In The Saddle

After a long and tiring day at college, Katie Swanson could not wait to let her hair down - quite literally - and let go of the stress of her week. She didn’t have plans to go wild and party though, oh no, what she was looking forward to most was riding off into the sunset astride her faithful and trusty stead, Spirit.

Katie had not long turned 17, and was currently working her way through the first year of sixth form college, studying hard to earn decent grades in her A-Level exams so that she could have her pick of the best universities and really make a successful career for herself. She knew she had to, she had little choice, her family had very little, and what they did manage to scrape together usually got pissed up the wall. None of them worked, at least not legitimately, so she had no idea where her own commitment and dedication came from, but right from the age of 12 she’s done all she could to earn some money and pay her own way in life. Perhaps the stigma of being labelled a ‘scrounger’ and a ‘benefit kid’ through school had stuck with her and really left it’s mark - she wanted better than that, she knew she was worth more than that, and she was determined to prove it not only to those who looked down their noses at her and her family, but also to herself.

Spirit really was her pride and joy, it had taken her working all through her school holidays since she’d started at high school a little over half a decade ago, but finally towards the end of her last summer term she’d managed to scrape together enough money to buy him, and how her heart had swelled as she’d met him at the livery yard for the first time. She’d melted, her tough exterior crumbling away around her and she’d dissolved into tears of unbridled joy. He was just perfect, everything she wanted in life, and he was hers - nobody else’s, all hers.

Katie’s passion for horses had all started back in her first term at her new school, she was only 11 then, and had been invited to a friends ‘pony party’ at the local riding stables. All of the other girls had arrived with their own helmets, matching jodhpurs and one or two had even arranged for their own ponies to be transported from home - that was when she’d realised just how different her own background was to that of all of there friends, and it had really hurt. She’d been the one in tatty jeans and t-shirt, with no idea how to handle a horse, but she’d fallen in love with everything about riding and quickly proved to have a certain way with the ponies, a confidence which belied her lack of experience and which took both her friends and the stables staff completely by surprise.

At the end of the party, the yard manager had approached her slovenly dad to ask whether he’d consider sending her for riding lessons, because they were so impressed by her natural talent and thought that with a little nurturing she could develop into a truly skilful handle and rider. Of course, he’d done nothing but laugh in the kiddy gentleman’s face, and that’s before he’d heard what the cost would be! Katie was heartbroken, but this reaction only steeled her resolve, making her more determined than ever to achieve her goal and make her dreams come true. Unbeknownst to her dad, Katie had visited the stables again after school later on that week, and had pleaded with the manager to be allowed to help out. She had no means of payment, and she made that quite clear, but she could do anything that they’d let her if it meant that she got to spend some time with the horses.

Over the years, Katie had spent every spare waking moment at the yard - working in the stables when the manager would let her, and riding and spending time with the horses the rest of the time. Her natural horsemanship skill continued to shine through, and as she became more confident her ability grew and grew, until she could handle even the biggest and most stubborn stallions liveried there with ease, putting even the full time staff to shame at times with how easily the animals obeyed her. She’s saved every penny that she earned, not treating herself to so much as a packet of sweets or a magazine through the entire five years until eventually she’d accumulated enough to buy a handsome black colt of her very own, a 4 year old standing at a little over 14 hands, and her one true love in life, her Spirit.

Even now the intensity of her studies had increased considerably, Katie made sure to find time to visit the yard every single day, without fail. Often she’d be there at the crack of dawn, mucking out and helping in the tack room, conscious that whilst she’d reached her target, horses cost a lot of money in stabling, food and vet bills, so she had to keep earning if she was going to be able to support Spirit. Then, like today, as soon as she finished at college she’d shoot home, change her clothes and then walk the 2 miles back to the stables to exercise him, and often one or more of the other horses if their owners weren’t able to get there that day - that’s the way the livery worked, everybody looked out for each other, and it’s the main reason Katie felt so happy and comfortable there.

Having dropped her college bag on the hallway floor, she called a hurried “Hello” through to her family, who she knew would be sat in the lounge working their way through the days supply of cheap and cheerless supermarket beer, barely even noticing whether she was home or not, before heading up the stairs for a quick shower and to change into her riding gear, only finally feeling free and at ease once she’d walked back out of the door and set off on her cross-country route to meet her best friend in the whole world.

Singing contentedly to herself, she’d skipped across fields and clambered over styles, pleased to see that she’d achieved a record time as she walked through the gate to the yard, making sure of course to close it firmly behind her, and smiling widely at the thought of an extra half hour of freedom. Letting herself into the stable block, Katie rounded the corner into Spirit’s stall, and her eyes fell upon the most stunning boy she’d ever seen, a shock of hair as black as the horse he was grooming and a rugged, weathered look lit up by a ruddy complexion and a dancing smile which took her breath away. Wow.

“Hey, I’m Jethro, but everybody calls me Jet.”

“M…Em…Oh, Hhhhhiya, I’m K…k…Katie.” She stammered, tripping over her words in the rush to greet him, butterflies fluttering in her stomach, which seemed to be doing summersaults. Was this what love at first sight felt like, she wondered? The only time she’d ever felt anything like this was when she’d first set eyes on Spirit, and she knew that had been true love, but this was different, more intense. Wow.

Regaining her composure a little, and realising that he must look like a gibbering imbecile to this handsome young stranger, Katie looked him straight in the eye confidently and managed to utter the first coherent sentence since she’d arrived at the yard.

“Sorry, couldn’t quite get my words out then! I’ve not seen you around here before, Jet, do you have a horse stabled here?”

“Haha, yeah I often have that effect.” Jet tipped her a cheeky wink, and then burst out laughing. In truth, he wasn’t half as cocky and confident as he tried to come across, but it was a great way of hiding his own apprehension and nerves when speaking to a, frankly, startlingly beautiful girl. “No, I’m just lending a hand to earn myself a few quid whilst we’re in town, that’s all. Is this handsome chap yours then?”

Jet’s forthright approach had broken the ice, and both immediately felt more at ease in each other’s company, finding it far easier to chat openly and get to know each other a little better. Katie quickly explained about Spirit, how very important he was to her and also how he’d come to be in her life. She swelled with pride as she recounted the struggles she’d been through to get him, and also the joy he’s brought to her.

In return, Jet talked a little about his own background in the traveller community, how they never stayed in one place for very long - either being moved along by the authorities, or needing to find a new ‘patch’ to earn a living. Most of the older men in his group worked in the manual trades, things like building, carpentry and landscaping, but he’d always been one for the animals and as well as taking care of their own pets and livestock he’d tried to find work helping at stables or on farms whenever he was able to. As was typical amongst his people, despite only being a year older than Katie was he’d been out of education probably since she’d started high school, and had worked throughout most of his adolescence, meaning he’d built quite a respectable skillset, something that was evident from his handling of Spirit.

“Usually he won’t let anybody but me groom him, you know. You really have got a way with them, haven’t you?”

Gazing at the colt affectionately as he worked his rough mane, Jet nodded slowly and then turned to look at Katie. “I’ve always found a stronger connection with the horses than the people, I guess that makes me sound pretty crazy to you, doesn’t it? No doubt you’ve got lots of friends, but to me I prefer to spend time with the beasts, they ‘get’ me in a way that no person ever has, and I think I ‘get’ them too”

She had no idea what made her do it - she’d never craved the affection of another person herself either, nor had she felt affection beyond the platonic, familial love that she almost felt obliged to feel, but something inside Katie made her reach out her hand and place it gently atop Jet’s, following his motion as he combed through the horses long, coarse hair.

She murmured softly, gently “Oh Jet, I get it, believe me I do. You could have been describing me then, those could have been my words.”

Taking his hand in hers, she pulled it towards her, causing him to drop the brush he was using and look straight into her piercing blue eyes, startled b this sudden physical intimacy which was so alien to him. So alien to both of them.

“Katie, are you in there?” A shrill, piercing voice called out through the stable block from behind them. “I thought I saw you crossing the yard earlier, have you got a moment?”

The moment shattered, the spell broken, and both Katie and Jet jolted from their reverie, startled by the unexpected interruption. It was Nancy, the tack room supervisor, who bustled her way through to the stall where she found a pair of slightly shell-shocked young people, both seemingly unsure where they where or what had just happened.

“Ah, I see you’ve met Jet then? As he may have told you, he’s going to be helping out around the yard for a few weeks, mostly things like the mucking out and hosing down, which will free you up a bit, won’t it?”

Katie nodded, still struggling to bring herself back down to earth and to give Nancy her full attention.

“Excellent! Well, I remember you mentioning that you’ve got a week off from college next week, yes? How do you fancy looking after the tack for a few days whilst I travel over to Ireland to meet a new breeder who’s hoping to stable some of his stock here whilst they’re in training?”

Katie’s eyes widened with shock. She’d been helping out at the yard for over 5 years now, and had spent plenty of time in the tack room cleaning and repairing equipment, but never had she been trusted to take care of things on her own. This was a dream come true for her, a real step up the pecking order, and she realised just how much faith and trust Nancy and the rest of the team must have in her if they were prepared to give her this opportunity. For a moment, she just stood opened mouthed as she took in what she’d just heard.

“Oh Nancy, I’d absolutely love to! But, do you really think I’m up to running things on my own? I mean, I know what I’m doing and everything, but it’s such a big responsibility. I’d hate to make a mess of things.”

The older lady nodded reassuringly, and then quite uncharacteristically she gave Katie a small smile. This probably shocked Katie even more than meeting Jet, even more than being asked to take charge, she had NEVER known Nancy to smile before. Not that she wasn’t a pleasant lady, but she was quite old fashioned and tended to show her appreciation in other ways, open affection just didn’t sit right with her, but the smile was warm and welcoming.

“I wouldn’t have asked you if I didn’t think you were capable young lady, but if you don’t feel up to the task I can bring somebody else in.”

“N…no, no, honestly Nancy, I’ll be absolutely fine. And if Jet here is going to be around, I’m sure he won’t mind lending a hand. Thank you, thank you so very much. Wow, what an incredibly opportunity, I really don’t know what to say.”

Her normal demeanour returning, although feeling an intense pride that her young prodigy was so keen to step up to the plate, Nancy nodded curtly before turning to leave, asking Katie to pop in and see her in the office after her ride so that she could take her through what needed to be done, and also provide her with keys to the yard. Then, with a jerk of the hand, she indicated that Jet should follow her as there was work to be done, and she wasn’t paying him to stand around chatting up the ladies all day. He blushed, but nothing like as deeply as Katie did, both agreeing that as tomorrow was Saturday they’d have more time to chat then, and arranging to meet early in the morning.

“Over a coffee?” Katie suggested.

“Over a pile of manure, more likely!” Jet giggled.

As Katie led Spirit out across the yard and saddled him up, she’d honestly never felt happier, her mind spinning with thoughts of her responsibility next week, and the mysterious Jet she she’d only known for less than an hour, but who had made her feel like she had never felt before. It was an odd feeling, she couldn’t quite put her finger on it, but she knew that she liked it.

Leading her trusty steed through the yard gate out onto the open fields beyond, Katie swung herself upwards and mounted his saddle gracefully, a well practised manoeuvre which was often admired by her peers. She was, after all, quite petite and lacked the height of many of the other riders, yet she was often able to mount and dismount far more smoothly than many of them managed. This, again, was an example of her commitment and determination to always do her very best, and to become the best she can at anything she turned her hand too, a trait of which she was proud, given her challenging background.

Spirit walked confidently under her direction, picking out a steady path through the bracken laden countryside, enjoying the opportunity to stretch his legs but also keen to pick up the pace, and often attempting to break into a slow jog, something approaching a trot. Katie, too, wanted to let him run free, relishing the wind in her hair and the exhilaration that she knew a good run would bring, but she was cautious of the ground where they were and wouldn’t take any unnecessary risks, reining in his excitement and enthusiasm until they were clear of the shrubbery. It wasn’t far, perhaps a couple of miles at the most, and as they climbed the brew of the hill ahead Katie’s gaze travelled wide across the open landscape, breathing in deeply and rising from the saddle as she finally let Spirit run freely, whooping with joy has he cantered and built into a gallop, snuffing and snorting his own delight.

Satisfied that they had ‘blown away the cobwebs’, and anxious not to overexert Spirit, Katie again slowed his gait until they were travelling a a steady-but-safe pace, allowing her to take in the beautiful scenery which was rushing past them, and which seemed even more enchanting than ever today. Lost in her own thoughts, the young girl barely noticed the passage of time nor the distance travelled, until she sensed her ride beginning to pull up slowly, immediately snapping her eyes ahead fearing danger or obstruction, perhaps other rider as she knew Spirit was always nervous when approaching strangers. Instead, her eyes met with the rapidly approaching weir of the river, causing her to pull sharply on the reins and turn to the side in order to avoid entering the water - not because both her and Spirit weren’t capable of traversing it safely, of course, but because she did not relish the job of hosing him down back at the yard!

As they drew to a halt, Katie slid deftly from the saddle and led Spirit to the edge of the water, allowing him to drink deeply and quench his thirst. She reached for her own water bottle, but was surprised to find it empty - she always drank as she rode to keep hydrated, but it was rare for her to drink more than half of the bottle. Glancing at her watch, she cried out in disbelief - having reached the riverbank she’s just assumed they’d been travelling faster than she’d realised, but now she could see that the’d been riding for over an hour!

“Oh my, Spirit, we’ve been away ever such a long time already! And we’ve still got, what another hour at best to get back to the yard, probably longer as I don’t doubt your poor legs will be tired. Come on then, we’d best head back or Nancy will be worrying, and , Oh Hell! I’ve got to go and see her before I go home too.”

Mentally kicking herself for not keeping better track of time and allowing herself to get so lost in the moment, Katie guided Spirit back around and clambered aboard, a little less gracefully on this occasion for despite his smooth ride and sturdy saddle her own legs were weary from the long ride, and she had to admit she wasn’t looking forward to the return journey nearly so much. Besides, now she was starting to understand where all of that water from her bottle had gone. It was only as she sat astride his back once more that she felt the first, niggling sense that she could do with finding a bathroom before too long.

The pair made rapid, steady progress to begin with, although after no more than a couple of miles Katie could feel Spirit beginning to labour beneath her, slowing the pace right down and clearly struggling through exhaustion. It had taken them over an hour to read the river, and that was when Spirit was fully fit and raring to go. Now he was tiring, Katie was worried that if she pushed him to hard then he may injure himself, which wasn’t fair to the animal, nor could she afford any more costly vets bills just now, a recent infection having necessitated two separate call-outs, and all but eradicating what had been left of her savings.

No, the only answer was to take things slowly, give him a chance to regain his energy, even if that meant it took them twice as long to get back. Oh, how she wished she’d picked up her mobile phone - the signal was patchy out here at best, but it may have helped her get a message back to the yard to explain where she was, and if necessary to make arrangements to meet Nancy the following day instead, rather than keeping her hanging around all night. Not only that, Katie thought ruefully, but how she also wished she’d nipped to the loo before heading out for this little jaunt. Usually she did exactly that, but meeting Jet had distracted her today, and then the curveball that Nancy had thrown at her had taken her mind of the normal routine completely!

If she was completely honest with herself, the rhythmic motion of Sprit’s gentle trot really wasn’t doing a great deal to help Katie’s growing, pressing need to relieve herself, so she pulled him up again and slid from the saddle once more, reasoning that the walk would be easier for him without her added weight to carry. Leading him along also meant that she could take a moment to adjust herself, and - thankful that nobody was out here to bear witness - even give a little bit of a jig, what you may call a ‘potty dance’ in a young child. Oh how she blushed as she did this…she was 17 years old for heaven’s sake, clearly capable of using a toilet when she needed to, and supposedly well past the stage of having to dance around in public because she needed a wee!

They trudged on, dusk descending over the open countryside, and a cool chill blowing in on the wind, which didn’t help Katie’s predicament, although it did serve to help cool Spirit down from his earlier exertion, to the point that she could feel him beginning to pull at the reins as they walked, clearly feeling able to pick up the pace again. Her own legs aching from the long walk, and not entirely trusting herself to jog with such throbbingly full bladder, Katie gave in and mounted the horse once more, feeling a jolt and a twinge inside her as she swung her leg over his saddle, and clamping her legs tightly against his sides instinctively. Still a little agitated, Spirit’s temperament wasn’t quite what it usually was, and the shock and discomfort from his riders squeeze caused him to start, surging forward unexpectedly and nearly dismounting poor Katie, who was fighting hard both to stay astride the saddle and also to prevent herself losing control of her bladder, which hadn’t liked the unexpected movement at all.

With one hand now thrust into the crotch of her dusky pink jodhpurs, and the other looped through the rein and patting the side of Spirit’s neck as she attempted to comfort and soothe him, Katie almost chucked at the comical sight they must make. But no, she stifled herself, aware that chuckling probably wasn’t a very good idea right now either. Oh what a pickle she’d got herself into, and she was starting to become very concerned that she wasn’t going to make it back to the yard in time, both before Nancy left for the evening and, more worryingly, before she had a spectacularly humiliating accident. No, no, that couldn’t possibly happen, she hadn’t wet her pants since she was about 7. Now she’s an adult, a college student, and big girls like her didn’t have to worry about wetting themselves, it just wasn’t something they did.

Then a truly horrendous thought struck her…Jet!! Oh no, what if…well, what if it all did go horribly wrong and she didn’t get back to the stables before it was too late. And, what if Jet was still there? That, well that didn’t even bear thinking about. How would he ever live it down? She’d barely even met him, never mind gotten to know him, what if that was his first real impression of her? She’d so wanted to get to know him better, and hoped that maybe he’d want to spend some time with her too, but she doubted that very much if all he saw was a stupid little kid who pissed her pants. Fuck, no, she couldn’t let this happen.

Realising too that failure really wasn’t an option, because apart from the potentially devastating effects on her reputation at the yard, and what her…cr…well, what Jet may think and say, she also had to make her own way home, and traipsing through the streets in wet pants didn’t appeal to her in the slighted, to say nothing of what her family would say if they found out. No, her determination steeled and her hand pushed ever tighter between her legs, she ploughed on, hoping against hope that she could do enough. Please, please.

Rounding a familiar corner, Katie was filled with immense relief as she caught sight of the livery yard in the distance. It as still a good 15 minute ride away, but having her goal within her grasp helped to lift her spirits, and without really thinking about what she was doing, she leant forward and pushed Spirit into a rapid canter. Needing both hands to steady her ride, she released the vice like grip on the crotch of her jodhpurs and took the rein firmly - falling off now would spell disaster, not just an embarrassing kick to her riding confident, but near certain wet pants too!

Certain that she was home and dry - quite literally - young Katie began to relax and enjoy what was left of her little jaunt, the evening had cooled but was still light and pleasant, a gentle breeze throwing her loose hair out behind her like a mane and the sound of the birds and wildlife around her was comforting and tranquil. Despite the dull ache in her stomach which occasionally reminded her of its presence with an uncomfortably sharp pain, this was what Katie loved most about riding, the freedom it gave her from the stresses of everyday life.

Poor Katie lost herself in the moment a little too deeply, however, and was shaken from her reverie with a jolt by a loud, shrill and piercing siren which rang out across the open fields and which, in turn, spooked Spirit and caused him to rear up on his hind legs, almost throwing Katie to the ground in his fright. The crow sounder! How had she forgotten about that? Of course, she was usually back at the yard long before this hour, with Spirit safely stabled and settled down for the evening, so it wasn’t something she had to give much thought to, but now she remembered that it wounded every 15 minutes during dusk and twilight hours, keeping the swarms of crows, starlings and pigeons from roosting in the farmers fields and eating the crop.

In a fleeting moment, Katie thought how glad she was that she was atop Spirit when it happened, as it was so much easier to comfort and control him from there, and had he bolted whilst she was leading him on foot the chances are he’s have made off from her, with little chance of catching him before he caused himself a serious injury. It was also then that she realised, had it happened barely 5 minutes earlier, she’d been holding on only loosely with one hand, which wouldn’t have been nearly enough to steady her and keep her seated. What a stroke of luck, she’d survived unscathed, and Spirit had soon settled back into a steady trot. She knew that they had at least 10 minutes now to get back to safety before having to worry again, and the yard gate couldn’t be more than 5 minutes distant, so they were in the clear.

Suddenly sickening pain passed through her body, and she remembered exactly why it was that she’d not been paying attention - she needed to pee, and badly! So very, very badly. The pain this time was so intense that she thought she was going to lose control and have an accident right there and then, she was the closest she’d been to soaking her pants in at least 10 years and she cried out in despair, clamping her legs as tightly together as she could manage and thrusting both hands between them, desperate not to wet herself. Her body shuck with the effort, but somehow, by some miracle, she managed to stay in control. Breathing deeply, almost panting through the exertion, she returned her hands to the bridle. She noticed a dampness, no perhaps even a wetness to them, but didn’t dare to look down - hoping against any real hope that it was sweat and moisture from the saddle rather than a sign that she had lost control of herself in the most humiliating way possible.

Riding through the gate to the yard, tears streaming down her cheeks in a combination of distress and relief, she spotted a lone figure ahead of her, silhouetted against the wall of the tack room. Nancy, it must be Nancy, thank God! Leaping from the horses back whilst he continue to walk, and knowing she didn’t have even a second to spare if she was going to get out of this with even a shred of dignity intact, Katie shouted loudly, her voice echoing across the deserted yard.

“Nancy! Please, please take Spirit. I need to go, RIGHT NOW!”

Running forward, with the rein held out in front of her and her other hand once more squeezing at her crotch for all she was worth, the only thing standing between her and abject mortification, Katie realised in a moment of horror that the shadowy figure wasn’t Nancy at all, it was Jet! Oh no, no, this couldn’t be happened. He couldn’t see her like this, he just couldn’t. But he had, there was nothing she could do to change that now, and, she reasoned internally, it was far better than him seeing her standing there having wet herself like a little baby, which was exactly what was about to happen if she didn’t get to a toilet.

Blushing profusely, she thrust the rein into his hand, turned and fled in the direction of the tack room door, praying that it would still be unlocked and that the bathroom would be vacant. It was her only hope.

By the time she reached the door to the tack room, Katie was barely able to waddle never mind run, and despite all of her best efforts there could be no denying the fairly constant trickle between her legs by this stage. She knew it was basically game over, she was wetting her pants and there was very little she could do about it, but that stubborn streak in her wouldn’t let her give in no matter what.

Pushing on, writhing in pain and wincing at the feel of wet fabric against her legs as she twisted them around each other as she desperately tried to maintain some semblance of control, Katie managed to free one hand from within the knot of trembling limbs and soggy cotton, just long enough to hook it around the door handle, yanking down hard and fast as she felt the trickle turn into a very pronounced spurt for just a fraction of a second.

“No, no, no!” She called out, to nobody in particular, and in truth hoping that nobody could hear her anguished pleas. “This can’t be happening! I’m 17 years old, I’m not a baby, I just can’t have an accident!”

Her words blurred into loud, racking sobs as she realised that’s exactly what she was doing, 17 years old or not, she was standing barely 20 feet away from the nearest toilet and emptying her bladder, slowly, into her pink jodhpurs. It had been a decade since the last time, and it wasn’t something she thought would ever happen to her again, but there was no denying now that she’d had an accident - all she could do was try to minimise the damage, both to her clothes and her reputation, which she feared would be left in soggy tatters.

With one last-gasp, almost superhuman effort, Katie clamped down again, managing to stem the flow as threw herself forward. She ran across the tack room, through the yard office which she was received to see was in complete darkness, and into the single toilet which led directly off it, a sight which the girl had taken in probably hundreds of times over the years, but which had never appeared more welcoming nor beautiful than it did to her today.

It was all too much, however, for her poor aching bladder. The sight of the toilet and the prospect of relief caused it to release it’s tentative hold, and before she knew what was happening Katie was not leaking, nor spurting, she was weeing full force into her pants whilst frantically trying to rip them down and seat herself upon the cold plastic seat atop the porcelain throne. Any concept that this was just a leak had long gone, any hope that she could get away with or hide it seemed laughable at best by this stage, for there really was no denying the fact that by the time she was seated her head to go had subsided, her bladder was all but empty, and barely a trickle made it into the intended destination.

Broken, defeated and absolutely humiliated, poor Katie sat with her face buried in her hands and cried like she hadn’t for many years. How had she let this happen, how could a 17 year old college student wet herself like a toddler? And how on earth would she ever be able to explain what had happened to her family? To Nancy? Oh no, no, no, to Jet?!? She was ruined.

Glancing down to inspect the damage, Katie first caught a glimpse of her saturated underwear. She’d never been one to dress ‘sexily’ when it came to undies, partly because she preferred comfort and had never felt the need to flaunt her pants to anybody else, but also designer lingerie always seemed like such a waste of money to her. She’d worked so hard to scrape together the money for Spirit, and throwing away her hard earned savings on frilly, lacy knickers just seemed like such a waste, when the cash could be put to much better use. No, good old cotton pants in pastel shades were good enough for her, just as they always had been. She definitely much preferred them dry though, she mused to herself, not at all a fan of the dark purple stain which had bloomed across the lilac fabric of the pair pooled round her ankles, a sight which she’d fortunately not seen for a good many years.

Something was odd though about the sight which met her eyes, something very wrong yet at the same time which filled her heart with an unmistakable feeling of hope mingled with shock and disbelief. It couldn’t be, could it? Surely not?! But…how?

Overwhelming relief flooded through Katie, complete unbridled joy; emotions which she simply couldn’t reconcile herself with given she’d just completely wet her pants, in public, at 17 years old! But there it was, and it took her mind a few moments to focus enough and truly take in what her eyes were seeing.

Somehow, and she really didn’t care how right at that moment, she could see that her jodhpurs appeared, from the outside at least, to be completely dry! Was it a miracle? Magic? No, no, she didn’t believe in either of those things. Had she imagined having an accident after all, her mind playing some kind of sick and twisted joke on her? It couldn’t be that, for she could quite clearly see her soaked underpants, displaying her shame for all to see. So, wha? And how? Running a hand tentatively through the pink fabric, she was astounded to find that despite appearing to be completely dry and unblemished from the outside, the inner layer was completely saturated! Well, ok, perhaps not astounded as she of course knew that she’d practically emptied her entire bulging bladder in these very pants not 5 minutes earlier, but certainly bemused…how could the outside be dry and give away no indication of her embarrassing predicament, whilst the inside was quite literally dripping?

Deciding that now really wasn’t the time to investigate further, and happy to grab this stroke of good fortune with both hands and run with it, Katie hastily dried herself off as best she could, and then, armed with a mountain of paper towels from the dispenser, she began frantically blotting at the inside of her jodhpurs, fearful that her privacy could be interrupted at any moment and unable to think of any remotely plausible explanation for being found in this position. Despite her relief at the miracle which had befallen her, Katie couldn’t help worrying that it would only be a matter of time before the moisture wicked through the fabric and showed itself as a horribly embarrassing stain for all to see, so she had to dry as much of the wetness as she could before venturing out of the bathroom to face Jet, and probably Nancy too.

It was as she vigorously ran the paper along the seam which ran up the back of the trousers that Katie’s eye fell upon the care label, and beside that a small tag bearing the word ‘Teflon’. With a dawning realisation, all suddenly became much clearer in her mind, -she’d deliberately chosen to pay the extra for these jodhpurs precisely because they were coated with Teflon, a protective layer designed to prevent rain and dirt from penetrating the fabric and reaching her skin, a kind of advanced waterproofing which didn’t add any weight or bulk to the material, but helped to repel at least most of any wetness.

The protective coating had served her well during many rain-soaked rides across the moors, when ordinary cotton would have quickly become saturated, leading her to become cold and suffer from the most uncomfortable chaffing, something she’d experienced far too many times growing up and learning her craft. But never for a moment had she considered the potential benefit that such fabric could have when it came to preventing wetness from the inside making it’s presence known. Of course she hadn’t, why would she? It’s not like she had ever wet herself before, not since she was a little kid at any rate, and it’s just not something that your average teenage girl would even contemplate when choosing new clothes.

Casting her mind back, Katie remembered vaguely the last time she’d suffered such an accident herself, she’d been probably 7 or 8 at the time and it had happened at school. No Teflon had come to her rescue then, however, and she’d been left wet and weeping in her place in class - the wet stain obvious for all to see. Oh what she wouldn’t have given for her skirt to have been protected the same way that it seemed her jodhpurs were now, how much shame and humiliation that would have helped her to avoid.

These wistful thoughts also triggered another memory, more recent but even less distinct than the first, but something whilst made the whole Teflon thing click into place and confirmed her growing understanding of what had happened. She’d been in her early teens, so probably only 3 or 4 years ago, and was travelling on a coach back to her school after a day trip to see some boring historical monument or other, in honesty she’d paid so little attention that she probably wouldn’t have remembered the next day, never mind 4 years later! She vaguely recalled one of the boys making quite a song and dance about the fact that he really needed to use the toilet, even blaming the teacher for the fact he was about to have an accident. He had soon lost his teenage attitude, however, sitting in silence for the last half hour of the journey with stray tears rolling down his cheeks, much to the amusement of his friends who were certain he’d wet himself and couldn’t wait to laugh when he stood up to get off the bus. Amazingly, however, when the bus pulled up outside their school and the boy disembarked, there had been no sign of wetness anywhere on his grey school trousers, disappointing those who had hoped to poke fun at him for being the boy who wet his pants in high school. He hadn’t bolted for the toilet when disembarking, either, which had made little sense given how vocally desperate he’d been, but at the time Katie had paid little more attention, after all boys bathroom habits didn’t interest her in the slightest! Now, now it all made sense. Their school uniforms had all been coated with Teflon, she remembered the same tags that she could now see in her jodhpurs had always featured on her skirts and pinafores, so no doubt the same was true of the boys trousers too. It all made sense, and it made her wonder just how many such accidents this wonder fabric had helped to hide over the years, for kids and adults alike.

But then, before she could dwell on this thought any further, a loud rasping knock at the bathroom door jolted Katie back to the present day with a start.

“J…jus…just a minute. I’ll be out in a sec.” Katie called, hurriedly pulling her soggy undies and jodhpurs back up, wincing as the saturated fabric found its place and quickly glancing down to triple check that the outside of her pants didn’t show any trace of her shame. Satisfied as she could be given the horrible circumstances she found herself in, the young girl splashed her face to wash away the tears - never mind seeing her have an accident, nobody at the yard had ever seen her cry before as far as she could remember, and her strong and unshakable image was something she was keen to keep hold of for it had served her well.

“Katie is everything ok?” Jet’s deep, rasping voice came through the door, tinged with genuine concern for her wellbeing. She’d seemed genuinely distressed out on the yard, and he was worried that she’d had a fall or some other terrible accident whilst out for her ride.

Turning to flush the barely used toilet, and setting her face with an expression she hoped hid her upset and conveyed the independence she was so known for, Katie stepped forward and grabbed hold of the door handle, throwing it open purposefully and striding out to greet Jet and thank him for taking care of Spirit. She hoped she could brazen this out, but it would mean thinking on her feet for she had no plan or idea how the young man would react, what he had noticed or even really what he was like.

“Jet, hey, thanks for grabbing Spirit for me back there, I just needed to…y’know…well, um…” She started out well, headstrong as ever, but Katie found herself faltering as her eyes met Jet’s and saw the deep concern and compassion within them. She wasn’t used to people giving a shit about her, nobody ever did, she’d always been one to look out for herself and take care of whatever she came up against. Now the look Jet was giving her swept her legs out from under her, left her completely disarmed, stuttering and stumbling over her words, her resolve broken and she found herself blinking back yet more tears. Who was this man who could do this to her?

Seeing that she was struggling and wanting her to know that everything was going to be ok, Jet stepped forward and reached an arm around the young girls shoulders, drawing her into a warm and friendly embrace. He was conscious of not overstepping the mark, respecting her space and the fact that he was a relative stranger, but at the same time feeling compelled to comfort her in her time of need. Initially he was met with resistance, a tenseness and strength which belied her slight frame, but almost as soon as he took hold of her he felt the tension ebb away and she melted lightly into him, sighing deeply, as if the weight of the world had been lifted from her shoulders.

“Katie, whatever it is that’s gotten you so worked up really isn’t worth all of that upset. It really doesn’t matter. There’s no need to say anything, just calm yourself down. We can talk later, or never at all, that’s up to you. So long as you’re not hurt?”

Jet’s words soothed over Katie, and she soon felt the last of her fight leaving her.

“Well, thanks Jet.” She murmured, Blushing at their closeness and sure that he will feel and likely smell her accident even if by her great fortune he couldn’t see the evidence of it. She may have been wrong footed by his caring nature, may have let her guard down a little more than she ever had before, but she was still feeling utterly humiliated by what had happened to her tonight, mortified beyond belief that it had happened in front of this handsome young stranger and distraught at the idea of him or anybody else finding out. “I…well, is Spirit Ok? Is Nancy still here? I, kinda, lost track of time out there, but I really needed to see her before she went.”

Smiling at the independence shining through Katie, Jet hurriedly reassured her that Spirit was absolutely fine, bedded down in his stable with his tack hanging up ready for her and that Nancy had to shoot off, but would call her the next day to talk through everything . She’d left a set of keys with Jet for her, which he fished out of his pocket and held out for her to take, and hadn’t seemed annoyed, more amused at how often Katie lost herself in the ride completely, as although this could be inconvenient and frustrating at times it showed just how committed to Spirit and to her craft the girl had become.

Thanking Jet again, Katie hurriedly made her excuses that she needed to hurry through her jobs and get home before shuffling self-consciously from the room, leaving a bewildered Jet in her wake who was trying to get his head around the whirlwind of emotions he’d just witnesses in Katie and experienced himself.

“I’ll tidy up down here and then bring the keys over to you.” He called after her, spotting the bunch she’d just taken from him on the bench where she’d been stood, secretly glad for a chance to say a proper goodbye. “Give me 5 minutes, ok?”. As she walked away, Jet looked the retreating figure up and down, his eyes playing tricks on him or so he thought.

More to follow

As she walked away across the yard toward the stable block, Katie’s mind was in turmoil, with so many conflicting emotions trying to fight their way to the surface and vying for her attention. Everything that had just happened with Jet was clouding her thoughts, but she couldn’t ignore the fact that she was crossing the yard almost bow-legged as a result of her accident, starting to shiver as the wetness took a hold and absolutely mortified that she’d disgraced herself so completely for the firs time in at least a decade. Right now, as much as she wanted to be with Jet, to explore the emotions she was feeling and to get to know him so much better, intimately perhaps, at the same time she wanted to be as far away from him as humanely possible. She just wanted to curl up into a ball and cry herself to sleep, to forget the horror of what had just happened, she wanted the ground to open up and swallow her. Despite her tough exterior, as she hobbled across the yard, poor Katie couldn’t stop the steady stream of silent tears from cascading down her cheeks,.

Jet was besotted, absolutely smitten by this young beauty who had unexpected ridden into his life and he practically danced around the tack room as he finished tidying up, hanging Lucy’s saddle and reins in their place and mopping the tiled floor with a spring in his step which he’d never felt before. When he’d first approached the livery manager that afternoon asking for a few shifts to help support himself whilst they were in town, never in a million years did he expect anything like this to happen. He’d never believed in love at first sight, hell he wasn’t really sure he believed in love at all, perhaps because they were so nomadic that he’d never been settled anywhere long enough to build strong bonds with anybody before. He just ambled through life, more at one with the animals and nature than other people who often seemed so self-absorbed and destructive, so unlike Katie.

Something troubled him, however, and he couldn’t quite put his finger on it, try as he might. Katie was clearly so headstrong, so independent, and that’s perhaps why he felt such kinship with her. He could tell that, like him, she made her own way in life, followed her own rules and had an ingrained determination to succeed, perhaps similarly to him because their circumstances had forced them to develop such a resilience if they were ever going to get anywhere in life. All of this was at odds, however, with the vulnerability he had sensed after she’d come out of the bathroom. It was as though her resolve had crumbled, she’d almost regressed into a much younger, less fiercely independent version of herself, and he couldn’t quite understand what had caused it. Clearly when she’d ridden back into the yard she was in quite some distress, that was evident from her voice and the way she had bolted as soon as he’d taken Spirit’s reins from her, and he’d been fearful that she’d perhaps taken a bad fall or otherwise hurt herself, although having seen her afterwards that didn’t seem to fit, she’d looked very uncomfortable but not badly injured. Perhaps it was just that she’d desperately needed to use the toilet? He wasn’t sure though - surely being a rider, and outdoors type like him, she could have taken care of that whilst out on the moors? Yes it would be a little more tricky for a girl, but plenty of the traveller women managed it without issue. Besides, even if she wasn’t comfortable being quite so ‘at one’ with nature, it’s not that she was a young child, a need to pee couldn’t possibly have caused her such distress, could it? Hurrying to lock up the tack room, he quickly followed the path Katie had so recently trodden, seeking out the faint glow of the stable block lights, hoping to continue their moment of intimacy and perhaps find answers to his many questions, and at the very least to firm up their plans to meet again tomorrow. Besides, he couldn’t leave without saying goodbye, he had the yard keys in his pocket!

Taking sanctuary in Spirit’s stable stall, Katie patted and comforted him before crumpling into a heap against the wooden divider, broken and distraught.

“Oh Spirit, how on earth do I get out of this God awful mess? Why did I have to wet my pants like a preschooler in front of the most gorgeous man I’ve ever met? How can I go home and face my folks like this? Why doesn’t anything ever go right for me? Why, why why?”

Wild, wintery winds were now howling across the livery yard, channelled through the valley, it sounded like a storm was brewing and Katie knew she had a long, soggy, uncomfortable walk home ahead of her. Beginning to regain some composure, and realising that the longer she stayed the worst her journey home would likely be, the girl pulled herself up and dusted herself down, cringing as the cold wet fabric of her jodhpurs was pushed up against her skin, reminding her once more of her humiliating situation.

As she reached across to turn out the stable light before bolting the door closed, she spotted Jet leaning against the outside of the stall, a nervous, worried expression etched across his rugged feature. How long had he been there? Had he heard what she’d said? Please no! Please…