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 Riding Lessons -Michael Darling-
Gretel
 Posted: Jul 5 2014, 02:43 AM
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Co-Leader of the Red Cloaks
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Gretel stood just outside the royal stables, two reins held in her calloused hands. One attached to a fidgeting stallion, her own. Rasend, her horse that was well known for being vicious to everyone but her. And her as well sometimes. The horse she had to fight into submission one a week, exhaust him until he was content. A horse with too much energy and aggression and no outlet except her. It made them a perfect match, because she was just the same. And today, he'd already been worked, exhausted until there was only his usual amount of fight. And the second horse was dwarfed by Rasend's 16'3 hands. Standing at only 15'2 the little black and white paint gave the impression of being playful and sweet. And she was. Carefully chosen, this would be the first time her brother met Harlequin. Because frankly, her brother was not the best rider. And in Gretel's opinion, riding was an essential.

And so she'd set up a lesson, picking out the best fit for him out of all the horses in the stable. Small size, sweet temperament and playful, perfect. And fortunately, she was also one of the braver horses, which meant that Rasend didn't even make her nervous. Gretel slid her hand down Rasend's reins to give herself enough slack to gently stroke the mare's neck, before getting a tight grip on Rasend's reins again. Then she settled down, waiting for her brother to show up. Rasend was beginning to calm as well, finally stopping his restless movements. It emboldened the mare enough to try to reach over and nip him, but Gretel's grip kept her from getting that far. She had enough experience to know that once he got playful, he didn't calm down for a long time.
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Michael Darling
 Posted: Jun 1 2015, 01:28 AM
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Red Cloak and Honorary Lost Boy
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My thoughts aren’t very happy
The curly-haired boy was not in the best of moods, in all honesty. He had been told that his delightful ‘sister’ had organised a riding lesson. While he was all for spending time with his Gretel, riding was not an activity he considered fun. He’d happily do another activity with his sister, but unfortunately, she had insisted on teaching the former Lost Boy riding. Riding in Michael’s mind was….well, boring. He had ridden horses when he was with….in another life, but next to flying? It didn’t have the same appeal.

Stupid Gretel, and her stupid riding! Why doesn’t she want to learn how to fly? Flying is so much better, and much more fun! All I did when I was in Neverland was fly, it was terribly marvellous! I’ll have to teach her one day!

Michael was currently on his way to where Gretel was, albeit at a much slower pace, and with a sullen face. Every once in a while, he would kick up a bit of dust on the ground. Unfortunately, when Michael was in a bad mood, nothing could be done to sway him out of it, unless he was either given a good talking to, or someone helped him to get him out of it, by having fun. The latter usually worked; the former usually only his bad mood worse. The former Lost Boy huffed in annoyance. He then realised Gretel would be mad at him for wasting her time. She’d probably picked out a good horse for him, too.

So, in keeping with his usual mode of transport, Michael Darling decided to fly to where his ‘sister’ was. Soon, he could see Gretel with two horses. He was nearly there, when he suddenly gained the thought that his landing might spook the horse. With that in mind, Michael landed and hurried to where Gretel was.

“Sorry for making you wait, Gretel!”

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Gretel
 Posted: Jun 2 2015, 09:21 PM
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Time began to tick past, and Gretel forced herself not to fidget as Rasend tossed his head and stamped his feet. Harlequin was blessedly calm, only occasionally shaking her head and shifting in place. Gretel adjusted her grip on the reins, trying to relax herself so she didn't excite the horses. She had her suspicions as to why Michael was late. He didn't like riding, a problem she blamed on the court riding instructor's and their silly, over strict lesson plan. Michael was an energetic boy, and no one has any fun walking a horse in a circle.

She'd inject some excitement in riding, and hopefully he'd engage a bit. And Harlequin, with her sweet and energetic nature, would help. Gretel shook off her impatience and began to walk, Rasend and Harlequin trailing behind her. Just a few wide circles to keep them from getting stiff and antsy. Rasend snorted in protest at the slow pace, but obeyed none the less. She brought them to a halt again just in time to see Michael land a short distance away. Gretel shuddered. While she was sure it was an irrational fear, the thought of flying always filled her with dread.

"Apologize to the horse not me. She's the one getting the bad first impression." Gretel called over to him, smiling a little bit to take the sting off. "Meet Harlequin. She's an seven year old Arabian, lively but well trained." Gretel gave the reins a gentle tug to encourage Harlequin forward. She obeyed and stretched out her neck to greet Michael, nostrils quivering and ears perked. Gretel waited patiently to see what the verdict was.

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Michael Darling
 Posted: Jun 18 2015, 04:31 AM
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Red Cloak and Honorary Lost Boy
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My thoughts aren’t very happy
The curly-haired boy involuntarily flinched slightly when his big ‘sister’ told him to apologise to the horse, for making a bad first impressions. Mother always did say that first impressions were one of the most important things in life, among politeness and other things. He missed Mother, and Nana. They had probably forgotten about him. He shoved those bad thoughts to the bad place in his mind, and focussed on the task at hand. When he refocused, he caught sight of Gretel’s smile, which caused the former Lost Boy to give a small smile of his own. Harlequin, huh? That was a nice name for a horse. He quickly looked to the blonde girl before his attention was back on the horse.

The horse stretched out her neck a little, her ears perked up, and nose quivering. Michael gave Harlequin a smile and slowly stretched out his hand, bringing it closer to the creature’s nose. Once he did touch her nose, Harlequin pushed it up and whinnied a little. The red cloak-wearing boy looked to his ‘sister’ questioningly, silently asking her what that meant. He didn’t really take the time to learn about horses and the like; it was more, hunting, fighting and survival training. His time with Peter Pan and the Lost Boys had helped him learn about fighting somewhat, but he was sure that Miss Red could teach him other fighting skills.

Refocussing on the beautiful horse, he began to stroke her nose gently.
“Hi Harlequin, I’m Michael, Michael Darling. I am terribly sorry for being late. I hope you can forgive me.”

Michael had seen horses back in England, and had had some horse riding lessons, but he had been…a difficult child before he had gone to Neverland. Thank goodness his parents had Nana; she’d been an excellent Nanny. It was a shame he had left her with Mr Darling; he hadn’t really liked the idea of a dog as a Nanny, and an incident just hours before the Darling children’s departure to the magical island had led the banker to chain up poor Nana, something that wasn’t done in the household. Unsure of what to do next, Michael looked to Gretel.

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Gretel
 Posted: Jun 18 2015, 08:15 PM
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Gretel bit back a sigh as the boy flinched, just a little bit, at her remark. Little things like that, reminded her that she wasn't exactly the softest person around. She tried though. At least Hansel understood when she meant to be harsh and when she didn't. But other people didn't know her that well. Then Michael began to reach out for the horse, and Gretel refocused on the task at hand.

Then the horse nickered a bit, and Gretel gave a slow grin. "Thats a good sign. Horses are verbal beings as well. Noise like that, soft and coupled with that body language, it is usually a greeting." Gretel watched, silent now as he began to stroke the horse's nose. Harlequin was a beautiful animal, and a result of fantastic genetics. Small, beautiful and sweet all at once. Far more gentle than the giant war horses that populated most of the stable. Rasend was one of those war horses, standing at 16'3 with the musculature to match.

Gretel carefully readjusted the reins as Michael talked to the mare in a nice low voice. "Good, she needs to get familiar with your voice." she said softly as she slid her hand down to the very end of Rasend's reins to give her the mobility to step a bit closer to Michael and Harlequin. When he looked at her questioningly, she offered him the reins.

"She needs to get used to taking directions from you, know you won't lead her astray. It may not seem like much, but everything helps. Walk her in a few circles. Keep the reins fairly tight. She needs to walk beside you or a few inches behind you." Gretel slid her hand back up Rasend's reins, just in time to catch him before he tried to lift his head out of her reach. "Don't even think about it." She remarked quietly to the horse, pulling his head back down.

"When she's responding to you instinctively, bring her back. Thats when you learn how to actually ride."

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Michael Darling
 Posted: Jun 30 2015, 05:48 PM
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Red Cloak and Honorary Lost Boy
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My thoughts aren’t very happy
The curly-haired boy listened to what Gretel said, about how speaking would get the horse familiar to his voice, which he supposed was a good thing, he couldn’t expect the horse to trust him and know him fully, if she didn’t know his voice. Next, the former Lost Boy heard what his ‘sister’ said and groaned. Great, more boring stuff! Didn’t she remember that he didn’t respond well to boring stuff? In annoyance, Michael Nicholas Darling huffed before speaking.

“I thought we were going to do fun stuff today. You know I hate boring stuff! When can I, you know, gallop into the night and all that riveting stuff that Wendy told me?”

The Red Cloak knew Gretel was right; she probably had been tending to horses longer than he had been riding them, but he was being stubborn. He had been in Neverland, for several years, maybe even decades; he had lost count. Being with Peter was fun, but the ever-young lad was dangerous, unpredictable and manipulative. There had been times when Michael, the other Lost Boy and even his dear, sweet sister had feared for their lives. When Michael had flown here, to Urla, it was a miracle.

Shoving these aside, Michael did as the blonde girl instructed, taking the reins and saying, “Come on Harlequin, walk on!”, leading the sweet horse on a walk. The more he walked with Harlequin, the more he began to see that having a horse might not be so bad. He could at least have a friend he could come see if he was feeling he needed some time away from people.

The whole experience became more tolerable, as time passed. He was unable to tell if Harlequin was responding to him; he was silent for the most part. He didn’t know what to say, if he was being honest. What did you say to a horse, anyway?

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Gretel
 Posted: Aug 1 2015, 07:56 PM
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Gretel raised a cold eyebrow at his complaint. She wasn't really angry, but he needed to know. "Riding a thousand pound animal that doesn't trust you isn't what I call fun. If a horse doesn't trust you, it may spook. A dog running in front of it, a person shouting, anything really. And if a horse spooks it may throw you off. And who knows what will be on the ground to catch you." Gretel's voice was sharp, maybe even a little cruel, but horses were dangerous animals when they got scared.

"To answer the question, soon. But remember that I have done this for years and I have the scars to show what happens when you aren't careful."

Gretel settled in to watch now that her point was made, ready to correct his form if necessary. But over all, it was good. Next to her, Rasend shook his head and snorted in impatience, but a gentle pressure on the reins quieted him. "Easy boy. Soon." She laid a hand on his neck, the contact serving as a reminder of where she was and how easily he could hurt her if he fidgeted too much.

Her eyes stayed busy watching Harlequin as her response to Michael improved. Horses were intelligent herd animals, they didn't take long to synchronize to a new leader. "You are doing good. Bring her around whenever you're ready." Gretel began adjusting Rasend's reins, double checking the girth before securing the reins to the fence post and waiting for Michael and Harlequin.

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Michael Darling
 Posted: Oct 11 2015, 04:33 AM
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Red Cloak and Honorary Lost Boy
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My thoughts aren’t very happy
The curly-haired boy heard his adopted sister as he walked the female horse. Why did Gretel have to be right? It was so annoying when she was right; she reminded him of Wendy a little, to be honest; her bossiness and no-nonsense attitude was similar to Wendy’s. He sometimes thought that Gretel acted like both a mother and a sister when she was around him. Michael nodded, to show that he had been paying attention, and that he understood. The young Red Cloak loved the blonde girl, like she was his actual sister. Certainly there was a bond there that had been established since he had been here.

When the curly-haired boy felt that both he and Harlequin were ready, he led the female horse to where Gretel and her steed were. He stroked her flank and then her face, softly. Maybe he had misjudged riding, maybe he would come to like it, but flying would always be his favourite mode of transport. He wished his ‘sister’ could see it; she would love it, he thought. She merely hadn’t experienced it to understand what it felt like. Hopefully he could show her one day, Hansel, too.

He liked Hansel; the older boy had most assuredly made the young Red Cloak feel welcome, but Michael sometimes felt like he was silently being judged by Hansel. For what, he didn’t know, but, he hoped that Hansel would come to see him as a brother. Maybe he did, and Michael just didn’t know it.

“Ready, Gretel! So, umm….do I get on now?”

He knew that once you felt comfortable enough, you were supposed to get onto the horse but Michael was new at this. He hadn’t gone horse riding enough times to know when that was. Harlequin seemed nice enough. Gretel wouldn’t have selected her if she didn’t think the female would be a good match for the young boy, he was sure. He supposed he just had to get used to riding a horse now; Heavens know that Gretel was not easily swayed when her mind was made up.

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