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Pets Theme Unit
A Horse Named Lady



A Horse Named Lady
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 3 to 4
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   4.35

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    bareback, cinch, giddy, heartbroken, landers, palomino, positively, sagebrush, sorrel, solution, bridle, thirteenth, beloved, landscape, atop, chestnut


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A Horse Named Lady
By Joyce Furstenau
  

1     The other girls her age wanted clothes for Christmas. Marie wanted a horse. She lived on a fruit ranch. There was no open pasture land on the fruit ranch. Marie dreamed of riding a beautiful horse on the wide sagebrush hills rising above acres of her father's fruit trees. She imagined herself sitting atop her horse on the ridge that overlooked the little green valley of Appleton. She drew pictures of horses on her notebooks. When other girls asked for sweaters for Christmas, Marie asked for western boots. She even got a beautiful white felt cowgirl hat one year, but Marie did not have a horse.
 
2     On her thirteenth birthday, her parents surprised her with a fancy new bridle. Marie looked confused.
 
3     "Wow! When I get a horse, this will be perfect," said Marie. Then she opened a big white envelope. Inside was a note from her parents. It said that they had found a pasture they could rent from their neighbor, Mr. Landers, and Marie could finally have her horse. She jumped up and down and cried with excitement. They would begin looking for a horse on Saturday.
 
4     They looked in Horses for Sale ads in the newspaper. There were only two horses they could afford. They went to see them that Saturday. The first one was a young sorrel pony. It was a nice enough horse but a little too fresh for Marie. Marie needed a gentle horse. She had no horseback riding experience. The next one they looked at was an older palomino. The palomino was beautiful, but she was a little too spirited for a beginning rider.
 
5     The following weekend, Marie saw an ad that read, "Perfect horse for the beginning rider." They made an appointment to see the horse. This one turned out to be a beautiful chestnut Thoroughbred and Morgan mix. Though she stood seventeen hands tall, she was as gentle as a lamb. She was about fifteen years old, and she was perfect for Marie. Her name was Lady. Lady was easy to catch, too. Shake a bucket of oats a few times and she would trot right up to the bucket, ready to eat. Marie was positively giddy. Her own horse! Marie finally had her own horse.
 
6     Mr. Landers' pasture was just across the road from her parents' ranch. It took her less than ten minutes to walk to the gate. Marie got up early to ride Lady. She dressed, slipped into her cowboy boots, grabbed her hat, and ran outside to the barn. Marie filled Lady's bucket with a special blend of molasses and oats. She threw her new bridle and a halter rope over her shoulder. Then, she ran through the cherry orchard and across the road to Lady's pasture.
 
7     Marie rode Lady bareback from the pasture back to the barn. There, she put the blanket and saddle atop her horse and fastened the cinch. For the rest of the morning, Marie and Lady explored the sagebrush hills above the ranch. She let Lady graze while she looked for wildflowers or interesting rocks in the landscape. She spent every day that summer riding Lady. She did not want summer to end, but soon it was time to go back to school.
 
8     At the end of September, Marie began having headaches. She noticed that words on the blackboard were blurry. The school sent a note home saying Marie needed to see an eye doctor.

Paragraphs 9 to 16:
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