Pony Jumpers series · Seventh Place · Sneak peek

Sneak peek : #7 Seventh Place

7P

A sneak peek from Chapter Seven of book 7 in the Pony Jumpers series – SEVENTH PLACE.


The sun was lowering over the Taihape show grounds as I stepped out of our truck on Saturday evening. My jandals crunched on the dry grass, and I wondered if it was going to rain soon. The ground was like rock, and the sprinklers that were hissing water across the jumping rings were barely making a dent.

Dad straightened up from his crouch by the truck’s water tank and looked at me. “Where are you off to?”

“Katy’s truck. I’m having dinner with them. I told you.”

“Oh, right.”

I felt bad about leaving him alone, but Katy had already told me that her mum was spending the evening with friends, so there was no place for him. If he’d tried a little harder to make friends of his own, maybe he wouldn’t be in this position. I pushed away that uncharitable thought and gave him a quick wave as I started to walk away, only to be called back by his insistent voice.

“Are the ponies fed?”

“Yes.”

“Did you wrap Skip’s legs?”

I stopped and looked back at him. “Yes. And Forbes’ as well, and they’ve got hay, and water, and I’ve mucked them out. Anything else?”

“Did you clean your tack?” He was really grasping at straws now.

“I’ll do it in the morning,” I assured him.

“Don’t be too late. Forbes is on first thing.”

“I know. I won’t,” I called back as I started walking again. “Besides, Katy’s in the same class and she’s first to go. It’s not going to be a late night. Promise.”

I walked down the line of trucks, listening to the slap of my jandals against the hard ground, enjoying the warm evening air on my bare arms and legs. It had been a hot day, but my ponies had jumped well. I saw Katy’s truck up ahead, and heard AJ’s loud laughter emanating from it. The ramp was down, and Katy stepped down onto it with an armful of feed buckets. Her dark hair was falling out of its ponytail, and she had a dirty streak down her bare leg.

I grinned at Katy as I reached the bottom of her ramp. “Need any help?” I offered, eyeing up the buckets in her arms.

“Oh hey,” she greeted me. “No I’m good, these are for the morning. Just trying to be prepared.”

“For once in your life,” AJ teased her, appearing at the top of the ramp. She had her arm in a sling, reminding me of the injury that she’d sustained in a car accident on New Year’s Eve. It had been a rough start to the year for her too, but she was beaming down at me as though she didn’t have a care in the world. “How are you always so clean?” she asked me, her blue eyes scanning me from top to toe.

I blushed, shrugging. “I had a shower.”

“Ah, that’d explain it. Did you hear that, Katy?”

“I heard.”

“Just a friendly suggestion from the person who has to sleep next to you tonight,” AJ said casually as Katy jumped off the ramp and opened one of the side hatches with one hand, stepping back as she lifted it up and did her best to wedge the buckets in. I went to help her, holding the hatch up for her.

“Thanks.” Katy shoved a pile of covers that had been crammed into the small space to the side, then pushed the buckets into the gap, where they tilted precariously back towards her. “I think they’ll stay,” she said optimistically.

I shot her a dubious look. “I don’t.”

“Aren’t you Susie Sunshine today?” she asked. “Don’t be such a pessimist.”

“It’s not pessimism, it’s physics,” I replied. “This little thing called gravity.”

“Pfft.” Katy rolled her eyes at me. “We’ve just gotta be quick. Shut the hatch on three. Ready? One, two, three!”

She let go of the buckets and stepped back before I could tell her that it was a really stupid idea, because even if I could get the hatch closed in time to keep the feed buckets wedged into the gap, they would all fall out the moment anyone opened it again. Katy didn’t appear to have thought of that, but since I’d failed to shut the hatch on her count, the buckets tumbled out as soon as she let go of them – just as I’d known they would – and scattered their contents across the dry grass.

AJ roared with laughter as Katy stared at me indignantly.

“You didn’t shut it!”

“I told you it wasn’t going to work.”

“It would’ve worked if you’d just shut it when I told you to.”


7 Seventh Place - DIGITAL 150dpi

SEVENTH PLACE is due out in February 2016!

Susannah is on her way to the National Championships, but without the friends she is now accustomed to having by her side. When her attempts to make new friends, both in and out of the jumping arena, repeatedly end in disaster, she starts to wonder whether her dreams are still worth fighting for.

But everything changes when one of her ponies falls dangerously ill, and suddenly winning doesn’t seem to matter at all…

Pony Jumpers series · Six to Ride · Sneak peek

SIX TO RIDE – SNEAK PEEK!

6TR

PONY JUMPERS #6 – SIX TO RIDE is still a work in progress, and still a week or two away, at the least. But because I’ve been so incredibly slack and I’m so desperately far behind schedule with it, here’s a little excerpt. I guess you could say this conversation has been on my mind, in the wake of recent events.

Scene: Katy and Phil (her next door neighbour – remember Phil?) talking, late at night, about the weight of the world.


“Why is the world such a mess?”

Phil shrugged. “I don’t know. It’s always been like that, I think. It’s just that we can’t help knowing about it.”

“You mean because of the internet and stuff?”

“Yeah.”

“Do you ever feel like…” I hesitated, unsure of what I was about to say. “I don’t know how to explain this so I don’t sound like a terrible person.”

Phil cocked an eyebrow at me. “You can’t shock me. I already know you’re a terrible person.”

“Ha ha. Fine. I’ll say it, and watch you be shocked.”

He straightened up, fixing his eyes on mine and assuming a serious expression. “Okay, I’ll brace myself. Go.”

The old couch was scratchy against my bare legs. I pulled them up higher under the horse blanket and tucked my feet underneath me, my brain desperately scrabbling for words.

“Do you ever feel like it’s too hard…to care? Like, when bad things happen around the world – suicide bombings and terrorist attacks and people getting beheaded and there being millions of people living in rat-infested refugee camps and it’s so awful and you feel so bad about it, but then you still have to get up every day and go to school and live your life, and your own problems seem so little and petty but then they’re also like, huge, because they’re the only problems that you’ve got. And things go wrong and you get upset and people are like um at least you’re not living in a rat-infested refugee camp and you know that’s true and you try to see that perspective but it’s so…exhausting,” I told him, my words tripping over each other as I stared at his neutral expression, trying to make him understand my point. “Like it’s just too hard to care that much about everyone all at once. And then something really bad happens, something terrible and cataclysmic and everyone gets really worked up and it’s all over Facebook and there are hashtags and memes and everyone changes their DPs and you do it as well because if you don’t then it looks like you don’t care about other people’s plights, and then someone posts something about how the media is misinterpreting what’s going on or how you’ve only been shown the stuff they want you to see, and that hundreds and thousands more people are dying that you never even hear about. So then you feel manipulated and cynical, and you have to feel bad for those people too, for their problems and because they’re being ignored by the media, and it makes you mad that you’re being told to care more about some people than others. And the whole time you’re trying to wrap your head around how it must feel for people to be in those kind of horrific situations, seeing their families get killed and not being able to go to school for fear of their lives, and you think how grateful you are for where you live and what you get to do in your life. But then your mum yells at you for not keeping your room clean, and teachers tell you off for not studying hard enough and it’s like sorry but I have the weight of the freaking world on my shoulders right now, except that I don’t. Not really. Because all those problems are other people’s problems, and my problems are whether I’ve done my homework and whether my room is clean and how my ponies are going to do at the show this weekend. I can’t do anything about whether someone decides to strap a bomb to themselves and kill innocent people. All I can do is write a hashtag and change my profile picture and feel guilty for having a better life than millions of people who are living in rat-infested refugee camps, and that’s nothing. That’s pathetic. And I hate it. I hate feeling so bad about something I can’t change, and something I’m so powerless to fix, so I just try to stop thinking about it. At all.”

My words petered out at last, my tongue finally tying itself in so many knots that I had to stop. I’d just talked myself around in circles, making absolutely no sense, I was sure. I wondered what he was thinking. Heartless cow, probably. I knew I shouldn’t have said anything, but it was too late now. My guts were officially spilled, and Phil still hadn’t said anything, and I just knew that I’d made a terrible mistake. Story of my life.