Adela leaned back in the saddle as Wing picked his way down the slope. She let the reins slacken in her hands and gave him his head so he could find the best placement for his hooves.
His body swayed beneath hers and they moved as a unit - two cogs making up one machine.
Why can't it be this easy with everyone else?
Wing blew out as he reached the edge of the stream. He lowered his head and took a long drink. Adela patted his neck.
They took the same route they always did. Adela thought she'd be comfortable along a familiar path, but it just made her restless. Not enough of a distraction. She turned and looked around.
A few yards to her left she noticed a section of underbrush that had been cleared aside with a thin dirt track down the middle: a deer trail.
Adela gathered up her reins and steered Wing toward the trail. He resisted at first, turning his head to look back at the stream and their usual route, but she added more leg and he walked on.
The path was tight and Adela had to clear low-hanging branches away from her head. Leaves rustled against her feet and brushed Wing's sides.
Eventually the path cleared out and an incline appeared before them. Adela took the opportunity to gallop up the hill. She woahed Wing to a stop at the top.
Dense forest surrounded them on all sides. She pulled out her phone and checked the time.
Crap, I hadn't meant to be out this long.
Adela opened the map to pin her location. She could always explore later.
No internet and no service. Great.
She sighed and turned Wing around. They'd go back the way they came.
Adela reached down to tuck her phone into her boot right as a bird burst through the underbrush.
Wing spun around and ripped the reins out of Adela's left hand. Already unbalanced, she toppled off his side and landed in the dirt.
She watched him race away from where they had come.
"WOAH Wing WOOOAH," she called after him. She tried to get up, but a pain pierced her side and it became impossible to draw air into her lungs.
She laid on her back and hoped Wing would slow down and wait for her not too far off. He hadn't spooked this bad in a while.
"Craw, craw, craw," the damn bird laughed from a tree above her. She picked up a rock and chucked it skyward. It didn't come close to hitting the bird.
It came crashing down a few seconds later and landed with a plunk in the bushes Wing disappeared through.
Adela breathed in deep through her nose and forced herself to sit upright. She let the breath out from her bruised chest and the pain lessened.
She got up and started in the direction Wing ran off.