Sarah Madison has a horse tail--er, tale--you can't afford to miss. This is the poignant story of a man determined to get to the Olympics, and another whose dreamed was snatched away in the blink of an eye. Now Jake and Rich must work together to achieve a dream.
It's not hard to see the outward appeal of the Olympic Games: watching the fittest and most-accomplished athletes in the world compete---generally with fairly skimpy uniforms. Voyeurism aside, there's nothing sexier than a beautiful body running, jumping, swimming, rowing, and a couple dozen other activities. Who wouldn't take the chance to enjoy the spectacle?
To spectators, they may perform superhuman feats, but each and every one is human in the same way we all are.
Sometimes it's only the love of the right man who can make the effort worth it. And sometimes, love is more important than going for gold. Stories include: Hot Shots by Michael P. Thomas, Into the Deep by Nico Jaye, The Quad by Kelly Rand, Lightning in a Bottle by Sarah Madison, Swimming the Distance by Annabeth Albert, Shooting for Gold by Whitley Gray, Olympic Goal by K-lee Klein, Tumbling Dreams by Kaje Harper.
Blurb for Lightning in a Bottle
Four years ago, an accident turned Jake Stanford’s life upside down. In one fatal moment he lost almost everything that had ever mattered to him: his horse, his lover, and his spot on the 2008 Olympic Eventing Team. Four long years later, and Jake is poised to take his hard-won place on the team—only once again, personal tragedy threatens to derail his dreams.
Enter Rich Evans, the man who’d ordered Jake out of his life on that fateful night. Somehow, the two of them must overcome their history and learn to trust each other again if Jake has any hope of making the team. But is trust alone good enough in this dangerous and compelling sport? Jake has never been one to settle for second best and this time, he’s going for gold all the way.
Today, we have Richard Evans, trainer pro temp for Jake Sanford, being interviewed by Eventing Today Online Magazine reporter, Nancy Weston.
Nancy Weston: Hello, I’m Nancy Weston, with Eventing Today Online Magazine, and here today with me outside the lovely and historic Greenwich Park, home to the equestrian events during the London Games, is Richard Evans, trainer and coach to Jake Stanford, an unexpected addition to the US Eventing Team. Thank you for joining us here today, Mr. Evans.
Richard Evans: Wow. Did you even take a breath?
Nancy Weston (pausing to blink and smile stiffly): Mr. Evans, I understand that you have only recently taken over as Jake Stanford’s coach, just shortly before the final qualifying trials. That must have been quite a challenge for you, stepping into the shoes of such a well-known and respected trainer as Jim Banks.
Richard Evans: He’s not dead.
Nancy Weston: Excuse me?
Richard Evans: He’s not dead. I’m temporarily filling in for Jim while he undergoes chemotherapy. He’ll continue to coach Sanford and train for Foxden Stables once he has recovered.
Nancy Weston: Thank you, I’m sure I can speak for the eventing community when I say we are all thinking of Mr. Banks and wishing him well. Still, you have to admit, Jake Stanford’s story is a bit like something out of the movies. Tragically prevented from competed in the Beijing Games by that terrible accident, and not even really in contention for the team for these Games until very recently. In fact, not until after you took over as his coach. And yet you haven’t coached anyone at this level before, have you?
Richard Evans: No.
Nancy Weston (after a noticeable pause): So how surprising is it to you that the two of you are here in London today?
Richard Evans (looking irritated): Not surprising at all. Jake has worked hard for this. He was ready four years ago. If things had been different then, he would have been at the Beijing Games.
Nancy Weston: Finding a replacement for his 2008 mount could not have been easy. In fact, until recently, he appeared to be prepping another horse for these Games.
Richard Evans (shrugging): You know how it goes with horses. Nothing is a sure thing until you come out of the start box.
Nancy Weston: What would you say to our viewers who may not be familiar with the sport of eventing? Do you consider eventing to be the equine equivalent of the triathlon?
Richard Evans: Certainly. If a triathlete trained every day with a partner that weighed in somewhere around 1700 pounds, didn’t speak his or her language, had a mind of its own, and was frequently looking for an excuse to be lame or colic. Oh, and if any other Olympic sport allowed both men and women to compete as equals.
Nancy Weston (with a weak smile): What would you say to those people who call eventing an elitist sport—something that only the very wealthy can afford?
Richard Evans (leaning in on his cane to speak with emphasis): I’d say those people know nothing of eventing. Elitist? Because it costs a lot of money to train an event horse? Those people don’t know what it is like to put in twelve to fourteen hour days, every day, for the sheer love of the sport. That’s it’s not just about the training, that you also have to take care of the horse, your partner in all this. The horse, the tack, your equipment. You can’t throw some gym shoes in a bag and go to the track. Eventers ride with broken bones. They train all year, in all kinds of weather. Your hopes and dreams can fail on a single misplaced hoof. Most of the people I know in the sport have put their time in sleeping in the horse van because they couldn’t afford a room, or mucking out stalls as part of the chance to ride. Galloping at twenty five miles an hour at some of the trickiest obstacles in the world is not for the faint of heart. Sure, the sport is losing venues because there isn’t enough land dedicated to equine activities anymore. But eventing evolved out of people looking for a use for off-the-track racehorses. I bought my first event horse for a mere two hundred and fifty dollars. And there are more people out there every weekend competing their backyard ponies than there are people competing at the top levels. It’s a sport for everyone who loves horses.
Nancy Weston: You’re telling me that someone of Jake Stanford’s background has spent time cleaning stalls?
Richard Evans (smiling): Yes. We all did. Jim Banks made sure we knew everything there was to know about taking care of our mounts from the ground up. That included mucking stalls and cleaning our own gear after every ride.
Nancy Weston: You used to be a competitor yourself. Before the accident in 2008 that claimed the lives of several horses in the Foxden Stables and put an end to your riding career. Do you miss it?
Richard Evans (laughing): Who me? No. I like sleeping until 7 a.m. these days.
Nancy Weston: What do you have to say about the rumors that Jake Stanford is gay?
Richard Evans (looking flustered): I’d say what does that have to do with anything? I mean seriously, how can someone’s sexual, um, preference, have any bearing on their performance as an athlete? That’s such a personal question, anyway. How could I possibly answer either way?
Nancy Weston: Well, if the rumors aren’t true, most people would deny them outright. By not saying, you are by default implying that he is gay.
Richard Evans: Your logic is impeccable; however it leaves out one little possibility. I don’t answer rude questions.
Nancy Weston: My apologies for being overly personal, it just seemed to me with Jake’s father, Patrick Stanford, declaring his intention to run for the Senate that this question was going to come up.
Richard Evans (mouth hanging open briefly, then snapping shut, eyes narrowing): Patrick Stanford has finally tossed his hat into the ring, eh? Well, I can’t say as I’m surprised. I will say this, however: no one’s personal life should be media fodder for ratings values. And I will advise Jake to categorically refuse to answer this question simply because it is no one’s business but his own.
Nancy Weston (looking uncomfortable): There are those who would look up to someone of Jake’s athletic prowess as a hero, should he come out as gay.
Richard Evans: Look me in the eye and tell me that’s why you asked this question—and not to grab some ratings here. You want someone to come out as gay on camera? You can have me. Yes, I’m gay. Does that affect my ability to coach and train? No. Do you have any real questions now?
Nancy Weston: I, um, yes. Well. How do you feel about Jake’s chances for a medal here at the Games?
Richard Evans (pinching bridge of nose briefly before speaking): Okay, I’m not just giving lip service here. Of course, Jake would like to medal. But he’s here with a young horse that has a promising future in front of her. It really is an honor just to be here, especially after dashed hopes in 2008. I’m sure if you asked him, Jake would say that the thrill of competition was good enough for him. I know it is for me.
Nancy Weston: Thank you for joining us here today, Mr. Evans, and good luck in tomorrow’s dressage test. (Turning to face camera) I’m Nancy Weston, here at Greenwich Park, for the 2012 London Games. Tune in tomorrow for the highlights of the Eventing Team competition in dressage.
BUY: MLR Press Amazon