Breaking Her In (Pt. 1)

Written for @cool_grey9, with thanks.

Content warnings for this story (click here for guide):

“Where’s the new girl?”

The man’s voice echoed down the long row of stalls. The horses put their heads over the doors, curious to see what the fuss was about. Mr Evanstow, the Stable Master, stepped into view, flanked by the kitchen porter Freddy.

A man in shirt and riding jodhpurs standing on grass.

“I said,” repeated Evanstow with an edge to his voice, “where is the new girl? The new groom?”

“I dunno Sir,” shrugged the boy. “She was in for breakfast but she went to clear out Warrior’s stable right after. Swear!”

“Let me show you something, Freddy,” said the Stable Master, taking him by the ear to the stall where Warrior normally resided. It was filthy, with dung everywhere.

“Does that look like it’s been mucked out?”

“No Sir. But I swear that’s where she said she was headed.”

“So not only do I have a slacker on my hands, I have a dishonest one too,” said Evanstow. “Right, get back to work Freddy. I shall track down our newest recruit myself.”

He didn’t have to look far. The smell of cigarette smoke – strictly forbidden around the horses – led him to a small barn. Hunched in the hayloft, a scruffy girl in a jumper, cream jodhpurs and wellingtons sat furtively puffing away.

Evanstow crept up like a cat, then gripped her shoulder, causing her to shriek and drop her cigarette.

“Shitshitshit!” She rummaged about until she found the smoking stick in the hay and stubbed it out. Then she turned fearfully toward her stony-faced boss.

“Suppose I’m fired,” she said sadly.

“Bloody well ought to be, Turner. Sloping off, lying, neglecting the horses, risking a fire for a cigarette…”

“I’m really sorry,” Turner gulped. “I got really nervous and…Well, I’m trying to stop, but – and I WAS going to come see to Warrior’s bedding, honest. Right after!”

Evanstow thought for a second.

“I really ought to fire you on the spot. This isn’t some rundown riding school. You were hired to take care of animals belong to the Duke and Duchess of Pevensey. There’s plenty of young people would leap at this job.”

“I am sorry,” pleaded Turner. “Can I please get one more chance?”

“Oh, in addition to the chance I gave you after your slapdash job of grooming Sentinel yesterday? Don’t think I didn’t notice.”

“But I had tickets for a film and I would have been late!”

“Answering back, is it?” Evanstow whipped around, eyes pinning her in place.

The young groom stammered.

“Um – n-no…I’m sorry…I just – it was a mistake!”

“We’ll see. Come with me!”

Evanstow returned to the ground and crooked his finger up at Turner, who tumbled down after him. She was an elfin girl in her early 20s and she had the work-ethic and manners of a kid.

They entered the stable offices, and Evanstow shut and bolted the doors behind them.

“Remind me of your first name, Turner,” he said, running a hand over the various crops hanging on the wall behind his desk.

“Thea, Sir,” said the groom, her hands behind her back. She looked like a schoolgirl up before the headmaster.

“Thea,” repeated Evanstow, pulling her file from a cabinet. “Very nice. Now Thea, I believe in starting off on the right foot so we have two choices here. Either I sack you now for the reasons I just listed or you can agree to a probationary period. During that time I will personally train you not only to be a better member of staff, but also to ride, if you wish.”

Thea’s eyes lit up. Riding! She’d dreamed of riding but never been able to afford lessons – that was part of the reason she’d applied for this job. Was he serious, though?

“Your choice,” continued Evanstow. “But I warn you that I am a very strict instructor. Any laziness, attitude problems or backsliding – that includes smoking – will result in penalties or dismissal.”

Thea looked at him, trying to work out what he meant by ‘strict’. She wasn’t afraid of hard work or dirty work, but something told her that wasn’t the whole story.

The Stable Master cut a strangely appealing figure. Salt-and-pepper hair, a smart blazer over a neat shirt, jodhpurs and tall leather boots. He was quietly terrifying. Though he never shouted, his voice sailed easily across the yard for everyone to hear, and he had a habit of absently swishing a crop that filled her with unease.

“I’d like to try…please,” said Thea, feeling as though she was edging toward a cliff edge.

“Good girl,” said Evanstow. He wheeled out a full-length mirror he kept stored against the wall.

“Take off your top please,” he said.

“What?” Thea blinked in confusion.

“Just down to your vest,” he said. “Come on girl, I need to see your posture.”

Thea hesitated. “Why?”

Evanstow fixed her with another stare. “Riding requires control over your weight distribution. You can’t ride a horse until you can stand correctly on your own two feet. And you – “ he gripped her shoulders then tipped up her chin – “stand like a rain-sodden scarecrow. Now do you want to learn to ride or do you want to leave?”

Thea blushed at the contact. She grasped the wool of her jumper and froze for a moment, then nervously peeled it off.

Her underwear was a soft cotton croptop – she’d never needed anything bigger. Standing in her boss’s office she felt suddenly very vulnerable, especially when Evanstow steered her toward the mirror and stood behind her. A breeze from the fan in the corner caused her nipples to pucker and harden, making tiny outlines in the white fabric.

A woman with long brown hair in a white cotton croptop.

Evanstow looked over her shoulder. He slipped his strong hands around her waist and guided her into straightening her back.

“Ah, but that is very sweet,” he said, skating a hand over her childish underwear, before resuming his inspection. “Chin down, Shoulders back,” he said, and Thea obeyed, reddening at the sight of her hard nipples in the mirror.

“Very nice,” said Evanstow. “You see, you can be quite ladylike when you try. Stay there a moment.”

He took out a tape measure and ran it first from her head to her feet, then round her waist and finally up her inside leg. Thea trembled as the tape crept higher, but just as the Master’s fingers reached an intimate place, he snapped the tape shut, announced the numbers and jotted them down.

“We’ll get you some decent jodhpurs, not these cheap ones. I’ll have Max order those later.”

Thea bit her lip and nodded.

“Now,” said Evanstow, “stand on one leg for me. I want to see how you balance.”

“Can I put my top on?” asked Thea.

“No,” said Evanstow in a matter-of-fact way. “Come on, up on one leg.”

Thea lifted her right leg, wobbling a little and putting out her arm. She lost the battle and put her right foot down. Evanstow caught her to stop her toppling over.

“It’s hard,” she said, embarrassed.

“It’s informative,” said the Stable Master. “Now the left.”

Thea lifted her left leg, but lasted even less time before stumbling back onto two feet.

“You need to exercise,” noted Evanstow. “Your glutes are weak.”

“My what?”

“This area,” said Evanstow, patting her bottom. His hand lingered a moment, then squeezed. The spell broken, Thea span round, outraged.


“Excuse me?”

“You – you can’t do that!”

An eyebrow was raised.

“You’re free to leave, Thea.”

“I didn’t say…but…”

“But if you choose to stay, that won’t be the last time I touch your bottom. And it won’t always be this gentle. Because not only do you need exercise, you need discipline.”

Thea gaped. Was this man serious? He seemed it.

To emphasise his point, Evanstow took down a black riding crop and swished it.

“You’re not using that thing on me!” she cried.

“I hope I won’t need to,” said Evanstow, “but if you are going to be difficult and you won’t just quit, you’re going to leave me with no choice. Lazy, obstinate horses need a touch of the crop, and I see no reason why lazy, obstinate girls shouldn’t get a stinging bottom as well.”

Thea saw red. She slammed her hands on the table.

“That’s it. I’m off to do my actual work. Give me my top back!” she scowled, snatching at the jumper.

“As you wish,” smiled her boss, unbolting the door. “You’re mucking out stalls 6-12 then grooming Azure and Fenris.” He laid the crop on his desk. “After that, you can go home.”

“Um, right!” said Thea, pulling her top over her head. He wasn’t going to try and stop her? What if she told someone? She unbolted and opened the door, and heard her boss softly add:

“Of course, if you decide you would like a riding lesson later, perhaps on Calico…”

Her Ladyship’s favourite horse. Thea had dreamed of riding the beautiful chestnut mare.

“…Well, if you’d like that, I will be here till late.”

Thea really did want that.

Evanstow resumed writing, but added: “You will ask for your punishment for insolence, I will give it to you and then we will saddle up Calico for your lesson.”

He said it so plainly. Thea hurried away with her head spinning. She’d wanted to answer back or tell him she’d rather ride a bloody porcupine, but something about him – his confidence that she would return, the prospect of asking for the crop, of being stripped – would not leave her mind.

She completed her stablework in a daze, grooming poor Azure and Fenris until they gleamed. She felt the ghost of his muscular fingers round her waist, up her leg, on her behind.

By the time she was done, everyone else had gone home. Thea grabbed her bag and reached the gates of the Pevensey estate. The sun was setting.

Damnit. She had left her phone in the break room. She jogged back to the stables and picked it up, then noticed the office light on. Through the window she could see the Stable Master’s silhouette as he worked through a pile of veterinary records. And behind him she saw the row of crops waiting to be used. Bastard.

Nonetheless, Thea’s heart begun to accelerate as she pictured herself bending over in front of him. Heard him swishing the implement behind her. Imagined waiting for the stinging strike.

Powered by something she didn’t quite understand, she walked toward the door and knocked.

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