Riding On A Pale Horse

Stoney’s Dude Ranch 
#1


The day was crisp and clear, a little chill for summer. But Anabelle didn't mind to much. The air was fresh with sweetness of maple trees and the basket of apples that hung from the side of her saddle. It bounced against her leg with every trot that Briar took. Briar being the lovely white stallion she was currently astride.

They were on one of the smaller trails within Stoney Dude Ranch. She had a large family in tow, out on vacation or something. Normally she didn't mind these families, they were most of the clientele in the summer and it was her job to take them out on the horses for some trail exploring. But the two little boys were being particularly difficult. She had turned back several times only to find them far to close to the edge of the trail, or trying to stop to pick up sticks.

When the sight of the Ranch came into view she spurred Briar on, all to happy to finish this tour up and be ride of the little devils. The day was getting on and the next tour would be her last.

"That brings the tour to the end. If you fella's head on over to the stable my coworkers can help you dismount and answer any questions you might have."

She gave them her best fake smile and watched with satisfaction as they were lead off by the new guy. The satisfaction didn't last long as the unmistakable sound of commotion brought her attention to the picket fenced house that served as the office. Oh dear what had happened now?

With a regretful sigh she dismounted, giving Briar a sold pat on the neck.

"I'll be right back darling."

She hurried up the steps of and into through the doors of the office.

"Everything alright in here?"
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#2
"What'd I know? I'm a feckin' ferrier ye wee little-" Nel was cut from what he was preparing to be a smattering of curses and names thrown at the doaty behind the desk. This wasn't his usual scene. Nel wasn't the type to argue or raise his voice. He was a man of few words. But for fuck's sake, when some kid thought he knew more than a ferrier did about the quality of the care being put into things around here... Wouldn't even let him chat with a manager, for fuck's sake.

Nel wheeled around on the woman as she entered, stifling himself and sure his face was some degree of crimson. "You in charge here, ma'am?" He questioned.
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#3
She hadn't know really what to expect when she stepped into the office, although the scene before her wasn't all that surprising. Joe, one of their regular office workers was behind the counter. He'd had a fair number of issues with some of their suppliers and a few of their more tempered guests. Anabelle didn't particularly like Joe, she found him dumber then a bucket, bless his heart.

The man Joe had been arguing with turned to her, face somewhat red from anger. And she couldn't stop herself from flinching or the instinct to cower away from the man's rage. Even after three years it was hard to deal with angry men.

"'fraid not darling. I'm just the tour guide. But maybe I can get you settled. What seems to be the problem?"

At least she might be able to fix this issue or direct the man to someone who could.
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#4
He didn't miss the flinch, and it did well to get him simmering down some. Joe fucked right off, announcing that she could deal with him and stalked into some other room. Nel watched him go with a cranky sound of dismissal and a raise of his hand. The young woman; pretty as she was; spoke up in a cute little accent and volunteered to help him sort things out. A tour guide was, surprisingly, something that might be helpful.

"I was comin' in to talk to someone about yer horses. I shod 'em all about two weeks ago, and I was comin' by to check in. They're all worn too much" He said with a shake of his head. "Should be six to eight before they'll be needin' another set, but these are lookin' like they've been wearin' them least a month." He gestured vaguely toward the direction of the stables.

"Think it's yer trails, if I had ta guess."
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#5
The mans words explained a great deal and she couldn't help but sigh and role her eyes at the door Joe had left through. Dumb man though he knew everything about horses, said it was his passion or something.

But it would be much easier to deal with this supplier now that she knew what he was here for.

"You must be the ferrier. I've been noticing the shoes lately, they right worn down on some of the fellas. I can show you around the trails if you like so we can figure out what the problem is if. The manager on duty is out to lunch right now but I'm sure he wouldn't mind talking to you when he gets back. If you would prefer to wait here I can take you into our little kitchen and get you a glass of sweet tea."

She hadn't heard about anyone taking the last spot for a tour so she should have the time to take the gentlemen around. The manager most likely wouldn't mind if it meant that they figured out why the horses where getting worn so badly.
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#6
Well, there was that. He expected to be sent off, maybe given a number or something to call. But the young lass was offering a tour of the trails. Efficient, he though, and not something he was going to turn down. "Aye, well, I think that'll work." He said with a nod, and took a step toward her. "If you don't mind it." He'd rather not wait about, when he could just see for himself now.
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#7
"It's not a problem for me. Why don't we get you a horse and set out then. I think Piper would be a good fit for you. He's been needing some exercise, he's a tad bit to head strong for our regular clientele but I'm sure you know your way with a horse."

As she spoke she turned and started back towards the door, pausing only briefly to make sure the man was following before she stepped back out into the yard.

Briar was still standing nearby, head twisted to try and get a the bag of apples still attached to the saddle. Near the stables she could see old Clyde, one of the stable hands.

"Clyde, dear, could you saddle up Piper for our ferrier? We're going to take a look at the trails and see about the horse shoe problem."

Clyde was a quiet man, which Anabelle appreciated. He didn't give them any hassle just went back to saddle up the large golden brown stallion in the far booth. Anabelle would hoist self back up onto Briar's back and take the reigns in hand.
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#8
"Right, yeah." He agreed to her assumption. It wasn't like he hadn't been working with horses since he was walking. "No preference here." He assured her, willing to go on with whatever she thought suited him. He'd follow her out, noting the pale horse hitched nearby, and the man that the lady called Clyde. He'd not to him wordlessly, and wait for the woman to mount before taking up a place beside the horse and starting off toward the stables. He glanced up to her as the walked, "Didn't catch yer name." He pointed out.
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#9
She started with an easy trot as the man was still on foot. A little blush rose to her face. She had forgotten to mention her name in the whirl of things.

"I am Anabelle Lee. And what would your name be?"

Briar knew the routine just as well as she did and the horse paused next to the stables without even a touch of the reign. Clyde had just finished putting the saddle on the stallion and was leading him out of the stale now.
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#10
Annabell Lee. It rung a bell, and for a moment Graham's lips puffed as he considered if he'd met the woman before. But, no, there were more words surrounding the name than that. A poem, by... some fuck. Edgar Allen. 'That the wind came out of the cloud by night, chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.' That was about all he remembered of it. Something he'd been recommended to read after Kay.

"Like that poem." He mumbled with a nod. "Nel. Jus' Nel." He answered back, not seeing much of a point to give her more than what he preferred to be called. Clyde was pulling out a large stallion now, and Graham raised a hand with a nod as he approached. A beauty, looked healthy. He didn't doubt the place took good care of their horses, but the trails were something they didn't seem to be taking into account here. Nel placed a hand against the horse's neck as he cooed quietly in greeting, his hand that sported a shortened finger finding the reigns and gathering them from Clyde.

In a matter of moments, he was easing himself up into the saddle with a huff, straightening himself up and looking over past the woman, and toward the truck he'd parked near the office building. A sharp whistle, and a raised called of, "Angus!" Earned him a low woof of acknowledgement. From the bed of the truck, a large black dog popped his head up and leaped from the side, having been instructed to stay there while he popped in. Given this would be a trip, he wasn't leaving his dog behind. "Hope ye don't mind the company." He said as the hound hurried toward them.
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#11
She was use to people mentioning Poe's Annabel when they heard her name. Her mother had named her, and as far as she was aware her mother had never read a word that Poe had written. But Anabelle didn't mind the comparison, she thought the poem was nice enough and she had always liked her name.

He gave her only a first name, which was fine by her. Not a very talkative fella. But it was better then dealing with Joe or any other number of fellas that liked to talk.

As the man eased himself onto Piper's back he called out past her. She turned in her saddle unsure who the man was calling too, only to see the head of a pretty little dog appear over the bed of what she assumed was his truck.

"Oh bless my heart, what a beautiful dog you have. I wouldn't mind at all if he accompanied us. Don't worry about the horses either, their use to dogs getting under foot. Its the snakes that scare them silly. But I haven't seen any of them today, no doubt hiding under the ground until night comes."
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#12
Bless her heart, yeah. "He won't get under their feet." He assured her with a nod as he shifted his weight some in the saddle, the familiar sound of leather creaking beneath him. Angus hurried up to them as Annabell continued, and he noted about snakes. "Sure he'll scare any off." He added with a nod toward the hound that circled them now, his tail a'waving as he awaited direction. "Right, then, lead the way." He prompted, having a sneaking suspicion that they'd be heading toward the sign that read 'TRAILHEAD.' Wild guess.
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#13
She turned Briar, and started toward the obvious sign that said Trail head on it, at Nel's prompting. There were a great many trails they could go on, but they would first have to go a little ways on this track to reach the other ones.

"Now then we have several different types of trails depending upon the experience your after. I assume you would like to go on the more well traveled ones? If that is the case we have a couple that lead off to the different cabins that are for rent, as well as a few more scenic ones that run along the pastures. But if you're looking for more difficult terrain as your culprit then we can head up towards the gold mine."

She talked as she rode, keeping an easy canter for now. Though undoubtedly Nel was a fine horse man, it would be better to know where they were heading before picking the pace up.
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#14
Off they went. He gave the horse's sides a firm squeeze and set him off after the woman and he pale horse, his gaze cast down to the dog as he motioned for him to follow. His eyes picked up to stare at the back of the woman's head as she spoke, narrowing some as he tried to follow along best he could, but missing a few words here and there. "Right, think most traveled first. Then we'll see about the mines. How often are those done?" He questioned.
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#15
"Only once in a blue moon. Occasionally we get the cowboy types up here and they like to go up on the more difficult trails. I think the cabins would be a good first. Follow me."

She had twisted a little to call behind her but when the last word left her lips she turn back around and spurred Briar into beginnings of a run. It wasn't often that she got to go more then a trot on the trails, most of the people wanting tours were those who had hardly been around horses before.

The wind caught up her hair bouncing the braid against her back. A grin was starting to form on her face. Gosh she sure did miss this thrill of the ground giving way before her and Briar. Back in Carolina she could gallop for miles with her little red mare.
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#16
Graham cracked a dry smile at the term 'cowboy types', wondering just what she meant by that. He wouldn't ask, nor would he protest whatever path she figured was best to start on. His eyes remained on her as he nudged the horse into a swifter pace after her, readjusting in his seat some so the jostling of his lower back smarted less. Angus yapped happily below as he took up a speedy run beside them, and he silently thanked the woman for giving him an excuse not to walk the hound later. As they moved, he found himself reminded he was supposed to be looking at the trails, and not the woman bouncing on the back of a horse before him. Right.

"Don't go this quick every time, do ye?" He called over the louder clatter of hooves and huffing from the horses.
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#17
"No, there's not very many people around here that can ride very well sadly. I like to take the chances when I get them. But don't worry we'll be slowing down when we reach the right trail. Wouldn't want you to miss the reason you came out here."

She would have to turn to be heard over the pounding of the horse's hooves and the rush of air. She was tempted to laugh, with joy, or something close to that emotion. But no, not here..not in front of Nel, even as nice as he seemed. The rush of exhilaration faded quickly and with it the happiness. As if a balloon had been popped. That balloon being her. She was left feeling..empty..just empty...

This was a job though, and she was going to see it through. So she turned back in her saddle as the smile faded from her face. They would be turning onto a new trail in ten minutes or so and when they did Anabelle would slow Briar back to a trot.
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