• Published 21st Aug 2021
  • 709 Views, 96 Comments

Letting Go Of The Reins - applebatofalltrades

Applejack's rodeo career takes a turn. She must learn to adapt to her new life and the challenges that come with it.

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Appleoosa Six

“Appleoosa! Appleoosa! Appleoosa!” Apple Bloom bounced in the seat of the truck, occasionally bumping into Applejack. “I’m so excited!”

Applejack cracked a smile and pushed against Apple Bloom gently. “Hey, save the energy for later, ‘kay, Bloom? We gotta meet with the other Apples an’ I know you’re gon’ wanna go out ridin’ with yer cousins.”

The truck rumbled as they drove down faraway roads, nearing Appleoosa with every moment passed. Apple Bloom crossed her arms, doing her best to pout, but the smile on her face gave her away. “I have loads of energy! Don’t ya worry ‘bout me, Applejack!”

Rolling her eyes, Applejack gazed out the window. She was glad to have Big Mac driving for the last half of the trip. He and Granny sang along to whatever was playing on the radio while Applejack kept Apple Bloom entertained in the back. Occasionally, she’d look back to make sure the trailer with their horses was doing alright. It always was.

Apple Bloom hummed a song and bobbed her head with the make-believe tune. Other cars zoomed by as Applejack set her sights on the distance where she knew the town would be.


The truck came to a halt, drawing out Apple Bloom’s snore. It cut off to an abrupt stop as Applejack elbowed her. Groggily, Apple Bloom blinked her eyes open. “Hmm? Are we there yet?”

Finally, Applejack could say the word that Apple Bloom had been pestering about before she fell asleep. “Yup.”

Sleep completely drained from her expression, Apple Bloom shot straight up, her back a ruler against the seat. “Oh my gosh! Finally!”

Applejack snorted, undoing her seatbelt. “Finally? Ya’ve been asleep practically the whole time!”

Climbing over her sister, Apple Bloom all but fell out of the truck. Instantly, a cheer of “Apple Bloom!”s followed, followed by her laughter and jubilant squeaking. Applejack struggled with her seatbelt as she glanced out the window and gave her extended family members a wave as she slowly exited the car. It was no secret that the family loved her little sister, so much so that they always teased and joked at her, calling her the better of the three siblings. Big Mac and Applejack feigned being hurt every time, but they knew it was a joke. Apple Bloom didn’t seem to mind much, apart from the embarrassing noogies and cheek pinching and teasing from the younger members of the rest of the family.

A tall, but thin, young man made his way to Applejack and her brother. He tipped his hat and put a hand on the side of his belt. “Howdy, y’all! Great to see ya, it sure has been a while, hasn’ it?”

Big Mac reached out for a handshake, while Applejack simply gave a two-fingered salute. “Howdy, Brae,” Applejack greeted. “Sure has been a while. We’ve been lookin’ forward to seein’ y’all! How’re your siblings?”

Slapping his hand against Big Mac’s, Braeburn chuckled. “They’re fine. An’ you know Crumble. She’s been dyin’ ta see Apple Bloom. Why, I bet the li’l rascals ran off to the house already,” he observed, looking around the large family unit. “Bloom managed to escape the smotherin’ quickly this time. And how’re you, Mac? Gettin’ better at bull ridin’?” he teased. “I hope I don’t have ta get the bull away from yer sorry ass tomorrow.”

Big Mac rolled his eyes, crossing his arms. “I’ve won all-around more’n you have, Brae,” he pointed out gruffly.

“I only do half as many events as you, though, cuz,” he deflected. “Anyway, Cinnamon wanted to see ya, Mac. He’s over by the pasture. If ya want, bring along Yokel with ya so he can graze with the other horses.”

The large man nodded. “Eeyup.”

“Hey, have the others arrived yet?” Applejack asked, he and Braeburn following Big Mac to the trailer. He first led out Barley, handing the reins to Applejack. She gripped them tightly in her hand and led the stallion farther out so Big Mac could lead out his black quarter horse, and Apple Bloom’s palomino.

Braeburn took Apple Bloom’s mare and the trio made their way to the pasture where everyone’s steeds roamed, some galloping, some simply resting. “If ya mean Fritter and them, naw. They’re caught up in traffic but they should be here in time for dinner in a few hours. Why? Ya don’t like spendin’ time with the rest of us?”

Applejack shook her head despite his joking tone. “Course I do. Was just wonderin’, is all,” she said with a huff. “How’s Appleby? She still live here with her wife?”

Braeburn snorted. “Sure do! Dang girl just can’t get away from the farm. Not that I blame her. Nice to make yer own cider, ain’t it? She’s lucky that Betty was willin’ to come here.”

“Ya say that as if they ain’t the best ropin’ duo right now,” Applejack deadpanned.

As they reached the fence, Braeburn paused in front of the gate, opening it and letting the horses inside. They each undid and removed the reins from the horses. After a quick pat on each of their snouts, they turned and cantered off., leaving the trio of young adults at the fence.

“Yeah, you’re right. I just like takin’ the piss outta Aunt Appleby,” Braeburn admitted with a chuckle. ‘Sides, it’s nice to have her an’ Aunt Betty here. Betty likes to take care of Grammy Rose. Just waitin’ for Mom an’ Pops to come back.”

“Oh yeah, when they comin’ back?” Big Mac piped up, his low voice dragging out smoothly.

Braeburn shrugged. “Still tryna figure stuff out with the higher-ups or somethin’. They’ll be stuck in Vanhoover for a li’l bit. I was hopin’ they’d be back for this rodeo, but apparently, there’s some… real estate trouble or somethin’. I dunno, they just tryin’ keep everythin’ smooth.”

Applejack nodded, placing a hand on the picket fence surrounding the pasture where everyone’s horses roamed. It was, admittedly, impressive for a simple family farm. She smiled and turned away from the equines, leaning against the barrier. “Well, they’ll be back soon enough. I’m sure of it.”

The lanky man nodded and crossed his arms. “Sure. In any case, I’ll be sure to kick Mac’s bulky ass this weekend, you best be sure of it.”

Big Mac slapped his cousin on the arm. “Li’l thing like you? Sure, I can sees it. Soon as Ol’ Oinker sprouts wings ‘n flies.”

“Oh shut it, meat stack. Just cause you big don’t mean nothin’. Now run along would ya? Cinnamon’s been dyin’ to talk to ya. Somethin’ or other ‘bout bulldoggin’.”

“Right, well I’ll see y’all at supper, then,” Big Mac replied with a wave, turning back to the house.

Applejack tipped her hat in return. “Right, say hi to ‘im for me, would ya?”


After bidding farewell to Big Mac with a tip of his own hat, Braeburn adjusted it back to normal and gestured for Applejack to follow him. “Nice to see the family back again, huh, Applejack?”

Applejack stuck her hands in her pockets as she followed her cousin, admiring the fresh air of the brewing land. It was less musky than on a ranch, that was for sure. Not that she minded, of course. “Sure is,” she agreed. “Been a while since we all got together. Mighty kind of y’all to set everyone up.”

“Aw heck, you know we’s also got that hotel business,” Braeburn said dismissively. “Ain’t no problem. Plenty’a other cowboys ‘n girls settin’ up there. No harm in lettin’ family do the same!”

“Yeah, true, but it’s still nice of y’all. That hotel’s right close to the arena,” Applejack pointed out. “Y’all must make some good money durin’ other sports seasons.”

“Sure, but most of it comes back to tendin’ the crop. Hotel brings in nice money here in Appaloosa, but sellin’ liquor’s where it’s at,” Braeburn explained. He led her to the beginning of a moderately sized fruit orchard. Trees and other shrubs of sorts expanded the land, though the fruit didn’t seem quite ripe yet.

“I bet,” Applejack agreed, gazing over the trees. “Y’know, it’s pretty ‘n all, but I don’t get how y’all take care of all this.”

Braeburn hoisted himself up on a fence that surrounded the orchard, settling himself comfortably on it. Applejack did the same, setting her boots on the lower part of the fence for stability. Braeburn reached into his pocket and pulled out a pack of cigarettes, placing one in his mouth. He offered the box to Applejack, who shook her head. “Probably a lot easier’n managin’ cattle,” he pointed out as he lit his smoke.

Applejack grimaced at the smell of the smoke, but didn’t pay it much mind since it wasn’t exactly something new to her. “Well, it’s definitely a lot more borin’,” she joked. She’d tried to imagine what being a regular fruit farmer would be like, but found herself missing the noise of the animals even in her fantasy. “Probably a lot more lonely, too. I like sittin’ with the cows sometimes when Bloom or Mac ain’t home. They’re good company, too.”

Braeburn chuckled. “Well, I guess ya got me there. Never a dull moment here, y’know. Always someone around to cause trouble. ‘Specially Crumble ‘n Candy. Them two’s always gettin’ into hijinks.”

“Hah. Sounds like Bloom. You know what? I bet my britches they’re off bein’ teenagers an’ causin’ grief to the older’uns as we speak.” Applejack grinned, letting her gaze unfocus. The air was fresh and smelled like the farmer’s market.

Braeburn nodded, exhaling a wisp of smoke into the fresh country air with a laugh. “Don’t need to bet nothin’. I already know it.”

The pair glanced at each other, then burst into coordinated laughter. Applejack’s hands clutched onto the fence in a desperate attempt to keep herself stable. “You know, Brae, ya really gotta stop with that nasty vice,” she commented as her cousin took an amused drag of his cigarette. “You ‘n Mac gon’ die before y’all even retire.”

Braeburn rolled his eyes and snuffed out the cigarette on the fence. “Alright, alright,” he breathed smokily. “Just as long as ya don’t work yourself to death. Between ranchin’ and competin’, what do ya even do with your free time? Ya got any friends?”

“Sure I got friends!”

“Oh yeah, who?”

Applejack opened her mouth, then shut it again. What were the names of her classmates? She had already forgotten, not that they were friends at all anyway. A cough escaped her. “Uh, well…”

“See? C’mon, AJ. There’s more to life than what ya got goin’. Ya gotta make some friends,” Braeburn pointed out. “C’mon, even a sorry sap like me’s got friends. Met ‘em at rodeos. I woulda thought a big bad all-around cowgirl like yourself would have all kinds’a people wantin’ to be yer friend. Heck, you’re pretty good lookin’. I’m surprised you ain’t got yourself a boyfriend or somethin’.”

Applejack blushed and looked away. “I ain’t really into all that,” she mumbled. “Boys, I mean. Don’t got time for ‘em.”

A punch in the arm from her cousin dragged her flustered gaze back to him. “See, Applejack? That’s what I mean. You’re here the whole weekend. How’s about tomorrow after we’re all done we go to the bar? You, me, Mac, Cinnamon, Split, ‘n Fritter! How’s about it? Bunch’a the other competitors are gonna be there.”

As she rubbed her arm absent-mindedly, Applejack considered her options. Having a few drinks could be fun, though she wasn’t sure how she felt about drinking in a bar. There were bound to be too many people. Drunk people. She frowned. “I dunno, Brae. You know I don’t like bein’ ‘round people like that…”

“Aw, but you’re with your family now and yer alright.”

Applejack huffed. “That’s different. ‘Sides, Fritter ain’t old enough to drink. Her birthday ain’t for a few months, y’know.”

“She can still go in,” Braeburn pointed out. “She just can’t drink. Plus, we need a designated driver.” He wiggled his eyebrows.

C’mon, Applejack. It’ll be fun. She clenched her fists and snorted. “Alright, fine. I’ll go to the bar with y’all, but I swear if a single guy hits on me I’m gonna make Fritter take me home an’ y’all can wander on back.”

“Aw, I’m sure you’ll change yer mind,” Braeburn responded. “Anyway, we’re just gonna go have fun. And make you a friend or two. Lord knows you need one.”

“Oh, shut up, Brae.”

Braeburn cheekily stuck out his tongue and hopped off the fence. “C’mon, Candy’s been itchin’ to see y’all. Plus, we don’t want Cinnamon to talk poor Mac’s ear off, right?”

Applejack shrugged, a bit disappointed at the short break from the familial chaos. She pushed herself off the fence, her boots thumping on the grass. “I dunno. Big bastard pro’ly deserves it,” she teased.

“Aw, you’re so mean to him.”

“Like you ain’t mean to your siblings.”


Applejack laughed softly and shook her head, following Braeburn back to where they came. She realized he probably just wanted a smoke break, but she was glad to have spent some time alone with her cousin away from the inevitably chaotic household that would await them. And it’ll be even worse once Fritter and them get here…

She really loved her family with all her heart and would do anything to spend time with them, but sometimes it was a bit overwhelming. Especially since this weekend’s gotta be one of the most important of this season… No, maybe even my life. If I win, I’ll be able to get my pro license. She grinned nervously at the ground, zoning Braeburn’s voice out. Then it’ll have all been worth it… And it wasn’t just a waste.

I’ll be able to do somethin’.

Applejack frowned, wringing her fingers together at the implications of her own thoughts.

Aw hell.

Author's Note:

GAH IM SO SORRY FOR THE LONG WAIT I had written like a third of this and then got very busy and distracted by making unnecessary notes for this fic. Anyway I swear it ain’t dead I was just taking a lil break.

Sorry to come back with literally the worst chapter ever, it’s just set up. Oh well, content!

Oh and I’m basing the entire alcohol thing off of the drinking laws where I live where the legal drinking age is 19. so like don’t call me out Americans, I know. Don’t worry