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balton, beckett avery, balto, kit harrington, rinn
beckett avery balton
”Beckett Balton, it’s such a pleasure to be able to sit down with you, thanks for taking the time.”
Beck shifted and got comfortable in the director’s style chair they had him sitting in, ”Thanks, it’s nice to be here.” He replied politely. Interviews had never been his forte, but he knew this was just the beginning, especially if things went well over the next year.
”So, I want to start off by asking you about your background, where did you grow up, how did you get started?”
”I grew up in Kentucky, part of a pretty big family, and very much a horse family.” He smiled thinking back to home, remembering how he would climb up and put his feet on the second slat of the wooden fence so he could hang over the top and watch his parents ride. ”We raised thoroughbreds, and that’s what I grew up with. I was riding as soon as I could walk, it was as natural as that.” Beck could still remember the first day that he rode, meaning actually rode a horse, hard and fast, the wind in his hair, closing his eyes and feeling for all the world like it was him, running, with a sense of urgency he just couldn’t place. It was such a rush, he never wanted to get down, and he hardly had, since that point.
”So your first horse was one your family bred?”
”She was, Lady Kenna.” he said, feeling nostalgic, ”she was foaled on my fifth birthday, and I grew up with her. She was this amazingly calm and intuitive creature, we taught each other how to run, and ride, and while she wasn’t the best at it, riding her was where I learned to jump, and to love that feeling of weightlessness.” He fondly remembered her like a childhood companion, she was always there, the early mornings, the mucking out stalls, racing across the fields with Samson, his older cousin that felt like a brother…between his horse and his cousins, and his two little sisters, Beckett grew up surrounded by friendship and love.
”Does Lady Kenna live back on your family’s ranch now that you’re competing?”
Beckett grew quiet and solemn, shaking his head slowly. ”No…” he sighed, ”When I was sixteen, Kenna was injured, a few shattered bones in her lower front leg…” he trailed off, taking a mental moment of silence for his old friend. He didn’t need to explain the rest, based on the interviewer’s sad face, he knew as most horse enthusiasts would, that an injury like that was a death sentence for a horse. As a teenager, Beck had understood why it had to happen but that didn’t dull the ache of saying goodbye to his faithful companion. Years later, he was glad he’d had the chance to sooth her in her last moments but still felt the pang of sadness that he couldn’t go out to the barn just to hang out by her stall.
”That must have been a very hard loss for you.”
”It was.” he agreed. ”And finding another horse was almost as hard. For the first year nothing felt right, I could ride just fine, but it wasn’t like having a horse you’d grown up with, Kenna and I were children together, essentially.” He remembered plenty of times that he’d gotten on another horse, one that wasn’t as in tune with him as Kenna had been, and it had raised all kinds of issues. He was thrown a couple times, but never a serious injury. In the grand scheme, though, he learned how to adapt to different horses, and got experience in training different temperaments.
”Now, you rode a few different horses in competitions, then the same one every time starting around 2007, can you tell me about that?”
”Well I spent several years training up a few of the family horses for jumping and eventing. I rode one of those in the Olympic qualifiers for 2008 and we didn’t make it, which was rough…” he made a point not to really complain too much about that particular day. That had been the day that Sam had suffered a knee injury that took him out of the game indefinitely. Relatively, Beck’s fortune that day had been much better. ”A few months after, my parents took me to a show, telling me it was just for fun, but when we got there, they took me to meet this horse. He was 3 years old, just starting his career. A beautiful bay Holsteiner named Caspian Storm.” he grinned, pulling his wallet from his back pocket and sliding a photo of his horse out to show like a proud father. ”They told me if I met him and we connected, he could be mine. Mounting that horse was the most natural feeling thing since Kenna, and we took him home that day.” he laughed, putting the picture back away. ”Some kids get a car from their parents, but mine gave me an Olympic caliber horse.”
”Its good to see you could connect so well with a horse again. Holsteiners are known especially for being good jumpers, did that have an effect on your event preference?”
”I think my parents actually knew that jumping was going to be my event, and they sought out the breed, and he’s been very reliable as far as that goes, obviously” he said with a chuckle.
”Obviously! So you made it to the 2012 Olympics, tell me how that felt.”
”It was incredible, I’ve traveled all around the country for shows and competitions, but the Olympics…man.” He took a moment to relive the awestruck feeling of arriving in London with his horse at his side, in the midst of some very legendary riders. ”I’m honestly still in awe, being around all of those dedicated athletes, being a part of history…it was very cool. It really made all the hard work and training worth it to be there, I’m very hopeful to go back next year.”
”Speaking of next year, you’re a favorite to medal individually in jumping in Rio, what do you have to say about that?”
Being the humble type, Beck ducked his head and shrugged before looking up to answer, ”All I can say now is I’m really excited to have qualified in jumping and eventing to compete in 2016. Being a part of team USA is honestly reward enough, but it would be amazing to bring home a medal for my country.” he didn’t say how he’d been dreaming of a medal in jumping since the first time he’d urged Kenna over that low hurdle, how he wanted it more than anything else in the world right now. Medalling in Rio would be seeing his dedication come to fruition, and there wasn’t anything he could say he was more invested in at this very moment.
”You’ve got some big dreams, but from what we’ve seen they may not be much of a reach for you! What can you tell us about your decision to move training locations so close to the games?”
”I’ve been training close to my whole big family for as long as I can remember, and they’re great, they really are, but I felt that in getting ready for the qualifiers, especially in eventing, the change would be helpful. I find it more peaceful in San Diego, surprisingly. I focus better here, and clearly based on the progress I’ve made it’s been a positive change so far.” he didn’t mention how family Christmas with his family, his aunts, and unreasonable number of female cousins made him crave a more masculine atmosphere, which had pushed him to pick up and move out to stay with Sam at their grandfather’s vineyard. It had been a convenient move, there was plenty of room, and Sam had the resources to keep Beck’s horse, which was honestly more important to Beckett than a bed to sleep in.
”Good to hear that you’re settling in. I think we’re about out of time but I have one last question: inquiring minds want to know, do our female horse enthusiasts out there have a shot?”
Beckett barely managed to hold in a laugh, ”I have to say it’s important to work towards what you want…but I’d like to keep my private life private…for now.” he replied with a cheeky wink. They didn’t need to know that he was really all smiles because of a nice, but distinctly undefined thing he had going on with a very talented and fiery new riding companion, Aquata.
”That’s fair enough, thanks again for sitting down with me, and we wish you the best of luck, hope to see you in Rio in 2016!”
”Thanks, it’s been my pleasure.” he answered, standing from the chair to shake the interviewer’s hand before heading out the door. Well that was reasonably painless…
rinn ● 21 ● CDT
Oh my gosh, have I told you how much I love you yet? You take these want ads of mine and make these awesome characters from them! Beckett here is such a cutie pie, he's so Balto and he's so great. I love how he got a little choked up when talking about his first horse because it was so real and actually very heartwarming. He's such a great character and I'm so excited to see where he and Aquata go and how he interacts with his cousin! Thanks so much for making him and don't forget your claims!
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