Claire dropped Amanda off at school and drove to work, anxious to check her email, which she did the minute she sat down at her desk. She was pleasently surprised to see A resonse from the Double C ranch, in Wyoming. Wyoming? The job sounded wonderful. It seems she would be in charge of six teenagers who had been in trouble in one way or other. He asked if she knew anything about animals such as horses. She typed a letter back telling him she was interested in the position, and anything she didn't know (including not much on horses) she could learn. Claire was a quick learner and willing to try just about anything once.
The early morning email, made her day go much better, knowing in her heart, she would soon be out of here. She had to pull a twelve year old boy out of his grandmother's house. His mother had dropped him off and left him, after she had beat him up. The grandmother was not much better. The boy was scared and alone. Claire tried her best to make him feel better. She put her arm around him as they walked to her car. He flinched away from her. She pulled the back of his shirt down from his neck, He had welts all over his back.
" We'll get those cleaned up for you." Claire comforted. He just glanced at her. He showed no emotion on his face.
Claire tried to make small talk with Joey Baker on the way to the designated emergancy foster home. The children's home was crowded with kids. The county put new comers into the system in foster homes the first week, after that they went into either another foster home or to the children's home, whichever became available first.
"Good Morning, Mrs. Andrews." said the young woman who ran the foster home.
"This must be Joey." She smiled down at him. Her smile was warm and sincere She was glad they chose this home. He would get the tender loving care he so desperatly needed at this point in his life.
"Hi Tammy, yes, this is Joey. He needs someone to tend to the sores on his back. I don't know if he has them anywhere else." Claire informed her.
"The doctor will be out in about an hour to examine him and photograph him." This brought interest to his eyes. Photograph him, why would they do that? He wondered.
"Joey, you are in a good place. Tammy will take real good care of you. I will be seeing you in a couple of days. Ok?" Claire asked. he looked at her blankly.
"Thanks again Tammy. I'll see you in a couple of days. Could you please have the doc fax his report to me?" She asked.
"Will do." She replied.
Claire left the boy in Tammy's care and drove back to the office. Wyoming was on her mind. What would Amanda say? She decided to call her firend Melvin Wltshire. He practiced family law.
"Wiltshire and Associates. May I help you?" The secretary asked.
"Yes, this is Claire Andrews, Can I speak to Melvin Please?" She asked.
" Of course, one moment please." She put Claire on hold for a few minutes, then Melvin came on the line.
"Claire?" He asked.
"Hi Melvin. How are you?" She asked.
" I'm just fine. But you didn't call me just to ask how I was doing. What can I help you with?" He asked sweetly.
" Well, nothing big really. I just needed your professional opinion on something." She explained.
"sure, what do you need to know?" He asked.
" Well, I may have a job in Wyoming coming up, and I wanted to know if I can legally take Amanda out of the state without running into any future problems with Richard." She answered.
"Richard gave up any rights he had on you and Amanda the day he signed for no visitation. He knows I am your attorney, and if he ever came looking for you I would have to tell him where you live, but He can't do anything about your moving. Amanda is his daughter and one day he may decide he wants to see her. Since he does pay child support, he does have the right to see her, at least supervised visits." He explained to her.
" We'll deal with that when we come across it. I would like for you to do one thing for me, If I decide to move. " She began.
"You name it."
"I want to have my checks from him sent to you, and you can send them to me, If you would do that for me."
"You know I'll do anything for you Claire." He responded. Melvin had a crush on Claire for the last fifteen years. She should have went out with him, instead of Richard. By the time, she realized what she had missed out on, Melvin had married Aliza, The owner of the deli down the street from Melvin's office.
"Thanks Melvin, if there is one person in this world I can count on, it's you." She told him, then hung up the telephone. Claire felt better now, knowing nothing could stop her from moving out of this town, which held nothing but bad memories.
Jacob anxiously sat down at his desk and turned on his computer.Another email. She answered his questions, and told him she was very interested in the job. He smiled when he read she didn't know anything about horses. He wrote another email, letting her know it would be ok to bring her thirteen year old daughter. There was plenty of room. He asked her where the father was. Would he be coming too? His interests about This woman were peaking. He wished he had the nerve to ask for a picture of her. That woud be too forward. He decided.
He told her whenever she could get here, she would have a job waiting on her. When did she think she could get here? He hit the send button,and went back outside to join the others at the stables.
"Am I doing this right?" Michael asked, breaking him from his thoughts. He suddenly felt refreshed.
"A little bit tighter." He paused as Michael tightened the strap on the saddle.
"Good, that should do it. Now are you ready to get on?" He asked the fifteen year old city boy. He had never been up close to a horse.
"I think so." He replied. "Ok, Always remember that you mount from the left, and dismount the same side." He paused.
" Grab ahold of the reins, and with the same hand grab the horn on the saddle." He instructed as he showed him what he was talking about.
"Then put your foot in the stirrup, and pull yourself onto the seat of the saddle." Michael did it on the first try.
"Very good. How about the rest of you, When I come around to double check your saddles, I'll help anyone who needs help, but please, no one mount until I've double checked the saddles. When you are on your horse, just sit there and hold the reins still. I will show everyone how to use them when we're all on our horses." Jacob instructed. The twelve campers, paid close attention. This was a reward for the merits they have earned. Campers were not allowed on a horse until you proved yourself responsible enough to ride the beautiful animals.
He walked around checking saddles, adjusting a few here and thre. Finally all twelve campers were on their horses. Jacob mounted his, as Randy Bellows, Jacob's life-long friend, entered the stables.
"My crew has kitchen duty today. Celeste told me to go riding with you guys and get out of her hair. " He smiled.
"That would be great. I was wondering how I was going to do this." Jacob laughed.
"Ok, Listen up everyone. I'm going to explain how to operate this magnificent creature. First of all, remember you are in control of him. He does what you tell him to do.If you want to go right, you pull the reins slightly to the right, lead the horse. If you want to go left, what do you do?"He asked the two groups.
"Pull the reins to the left?" One boy asked.
"Yes, If you want to make him move forward, gently tap is sides with your feet and legs. Gently. To stop him, Does anyone know what to do?" He asked. No one answered.
"Does anyone have any suggestions?"
"Say whoa!" Someone called out. Laughter filled the stables.
"Now don't laugh. that's very good. but while your saying that, you need to pull back on the reins together, gently." He paused.
"Ok, let's see if we can direct everyone out of here and into the field. Everyone, we are going to start with the ones closest to the doors, and follow the person in front of you. Randy, will you lead them into the field?" He asked.
"Yep." He answered.
"Ok Do what you just learned and we'll see who was listening." Jacob announced. He watched as they all cantered one by one out of the stables, and into the fields. No major incidences.
"Ok, Good job. Now we are going on a trail ride. We'll be going up littles hills, and down some and through thick forest. We will be going slow. One thing you all need to know, when we go across revines, you need to give your horse an extra tight squeeze with your les, so he'll make it through the revines easier. If anyone at any time, needs help. It can be for any reason,even if you aren't sure of something. Please I would rather you ask either Randy or myself, rather than think you know what your doing. You could hurt both you and the horse." He instructed.
"Now is everyone ready?" He asked.
""They all nodded, for fear of getting too loud and scaring the horses.
"Does anyone have any questions?" They all shook their heads. "Let's go." Jacob announced. and led the line of campers into the woods. The trails had been built by the high travel of go carts. Guests were told when coming upon horses on the trails they must pull off while the horses pass. Most guests are happy to do so, they enjoy watching as the horses pass. He led them deep into the woods. Down small gulleys, and back up them. They passed several cabins. The campers had the pleasure of riding the golf carts to them when they had housekeeping duty.
Forty five minutes later, they came across a small pond.
"everyone, dismount your horses and lead them down to the water to have a drink." Jacob instructed. When the horses were finished quenching their thirst, Jacob had everyone find a tree and wrap the reins around a low branch, get their packs off of the horse, then gather in a circle.They were all pretty excited about the ride they had just went on.
"Ok, lets all settle down. Inside your packs, you will find a sack lunch and a can drink. We are going to have a nice lunch and talk about the future." He paused, while they all unpacked their lunches.
I want to go around the circle and everyone tell me what you have learned while you were here, and what this experience has meant to you." He instructed. The kids had grown,emotionally since they had been here and their answers proved it. He could tell they were sincere.
"I am very proud of each and everyone of you. Now for the ride back I am going to give you something to think about." He paused, looking around the circle.
"I want each one of you to write a letter to your parents. Help them understand what you were feeling before you came here and what you are feeling now. I also want each one of you to let them know what you plan to do when you run into the same problems you faced before you got here. As you know, before you can leave this camp, you have to sign an agreement with your parents. This letter you write will be part of that agreement. When your parents come to pick you up, we will all have a conference and discuss these things, like adults." Most had strange looks of disbelief, of what they were just told to do.
"Any questions?" Jacob asked. Kristen raised her hand.
"Go ahead." Jacob said.
"Can we say what we want in this letter?" She asked.
"I guess that really depends on what you want to say."
"Well, um, if there is something our parents are doing, that makes us act the way we do, should we tell them in this letter?" She glanced around the circle nervously.
"I think if you have something sincere you want to say to them, then you should. I will read your letters over and if anyone needs any help writing them, I will be available anytime." He told them.
"Now lets pack our trash back in our bags, and mount our horses for the ride back to the stables." The forty five minute ride back was a lot more quiet than the ride out. Jacob could tell all of the kids were thinking about what they wanted to say to their parents. This was the most rewarding part of this program."