The farm girl and her $300 horse

19 07 2006

How can you not love a story like this?!

After watching a too-small thoroughbred finish dead last for the sixth straight race, 13-year-old Sara Mittleider convinced her father to buy the washed-up racehorse for $300 to replace the pony she had been riding at their 20-acre Idaho farm.

Seven years later, horse and rider are among 12 finalists competing this week for a spot on the elite U.S. team going to the World Equestrian Games in Germany next month.

Mittleider is one of the country’s rising stars in three-day eventing, an equine triathlon that combines the ballet-like discipline of dressage, the endurance of cross-country steeplechase and the technical athleticism of show jumping.

It made me think of how often the story of the brave underdog and his or her horse plays out in our favourite stories: the Black Stallion books, National Velvet, Seabiscuit, Hidalgo (fiction, my dears, and did you notice the horse still had his shoes on when he was released back to the wild herd?) and many of Marguerite Henry’s classics. I hope Sara and her gelding triumph in Aachen and write their own fairy-tale ending to their story.

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