As the danger increases, so do the rewards.
After another morning gallop where Vee didn’t move over the track as comfortably as his fans might like, Pat was walking Vee like usual. The commotion near the receiving barn drew his attention, and after a moment, curiosity got the best of him and he headed over there with Vee at his side.
Two men were wrestling with the leads attached to the halter of the blood bay colt who was rearing up and generally carrying on. Pat recognized the colt, of course. “Taifu. I thought he wasn’t coming until Thursday.”
Vee snorted and raised his head up. I remember him.
“Well, on Saturday, you can beat his socks off.”
The white socks don’t come off our legs, Pat. They’re not really socks like humans wear. Vee was eyeing him now.
Pat choked back a laugh. “I didn’t mean it literally.” He turned his attention back to Taifu and his handlers. They had the colt under some semblance of control now and were moving him toward the receiving barn.
“You go away!” A tough-looking Asian man stood before them, fists clenched in anger. “You no spy on us!”
“I wasn’t spying,” Pat said easily as Vee sidled. “I was just curious as to what the ruckus was all about.” He turned his back on the man and clucked to Vee. “Come on, me boyo.”
Pat didn’t see what the man did, but Vee suddenly snaked his head toward the man, teeth bared. Pat turned toward Vee as if trying to take control of him, but the result was to give Vee more lead. The colt lunged for the Asian, who scrambled backward, tripped on the uneven ground and fell, landing on his butt.
Pat didn’t laugh as he gently placed a hand on Vee’s halter. “Sorry about that, old boy,” he said in his best faux-British accent. “My horse seems to have taken a dislike to you. Best you be on your way before he decides to take your bloody head off.” It wasn’t a threat any horseman would dismiss. Thoroughbreds were known for having difficult temperaments…even, rarely, homicidal ones. The aggression that made them so competitive on the track could also make them into nightmares to handle. Vee wasn’t one of those—but the man accosting them had no way of knowing that.
The man scrambled to his feet and beat a hasty, undignified retreat.
Pat shook his head. The man would never forgive or forget. They’d made an enemy today. Of course, he suspected that Taifu’s entire stable already considered him and Vee to be their enemies.
Pat led Vee back toward the stakes barn. “I hope they really do ask for a stall on the far side of the barns from us.”
Vee bared his teeth again then turned it into a yawn. Bring it on. Taifu is no match for me.
Pat chuckled and gave his shoulder a pat. “I know. You’re the best, Vee. Love you.”
Love you, too. Vee was utterly calm again as they reached the stakes barn.