A Run to Remember

A Run to Remember

From Chicken Soup for the Preteen Soul

A Run to Remember

Thirteen can be a challenging age. Not only did I have to adapt to my changing body; I also had to deal with my parents’ bitter divorce, a new family and the upsetting move from my country home to a crowded suburb.

When we moved, my beloved companion, a small brown pony, had to be sold. I was trashed. Feeling helpless and alone, I couldn’t eat or sleep, and I cried all of the time. I missed my family, my home and my pony. Finally, my father, realizing how much I missed my pony, purchased an old red gelding for me at a local auction.

Cowboy was without a doubt the ugliest horse in the world. He was pigeon-toed and knock-kneed. But I didn’t care about his faults. I loved him beyond all reason.

I joined a riding club and endured rude comments and mean snickers about Cowboy’s looks. I never let on about how I felt, but deep down inside, my heart was breaking. The other members rode beautiful registered horses.

When Cowboy and I entered the events where the horse is judged on appearance, we were quickly “shown the gate.” No amount of grooming, vitamins or unconditional love would turn Cowboy into a beauty. I finally realized that my only chance to compete would be in the timed-speed events. I chose barrel racing.

One girl named Becky rode a big brown thoroughbred mare in the race events. She always won the blue ribbons. Needless to say, she didn’t feel threatened when I competed against her at the next show. She didn’t need to. I came in next to last.

The stinging memory of Becky’s smirks made me determined to beat her. For the whole next month I woke up early every day and rode Cowboy five miles to the arena. We practiced for hours in the hot sun and then I would walk Cowboy home. On the way home I would be so tired, those five miles seemed twice as long.

All of our hard work didn’t make me feel confident by the time the show came. I sat at the gate and sweated it out while I watched Becky and her horse charge through the pattern of barrels, acing the course with ease.

My turn finally came. As I nudged Cowboy forward he stumbled, and almost fell, much to the delight of the other riders. I jammed my hat down on my head, stroked Cowboy’s big red neck and entered the arena. At the signal, we dashed toward the first barrel, quickly whipped around it and with perfect precision rounded the second and thundered on to the third. We tore around the final curve and shot for the finish line.

No cheers filled the air. The end of our run was met with surprised silence. With the sound of my heart pounding in my ears, I heard the announcer call our time. Cowboy and I had beaten Becky and her fancy thoroughbred by a full two seconds!

I gained much more than a blue ribbon that day. At thirteen, I realized that no matter what the odds, I’d always come out a winner if I wanted something badly enough to work for it. I can be the master of my own destiny.

Barbara L. Glenn

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