Welcome to Green Hill Stables’ summer camp!
We wish you a happy stay and good progress in your riding. Please use this journal to reflect daily on your and your horse’s performance in training as you work towards your riding goals, through the lens of each stepping stone defined by the scales of training: rhythm, relaxation, connection, impulsion, straightness and collection. Note what went well, how it felt and what you need to work on. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask.
Diane & Ben
If Diane thinks she can give me homework she needs to think again. It’s summer. I’m here only to ride horses, have fun and fall in love. Not to write an essay. I’ll listen when she yells ‘sit up’ and ‘heels down’ but–
Fuck this journal.
I waited until the end of the first day to confirm this: I can forget about falling in love. Why did I even think there would be new boys joining? There is one, ONE singular boy among all campers and he is not even new. Nor straight, for that matter, and though I do adore him, I’m at a complete loss.
Bye, summer romance, it was nice daydreaming about you!
At least there are a few friendly faces: I know some of the little kids, and two out of the three other teens. Maddie and Colin are always in the same weekly group lesson as I, and we usually try and aim for joining the same week of camp. And there is a new girl, Liz, who smells amazing and sleeps on the top bunk next to mine so I’m glad we get on. Or that we get on in daylight. I’m not sure about nighttime, because last night she sat up in her sleep and started looking for her whip. I was praying she wouldn’t find it, I really did not fancy getting whipped by a sleepwalker!
To make this clear, I’m still not keen on this stupid journal but camp leader Joe and Gemma want us to chill and write and as they are watching, here goes nothing: I rode Tornado today, AKA the black gelding that looks like a pregnant mare and has a thing against moving forwards. So, our rhythm? Nonexistent. Imagine a fat slug being poked with a piece of grass to hurry up a little. I was beyond knackered by the end of the lesson and Tornado did not even break much of a sweat, despite the hot weather.
I never felt so grateful for Maddie spraying me with the hose whilst washing the horses. Even better: she accidentally drenched the new groom, Jack, and man, did he look hot in a wet T-shirt or what..! I think I stared at him for too long, because the next time I looked at my friends, Colin was topless and soapy and Maddie drenched in water, her top sticking to her like a second skin, both of them glancing towards Jack as they sponged their horses.
“Pathetic.” I scoffed, tying my T-shirt up into a crop top.
I think we've got a new… riding goal.
In the morning, whilst the kids were pretending to be horses, jumping the fences in the arena after our rides, Liz, Maddie and I sat on top of a round hay bale, stalking Jack as he was mucking out the stables. Falling in love was back on the table and I needed an action plan to make sure I’d be the first through the finish line.
“Are you checking him out?”
I jumped at Colin’s voice and turned to him with the most outraged face I could muster as he jumped on top of our bale to join us with a bag of crisps.
“What do you mean?!”
“It’s fine. Me too.” He said, following the man with his eyes.
“I saw him first.”
“So back off. Maddie is giving me enough trouble alone.” I took some of his crisps.
“Alright, let me consider. No,” he grinned, set on ruining my summer romance just like Maddie was.
“Out of the one percent of boys who ride, why am I blessed with your presence here this week, Colin?”
“Surely it’s higher than one percent, only in my school there is at least…” He started counting on his fingers.
“Yeah? Then why haven’t you introduced them to us? You could have invited them here!”
“Oh, you meant riding horses…?” He stopped counting. “Then, I’ve got nothing.” He gave me an innocent smile. I thought of pushing him off the bale, but he had the crisps.
“I swear he was checking me out earlier, by the way,” he added to annoy me more.
“You are imagining it.” Maddie rolled her eyes, with a tinge of jealousy. She was probably right. Colin always got carried away so easily.
“I don’t get the obsession, guys.” Liz sighed. “Isn’t he like, ten years older than us? And what's up with that hair..?”
“He is hot. And he said I looked like I was sixteen.” Maddie smiled. “He said that when he was touching my leg.”
“Get over yourself. He just gave you a leg up.” I shook my head, thinking of how I missed my chance: I also should’ve asked for help getting on, instead of just getting on from the ground without assistance to show off.
It’s only day four and Colin just broke his arm. His horse refused, planting his hooves right in front of a double and he flew over the fence alone. And, broke his arm. The amount of times I fell, I’d never fractured a bone, and there he was, getting carried into Joe’s car princess style by none other than Jack, because who else here has the muscles to lift a boy of fifteen years old..! His legs were not even hurt, by the way, and I swear he was faking the tears, too. He put an arm around Jack’s neck and I swear he was trying not to smile.
“Did he just sniff him?” Maddie whispered and I was shaking my head in disbelief. He even had the nerve to flash us a victorious grin from the car window as Joe drove him to A&E.
My grip tightened on my whip.
“I hope he’s alright. I’m so gonna whip his ass when he’s back.”
“...Say, Sam, would you break my arm for a tenner?” Maddie asked, like I would really consider assisting her in stealing my future boyfriend.
Colin came back when we were hanging in the club room after dinner. He was still covered in sand and his arm was put in a white cast, but there was no trace of the tears from earlier.
“So? How did he smell?” Maddie asked, raising an eyebrow, whilst googling ‘how to fake an accident’ on her phone.
“Like sweet hay and all of your shattered dreams.” He grinned with triumph.
We stayed up for a while, drawing on Colin’s cast and laughing at our own jokes. Turns out, Liz is pretty good at drawing and she did a little cartoonish doodle of Colin being carried by Jack with a bunch of love hearts floating around them. I wrote “Get better or get whipped!”, so he'd know that I cared, and Maddie drew a whip into Jack’s hand. With that, we signed our names and the masterpiece was complete.
I jumped the bunny boy this morning.
…Maddie just saw that line, and she needs to get her mind out of the gutter. Clearly, I meant the horse called Rabbit, and our morning jumping lesson. Obviously, she didn’t pay attention to anything else but Jack pushing the wheelbarrows past the arena. No wonder she couldn’t remember what order to jump the fences in. Well, I technically also jumped Colin, when he decided to lie down underneath the fence to raise the stakes to the leve of life or death, but that’s not what Maddie thought of. (And Colin survived, so my body count is still zero in every sense and no one is going to jail.)
Colin was back in the saddle too, reins in one hand, like he had no shame. He should’ve at least pretended to limp or something for a couple days, after being carried like that, if you ask me, but it seems not everyone has the dignity to carry on with a good lie. This was openly admitting he could’ve walked on his own two legs. Hopefully it will lose him a few points with Jack, if he had any to start with. That was important, because it was our last night before going home, and Maddie just went to ask Jack if he would care to join us for some games.
He said no.
It’s the last day and none of us got with Jack.
Last night, after we all got over getting basically dumped by him, the four of us gathered in Colin’s room to play games.
“Never have I ever–”
“–wanted to play this game.” I raised my hand, interrupting Maddie. “Just kidding. Go on.”
And so we played. That, and truth or dare and would you rather and the pocky game Liz introduced to us and it was I think, more perfect that anything it could have been if Jack had accepted Maddie’s invitation. If I really try to imagine... I don’t think any of us truly wanted him there, or anywhere else.
A few things happened but I won’t go into details. I’ve got a suitcase to pack.
I exchanged numbers with Liz, following one of Diane’s often yelled instructions: don't lose the connection. It sucks, but it's time to go home.
It has come to the bittersweet last day of training camp and the last page of this diary. We hope you have made new friendships and strengthened the old ones along the way, as well as gotten a little closer to achieving your riding goals. Please make sure to hand your training diaries in to Diane, –WHAT?!
so we can review your notes and help you strengthen your weaknesses during your lessons throughout the year. – They can’t be serious..!
Diane & Ben
You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.
I'm commenting as I read. Day 1: fuck this journal. This character's is my spirit animal. Day 2: I loved how you were able to incorporate both sass and prose into a single diary entry. Day 3: Something that I tend to think a lot about (and this is just what I think) is that epistolary stories don't tend to have a lot of dialogue. They reference dialogue but use quotation marks and dialogue a bit more sparingly. I do think that this entry does have a excess amount of dialogue that could be trimmed. Day 4: Well, we got our first accide...
Hey K, Thank you so much for taking your time to leave a comment! I totally agree with you about the excessive dialogue and I have no excuse - I knew it didn't suit the format but I was too tired to fix it. I'll try my best to get my stories done on time to avoid this... I think if it was me I would've also destroyed the diary!🤣
Hello hello! Oh gosh! I love the twist at the end! I also really enjoyed this piece because I haven’t been around horses much, but the whole relationship between horse and human is very interesting to me. A part of me wondered if the MC was writing in pen. If not, I suppose she should erase her entries. :) all in all, I think you captured a summer crush beautifully and I adored the diary format. For our MC’s sake, I hope that the counselors expect a little bit of summer crushing at a camp. Nice job! Amanda
Thanks Amanda! I think she would've mysteriously "lost" that diary before she needed to hand it in, haha - it's what I would have said!
I like that she realised she actually enjoyed writing, even though she resented having to. I think we could all understand that here.
Haha, I didn't even think about that aspect. So true!
I guess it was subconscious.
I don't believe I missed reading this story when you first published it! I LOVE the humor, the pacing (it 'canters' along ;) ) and your characters--- so familiar to the reader as if I had known them for ages. Yep, a 'journal' being handed in. Ask any teacher what secrets are disclosed. But to be fair, it should be made clear when they are handed out that they are to be given back.... Thank you so much for my morning laugh today. I needed this one. Yours in writing, Lavonne
Oh thank you so much for this - I was very much second guessing my humor but I'm glad that it turned out to be enjoyable - I love when I get the reaction I wished for, and this one was only written to entertain :)
This was funny! I like that you started and ended with the letter from the owners. It set the scene well. The twist at the end was great! I also liked that none of them ended up with Jack because it makes the story more realistic. Good job!
Hi Kate! Thanks for reading my story and taking your time to comment - I really appreciate it! And I'm glad you enjoyed it. :)
You’re welcome ☺️
“Imagine a fat slug being poked with a piece of grass to hurry up a little.” This line is so vivid - tickled my funny bone and struck a memory chord! I’m not much of a rider (there’s a horse next door, and he’s a pleasant conversationalist - that’s about as close to horses as I get, usually). I think I’ve ridden about three times in my life, the last time when I was 15. Went to a Caribbean island right after a late-season hurricane had struck. Only three of the horses were fit to ride (the rest still being spooked). Guide rode one, and pull...
Oh that is so funny - I used to work as a horse riding instructor for a while & also been riding my whole life, so I witnessed many similar situations as you just described. Must have been quite an adrenaline rush for you as non-rider especially!
I’ll bet you did! Yup, it was scary at the time and funny in retrospect. I’ve told the story orally, many times. 😅
Great story, summer in a nutshell! The narrator has a very strong voice, and I like all the little friendly jealousies. But the ending of the journal was glorious, perfect way to cap it :)
Hey, thank you! I think I needed a little bit of summer, it is so cold here again now... Typing this shivering at a train station, haha. I can't wait to read what you posted for this week after all that vampire-goodness last week!
Hahahahha this was so great! The voice was spot on and the end, Oh the end. Brilliant. I genuinely started a diary when I was 14 and burnt it after I imagined someone else reading it lol Too incriminating!
I have a list of writings still to burn from when I was around that age, LOL. Thanks for reading and leaving a comment! x
As someone who spent my childhood obsessed with horses (and still am really) I was in love with this right from the start. I love how the teenage drama is such a focus of the diary and the actual riding is sort of a side note. All the characters are great and their interactions feel so real, but Colin was definitely a stand out for me. It's sort of a hard format to create depth to the secondary characters I think when they are seen through someone's diary (and of course you have limited words to play with), but you did a great job with him....
Hey Kelsey! As one horse obsessed person to another, I admit it was hard not to let the horses and riding take over. Both two horses referenced are real ones I ride / used to ride too, haha. I might fully embrace the horse craze for a future story, but I gotta ease in all the non-equestrians first :D Can you believe my friends and I were actually told off for not letting the grooms work when we were around 12-14? We were those annoying kids, all of us having a crush on that one guy... And we actually threw water at him... multiple times... ...
I would totally read a full horse craze story if you ever write one! I have this secret dream of one day writing a series of horse books like the ones I used to read (ie The Saddle Club).
Haha I used to read horse book series too! Let me know if you do write them - I'd love to read some more... Actually, I want to live in them, LOL
Ugh! Everyone went funny this week, and now I'm mad I didn't. (AND on top of that, I chose a different prompt than you. I'm upset on so many different levels.) However, this story gave me so much life and dopamine! Hi-la-ri-ous! Colin is me, no shame. IDGAF. But it was very, very easy to put myself in Sam's shoes too, because the voice was incredibly strong and consistent. How did I not think of summer camp? Ugh. Seriously, I'm kicking myself. Side note: The "riding" jokes had me busting up! As I was procrastinating with writing my story, ...
Seconding what Zack said, keep TMI. It was recommended by a judge so it was competing for the shortlist/win. And though it didn't win, it definitely got the "seal of approval" which is rewarding and shows that it can circulate. It's always nice to see people growing!
Thanks to both of you for your comment about TMI! Truly I can never expect to bag a win with so many amazing stories to go around here, so not too upset about it not making its way into the top stories. I'm not a sure about publishing it elsewhere as there seem to be a few restrictions around publishing reedsy stories elsewhere but I might look into it further! Thank you for all the support & kind words☺️
Hey! Oh, this comment just made my day! I love how you saw the first title and just knew - "great minds think alike"? I'm so happy you found this funny because I was seriously having second thoughts about it, you've put the bar high with your story (how they missed that off the shortlist this week??) and I don't think I could ever reach that level of funny! But I had fun writing this (apart from the "I can't do comedy what am I doing here this was a mistake I'm not funny" internal thoughts), especially Colin - I'd go as far as to say he's ...
I'm glad you trusted yourself and posted this one, because it's a blast to read. That's so relatable too, the "I can't do comedy, I'm not funny, delete delete DELETE" feeling. Big mood. You're hilarious though. LOL at your boyfriend thinking the angel story involved chickens. Like what?! 🤣(I'll have to go back and reread it, maybe I missed the poultry subtext.) Get that novel written so I can buy a dozen copies and give them to family members as Christmas presents! You got it absolutely right, by the way. I would've 100% chosen this prompt ...
Poultry subtext 🤣 It was that brief mention of white feathery wings at the start, haha. In his defence 3 out of our 4 pet hens are mostly white, but I still found it so funny. You have a whole lot of trust in me, 12 copies? I must polish up that flaming garbage pile which is my current draft..!😱 I think a dark emerald / pine green would do the job? That's my favourite colour - a very specific shade!
Ok, the chicken thing makes waaay more sense now, LOL. 12 copies is the minimum to support a friend. Gotta make sure the world sees your talent (or at least force your writing on my unsuspecting family 😈 ). I'm sure it'll be an amazing book. I vote for dark emerald!
Well, do let me know if you publish anything so I can also grab my minimum 12 copies too! On the topic of unsuspecting family, I have already been telling my dad for weeks to read your stories! I wonder if he's gotten around to it? He is not one to leave a comment though. PS: Whenever my story finally takes book shape, you're getting your copy from me, and with a "thank you" letter - that's the minimum for such a supportive friend!
Riel! We are prompt buddies this week! One step closer to world domination, except I'll go hide on a deserted island with a volleyball instead, tyvm :) I really enjoyed your humor in this piece. I could picture Jack being annoyed with the children throughout, with him flat out saying "no." That one-liner cracked me up. Also loved this line given the context of the entire story: I think we've got a new… riding goal. Scandalous! Summer camp stories are fun. Brings me back to those days, and you so elegantly kept the intrigue with "A few th...
Hey! When I asked people what would they take to a deserted island, so far nobody's gone for a volleyball - that's a first! I'm sure this still counts as a step towards world domination goals in a way. Thank you for dropping by to read & chat at always - that "riding goal" line was my favourite - exactly the kind of joke we would through around with some of my friends, and I was just laughing at myself writing it. I'm glad keeping things hidden worked out in the end - I did think of maybe disclosing more, but then I thought it didn't sui...
You had me at "fuck this journal." I had a suspicion that the journals would need to be turned in which made the story all the more comical. My mom's number one rule growing up was to never write notes, because someone would eventually see them! I love summer camp, and the energy of wanting that creates for teenagers! I never went to a co-ed camp (only Girl Scouts), but I used to daydream in the movies about meeting a boy too! I think this story was playful and honest, and you really captured the tone of this age group quite well! **Not...
OMG thank you for warning me, I just fixed that! It was not so much a typo but I suppose I just never wrote or possibly read "bunk bed" in my life, only heard it and though I am fluent I'm not a native English speaker... this is, what I will shamelessly blame all my shortcomings on, haha. Your mother was so right! I once found my sister's notebook marked "Top Secret" written with red across the cover... Secrets aren't secrets on paper. I think we probably all had those daydreams about what would happen on our little getaways from parents, ...