun with his new horse.

When they finally tired of racing the three boys returned to their waiting friends.

The six continued their ride until it was almost 11:00, then Dusty told them they needed to be heading back.

When they got back to the ranch, Dusty, Mattie and Noah took their horses to hose them down and put them up, while Nick, Zak and Spin went over to the ring.

Spin did a few rounds of the course just to see how Revanche would do. The big warmblood jumped like a dream.

Spin was more confident than ever that this was the horse he had been dreaming about. With Revanche he would be able to train with Zak at hunter/jumper and still take long trail rides with his friends. Best of all, he would also be able to keep Marty and use him to help kids take their first steps learning to ride.

After Spin had finished, Zak just had to take one more run on Apollo; he was in love with the Arabian and if he didn’t already have Onyx, he would have been begging his mother to let him adopt the horse.

Finally sated, Zak, Nick and Spin led their horses to the barn and cooled them down. When they had finished grooming them and putting them up, they headed to the main house.

Jeff had finished the paperwork. He had called Spin’s father, as they had agreed earlier, to inform him that Spin had made a good decision on his horse.

Jeff had Spin sign the adoption papers since he was going to be the owner of record. Since Spin was underage, a copy of the documents would be sent to his father to sign as well.

Jeff knew from his conversations with Spin, that the boy’s driving thought behind adopting a horse was to get an animal that needed a home, but also to be able to keep his old horse, Marty. He knew Spin’s actions were not selfish, but based on his love and commitment to Marty. In order to help Spin, he reduced the adoption fee that he would normally charge for a horse of Revanche’s caliber. He knew that Spin would take great care of the horse and he also knew that had Spin not come along, the horse may have ultimately been unadoptable.

Once Spin had signed the papers and Revanche was officially his, he was exploding with excitement. Mattie was starting to think he was going to have to drag him into a nearby bathroom to calm him down again.

Instead, Zak pulled him aside and whispered in his ear. After that, Spin was still excited, but he kept a greater control on his energy and emotions.

Later, Dusty and Mattie cornered Zak.

“What the hell did you say to Spin?” Mattie asked.

Zak laughed, “I told him that if he didn’t calm down, he was riding back to the ranch in the horse trailer.”

Dusty and Mattie both laughed and nodded their heads.

After a quick lunch, the boys headed out to the barn to get Spin’s new horse loaded into the trailer.

While Dusty and Spin loaded Revanche with help from Jeff, Zak ran into the barn to say a last goodbye to Apollo.

Zak was standing in the Arabian’s stall stroking his neck and talking to him when Nick walked up. Nick peered over the stall door at Zak and Apollo.

“You really love him, don’t you?” Nick asked.

“He’s great,” Zak answered. “But I already have Onyx and he’s enough for now.”

Zak gave Apollo one last hug and turned and walked out of the stall. He bolted the door and turned to Nick. He had a small tear rolling down his cheek.

“How do you do it?” Zak asked.

“Do what?”

“Spend all this time with them and then let them go?”

“It’s hard. I spend so much time with most of them. But, in the end the goal is finding them a good home. We couldn’t keep them all if we wanted to. I wanted Revanche to be my new horse, but he never accepted me the way he has Spin. I could sit here and be all angry, but instead I’m overjoyed because he’s going to a great new home and he’s going to be with someone who will love him and take great care of him. I can’t ask for anything else.”

“I don’t think I could do it,” Zak responded.

Nick walked over to Zak and wrapped his arms around him in a hug. “Yes, you could, because at the end of the day, you love them and you know that this is what’s best.”

Zak hugged Nick back. The two boys then left the barn to go find the others.

Everyone else was gathered around the truck saying their goodbyes.

Spin and Mattie loaded themselves into the backseat of the truck and Zak got into the passenger seat and shut the door. He was still thinking of Apollo.

Dusty was getting ready to get into the truck, when instead he ran over to Nick and Noah and whispered something to them. Both boys nodded and grinned at Dusty. Dusty grinned back and then got into the truck and started it up.

All four boys waved from the truck as they pulled away from the barn.

As they were going down the driveway, Mattie turned to Spin. “Hey Spin, do you know any French?” Mattie asked.

Spin looked at him like he was nuts. “Of course I don’t.”

“Then you don’t know what ‘Revanche’ means?”

“No. What?”

Mattie giggled. “Revenge.”


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