WONDER HORSE BOOK ONE
By: Victoria Hardesty and Nancy Perez
Writer of Action and Adventure with Arabian Horses
Becky talked with her parents after the show in Scottsdale. “I know you want to show Prince Ali some more this year, so he’ll stay in Colorado with Mr. O’Neal, his trainer. But, I want to spend time with him too. Todd asked me to come to Colorado for Spring Break and maybe part of Summer Break. Can you let me do that, besides going to all Ali’s shows this year?”
That was a tricky question for Caroline Howard. Her daughter never spent more than one night away from home on a sleepover with one of her friends. She’d never thought about her daughter being gone for a whole week before, much less part of the summer break from school. That could be an entire month or more.
“Your Dad and I will talk about it, and I’ll talk to the O’Neals. Then I will let you know. Remember, we promised you that you would be there for every show we take Ali to.”
“I know, Mom.” Becky began. “But I don’t get to spend much time with Ali at the show. He’s always in his stall keeping clean or out with Chris getting worked or bathed or groomed, or he’s in a class where everyone there is watching him. He and I don’t get much time together that way. I miss him.”
Caroline called Sharon O’Neal later that afternoon and talked to her about Becky spending time with them in Colorado. Sharon was all for the idea. “Becky is great! I like your little girl. So, by the way, does Todd. He says she’s the best gamer he knows, and he enjoys her company, even “if she’s just a girl.” You know kids of that age. I thought Todd would rather be roughhousing with his friends, but he insists Becky is a close friend. If you can part with her, I promise to treat her like I treat my son. They will both have chores if they want privileges.”
After Becky went to bed that same night, Caroline had a conversation with Walter. He agreed with Becky. “Maybe we should let her go and spend time in Colorado. She’ll learn something she can’t learn here. Sharon and Chris are great parents. Look at their son. He does his chores and cleans his room without being reminded, from what I could see. They are both great riding coaches too. If Becky gets lessons from Chris, maybe she’ll be able to ride Prince Ali in the shows when that time comes. Besides, it will give you some extra time off this summer so you can do things you want to do without worrying about our kid. Why don’t we let her go for Spring Break and see how that works before we talk about Summer Break?”
“If we say yes to Spring Break in Colorado, how are we going to get her there? I don’t want to drive her there and drive back a week later to pick her up.” Caroline mused.
“I have plenty of mileage points on my American Express card. We buy three round-trip tickets to Denver. You can fly over with her, hand her off to Sharon, then fly back home. At the end of the week, you fly to Denver and pick her up and fly home with her. I think she’s a little too young to fly that far by herself.”
Caroline slept on it that night. She told Walter the following day she would make the arrangements. She called Sharon O’Neal and let her know as well. Over breakfast, she talked to Becky. “You can spend Spring Break with the O’Neals in Colorado. But I need you to make me a promise. You mind Sharon and Chris the same way you mind me, your Dad, and Espi, or you won’t be allowed to go again. Do you understand?”
Becky jumped up from the table and rushed to her mother, throwing her arms around Caroline’s neck. “Oh, thank you, Mom. I promise! I will not disappoint you or Dad. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!!”
Spring Break in California coincided with a horse show Chris wanted to take Ali to in Denver, Colorado. Becky got to see everything from an insider’s perspective. She and Todd pitched in to help load gear, horse feed, baggage, and all the other things needed for a three-day horse show. Chris and Sharon planned to stay in a local hotel, but Todd and Becky planned to sleep over on cots in the Ready Room at the fairgrounds. Becky knew that way she would have a lot more time to spend with Prince Ali. Becky thought it might be like camping out, which was something she’d never done before. One of Chris’s grooms also stayed at the fairgrounds with Todd and Becky.
Chris had two horses to show the first morning. He had Prince Ali in the Yearling Colts class and a mare in the 3-Year-Old Mares class. Todd, Becky, and the groom got up early, took Ali and the mare to the wash area, and bathed them just as the sun came up that morning. They took them back to the groom rooms, dried them, and covered them in clean day sheets before Chris and Sharon arrived.
Chris and Sharon had enough extra time that morning to enjoy a cup of coffee with a donut before the classes began for the day. They decided they liked the idea of Becky spending her school vacation time with them. They set it up with Walter and Caroline to have Becky stay with them for the summer.
Several people who attended the show in Scottsdale were exhibiting in Denver that weekend. When they saw Prince Ali’s name in the show program, they talked to their friends about what they saw in Scottsdale. It passed from person to person. People flocked to the seats in the grandstands before the Yearling Colt class began, hoping for a good look at the extraordinary colt from California.
Prince Ali was on his “A” game again. He didn’t disappoint anyone. He gave them all a show they would remember. He won his Yearling Colt class, and the judge named him the Junior Champion Colt for the show.
During his first year of showing, Ali never placed lower than first in local and regional shows. He qualified easily for the US National Show in October. Prince Ali also won there. He won his age group class and futurity class, giving Walter and Caroline a check to put back in the bank for his next showing year. Caroline also had additional beautiful trophies to add to her trophy case.