The story of a very young jockey
The Little Jockey
George R. Lasher
word count: 355
A spirited stallion, bred to go the distance, Sovrano nickered as I mounted him and slipped my boots into the stirrups. When the bell rang we lurched forward with the rest of the pack. Putting my head down low, just above Sovrano's shoulder, I issued a challenge. "Come on boy, let's see if you can live up to your name." Sovrano's owner told me that, in Italian, Sovrano means King.
Out of the corner of my eye I caught a glimpse of people waving. My mother stood out there, somewhere, along with my father. At dinner the previous night, they noticed my jitters and advised me to trust my horse - to resist the urge to use a heavy hand on the reins.
Adjusting to the rhythm and pace of my steed, I relaxed and loosened my grip, putting everything out of my mind. I became one with Sovrano as we passed the first quarter. Sovrano felt steady and powerful beneath me, his uniform strides kicking up dust as we followed the leader towards the half-way mark. Holding down second place, we hadn't moved up on the front runner, but neither had we lost any ground.
The wind in my face, we neared the three-quarters mark, still unable to close the distance between us and the leader. Fancying myself to be a talented horse whisperer, I shunned the whip, leaning forward as far as possible to coax my Italian King. "This is what we've waited for. Run, boy, run." I flicked the reins, slapped my boots against Sovrano's sides, and held on for dear life as we headed down the stretch, towards the finish line.
Despite my will to win and Sovrano's spirited run, we lost by a mere length. Exhilarated by the thrill of the race, but disappointed in our finish, I didn't want to dismount. My father came up to greet me as the painted, white metal spokes that separated the ponies stopped turning. Twisting around in the saddle, I pleaded, "Daddy, one more time around? Please?"
Dad ruffled my hair and dug into his pants pocket.
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