⇒ three

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Driving through multiple states towing a horse trailer behind you was NOT a fun experience, but it's one we've had to do twice a year over the past three years.

"We've only got about an hour left," Mom said as she glanced at our truck's GPS monitor.

"Why don't we stop and let Finn get some water and refresh his hay," I suggested. "We can also get a little break before the last stretch. Also, it's almost one and we haven't eaten yet."

"Alright, we'll stop at the next rest stop." We drove for about fifteen minutes until we got to a rest stop that had food options. While I watered Finn, my mom ran in and got us some food. I stood in the front of the trailer, holding the bucket up while he gulped down some water. After he was finished, I dumped the rest of the water and scratched his face until I saw my mom approaching with a big bag of fast food.

"All set?" I asked, hopping out of the trailer and shutting the side door.

"Yep," Mom said, handing me the bag before getting in the truck. I hopped in and gave her her food before digging into my meal.

The rest of the drive to school went pretty quickly. As we pulled onto campus, I texted Noah letting him know I was here, even though I knew he wasn't going to arrive for another hour or two.

We started by going to Acacia barn, where my class boarded every year. I hopped out of the truck and entered the barn, noticing all the shiny new nameplates on the door. I saw Finn's, Comet's, even Cisco's, and a few horses I didn't recognize. I poked my head into the office and noticed Anne shuffling around in a cabinet.

"Hey, Anne!" I greeted, fully stepping into the room. She pulled away from the cabinet.

"Kat!" she exclaimed, opening her arms for a hug. I willingly returned the gesture. "How are you?"

"I"m good!" I smiled. "Finn's doing great too!"

"Oh, that's awesome. Let's pull him off the trailer and see how he's doing?"

"Absolutely."

With Mom and Anne's help, we unloaded Finn and got him settled in his stall. As he discovered the hay tucked in the corner, the three of us unpacked all of my tack and equipment into my locker. I noticed on my locker, there was now a shiny new nameplate, similar to the one on Finn's stall. The lockers on either side of mine had Noah and Bridget's names on them.

-

After all my barn stuff was away, my mom moved the truck and trailer over to the dorm while I stayed and talked to Anne for a bit. Because more people had started to arrive, we talked in the barn office.

"So, this was last week, our last full training session," I told Anne as I showed her a video on my phone. It was of Finn and I going around a cross country course. "He's gotten a lot more confident through water and over funky looking jumps, and he's in really good shape now."

"That's great!" she exclaimed, watching the video intently. "What about dressage?"

I swiped through a few videos before settling on a video from a dressage lesson from a few weeks ago. It showed a lead change, collection and extension, and a few other vital dressage skills.

"Wow, look at you two go," she smiled wide. "This all looks absolutely great! I look forward to continuing your training this year!"

After I was done meeting with Anne, I made my way over to the dorm where my mom was busy unpacking my bags from the truck. I helped her and together we were able to lug all of my stuff up to my room, the one I've called home for the past two years. I took my usual side of the room, leaving Bridget to have her side. We worked quickly to unpack all of my gear, and before I knew it, I was all moved in for my final year.

"Okay, you know the drill," Mom said, pulling me in for a hug. "Stay out of trouble, call if anything happens, and we all love you."

"Love you, too," I hugged tightly back. "Thank you so much for all your help today."

"Not a problem," she smiled as she pulled away. "Have fun, sweetie."

With that, she turned and left the room. I plopped down on my bed and sighed heavily. With all the unpacking and travel done today, I was exhausted. I was able to doze off for a couple of minutes before there was a light knock on the door.

"It's open," I yawned, adjusting myself so I could see the door as it opened. Suddenly Noah's head peeked around the corner and erupted into a huge smile.

"There she is," he laughed, rushing over to my bed and joining me, wrapping me in one of his huge bear hugs.

"Noah!" I exclaimed, hugging him back, hard. He flipped us over so I was on my back and he was on top of me.

"I missed you," he said before planting a kiss on my lips.

"I missed you too," I laughed, pulling him down for another kiss. Just then, my door swung open, making both Noah and I jump.

"Ugh, seriously, you two?" I heard my roommate ask. I peered around Noah to see Bridget standing there with her arms crossed and a mischevious smile on her face. "You had to do this right here, right now?"

Noah groaned as he got off my bed. "We aren't doing anything," I laughed. I hopped off my bed and wrapped her in a hug. "Hey, best friend."

"Hey, girl," she smiled, hugging me back. "How do you guys feel about helping me lug all my crap up here?"

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