We were flying across the beach, girl and horse, with the wind rushing through us. The coolness of the spring afternoon air chilled my skin despite the layers of clothes I had brought on. The waves breaking on the sand were nothing but a blur of colour like a melting painting.
The sense of freedom beat into me and the thrill tingled in my blood. My heart was thudding in my chest the rhythm controlled by the pacemaker. This was my escape from all of that pain, treatment and medication. All of my heart problems were gone in the hurricane of wind and the excitement of sitting on the back of a running horse.
I could feel every movement made by King, my massive black stallion I was riding, as he raced on wards. King was all powerful muscle and sped thanks to him being a strange mix of mighty shire horse and fast racehorse. Shires were well known for their calm and gentle nature, but King was the opposite of that and acted untameable.
King was pure black all over, with a long mane and tail which I loved to braid. Today, his hair was flying free and adding to the magnificent sight he made racing along the soft sand. King was well over six feet high. I was five-seven and he seemed to dwarf me.
I sat low on his back, almost bent over so that I was aiding him to gain speed, which was an achievement in the black, bulky, protective body suit I was wearing. On impact with the ground the whole thing would inflate like a car airbag, hopefully save me from more broken bones due to falling off King. My hard riding helmet felt like it was glued to my head and shoulder length, purple dyed stuck out from underneath it. The helmet was another life safer in riding a dangerous horse.
King’s mane tickled my face and in a few snatched moments, it seemed we were one. I breathed in his thick, sweaty horse smell and felt the rocking of his body echoing through my own. I watched sand and sea zooming by then in the distance I spotted something out at sea.
I raised myself up and slowed King down which took a good few minutes because he didn’t want to and I didn’t want to anger him. He stepped first into a canter then into a trot. King clearer didn’t want to stop and it took me a lot to make him get into a walk.
By that time, we were coming upon something that looked like an avalanche of cliff. Lots of rocks and rubble worn smooth by the constant touch of the sea were jumbled over the sand. This maze continued into the distance, raising up out of the waves as it went.
The reinforced rock sides were slowly tumbling away and exposing more of the flattened stones. In some parts there seemed nothing left to support the stones and the sea was happily consuming them. Sand, crushed shells and dead sea creatures lay thick on what, a hundred years or so ago, had been a straight road towards a distant island.
King, unhappy his run had ended nodded his large head forward and snorted. He tried to pick up pace again, his muscles rippling underneath me and his huge hooves kicking up sand. King loved to run and could probably go on forever.
Breathing hard to get my breath back, I held the reins tighter, said gentle words and patted his long neck. King came to a stop but his towering, thick legs jigged about. King had so much pent in energy after the winter months because I had been unwell and winter conditions weren’t good to ride in.
Now, spring was here and the best place to let King run was the beach which stretched for miles. Hardly anyone came here because was this the middle of nowhere and access wasn’t easy because of cliffs and sand dunes. Also, the beaches around here with private, owned by the people who’s lone houses stood like dead giants on the edges of the cliffs.
The Grey Causeway, for that was the name of the remains of the road before me, only became visible at low tide on a calm day. The sea waves swept aside and dropped whilst red crabs scuttled over the exposed rocks. Seaweed and moss started to dry out but were still slimy to the touch. Pools of water lingered in between the stones, trapping fish until the tide rose again.
The afternoon sun was half covered by white and grey clouds growing heavy with rain. A few birds wheeled in the sky searching for fish to take back to their nests on the cliffs. The waves were lapping quietly for a change as it was known to all ways been rough here. There was little breeze and the air was cool with the lingering of winter.
‘Let’s do some exploring,’ I said and directed King to turn onto the remains of the road.
King refused with a stamp of his right hoof and a loud neigh. He tossed his head right up, his black mane almost whipping against me and the reins tugging hard. His shoulders bunched and the rest of his body began to fall back on itself. His tail hit the back of his legs in anger, setting loose sand that had become caught. He was getting ready to rear.
King was stubborn and hated to feel like he wasn’t in control all the time. It was his way or no way at all which made riding him difficult. He was well known for throwing riders off and causing other horse to join him in a stampede. No one trusted King and he would have been moved on from my family’s riding school and breeding stables, if I hadn’t taken a liking to him.
I had lost count of the number of times I had fallen off King. Mostly it had be because he had reared and or bucked. Others, it had been because he had refused to jump a gate or go through a gap. A few times, he had moved whilst I was mounting and thrown me off balance. Once, King had physical pulled me off his back by biting into my leather boot and yanking me down from the saddle.
Still though, I couldn’t give him up. We had a strange bond; both craving a freedom that was hard to get.
I eased my grip on the reins and lowered them against his broad shoulders. I took my feet out of the stirrups and relaxed myself as much as possible. I shut my eyes and breathed in the sea salt and sandy air. I counted to ten and tried not to let myself tense up as I felt King’s back doing so underneath me.
It was an unusual tacit but letting King know he had control was the best way to deal with his anger. To try and push him now and be hard on him would result in him rebelling. His mighty body would rear and buck, he would throw me and race off, gaining the freedom he was all ways craving.
‘Hey there, King,’ I whispered, ‘it’s okay. Good boy, King. You’re all right.’
I touched him gently and give him a small pat. King nodded his head, the reins shaking as he did so. He give a grumbling sound that I felt vibrating into me.
‘I know you want to run and we shall. But the tide is low today and I want to go on The Grey Causeway and see what’s left on the island.’
King grinded his teeth against the metal bit and turned his head towards the causeway.
I took my chance, pulling the reins to the right side and giving King a small kick with my left foot, I told him, ‘walk on’ and clicked my tongue.
King obeyed and walked on to the remains of the road. I let the reins and my legs relax again. It had to seem like King had made the choice, not me. It wasn’t safe for him to run along the tumbled, slippy rocks, so I let him pick his own way.
The Grey Causeway was about a mile long and led to an island. Once, it might have been taller and bigger but now it was medium size rocky outcrop and at high tide the sea flooded the lowest parts. Greenery crowded the island and as we got closer the structure of a manor house could be made out clearly against the sky.
To Be Continued….
(Please note; this story was originally inspired by https://scvincent.com/2020/05/07/thursday-photo-prompt-causeway-writephoto. I made the choice to not use this story for my submission to this prompt because I wanted to further explore where this story was going and spend time creating a more polished narrative.
I decided not to use the imagine that came with the prompt but to find my own from a free to use photo site; https://pixabay.com/photos/st-michael-s-mount-cornwall-causeway-4394648.
I have actually visited St. Michael’s Mount in Cornwall on holiday and have on past holidays gone horse riding on beaches and coastal tracks which further inspired this setting of this story.
The photographs below are some I took of my visit to St. Michael’s Mount in 2012. All these photos are copyright to me. To find out more about the history go to https://www.stmichaelsmount.co.uk/).