“Next up is Antonia Bianchi from Pleasant Valley Stables, riding Bruno, a black gelding Arabian fifteen hands high!” The announcer’s voice belched out of the loudspeaker, prompting loud cheers from the crowd around the jumping course. Antonia herself just closed her eyes briefly and sighed. She had never wanted to hear that announcement less than she did just now. Every other competition she and Bruno had jumped in, Phillip had been right beside her at this moment, feeding Bruno a carrot or adjusting Antonia’s stirrups or jokingly talking trash about the other contestants to make Antonia relax. Today there was no one to give Antonia a leg up as she mounted, and she had to lead Bruno over to a fence and clamber up onto her tall horse with all the grace of a kitten trying to climb onto a Rottweiler.

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