New Blood by Christine Meunier
Following on with one excerpt a month, today we’re looking at an excerpt from the first book in the Thoroughbred Breeders series, New Blood. Enjoy!
If you’re interested in reading excerpts from my children’s series, then head on over to http://www.freereinseries.com/ ?
Savannah Reynier couldn’t decide if she liked Tuesdays or not. On the one hand, she was working with horses – like any other day – so how could she not? On the other, Tuesdays were farrier days. Each Tuesday on the stud she worked on, the farrier was booked to do whatever horses needed a trim at that time.
Today it was the yearling fillies that needed their feet looked at. Standing half the day holding horses for the farrier wasn’t high on Savannah’s list of favourite horse chores. When the class of horses needing a trim was barely handled, this task fell a little lower down the ladder.
She wondered which apprentice would be along with Rick and Jay this time.
Hopefully not Flynn again.
He was a terrible flirt. Plus, her workmates had so much fun teasing her afterward no matter what she did around him. She’d tried being polite. Then she’d tried ignoring him. Rudeness hadn’t discouraged him either. She wondered if she could swing things so that her co-worker Kathy ended up holding for him.
If he comes.
It seemed that Rick and Jay had a different apprentice each week. It made sense she supposed, that they would take on as many as they could.
As the cars pulled to a stop outside the holding yards Savannah made her way into the first yard. She was able to catch one of the fillies by moving slowly and talking quietly to the dark brown with a star on her head.
“Hey sweetie,” she said, rubbing her gently on the neck, “the quieter you stand for the man, the quicker we get this done.”
“Not to mention that the man would really appreciate it, too,” an accented voice said from not too far behind her.
South African, Savannah decided as she turned to face the latest apprentice that had obviously been dumped on her. She tried to school her features to an indifferent glance as she felt her stomach do flip-flops. She nodded politely as she took in the scruffy brown hair, small amount of stubble and curiously green eyes.
“These girls have been handled on a regular basis, but they are yearlings…” she found herself offering and then felt her face warm as he grinned at her.
He can probably tell that for himself.
“They do look young, but it’s their feet that really interest me,” he offered, stepping closer to offer his hand to the brown filly.
She sniffed at him before looking toward the other horses, disinterested in the man before her. The exact opposite of Savannah’s sentiments. She grinned at the thought before quickly schooling her features again as she realised she had an audience.
He was looking at her with a brow raised in question. Savannah internally sighed.
“So I’m Craig and you’ll have to put up with my lack of social skills – but not farrier skills – for the next couple of hours, I’m sorry,” he said by way of introduction.
This immediately endeared him to Savannah.
A self deprecating farrier – who would have thought it? Then again, false humility works well for some…
With a start she realised he was waiting for her to introduce herself.
Now who’s lacking in social skills?
“Everyone calls me Anna,” she responded quietly, thinking if Craig didn’t start trimming, she was in for a ribbing from her workmates for sure.
“Well, almost everyone,” she muttered, more to herself as Craig ran his hand down the filly’s near fore to pick up her hoof.
She couldn’t help but take in his frame as he worked. He was easily taller than her, but not too much so. His shoulders were broad and arms strong. She stared at his back, refusing to continue her perusal.
“So who doesn’t call you Anna?” a voice interrupted her thoughts.
It took a second for the question to register – and then for her to realise that although the comment hadn’t exactly been made for him, Craig expected an answer.
“Aah… my boss. Nev calls me Savvy.”
She could hear him clipping off excess toe before he picked up his rasp and started around the edge of the hoof.
“Because of your knowledge and ability with horses?” he asked with a grin as he put the filly’s hoof to the ground and assessed how it sat.
Clever with words – check.
“I’m sure Nev would agree with that statement because it makes him look particularly clever when people discover my full name happens to be Savannah.”
Craig’s eyebrow rose again and Savannah questioned what he was thinking. That she was rude in the way she talked about her boss? That Savannah wasn’t a common name?
Probably that he still has three feet left to trim.
As if sensing her thoughts, Craig moved around to the other side of the filly, running his hand down her off fore. Following him, Savannah made sure she was standing on the off-side of the horse before he continued his work.
Why didn’t he do her hind leg?
Of all the farriers that she had seen trim feet, they went in the same order. Start with the near fore, move onto the near hind. Following this, complete the off fore and then finally the off hind leg.
Surely he’s not that new to trimming feet that he hasn’t been taught that.
She assumed it was something they got taught anyway, much like people getting taught to mount horses from the left hand side.
Not that the reason why is relevant to recreational riding.
Mustering up some semblance of courage, Savannah decided to ask.
“So I tend to like learning all I can about horses…” she started, unsure how to ask without seeming stupid – or like she was trying to make him look so.
“Mmmhmmm…” came the response from under the horse.
“Is there a reason why you’re doing both forefeet first?” she asked before she lost her nerve.
Craig finished rasping the hoof before letting the filly stand on all fours. He gave Savannah a grin before checking that the hoof was balanced on the ground.
Dimple – check.
“You think I should have done them in a different order?” he asked her, still smiling.
She frowned, wondering if he was teasing her. Eventually she shrugged.
“I suppose you can do them in whatever order you see fit. I’ve just noticed a particular pattern that farriers seem to follow,” she responded as he moved onto the off hind leg.
“When I’m doing most horses for the first time, I do their front feet first. You never know how well handled they are going to be and I’ve had a couple of incidences where I get one foot done, move to the back and all hell breaks loose. For whatever reason, it’s impossible to get the back foot done and by this stage the horse is so worked up, they won’t let me touch their other front foot. At least this way if there are issues with the hind feet, the horse is balanced in front.”
Savannah pondered this as Craig finished the off hind before moving back to the filly’s left side. He made short work of her near hind before declaring he was finished.
“Thanks for telling me the reason,” she responded lamely before going to get another horse.
Craig had finished before the other two men. Savannah wouldn’t have been surprised if he paused for a cigarette like the majority of the other apprentices seemed to. She was pleased to find that instead he stepped up to the group of skittish fillies and kept them from breaking away from the corner while she worked to get a head collar on one of them.
“Thanks,” she breathed as she led the young horse toward the gate out of the yard to where there was more room for him to work.
Craig ducked through the rails and then held the gate open for her. Savannah decided in her next glance that he was somewhere in his mid twenties.
Old for an apprentice.
Jay and Craig ended up with the last two fillies. Savannah wasn’t surprised to find Rick observing the apprentice as he worked away.
She knew she would have been intimidated by such a gesture but decided Craig didn’t seem the least perturbed. Instead he continued working whilst talking with his boss about the filly’s feet. Savannah listened keenly, eager to pick up any new bits of knowledge. Plus, she decided, Craig’s voice and accent were extremely pleasant to listen to.
Gorgeous accent – check.
Savannah concluded that once all the trims were complete and the two familiar vehicles made their way back down the drive that Tuesdays had drastically improved. In fact, she would go so far as to say that she liked Tuesdays.
Like what you’ve read? You can purchase New Blood at Amazon.