by Andrew Todd
"Don't even think about it."
Zak hadn't seen Dusty come around the corner of the barn looking for him, nor had he heard him drive up. He was too distracted planning his clandestine ride. He was still standing on the second plank of the fence, with one hand balancing on the fence and the other resting on Onyx's back. Hearing Dusty's voice, Onyx stepped away from the fence. This caused Zak to lose his balance and he fell forward into the paddock.
"Oof." Zak landed flat out and had the wind knocked out of him.
Dusty ran up and hopped the fence. He grabbed Zak under his arms and lifted him to his feet. Keeping his eyes on Onyx he helped Zak to crawl between the fence planks and then he jumped back over the fence.
Dusty grabbed Zak by the shoulders. Anger flashed in his eyes. "What the hell were trying to do, Zak?"
Zak stared up at Dusty. "Nothing. I was just sitting on the fence and talking to Onyx. You came up and scared him."
"Zak, don't bullshit me. I've been in that situation; I know exactly what you were planning to do and you could have gotten hurt."
"Dusty, Onyx trusts me. He wouldn't hurt me."
"Zak, you've spent a little bit of time with him over the past two days. I've been dealing with him for the last couple years. I know he likes you and he seems very attached to you, but I still don't trust him. Plus, he's more horse than you've ever ridden. Even if you had years of experience, I would be concerned for you. Promise me you won't try that ever again."
Zak looked down at his feet.
"I'm serious, Zak. Look me in the eye and promise me that you won't try that again. I don't want anything to happen to you. I've just found you; I don't want to lose you."
Zak looked up at Dusty, shocked by Dusty's confession. He started to tear up. "I'm sorry, Dusty. It was just so tempting. When I'm near Onyx I get this pull I can't explain. I knew he wouldn't hurt me. I'll promise you that I won't try it again if you promise me that you will help me work with him and get ready to ride him someday."
Dusty looked at Zak. He knew what Zak was feeling; he had had the same feelings about Phoenix and he had snuck his first ride when no one was around in spite of Mr. Jones telling him that Phoenix was to be trained by a professional trainer. He still remembered Mr. Jones catching him that first time. He knew if he did not agree to Zak's terms, Zak would try again and with a horse like Onyx he could be seriously injured. He could not take it if anything bad happened to Zak.
Dusty sighed. He took Zak's hand in his. "Look, Zak. I know what you are feeling. I've been there. Mr. Jones had promised me that after Phoenix's mama had her foal and the foal was weaned that I would get to work with her and train her. I was so excited; I had been working here for just over a year and I would finally have my own horse. After she died and I took to looking after Phoenix, Mr. Jones let me help with other horses and tried to get me more involved in training, but all my energies were put into Phoenix. He was a bit of a brat and a little wild. Mr. Jones told me more than once that he was going to hire a professional trainer to train him. I would get to ride him eventually, but I wanted to be the first person to ride him."
"Well, one day when Mr. Jones was away for the afternoon and I was the only one around, I decided it was now or never. I brought Phoenix into the round pen and worked him for a little while. I got closer and closer and when the moment was right I climbed up on him. He never even bucked on me and I spent most of the afternoon just riding him around the ring and starting his training. Then, Mr. Jones snuck up on me. I figured I was going to be fired and never see Phoenix again. Instead, he just laughed and said that he knew I was going to try it no matter what he said. He basically gave me the time to do what I was going to do"
Zak looked at Dusty hopefully.
"I'm willing to agree to help you with Onyx. I'll show you how to train him and how to work with him, but you have to do everything my way. And we have to do this on our own time, work comes first. And above all else, you DO NOT ride him until I say it's alright. Ok?"
Zak shook his head vigorously. "Yes!! Yes!! I'll do whatever you say." He launched himself at Dusty and hugged him hard.
Dusty hugged him back. "Ok, let's go eat."
Dusty wrapped his arm around Zak's back and led him back to the office. The boys sat back to enjoy their lunch.
When they were finished, Zak asked, "What's next on the agenda?"
Dusty thought about it for a minute. "How about a trail ride? We could try one of the other trails. That will give you some practice riding outside of the arena."
Zak's eyes lit up. "Can we stop at the lake?"
"Can we go for a swim?"
"I guess we could, if you had a bathing suit."
Zak looked at Dusty with a sparkle in his eyes. He stood up and lowered the waist of his jeans about two inches to show Dusty the speedo he was wearing underneath.
Dusty just grinned and shook his head. "So, you planned this did you?"
"Well, the weatherman said it would be unseasonably warm today so I was just planning ahead. But, do you have a swim suit?"
"Actually I keep a pair of boardies in my truck. I learned I never know when I might want to go for a swim, so I like to be prepared."
"Cool, so let's go." Zak ran towards the door.
"Hold it," Dusty yelled to him. "Where do you think you are going?"
"I'm going to go get Blaze."
"Nope. Blaze has done enough for today and you need to get in practice with other horses. You won't always be able to use the same horse when we do trail rides. Often, regulars will request the same horse when they come out. Blaze is very popular because she is so mellow. I don't have to worry, because no one rides Phoenix besides me."
"So, what am I going to do?"
"I know who you can ride." Dusty stood up and walked out of the office. "Come with me."
Dusty started walking to the back of the barn with Zak following. When they were approaching the hallway where Onyx's stall was, Zak started to turn and walk down that hall. Dusty grabbed his arm and directed him down another hallway. "Nice try, Slick."
Zak just looked up with innocent eyes. "You can't blame me for trying."
Dusty just kept walking, leading Zak out the barn door and over to the second barn. "You are going to be the death of me this summer."
Zak stopped and pouted at Dusty. "Well, if that's the way you feel, maybe you should have another 'partner' this summer," he teased.
Dusty walked over to Zak and placed his hands on Zak's hips. "After all the time I've put into training you right, no way." He started moving his fingers up and down Zak's sides, tickling him.
Zak was very ticklish and wiggled to get free of Dusty's grip, laughing so hard he was afraid he might wet himself. Finally, Zak collapsed on the ground, panting. "Stop, you big bully. If I wet myself, you're going to regret it."
Dusty just rolled his eyes and offered Zak a hand up. Holding onto Zak's hand, he led him into the barn. They stopped at a stall that held a white horse with black and brown spots all over his rear. The horse was bigger than Blaze, but not as big as Phoenix or Onyx. "Zak, this is Bob."
"I didn't name him."
"What kind of horse is he?"
"He's an Appaloosa. A lot of people will call them an Indian pony, because they were used by many Native Americans. He's a great trail horse, but a little more challenging than Blaze. Plus, he loves the water, so he'll go into the lake with Phoenix."
Zak's eyes got as big as saucers. "We're going to take the horses in swimming with us?"
"Sure; there is no way I can take Phoenix out there and keep him out of the water. He loves it too much."
Zak walked over to Bob and started petting him. He grabbed his halter off the hook by the stall and opened the stall door. He talked softly to the horse, while he put on the halter. He led the horse out of the stall and into the hallway. "Is his tack in the tack room over there?" he gestured to the room across from the stall.
"Yes," replied Dusty. "But just grab the hackamore for him."
"What about his saddle?"
"You won't need it, we'll go bareback."
Zak started to get nervous. "Really, are you sure I can do that?"
Dusty walked over to Zak and put his arm around Zak's shoulder. "Zak, I wouldn't ask you to do anything I didn't think you could do. You can use a saddle if you want, but then we'll have to take it off and put it back on at the lake. Plus, if he spends a lot of time in the water, we'd have to wait for him to dry to re-saddle him. You'll be fine. We won't go faster than a leisurely walk. Unless you want to."
Zak leaned into Dusty. "Ok, might as well give it a try."
"That's the spirit. Why don't you take him out to the crossties and just give him a quick grooming. I'll get my suit and grab Phoenix."
Zak worked at grooming Bob while Dusty was gone. He kept stepping back to admire the colors of this horse. He was constantly surprised every time Dusty introduced him to a new horse. He had never realized there were so many breeds. He had just thought horses were all the same, just different sizes and colors. He decided that he would spend time this summer researching various breeds to learn more about them and why and how they were used. He had already spent several hours the night before researching Friesians online. He was fascinated by the graceful horses and had learned a lot about them.
He would not break his promise to Dusty, but he was bound and determined that he would ride Onyx before the summer was over. He felt like Dusty was challenging him with each horse he had him ride and it was important that he meet each challenge to prove to Dusty that he could and should ride Onyx. He knew that Dusty was only concerned about his safety, but Zak knew in his heart that Onyx would never hurt him.
The only thing that really irked Zak about Dusty's attitude was that Dusty knew what it was like to have that ONE horse. He had Phoenix and no one could take Phoenix away from him. They belonged to each other. He supposed if he had felt the connection to Blaze or Bob or one of the other horses, Dusty and Mr. Jones would not have reacted the same way. But he could not help the way it was. Onyx was HIS horse; there was no other way around it.
"Ready to go?" Zak turned and saw Dusty standing there in a pair of dark blue boardies and a t-shirt. On his feet he had a pair of flip-flops. He had his ever-present saddle bags slung over his shoulder.
"Where are your boots?" Zak asked.
"In the barn, by Phoenix's stall. The rule is: when we are doing lessons or trail rides, boots are a must, but when it's just us, anything goes. It's a pain to have to strip down at the lake and then wait to be all dried off before you get dressed. This is much freer."
"What about me?"
"Well, you can ride out in just your suit and t-shirt, too."
Zak blushed a deep crimson. "Dusty, I'm wearing a speedo."
It was Dusty's turn to blush. "Oh, well, keep your jeans on and just leave your boots and socks here. Barefoot and bareback is Ok. Just watch where you step." He looked at Zak and raised his eyebrows.
"Eww," Zak shivered. "I didn't need to think of that."
"Do you have your sunscreen?"
"Yes, it's in my backpack."
"Go get it and I'll put it in my saddlebags. It will be easier that way."
Zak went to retrieve his sunblock and when he returned he handed it to Dusty who stored it in his saddlebags.
"Now," Dusty started, "the only thing I don't have is towels. I had a couple in my truck, but I brought them in to be washed. I honestly didn't think we'd be swimming this soon."
Zak grinned at him. "Hold on." He ran back to his backpack and returned with two beach towels. "I had these stashed in my backpack, too."
Dusty laughed. "You were planning ahead, weren't you?"
"I really wanted to go swimming, so I figured if I had everything we needed, things might go my way."
"Ok, give me one of the towels and just throw the other one over Bob's withers. Like this." Dusty took one of the towels and tossed it over Phoenix's withers and then placed his saddle bags over the towel. Zak threw his towel over Bob's withers in the same manner.
Dusty walked over to Bob. "Here, let me hold him while you get the hackamore on him." Dusty removed Bob's halter and just stood there petting him while Zak worked on the other side to get the hackamore on the horse. "See," Dusty said, "Bob and Phoenix are horses that can be 'ground tied'. They will just stand there for you if necessary." Zak looked over at Phoenix who had not moved an inch since Dusty came over to help him.
"Ok, Zak, we're ready."
"Uh, Dusty, how am I going to get up there?"
Dusty grinned. "Well, Buckaroo, if you were by yourself, you could use a mounting block or lead him over to a fence. I've even had people use the gate of my truck to mount bareback. But, in the interest of speed, I'll give you a leg up." He walked around to where Zak stood on Bob's left side. "Ok, bend your left knee. I'll give you a boost and you can throw your right leg over."
Zak held the reins in his left hand and raised his arms up on Bob's side. He raised his left foot up and Dusty gripped his left knee and left foot, Zak gave a hop with his right foot and Dusty boosted him up onto the horse.
Dusty patted Zak's thigh. "All set?" Zak nodded. "Hold on," Dusty said as he stepped inside the barn. "I want you to wear this." He handed Zak a black, plastic helmet that looked like the one he wore when he rode his bike.
"Really?" Zak asked. "I can't wear my hat?"
"Not this time. I don't expect Bob to give you any hassles, but I would feel better if you wore a helmet the first couple times we take the horses out." Zak rolled his eyes at Dusty. "Get used to it, because the only way I ever let you ride Onyx is with a helmet."
"Hey," Zak objected. "That wasn't part of the deal."
"The deal was we do it my way or we don't do it."
Zak glared at him.
"Zak, these are the things we have to do to protect people. We require everyone that takes a trail ride to wear a helmet. If they refuse they have to sign a waiver or they don't go. If they are under 18, they don't get a choice. So look at it this way. You have to wear it because I am telling you to, but you'll also know what it's like for customers to have to wear them."
"Fine, I'll wear the damn thing." He handed his cowboy hat to Dusty, who ran it into the barn, and put on the helmet and fastened it. "I feel like an idiot," he mumbled.
Dusty just looked at him and shook his head.
"Can we go now?" Zak asked.
Dusty nodded and went over to Phoenix and vaulted onto his back.
Dusty walked Phoenix over to Zak and Bob. He stopped Phoenix next to Bob, so he and Zak were face to face. "This will be good practice for you. Without the saddle you need to rely more on your seat and your legs. You still need to keep your heels down and sit deep. Keep your back straight. It will be bumpy…"
"…and bony," Zak interjected. "It's like there is a pole running between my cheeks and under my balls."
Dusty laughed. "He's a little on the bony side, yes. But, again, you'll get used to it. Let's go." Both boys moved their horses into a walk. "Stay right abreast with me. We're not going to go any faster than a walk on our way out to the lake. We have all afternoon, so there is no hurry. It's more about getting your technique down than it is to get there quickly."
As Bob plodded along, Zak looked around the wooded area they were walking through. There were several points where the trails would fork off. Dusty told Zak that they would investigate a different trail each time so that he would know where they went and how long it would take them.
They rode in silence for a while; Zak was just taking in the sights and sounds of the woods. He had never been camping and only went hiking one time when his mom had forced him to be a Cub Scout (an experiment that had lasted exactly two weeks). But, riding along with his handsome friend and these great horses, he appreciated the beauty of the area.
Dusty spoke up. "I know you're looking all around and trying to take it in, but you also want to keep an eye on the trail. These two know where they are going so steering isn't often an issue, but you want to watch out for debris; fallen or low hanging branches; and especially, holes. If a horse steps in a hole, they can seriously injure themselves. If they break a leg, they often have to be destroyed."
Zak was shocked. "They'd kill them just because they broke a leg!?!" he exclaimed.
Dusty looked over at Zak. "It's a merciful thing, Zak. Horses spend most of their time on their feet and a broken leg is one of the worst injuries for them. It takes weeks to heal and the horse cannot put any pressure on it. Think about it. A horse can't use crutches. The best they can do is rig a sling to keep the horse from putting pressure on the leg, but that requires them to be very calm and still, which is a lot to ask a horse for a few months at a time."
"Have you had to deal with that?"
"No, it was hard enough when Phoenix's mama died. Luckily, we haven't had it happen while I've been here, but a neighbor had one of their horses break a leg and have to be put down. It was rough on them, but in the end it's the best thing for the horse; the suffering would be too much."
"I don't know if I could survive something like that."
"You could and you can. You're stronger than you give yourself credit for. In the end you would realize it was the best thing for the horse. I won't lie, it would hurt like hell, but it would hurt more to watch an animal that you loved suffer like that."
Zak saw a few tears fall from Dusty's eyes. He knew what Dusty had gone through losing Phoenix's mother and he was probably thinking about that now. Zak reached out and took hold of Dusty's hand. Dusty looked up at him with tears in his eyes. Zak smiled at him and they just rode the trail holding hands.
Soon they came to the clearing by the lake. They stopped the horses in front of 'their' tree. Dusty slid down from Phoenix's back; he took his saddle bags and towel down and laid them on the ground under the tree. He removed the hackamore from Phoenix's head and allowed the horse to wander off to graze.
Then he went over to Bob's side. He took Zak's towel and threw it on top of his. He removed Bob's hackamore and laid it on the towels with Phoenix's. He motioned for Zak to slide down. Dusty caught him in his arms before his feet could hit the ground. He removed the helmet from Zak's head and tossed it over with their other stuff.
Dusty just stood there for a moment holding Zak in his arms. Zak tilted his head back to rest it on Dusty's chest and the two just melted together. Dusty brought his lips to Zak's ear and kissed his earlobe. He then kissed his way down from Zak's earlobe to his neck. He lightly sucked on Zak's neck and then moved onto his shoulder. He kissed his way across Zak's shoulder and then bit him, hard.
"Hey!!" Zak exclaimed. "Play nice."
Dusty was laughing. "We're here to swim, not for that stuff."
Zak turned and looked into Dusty's dark eyes. "I know, but this slow thing is getting harder."
Dusty returned Zak's gaze. He was having a hard time with his resolve as well. Suddenly, he grabbed Zak around the belly and threw him over his shoulder. "You need to cool off, little man," Dusty laughed as he carried Zak into the lake.
"Hey!!" Zak squealed. "If you drown me do I get workman's comp?"
Dusty stopped at the edge of the lake and put Zak down. "Ok, hot stuff, strip," he ordered.
"What kind of a boy do you think I am?" Zak joked.
"One who's gonna be wearing wet jeans for the rest of the day if he doesn't STRIP!!"
Zak tore off his t-shirt and unbuckled his jeans. He was trying to get them off so quickly he tripped and landed on his butt. "Damn, my ass is going to be so black and blue after this weekend."
Zak sat there and pouted. "Hey, you're being mean to m…" He looked up at Dusty and stopped. Dusty was standing there in just his boardies. Zak already thought Dusty was the most beautiful person he had ever seen but seeing him like that stopped his heart. Dusty's chest was well-defined with six pack abs and gorgeous pecs, each dotted with a dark brown nipple that currently stood at attention. He had no body hair except for his armpits and the light trail that went from his navel to his swimsuit's waistband.
Zak just stared at Dusty and felt all the blood in his body rushing to one spot. He quickly pulled off his jeans and tossed them up the shore and ran into the water.
"Hey!!" Dusty yelled after him. "Where are you going?"
"I gotta cool off," Zak yelled as he dove under the water.
Dusty watched Zak swim around for a few minutes. He was an excellent swimmer and his time in the pool showed on his body. He was slim, but not skinny. He had the classic swimmer's build: narrow waist, flat stomach, high tight pecs and strong legs. He was an amazing sight to Dusty.
He tore his eyes from watching Zak and looked back to where they had left the horses. Phoenix stood there looking at him with contempt for making him wait on shore. Dusty laughed and then put his thumb and middle finger to his lips and whistled. Phoenix came running up to the lake with Bob chasing behind.
Dusty called to Zak, "Watch out, we have company."
Zak was floating in the water when he heard Dusty's call. He righted himself just in time to see the two horses run into the water. Dusty was only in about knee-deep water and as Phoenix ran by him he grabbed a lock of mane and swung himself astride the horse. They were heading straight for Zak. So was Bob. Not to be outdone, Zak did a breast stroke over towards Bob. By the time he reached the Appaloosa he was mid-belly deep in the water. This allowed Zak to swim up to his side and while talking to the horse, maneuver himself on his back.
Dusty watched Zak climb onboard Bob. "Alright, now you're getting it," he called to Zak. "Good job."
Zak called back. "There are no reins."
"It's good practice for your leg cues. He's really going to go where he wants to go. If he gets too deep for you or you get nervous, just slide off; in the water you know you won't land on your butt."
Zak shot Dusty a dirty look. "Very funny."
The boys frolicked with the horses in the lake for the better part of an hour. Zak cheered as Dusty did backflips from Phoenix's back. Zak tried it, but didn't have enough balance to stand on Bob's back. The boys and the horses were both getting tired. As if on cue both horses headed for shore. When they were about knee-deep in the water the boys slipped from their backs. The horses continued out of the lake and went over to a grove of trees to graze.
The boys stood up in the water holding hands. Zak moved his hand hesitantly to touch Dusty's chest. Dusty gave him a slight nod of permission. Zak placed his hand on Dusty's chest and slowly moved it down to his belly. He traced Dusty's navel and ran his finger along his trail of hair stopping short of his waistband. He noticed a small scar about 2 inches long on Dusty's belly. He ran his finger over it and Dusty shivered.
"What's this from?" Zak asked.
Dusty had a faraway look in his eyes. "Souvenir of a misspent youth. I'll tell you about it later."
Zak nodded. He bent his knees and lowered his head. He brought his lips to the scar and kissed it. He moved his lips up Dusty's belly, stopping to swirl his tongue in Dusty's navel. He continued kissing his way up Dusty's chest. When he got to the tight brown nipples, he took one in his mouth and lightly bit it.
Dusty groaned. He grabbed Zak by the elbows and pulled him up so they were face to face. They simultaneously brought their lips together and began to kiss. Dusty felt Zak's tongue against his teeth and he opened his mouth to allow him entrance. Dusty ran his hands along Zak's back down to his rear. He took each globe of Zak's bubble butt in hand and squeezed causing Zak to go up on his tip toes and kiss Dusty even deeper.
They stood in the lake kissing and caressing each other. There appeared to be an unspoken agreement that the touching would not go below the waist, at least in front. Butts seemed to be fair game as at the moment each had a handful.
Dusty reached up and placed his hands on either side of Zak's face. He caressed Zak's cheek and reached behind his head to bring him in closer. Zak couldn't take much more. He had never been this hard in his life. The feelings Dusty was sending through his body were blowing his mind. He had never felt anything like this in his life. Each touch of Dusty's hand made him quiver. Dusty's kisses made his pulse race. If he didn't stop soon there would be nowhere left for his blood to flow. As it was most of it was located in one area of his body.
Dusty took his lips from Zak's and moved down to Zak's collar bone; he bit and licked and sucked his way across Zak's neck and shoulders. Zak knew he was past the point of no return. Dusty was sucking on his neck so hard, his whole body began to shake. Then without warning, he erupted. He grunted hard as 5 shots erupted from his cock and created a darker wet spot on his already soaked speedo. In his post-orgasm euphoria he was wild. He pulled Dusty's mouth back to his and jammed his tongue in. He held Dusty's head in place with one hand and caressed his muscular ass with the other. That was enough to drive Dusty over the edge and he deposited his load into his boardies.
As they both came down, they continued gently kissing and caressing each other. Finally, Dusty wrapped his arms around the smaller boy and pulled Zak to him in a hug. "Oh, my God, Zak," Dusty panted. "No one's ever done that just by kissing me."
"Yes." Dusty smiled at Zak. "You are amazing."
Zak smiled back. "You're not so bad yourself."
Dusty stepped back and shook his head, his long hair blowing in the breeze. "Man, if we can do that just by kissing, going any further may be dangerous."
Zak giggled. "Someday I might be willing to take that chance."
Dusty looked at Zak. "Someday I just might let you."
Dusty grabbed Zak's hand and led him back into the water. "C'mon, let's rinse ourselves off out here and then go relax by our tree."
"OUR tree." The words made Zak's heart fly.
The two dove under the water and swam around for a few minutes. Each went in a separate direction to remove their bathing suit underwater and try to rinse out the remnants of their play.
When they had done all they could, they each put their suits back on and swam to meet each other. Holding hands they left the lake and walked towards the tree they now thought of as 'theirs'. Zak took the towels and shook them out and laid them down under the shade of the tree. Dusty rummaged through his saddle bags and pulled out two bottles of water and Zak's sunscreen. He handed a bottle of water to Zak and instructed him to lay down so he could apply some sunscreen to his reddened skin.
Zak purred as Dusty gently ran his lotion-covered hands over his back and down to the point just above his ass. Dusty then rubbed the sunscreen onto each of Zak's legs, being very careful to not miss a spot. He asked Zak to turn over and Zak hesitated. When he finally flipped over to his back, Dusty saw why. There was a tent in Zak's speedo and a small dark spot, where he was leaking in his suit. Dusty leaned down almost lying on Zak and whispered in his ear, "It's ok; if it happens again, it happens. Don't ever be embarrassed around me."
Zak looked up at Dusty with a look of pure love. "Really?"
"Zak, how do you think it makes me feel to know that me just rubbing you with lotion gets that reaction? Besides, just rubbing the lotion on you is doing it to me." Zak followed Dusty's eyes down to the tented area in his boardies.
Zak slipped out from under Dusty and sat up. "Can we just sit here and relax for a minute? This is really getting to me."
Dusty smiled and sat back leaning against the tree. Zak crawled over and placed himself between Dusty's legs and leaned back against his chest. Dusty reached down with each hand and laced his fingers with Zak's.
They sat in silence for a few minutes, just enjoying the presence of each other and the quiet of the meadow.
Zak slid down and snuggled up against Dusty's body. Dusty had his hand on Zak's back gently stroking the soft skin.
Zak rubbed his hands across Dusty torso and then looked down at Dusty's stomach. "Hey, where did you get this scar?" he asked as his finger traced it.
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