It had been ten years since Carrie was last at Congress. She was a competitor then. She’d almost forgotten how exciting it all was, so many people, so many beautiful animals, adrenaline running high, and everyone hoping for the performance of a lifetime. On the AQHA circuit, the All American Quarter Horse Congress was the star. Winning here meant fame, acclaim and in many cases money, if not from the win itself, then from the increase in your horse’s worth, especially for stallions and mares, where their show history dictated their stud fees and foal prices.
They watched the calf roping from a good spot in the center of the stands through the first two eliminations, Tyler talking non-stop through it all. It was amazing how much her nephew knew about the sport for only being ten years old. He was enthralled and obviously having a ball. Around lunch time they headed to the exhibition building. The trade show didn’t start for a few more days, but, there were already plenty of vendors set up to sell their wares. You could buy anything you wanted for a horse or rider at these big shows. Saddles, bridles, blankets, hats, boots, jeans, belts, and the jewelry. It always amazed Carrie how much jewelry was available at these things, everything from one of a kind, hand-crafted pieces, to mass produced costume jewelry. If racing was “the sport of kings” then the AQHA was “the sport of queens”.
The people here had money and loved to spend it.
They found a hot dog stand and grabbed a couple footlongs and strolled through the displays.
“Before we head over to the Coliseum for the roping, I need to check out the auction barn” Carrie told Tyler.
“There are a couple mares I want to check out. Okay?”
“Yeah, that’s cool.”
Damn, she really hoped the mares she’d spotted in the catalogue looked as good as they sounded. After checking the map and locating the barn they needed, they made the long trek across the grounds to Barn H. Horses up for sale in auction were housed in this area with their information sheets tacked to the stall doors.
Some of the owners were milling about to answer questions or groom their horses. Carrie walked down the center aisle scrutinized the information sheets in search of the horses she wanted to see.About half-way down the aisle she spotted the Palomino mare. As she stepped up to the stall door the two men inside turned at her approach. Her heart stopped in her chest. It couldn’t be-God couldn’t be that cruel to her. She blinked, certain her eyes were playing tricks on her, but no they weren’t, staring back at her was Chance Ryan.
The man who had broken her heart ten years ago.
“There’s nothing left to say.”
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~Author Jennifer Labelle~