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A New Career
Mary is steering me toward the big water
jump. It has a small ditch with water in it right in front
of it. I remember seeing one at the Sterling Horse
Show when I won the Green Hunter Championship.
It scared me a little then because I hadn’t seen it
before. I had to stop and have a good look at it then.
But once I knew that I wasn’t supposed to step in it,
I did okay. I got a good running start so I wouldn’t
put my foot in it. I remember wondering why they
put the water there in the first place. There wasn’t
enough of it to take a bath anyway. But then I
decided it was good to have a challenge. After all, I
had to prove I was worthy of my name Charlene the
Star. Mary has always been my trainer and rider.
She talks to me. She’s very patient, too. She shows
me the new jumps before we jump them.
    Now Mary’s talking to me. She’s telling me
to get ready for the in and out jumps. They can be
tricky. You only have one or two strides between
them so you have to concentrate, or else anything
can happen.
“Charlene, I have the feeling your mind
is wandering. We’re almost at the in and out, but
you’re looking here and there like we’re sight
seeing,” said Mary. “Even though you’re a champion
jumper now, we still need to practice. In fact, we’re
practicing while you’re here visiting Racing Haven
Stables in Kentucky. It’s my version of a working
vacation. You’ll be able to see your friends Ann and
Blossom, but you still need to work sometimes so
that you stay in shape,” said Mary.
We’re galloping toward the oxer jump.
It’s a wide jump that looks like two jumps pushed
together. I have to gallop into it and work up a little
speed so I can jump the whole thing without making
a mistake. It’s probably a good thing Mary talked
to me when she did so I wouldn’t be thinking about
unimportant stuff. If I don’t pay attention during
my workout, Mary won’t give me any chocolate
peppermint candies. They’re my absolute favorites.
If I didn’t practice jumping, I’d probably be
overweight from eating them.
“Good job, Charlene,” said Mary, patting
Charlene’s glossy red coat. (the hair covering her
body) “You need to be in shape so that when it’s
time to go to shows again, you won’t be flabby.
We’ll head back to the barn now so you can visit
with your friends. I’ll walk you over to the barn so
you can relax. Charlene why did you stop short?
What are you looking at in the field? You naughty
girl! Now you got loose by pulling hard on me till
I let go. Oh no, you jumped the fence to get to the
field,” said Mary, utterly dismayed.
“Hattie, what’s wrong?” asked Elliott,
looking very concerned.
“I was adjusting my bonnet when I heard
Charlene’s hoof beats as she galloped off into the
field. I wonder what got into her,” said Hattie.
“Charlene! Charlene! Come get your oats,
you naughty girl,” called Mary.
I’m in big trouble now. Geez, I wanted to say
hello to the deer that was grazing in the pasture. I
guess Mary didn’t see it and she’s mad at me for
running off. I’ll be good and gallop right over to
her. I know I won’t get any peppermints tonight, but
I was only trying to be friendly.
“Hello, Ann, it’s so nice to see you again.
You and I have been friends our whole lives. But
your talent is racing, while mine is jumping. Your
gray coat looks as beautiful as ever. I’m glad
we can catch up on the news. Another thing I’m
pleased about is that we can talk among ourselves,
but we don’t talk to people. Oh, I heard that you
won the Acorn Race. That’s most impressive,
congratulations,” said Charlene.
“Why, thank you, Charlene. Personally, I’ve
always admired your dark red coat. Did you have to
wear a green blanket under your saddle to qualify
for the Green Jumper Championship?” asked Ann.
“I would think you’d have to wear something green
in order to enter,” she added.
“No, Ann, I didn’t have to wear anything
green. In horse shows, if you enter the Green Jumper
classes, it means you haven’t had much experience
jumping in shows,” said Charlene.
“Silly me, I never realized that. I was imagining
you’d have to dye your red coat green, just to
enter. I thought you’d at least need a green saddle
pad,” replied Ann.
“We haven’t seen our friend Blossom this
morning,” said Charlene.
“Blossom, are you awake?” called Charlene.
“Yes, I just woke up,” answered Blossom,
still yawning and stretching. “My friend Hattie the
chicken is here with me. She tapped me with her
wing, trying to wake me up. She’s very sweet and
she likes to wear hats. This morning she’s wearing
her favorite red bonnet. She has pretty red feathers,
like Charlene’s red coat. She stays with me all the
time to keep me calm, the way Elliott stays with
Charlene,” said Blossom.
“I don’t know where I’d be without my dog,
Elliott. He’s always smiling and keeping me calm
when I’m at the shows. I love his big brindle marks.
They’re something like spots, but they have stripes.
Elliott comes with me in the trailer so I don’t get
nervous. Besides, he does a great job cheering for
me from the bleachers. I can recognize his bark
and he keeps his paws crossed for me when I’m
jumping. It’s like people crossing their fingers for
you. Oh, I almost forgot to mention that Elliott can
do some cute tricks. He can wave hello or good bye
to you and he can open gates with his paws. He
pushes the latch up. If he wants to have a little extra
fun, he’ll step on the button that opens the starting
gate when horses are racing. It’s a neat thing to do,”
said Charlene.
“Here’s Hattie, speeding down the aisle
holding her bonnet,” said Charlene.
“Good morning, Charlene,” said Hattie,
taking a bow, as she caught her breath. “I do love to
wear hats! Mama said when I was born part of my
shell was sitting right on top of my head, so she had
the feeling I’d like hats. That’s how I got my name.
Besides, mama said I should really stand out. She
wanted me to do something important with my life.
I have fun with Blossom but I’ve been wondering
what else I might do in my spare time. It’s hard for
chickens to show that they have talent. I don’t know
where I fit in. Chickens don’t get any respect these
days. Have you ever heard of a chicken attending
an important event? Has there ever been a “Chicken
of the Year Award?” If chickens go to a banquet,
we have to hide under the tablecloth and check the
menu to make sure we’re not on it,” complained
“Isn’t it odd that I’ve been wondering
what else I can do, too? Jumping is my absolute
favorite thing, but my mama said we all should try
to develop as many talents as we can so that we’re
always challenged. You know if people don’t work
hard at the things they do, they tend to get bored,”
said Charlene.
“That’s true. What do you think you’d like
to do?” asked Blossom.
“Gee, I have no idea. I’ve been so busy
practicing my jumping skills and getting used
to being in the shows. I’ll have to give that some
thought,” said Charlene. “It’s getting warm out
here. I can see Eva riding a small black horse on
the racetrack. That little horse is flying around the
track, but the other horse who’s working with her
just bumped her. Now she won’t move at all.”
“Hi, Charlene,” said Eva, patting her soft
red coat. “It’s been a tough day today. Tiger Lily
stops dead when another horse bumps her while
she’s racing. I’ve tried everything to help her. I
wish I had someone who truly understands the way
horses think. I’ve had so many horses with training
problems that I haven’t had time to fill out the work
schedule for my horses. I spoke to Mary Harris,
the manager at Jumping for Joy Farm, where you
usually stay. It’s right across the street from us and
I thought she might have some ideas. She said she
has some horses that have training problems too,”
said Eva.
That’s it! I’ve got the perfect idea, thought
Charlene. Hattie, Elliott and I will start our own
coaching business for horses! After all, people
have counseling, but horses don’t. I can’t wait to
talk to Elliott and Hattie about it. Eva left the barn
so now is the perfect time to talk to my friends about
my idea.
“Hey, everyone, come quickly! I’ve got
a terrific idea about something we can do that
would be fun and great for other horses, too,” said
Charlene thought, Hattie’s going to lose her
favorite bonnet if she doesn’t slow down. That would
ruin her whole day. “Hattie, slow down. You’re
racing down the aisle. You don’t want your favorite
bonnet to fly right off your head. That’s it, Hattie,
hold your hat and be careful. You were running so
fast you almost tripped,” said Charlene.
Elliott jogged along behind Hattie and sat
next to her, as they waited anxiously for Charlene’s
big announcement. Hattie couldn’t sit still. She
flapped her wings and hopped around.
“I heard Eva talking about the fact that so
many horses have trouble with their training. Some
are shy and some don’t know where they fit in. They
feel like I did when I didn’t like racing and I had
to show the trainers that I wanted to do something
else. Remember I told you that I did those little
bucks called crow hops when I got upset? The crow
hops were my way of having a tantrum. Well, I
think we should start our own counseling business
for horses. Isn’t that a great idea? We can advertise
in the Gazette. We’ll start small. Maybe we can
branch out and coach horses at Jumping for Joy
Farm someday. If we do our best, we may even be
voted coaches of the year,” said Charlene.
“Charlene, you’re a genius!” said Hattie,
hopping around, giggling. “That’s a great idea,
don’t you think, Elliott?”
“It’s wonderful! I can help horses with
self esteem problems. I’m a good listener and the
horses could look at my big head to know that I
have confidence. When I wear a hat, it has to be the
adjustable kind, in case the compliments make my
head bigger,” added Elliott.
“Great!” exclaimed Charlene. “We’ll put an
ad in the Gazette. Hattie, get your pencil. You have
the nicest handwriting. It’s not like chicken scratch
at all. Here’s what we’ll say:
“Are you a shy horse? Do you have low
self esteem? Not sure where you fit in? Help is on
the way! Call 1-800-Hattie -4U. We can call our
company Hattie’s Star Coaching. Not everyone will
get credit in the name of our company, but Elliott,
Ann and Blossom are just as important as Hattie
and I,” added Charlene.
“This is so exciting! I could even change a
horse’s life. Now, that’s a way to make a difference.
Besides, Elliott and Charlene are such experienced
assistants. I think we’ll have clients in no time,”
said Hattie.
Charlene was out in the pasture with Blossom
and Ann a few days after the ad was placed. She was
startled when she saw a small black horse peering
around the bush in the paddock.
“Um, hello, my name is Tiger Lily. I want
to be the best race horse ever. I love racing and I
can run really fast, even though I’m small. But I get
scared when I’m racing and another horse bumps
into me. I stop. Then I shiver, trying to show my
trainer that I’m scared. But he hasn’t figured it out
yet. The other thing I hate is getting dirt kicked in
my face when I’m racing. It distracts me and then I
can’t run very fast at all. By the way, I saw your ad
in the Gazette. Can you help?” asked Lily, almost
“Of course, I’d be honored to help,”
answered Charlene. “Oh, I’m Charlene, and these
are my friends, Blossom and Ann. Blossom is the
lovely brown horse with the blaze and Ann is the
one with the sleek grey coat,” explained Charlene.
“I think I saw you working on the racetrack today
and you were lightening fast,” said Charlene.
“If you could do anything you wanted, what
would it be? What do you dream about?” asked
“I want to be the best racehorse anywhere.
I’d like to be as famous as your big brother, Charlie.
Everybody knows he won the Kentucky Derby,”
said Lily.
“How are you going to do that if you give
up? It would be like driving on a dead end street. It
doesn’t take you anywhere,” said Charlene.
“Gee, I never thought of those things. I’m
not sure I can keep going when I’m afraid, though,”
added Lily.
“Of course you can. You need to believe in
yourself. Try imagining yourself flying to the finish
line first. Think of how proud you’ll feel when
you’ve accomplished something you never thought
you would! You can also remember that you’re very
talented,” said Charlene.
“I’ve got an idea. I heard that there’s going
to be a full moon tonight. We can sneak over to
the race track tonight when no one is in the barn.
Elliott can open the door for us. Lily, you can take
a little practice race around the track with Ann and
Blossom. Ann or Blossom might bump into you
when you’re on the race track, just to see how you
react. It’s only practice so there’s nothing to be
nervous about,” said Charlene.
“I’m afraid I’ll be nervous anyway. Even
practice makes me worry. I might not eat my dinner
tonight,” said Lily, already beginning to get shaky
“Lily, you don’t need to be scared. The
only way you can feel better and do your best is to
overcome your fears. Ann and Blossom have won
lots of races. They had to learn to keep trying even
though other horses bumped them. They had to
learn to run in the mud, too,” Charlene replied.
“That’s right, Lily. I don’t like the mud
either, but we can’t always have nice sunny days.
When I’m racing in the mud, I think about how
much I like racing and how happy I am when I
win. I don’t concentrate on the mud. We also wear
special rain shoes when it’s muddy so we don’t slip
around in the mud,” said Ann.
“Elliott, are you ready? The moon is bright
now so we can go to the race track with Lily. Ann,
Blossom, I can see you’re ready to run. You’re wide
awake and prancing around in your stall. Good job
opening the door, Elliott. I didn’t even have to
remind you,” said Charlene.
“Yes, we’ve been waiting for you to tell
us it’s time to go play on the track,” said Ann and
Blossom together.
Here we are in the starting gate. I can see
Ann next to me and Blossom’s after her. I hear my
knees shaking. It sounds like they’re bumping into
each other! Too bad they’re not musical instruments.
I could lull the other horses to sleep. I wish the noise
would distract the other horses so they’d forget to
run. It’s a good thing we don’t have to stay in here
very long. I might get so nervous, I wouldn’t be able
to move at all, thought Lily. Elliott’s going to press
the button with his foot and the gates will open. I’d
better get ready to run as fast as I can. Maybe if
I get a big head start, nobody will catch me and
bump into me.
Lily settled into second place with Blossom
in the lead. Then Ann caught up so the three of them
were in line across the track. When Ann and Lily
were head and head she bumped Lily hard in the
side. Lily took a big breath and kept going. I can’t
believe I’m still going. Wow! I didn’t think I could
do it, thought Lily. Yikes. I lost my concentration
and now Ann is ahead of me. I should have been
paying attention. Ouch! Another clump of dirt hit
me in the face. I don’t feel like running to beat Ann
today so I think I’ll let her win. Ann went zooming
by me.
“Lily, you might have won if you didn’t give
up. You were very brave when Ann bumped you.
Weren’t you proud of yourself for running?” asked
“I got discouraged the second time she
bumped me, so I let her win,” said Lily, lowering
her head because she was embarrassed.
“You’re so talented. If you want to be the
great racehorse you’ve always dreamed about,
you’ve got to do your best every time, not only
when it’s easy. You made a lot of progress today, so
that’s enough for the first lesson. Remember what
you learned today,” said Charlene.
“Thank you so much, Charlene. I have more
confidence already. I’ll try hard to do my best and
think about the things I learned today,” said Lily.

From ‘Charlene The Star And Hattie’s Heroes’
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