Quarter Horse

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Authors: Bonnie Bryant
remounted Napoleon and rode triumphantly around the ring.
    “Watch out,” Lisa whispered to Carole as they got back into position. “I think Stevie’s next!”
    “Our last contestant is Ms. Stevie Lake, from Virginia,” the announcer said. “If she can wrestle a goat as well as she can circle a barrel, then all us Western cowboys are in trouble!”
    Stevie and Tumbleweed settled down into the starting gate. Carole and Lisa both had butterflies in their stomachs as they watched a wrangler push a big black-and-white goat into the chute. They waited for Stevie’s signal. The gates flew open.
    The goat came out fast, but Tumbleweed was just as fast, running right alongside him. Stevie waited for an instant, choosing just the right moment, then leaned low over the goat and slid off Tumbleweed. She grabbed the goat by his neck and front leg, but she misjudged how fast he was running. Instead of pulling him down, Stevie rolled head over heels and pulled the goat upside down on top of her! Carole and Lisa could only watch helplessly while his four legs and Stevie’s two legs flailed in the air. The audience roared with laughter, but Stevie and the goat kept scrambling around in the dirt. She’d finally managed to climb to her feet and grab his stubby little tail when the buzzer sounded. Her time had run out. She let go of the goat and watched as he scampered away to the other side of the ring.
    “Nice try, Stevie!” the announcer laughed. “You just gave a whole new meaning to the term
goat wrestling
. Give her a big hand, folks!”
    The crowd applauded. “Stevie, are you okay?” Lisa asked worriedly. The goat had mashed Stevie’s hat flat, and Stevie wore a thin layer of brown dust from head to toe.
    “Yes, I’m fine,” she said, rubbing her elbow. “But that sure didn’t feel like any normal goat. They must have fed him Mexican jumping beans or something.”
    “Well, wave to the crowd so they’ll know you’re all right. Mr. Cate and Polly Shaver and Karen Nicely are all up there cheering for you,” Lisa said. “And don’t worry about it. The audience loves you, and you’ve still got three events to go!”
    “You’re right.” Stevie grinned and pushed her hat back into shape. She waved to the crowd, and everyone cheered even more loudly.
Three events to go
, she thought as she walked back to the gates.
And I’ve got to win at least two of them!

T HE NEXT EVENT was calf roping. Since the grounds crew didn’t need to set anything up, Lisa and Carole and Sal stayed on their horses and waited for the action to begin. Carole was to haze the calves just as she had done with the goats, and Lisa was to keep an eye on the riders. Sal clowned and coordinated them from the far end of the ring.
    As before, Mary Corona was the first contestant. She bounded out on her pinto mare and roped her calf successfully, but the calf had long, wiggly legs and she lost a lot of time trying to tie them up. The next few contestants did better. Then it was Gabriel’s turn. He carefully positioned Napoleon in the gate, then nodded. With the same lightning speed he’d used in the goat wrestling, he roped his calf and had its legs tied almost before Caroleand Lisa could blink. They had nothing to do but sit on their horses and watch while he took his hat off and waved again to the cheering crowd.
    “Give that young man a hand,” the announcer cried as Gabriel and Napoleon made another triumphant circle around the ring. “He’s as fast a calf roper as he is a goat wrestler!”
    Stevie was next. Carole and Lisa glanced worriedly at each other as she got ready to ride. When she settled down in the gate they turned their attention to the business at hand. With a quick nod, Stevie signaled to open the chute. She and Tumbleweed thundered out of the gate just behind a brown calf that galloped along like a little racehorse. The calf tried to veer off to the right, but Carole rode alongside him and kept him running straight. Stevie

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