shocked and pale. Everyone was doing the same thing they were – checking on horses, making sure the expensive animals were okay. “Here. Trot him out for me. Gina, check on the horses in the van, make sure no one is down.”
Kate trotted the big horse down a ways and back, his gait true and strong. Lynn’s heart slowed. He looked undamaged.
Gina jumped out of the back of the van. “They’re all okay, but a little tense,” she reported. “I handed out carrots.”
“Thanks,” Lynn said. She still felt shaky. An earthquake in Westchester County? She didn’t know that was even possible. “Okay, let’s try this again.”
She took the lead rope and began walking the horse up the ramp. Dungiven took a few steps and then in one move reversed direction and scrambled backward as if the earth were sliding under his feet again. Lynn was dragged along for several heart-stopping seconds before she found her footing again.
Out of the corner of her eye she saw Joe catch him on the other side of the halter and help bring the horse to a stop. They stared at each other; he looked pale under his tan. Lynn’s pulse hammered in her head.
“Think it’s the earthquake?” Joe said. He nodded at the trailer. “After all, he was right there when it happened.”
“It must have been,” Lynn said. “Let’s give him a moment, then try again.”
They waited in the quiet evening. Lynn breathed soft and slow, letting Dungiven pick up on her calm. After a moment, she nodded to Joe. She clucked to the big horse. He planted his forefeet, and then, when she insisted with firm hands and body language, Dungiven rose into the air on his hind legs. When he landed, his thudding hooves just missed her boots.
This time Joe stayed prudently back. “You okay?” he called.
“Think so,” Lynn said with a tight little voice. She looked at the horse. “Your price tag just went down, you know that, don’t you?”
Dungiven snorted, cocking his ears over her shoulder. She turned and saw Mrs. Hunt. Lynn took a deep breath and waited for her employer.
Mrs. Hunt was no horsewoman, but when she came to watch her horses win, she played the part. Today she wore a black hacking jacket and boots, a lovely chignon holding her dark brown hair in place. A gold pin nestled in the folds of the snow-white stock at her throat and her breeches fit like a second skin. Her outfit was immaculate; she hadn’t spent the day around sweaty horses, dusty rings, greasy hamburgers, and sticky lemonade.
“Is he all right?”
“Doesn’t seem to be harmed, but I think Dr. Cotter should check him out. Are you all right?” Lynn added.
“I rely on you to make sure the horses are safe and sound, Lynn. Please see to it nothing like this happens again.”
As if the earthquake was her fault. Lynn paused until she got herself under control.
Mrs. Hunt stood and waited, her lips pursed. Howard Fleming, owner of the Pennington Stables show grounds, came up behind them, putting his wide hands possessively on Mrs. Hunt’s shoulders. A heavyset man in a ginger hounds tooth jacket, his reddened face and bulbous nose rose from his collar as if they had misplaced his neck.
“You can always leave him here, Kathy,” he joked. “I’ve been meaning to get my hands on that stud of yours for a year now. I’ll just throw him in with a couple of my mares.” He leered.