Short Story: Brianna and the Big, Green, Pony-Riding Monster of Jealousy

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Green Monster of Jealousy in Horseback Riding
Illustration by Jean Abernethy

Riding is Brianna’s special thing. Can she learn to share it with her little sister or will this young horseback rider deal with jealousy?

Brianna grinned from ear to ear as she asked her bay pony Hollywood Star—Holly for short—to come back down to a walk.

“Brianna, that course was lovely,” Brianna’s trainer, Melanie sung out in praise. “You should be feeling very proud of yourself!”

Brianna reached down to pat Holly’s neck. It did feel like she was bursting with pride. She’d been working hard lately, taking extra time to practice without stirrups and asking Melanie if she could help exercise the lesson ponies. She wanted to make sure she’d be ready for all the big shows coming up, and it felt so good to see it was all paying off!

Young Rider Magazine LogoBrianna took her time after her lesson pampering Holly. She gave her a thorough bubble bath and sprayed coat polish all through her glossy black tail. Finally, she gave her beloved pony a carrot and put her away for the night. Brianna then skipped out to the parking lot where she knew her mom was waiting for her.

First Signs of Trouble

“Chelsea is so excited for her first lesson this weekend,” Brianna overheard her mom saying to Melanie when she reached the parking lot. Brianna’s heart sank a little. She had forgotten her little sister Chelsea was signed up for her first lesson that Saturday afternoon.

Brianna didn’t quite know why she was feeling so jealous and even a little angry about Chelsea starting riding lessons. She loved her little sister! Chelsea was her best friend, and Brianna was sure she’d love riding just as much as Brianna did.

Maybe that was the problem. There was a small part of Brianna that didn’t want to share Melanie, her special trainer whom she idolized, or the praise she earned after working so hard. And probably the biggest reason: Brianna really didn’t want to share her beloved pony, Holly.

Brianna waved goodbye to Melanie and held back a sigh as she buckled herself into the car. The young horseback rider tried to push the green monster of jealousy out of her mind, focusing instead on what a great lesson she’d just had.

Riding the Struggle Bus

The next day, Brianna’s school bus had barely come to a stop in front of her house before she was leaping down the steps. It was Friday! That meant she would have an extra hour of time at the barn this afternoon and two full days of fun ahead.

Thoughts of the afternoon ahead raced through Brianna’s head with excitement as she pulled on her breeches as quickly as possible. OK, so I’ll hack Holly without stirrups today and then ask Melanie if any of the other ponies need to be ridden or bathed! And I can watch Maisie’s jumping lesson today too.

“I’ll pick you up at 5:00, have fun sweetie!” Brianna’s mom blew her a kiss as she dropped her off at the barn. Brianna waved back and went to head inside when she heard her mom call out again.

“Don’t forget to tell Melanie how excited Chelsea is for tomorrow!”

Brianna felt like a balloon that had just been popped. She’d forgotten that tomorrow was Chelsea’s first lesson, and the green monster of jealousy instantly returned.

“I will not be doing that,” Brianna mumbled to herself.

She didn’t understand why her mom couldn’t have just signed Chelsea up for ballet or swimming. Riding was supposed to be Brianna’s special thing!

Brianna’s mood didn’t improve as she practiced her jumping position while Holly trotted around the ring.

“Holly, you are so lucky you don’t have a little sister,” she complained to her pony as she held her position for one more lap. “You never have to share anything!”

Holly blew an understanding snort and Brianna settled back into her posting trot.

“I knew you’d understand.”

Brianna reached down to give her faithful pony a pat. The young horseback rider once again tried to push the monster of jealousy out of her mind as she finished up her ride on Holly and got ready to watch her best barn buddy Maisie’s jumping lesson.

Brianna did manage have to a fun afternoon once she buried her jealousy. She got to hack an extra pony, Piper, one of the older school ponies who sometimes needed a refresher from a more advanced rider to help set her up for the right lead canter.

She watched her friend Maisie tackle a tough 2’6” course, a height both of them had just moved up to. She also felt like she really pushed herself in her jumping position and no-stirrup work during her hack with Holly.

Ready or Not

Brianna woke up Saturday morning with the familiar sore, but successful, feeling in her legs. The satisfying memory of yesterday’s ride was quickly subdued, however, when her mom reminded her she’d be helping Chelsea at the barn that day.

Today was Chelsea’s first lesson, and she was going to be riding Holly. Brianna tried to keep herself calm the whole car ride to the barn. She’d helped Chelsea with her breeches and braided her hair into two braids.

She tried to smile encouragingly as her sister bubbled with excitement through breakfast and all the way to the barn. Brianna remembered the feeling of pure joy and excitement before her first lesson, and as jealous as she was feeling, she still didn’t want to ruin it for her little sister.

Maybe she won’t like riding, Brianna thought as she dutifully tacked up Holly while her mom and Chelsea were lacing up Chelsea’s hand-me-down paddock boots. Maybe she’ll think that the trot is too bouncy and it’s just too scary. Brianna slipped Holly’s rubber D-ring bit into her mouth as Chelsea buckled on her helmet.

Maybe she’ll even fall off… Brianna felt guilty for even having that thought as Melanie walked up to greet them.

“Hi, Chelsea! I’m so excited for your first ride today. Are you ready?” Melanie smiled down at Chelsea, who beamed back up with a look of pure adoration.

“Holly’s ready too,” Brianna said as she handed over the reins to Melanie and quickly ran off, mumbling about how she had to use the bathroom. She fought back tears.

Once she was out of sight, she broke into a run and headed straight to her spot in the hay loft where she sometimes went when she needed a good cry after a tough day.

Hay Loft Chat Illustration
Illustration by Jean Abernethy

No Hard Feelings

Brianna was wiping her eyes on her shirt sleeve when she heard footsteps approaching.

“Brianna?” Brianna heard her mother’s concerned voice call out, but she was too choked up to reply. A few more footsteps and her mother was standing in front of her.

“I thought you might feel like this,” her mom said with a sigh as she settled into the hay next to her.

“I’m sorry! I know it’s awful, I’m happy for Chelsea, I swear. I just feel like the green monster of jealousy has taken over my body,” the young horseback rider cried.

“The big, green, pony-riding monster of jealousy?” Her mom offered up a small smile that Brianna tried to return.

“I just love Holly so much, and Melanie! And I’ve been working so hard to be good at everything,” Brianna sniffled.

Brianna’s mom took a deep breath before responding.

“Oh honey, just because Chelsea may fall in love with Holly and think Melanie is the greatest doesn’t diminish how you feel about them, or how they feel about you. I know you’ve been working so hard, and I’m so proud of all your accomplishments. However, your little sister riding doesn’t take away from that either. In fact, quite the opposite. You are her hero! Especially now that she’s going to start riding.”

Brianna blinked up at her mom. She’d been so consumed with her own feelings toward Chelsea that she didn’t even think about how Chelsea might feel toward her!

She realized that instead of being jealous about everything she was going to have to share, she should be excited about everything she was going to be able to teach Chelsea. Brianna had worked hard to become a good rider, and who would understand that better than her little sister?

Sister Act

“We should head back and watch the rest of Chelsea’s lesson,” Brianna said as she wiped away her remaining tears and smiled up at her mom.

“Let’s do it!” Her mom extended her hand and they headed back down to the arena together.

Chelsea was gleefully bouncing around on Holly, trying her best to get a solid posting trot. She had a huge smile on her face, and Holly looked relaxed and content with her little rider. Melanie was encouraging and enthusiastic in her instruction as Chelsea managed three posts in a row. Brianna smiled as she watched. Chelsea had a long way to go, but she personally knew how rewarding the journey was, and she was now super excited to share it with her.

“Brianna! Did you see me? I got three posts! Riding is so fun, but so hard. You’re amazing, I can’t wait to ride like you one day!” Chelsea was bursting with excitement as the family piled back into the car. Brianna laughed, feeling lucky to have such a great little sister.

“Don’t worry Chelsea, with a lot of hard work and our amazing pony, one day you will!” The sisters exchanged a high five and Brianna smiled. All traces of the big, green, pony-riding monster of jealousy were gone.

This short story about a horseback rider dealing with jealousy originally appeared in the September/October 2019 issue of Young Rider magazine. Click here to subscribe!

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