Mum was right, his blaze was sweet; but, for fuck’s sake, calling him, Sugar, was character assassination. Even as a gangly foal, his face screamed white lightening.
In utero, he was my mother’s horse, but the devil-may-care fire in those newborn eyes drew me in. Shamelessly, I played the daughter card; pouting, even stamping my foot, until my parents caved in.
What twenty-two-year-old notices their father’s smirk when finally saying yes? Even if I had, I wouldn’t have put two and two together and realized dad was mentally tossing a coin. Sugar or Annie, who’s more headstrong?
You know how some say a good horse is broken to death. I loathe that expression; for whose sake do we want horses blindly obedient? Not theirs I’ll wager. Riding’s joy-de-vivre is a symbiosis; harnessing horse and rider’s vitality and energy.
Once Sugar realized I wasn’t so stupidly headstrong that I would break his spirit, we released a genie from the bottle. He could do anything I wished; in the end, it’s my imagination that limits us. We worked cattle together; successfully I thought, though God knows if we ever overcame the scepticism of the taciturn farm hands my parents employed. You know the type, forever seeing a petite frame as a weakness.
But that work ethic paled beside what Sugar bought to the riding arena. Simply put, Sugar turned out to be one of the most athletic horses ever entered in competitive equestrian in Australia. God, it pissed off the la-di-da equestrian types that a slip of a girl came out of the outback with a gigantic horse and jumped fences at will.
My parents soon realised we were beyond competing for ribbons at the Dubbo regional show. So, dad drove us down to Sydney to ride against the best. And her name was Sarah O’Brien.
Cantering past the Olympic flag, into the Dressage Arena, I know what the judges are looking for. Balance, rhythm and, most importantly, horse and rider in harmony.
And I know what the critics are thinking. Sure, Sugar is a supremely athletic cross-country horse, they whisper, but he’s not well enough trained to perform in the graceful and precise manner necessary to be on the Australian eventing team. Never finished in the top twenty in the dressage phase of a five-star eventing competition, they point out.
After his, no our, crappy dressage performance at my first Badminton, Sarah had suggested reengineering the way I rode. Those changes included softening the grip of my riding thighs. I rarely blush, but I did when the penny dropped and I realized exactly how she’d formed that opinion.
Softer thighs helped Sugar too, and we subsequently landed our best dressage result at the Australian International Three-Day Event. That impressed the selectors, if not the entire equestrian community.
So, there are no nerves for me, despite knowing this is the most-watched ride of my life. And Sugar is his usual go get ‘em self as we trot and canter, attempting to convince the judges they are seeing an equine Rudolph Nureyev rather than Mo Farah in a tux.
Sugar being Sugar and Annie being Annie, our dressage performance, while error-free, still feels a little like an act of duty rather than love. As always, we are in harmony, but boundless energy doesn’t really substitute for artistry.
The score flashes across the big screen, forty-six demerit points, shy of the leader, but good enough to rank in the low teens. I am thrilled, his best-ever dressage result. Of course, it is ten points behind Sarah, the serene way she now rides Bella has them in the top six in recent competitions.
Sugar and I have a secret, one we have even kept from my parents. After we canter out of sight of the homestead, we hit the afterburners. Sugar loves to run free and I am his willing co-pilot, a second pair of eyes alert for dangers. Galloping that fast across the outback, kicking up red dirt, is when I feel most alive.
Usually, we head for the spring, an oasis on the far side of our sunburnt property. And there I swim and relax, away from everyone and everything. Sugar’s weakness is a Pink Lady and he lets me be, so long as there is food to be had. Mind you mum thinks it way over-indulgent to have purchased a small cool store and stocked it with expensive apples just because my horse is partial to them.
Sarah is the only person who has ever been there with me. Not too surprising as the nearest town is over two-hundred kilometres away, and as for school friends, well I went to boarding school in far off Armidale, the only school I am aware of that has horse riding on the curriculum.
During that first competition in Sydney, Sarah took the new girl in hand and we talked and talked. After the prize-giving, I finished second, no need to ask who won, Sarah somehow invited herself and Bella up to the farm to train together. I was puzzled but kind of delighted to have the person the Australian Equestrian magazine had called the princess of Australian eventing at our place. Her father was totally on board once dad told him he had built a full-scale riding ring in the outback.
Once I got past the oddity of having someone my age around, it was fun hanging out talking shit about horses and sharing ideas. We totally hit it off which made me all the more disappointed when dad told me about the phone call he had had.
Later that morning, Sarah asked to ride Sugar again.
“No,” I snapped.
“Oh. Why not?”
“Your fucking father asked dad if he could buy Sugar.”
“Annie, please don’t. I said not to.”
“You knew! Fuck you.” I turned and ran to Sugar, tears clouding my eyes.
Sarah chased after me. Grabbing my shoulder, she said, “Don’t ride angry.”
My foot slid from the stirrup and, turning, I glared at her. “You don’t fucking care.”
She held my cheeks in her palms, eyes locked on mine. “You really don’t get me, do you?”
Licking her lips, she softly brushed my firm rigid lips with her soft wet ones. Mine tingled but remained pursed.
Sarah stepped back, eyes watering. “Sorry, I’ll leave.”
“All the time, just after my fucking horse. Piss off.”
Mounting Sugar, I galloped him into the outback. Our slowest journey to the spring, I guess he knew when my co-pilot eyes were on the blink.
Sitting by the water, raging at my stupidity for thinking two months together had made Sarah and me friends, I noticed a red dust cloud. Sarah, I presumed, which gave me pause for thought as her father had forbidden her to ride Bella in the outback for fear of injury.
Having tied Bella to the redgum tree next to Sugar, she sat beside me. For ages we stared at our reflections in the water, as silent as church mice.
“I just told dad if he does that again I will give up riding.”
I so wasn’t letting her off the hook, petulantly refusing to break the silence that followed.
“Why do you ride, Annie?”
“Oh, for fuck sake, Sarah. You know how alive it feels on the edge of control.”
“I’d give anything to be like that again.”
“Fuck off, you still can’t have Sugar.”
“Idiot. I really don’t want Sugar.”
“Your father …”
“My fucking father doesn’t know what I want. He only thinks about the one thing he couldn’t do, win a grade five eventing competition.”
“He got an Olympic silver medal and second twice at Badminton.”
“And then the accident, the knee reconstruction and the burden’s mine.”
“But that article in Australian Equestrian. You said your dream was getting the best horse and winning one of the majors.”
Sarah giggled, kind of endearingly. “You’ve read about me.”
“Well, I kind of like you. Until I found out you were a fucking horse thief.”
“I really don’t want your horse, Annie.”
“But that article?”
“Marketing. Controlling my image, the fucking interview was scripted.”
“Yeah. He means well, but doesn’t really get me.”
I couldn’t imagine how the scion of Australian riding royalty had come to see her fairy-tale life as a gilded cage. “It’s not fun anymore, is it, Sarah?”
“It is here, Annie. Not having to act my way through life.”
Sarah took my hand, her head resting on my shoulder. “God, Sarah, you sound broken to death.”
“Yeah, I guess. I’m so not what I’m expected to be.”
“Tell me.” I gently squeezed her hand.
“Ride safe. Always minding my Ps and Qs … Gay too.”
Oh. “Surely not a drama nowadays?”
“Look at how Helmut Schmitt was treated. Dad still makes snide remarks about him.”
I remembered reading outrageous comments about Helmut kissing his boyfriend after winning the eventing gold at the last Olympics.
“I don’t really want you to leave.” My thumb circled her palm.
“What about me riding Sugar?”
Squeezing Sarah’s hand again, our fingers interlinked. “Depends.”
“On what, Annie?”
“Depends on you still wanting to kiss me.”
Waiting at the start of the cross-country course, I walk Sugar in circles, not wanting his legendary impatience to over-excite him. Finally, the medical helicopter, airlifting the English rider who had fallen, passes overhead and I get the signal to start.
One soft press of my thighs and Sugar is quickly cruising, hunting for obstacles to conquer. So far everyone has had a time penalty on this course. But that suits us, we trust each other and Sugar is probably the most athletic horse in the competition.
After he bounds over the first fence, I know we have hit the sweet spot, galloping right on the edge of control. Sugar is laser-like in focusing on the next fence’s submission to his energy.
He leaps every fence and ditch with ease, even bounding over the huge fence at the bottom of the hill where others have crashed out.
Rounding the final corner, I don’t even spur him on, knowing I have time in hand. Sugar being Sugar ignores that and accelerates over the finish line.
While Sugar munches on a Pink Lady or two, I watch the television coverage of the twelve riders yet to finish. One by one they return with faults; in some cases, lots of faults, and I climb the leader-board.
Sarah and Bella ride beautifully; having talked her into riding a little higher on the risk-reward trade-off curve, I’m so proud of the improvement in their cross country. Still, Bella will always be slower than Sugar and they end up with a small-time fault. As the last rider Helmut Schmitt finishes, he is the only one still ahead of Sarah courtesy of his win in the Dressage.
I end up in fifth position, but to be honest that isn’t what I am focused on. I know I will need to look after Sarah tonight, the papers will be full of her gold medal chances.
That first kiss unhobbled me, it felt like a dam had burst. Which turned out to be an apt metaphor for my pussy when I rode Sarah’s pretty face for the first time.
It was embarrassing to own up to my inexperience, but, at the spring the next day it all seemed so natural. Sarah kissed me, delicious tongue swirling kisses, as, copying her button by button, we slowly undressed each other. Her body a fuller version of my riding hardened frame. She unhooked my bra and then hers; as we passionately kissed, our nipples grazed and shots of pleasure hammered my clit.
Kneeling, she pulled my jodhpurs down, my sticky knickers following. I watched her inhale the aroma of my pussy like she was smelling a fine wine. I was lost, putty in her hands, when the tip of her tongue flicked through the folds of my slit.
One long rasping lick from perineum to clit was followed by another and another. Each time her tongue wiggled deeper into my slippery folds, scooping juices and flicking them over my firming clit.
Then she stunned me, wiggling out of her jodhpurs and lying in the red dusty earth, her bare pussy glistening with arousal. “Will you ride my face, pretty Annie?”
I knelt, knees beside her head, my pussy hovering above her mouth as she intertwined her fingers in mine. She pressed our hands into the red sand above her head, and whimpering, said, “Please, Annie.”
Lowering my pussy onto her face, I instinctively took control. The exquisite feeling from rocking my hips and sliding my clit over her tongue was the most intense experience of my life.
Grinding, sliding, my thighs clamped against her head as I pressed my pussy hard onto her face, and soaked her in my juices as a supernova of an orgasm rumbled through me.
I lay beside her, recovering my breath. Softly kissing her, I tasted my juices.
“Now you know my other secret. Still like me?” Sarah shyly asked.
“Yeah. Even more than riding Sugar.”
Sarah took my hand and pressed it against her sopping pussy. “I fancied you right from the start you know,” she purred.
Pressing my thumb against her clit, I curled two fingers into her opening. Massaging her clit, my knuckles stretched her velvet walls as they twisted in and out.
“Where’s my crop?” she whimpered, locking eyes with me.
“Left in the stable; our horses don’t need them.”
Sarah sucked on her bottom lip. “Would you bring it here tomorrow?”
Intrigued, excited, I nodded and Sarah, whimpering my name, pressed her sex harder onto my fingers. As my fingers twisted deeper, her pussy gushed and her clit spasmed in ecstasy.
Riding fifth-to-last in the show jumping, I pass the Olympic colours already knowing the carnage these twenty brutal fences are causing. No-one has gone clear yet, and I hear the expectant hush of the crowd as Sugar approaches the start. Saluting the judges and then up to where my parents sit, I turn, press my thighs into Sugar, and we are off on the ultimate pressure test of our athleticism.
He knows, with my touch, that this isn’t about artistry or energy, as in the dressage or cross country. This is controlled athleticism, the right steps and then timing his explosion of power. He easily clears the first fence to an audible collective intake of breath and, on a short rein, we take fence after fence, one at a time, not thinking ahead to the brutal finale of a triple followed by short strides to the water jump.
One, two, three leaps, each higher than before and he nails the triple, takes the half steps I tell him to and explodes over the water jump, which brings the crowd to their feet.
The first clear round of the day has me in striking distance and I stand, nervous for the first time, watching the next two riders. They knock rails down at the triple and suddenly I am in third place.
No time to appreciate that as I am again riding the course as I watch Bella jump. She and Sarah are great until she clips a rail at the triple which affects her stride pattern and she puts a foot in the water. Those faults are damaging but she stays marginally ahead of me.
Sarah dismounts and giddily rushes into my arms. Holding each other, tears flow, her intense relief overpowering.
“We did it,” I whisper as she sobs on my shoulder.
Then we hear, “Excuse me.”
It is Boris, Helmut’s boyfriend, and in his hand are two rainbow armbands. “Helmut has asked if you would like to wear these at the medal presentation.”
“Gawked at! Oh God. Must we?” Sarah asks.
It would be more accurate to say Sarah told rather than asked her father’s permission for me to accompany her to Europe and ride the eventing season.
Sarah’s parents’ occasional visits to the farm had gone well and they saw the improvement in Bella and agreed that Sugar was certainly up to the Group five competitions.
Seemingly, my parents judged it appropriate to remain silent on Bella’s forays into the outback. Likewise, Sarah judged it appropriate not to mention our forays into each other’s knickers.
I discovered, however, that my father had the eyes of a hawk; one day, while we watched Sarah put Bella through her dressage routine, he said, “If you don’t tell you mother what is happening, I might just smack the crop against your arse.”
To this day I haven’t dared ask why he mentioned the crop. But coming clean, well not the nuts and bolts of our increasingly kinky sex life, with my parents had Sarah and I totally acting like a couple around the farm.
Europe was a different story; we had adjoining bedrooms in our cottage where we stabled Sugar and Bella. All was about keeping up appearances in what was a snobby judgemental riding set. No hand-holding, no affection, at least in public.
After the dressage on my second Badminton, I had tied Sarah to the four-poster bed and teased her squirming body with the crop. Firm little slaps on her nipples followed and then I slid the flap of the crop through her slit before tapping her clit. When I had her wet and whimpering, I pressed the pony into her pussy, soaked it her juices and then slid the Feeldoe’s lubricated bulbous end into my pussy. Gripping the pony with my walls, hovering my body above Sarah’s, I thrust my hips and pressed the horse end of the Feeldoe into my love’s tight pussy.
Eyes locked, hips rocking in harmony, we oh so slowly made love. Sarah, the most perfect connection of my life, and I soon embraced the orgasms that crashed over us leaving us breathless.
Untying her, we walked hand in hand to the bathroom. Only pausing to kiss after we had admired the view from our hotel bedroom.
The next day the shit hit the fan. Beneath a Sun newspaper headline screaming, ‘Un-dressaged,’ was a photo of us framed in our hotel window, not explicit, but clearly naked and kissing.
Sarah’s father yelled; about her being a lesbian, about her not letting him buy Sugar, about being a disappointment. It is rumoured he has badmouthed me in the equestrian community, including with the selectors.
Sarah and her dad have not spoken in such a long time.
Helmut acknowledges the judges, turning, he respectfully nods towards Boris, Sarah and I. The rainbow armband is vivid against his black jacket. Technically it could mean a penalty, but I’m guessing this is a ‘dare you too, you bastards’ moment, given he’s announced this is his last hurrah. Though he only has a rail in hand over Sarah, he’s assuredly medal bound, with four in hand over the fourth-placed rider.
There is a symbiosis between him and his mare, Regenbogen; the harmony between horse and rider enabling precise stepping and jumping as they clear fence after fence. Turning into the final bend, the silence is deafening as he sets her for the triple. And surprises me by going low into the third fence, clipping a rail but nailing the stride pattern that enables Regenbogen to just clear the difficult water jump.
He’s gambled the gold on his ability to perfectly position his mare for the water jump. The crowd stands, cheering, and I know Sarah and I have been schooled in the art of competitive riding by the best rider of her father’s generation.
That answers Helmut’s question for me and I pull on the rainbow armband. Offering the other one to Sarah, I soothingly whisper, “It isn’t just about us anymore, babe.”
Sarah and I follow Helmut to the podium. I take her hand, knowing she is feeling the pressure of the rainbow band on her arm. Stepping forward first, the reality of the moment comes with the medal’s weight as it hangs from my neck.
Looking up, scanning the crowd for my parents, as Sarah and Helmut receive their medals, I spot a flag and then a second. Eyes attuned, I suddenly see several rainbow flags. More Australian and German flags, that is true; but enough for me to be grateful for that less visible community who rode in spirit with us.
Once the German anthem has finished, Sarah and I stand beside Helmut for the photographers. And, from God knows where he unfurls a large rainbow flag. Putting his arms around us, protectively cloaking us in the colours of the rainbow, I just know these photos of us and our medals will be, for many, comforting, meaningful and hopefully inspirational.
The cameras capture my grin as I see a young girl proudly waving both a rainbow flag and an Olympic flag. Yellow, blue, green and red. Orange, purple, and black too.
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with this note attached, it has been posted without my permission.