||edHelper's suggested reading level:
||Flesch-Kincaid grade level:
||claustrophobia, disposition, expedient, figment, hobble, inundate, jargon, renowned, rodeo-loving, untaped, counterfeit, thoroughbred, attribute, cloverleaf, disqualify, gagging
||Junior Division, Starr Quality, Thunder Woman, Finally Hayleigh
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By Brenda B. Covert
1 Because Hayleigh suffered from a recurring injury to her left ankle, she mounted her quarter horse gingerly, putting her foot into the stirrup on the near side and swinging her right leg over. The sharp pain in her joint made her wince. Though the doctor had cautioned her about reduced mobility, she couldn't afford to slow down and give her ankle a rest. Not only would being stuck in the house give her claustrophobia, but the rodeo was Saturday! The expectation of her father was that Hayleigh would win first prize in the Junior Division.
2 "Shouldn't you be on the couch with an ice pack?" Logan asked as he led his thoroughbred, Starr Quality, out to the race track. His concern might seem genuine to others, but Hayleigh knew it was counterfeit.
3 "I hope Starr throws you in a puddle," Hayleigh said peevishly. Her brother always raced around the track on his horse while making fun of Hayleigh as she practiced her barrel racing skills. Logan bragged about Starr's speed, but Hayleigh knew that Starr could never beat her quarter horse, Thunder Woman, in a barrel race. The ability to be quick off the mark was an attribute for which quarter horses were renowned.
4 "Hayleigh!" her father called. "Did you ice down that ankle? Did you tape it? We can't afford another incident that keeps you away from practice." He adjusted his cowboy hat and strode toward her, which did not improve Hayleigh's disposition. He pulled her foot out of the stirrup and whipped her boot off to discover her swollen, untaped ankle. "What is wrong with you?" he exploded. "How are you gonna boot your horse home with your ankle in this condition?"
5 Storm clouds hovered over Hayleigh as she struggled to extract her foot from her father's grip. "Look, my boot won't fit over a taped ankle," she shot back. "I can take the pain. I'm not a baby."
6 Hayleigh's father must have formed a secret alliance with the doctor, because he yanked her off her horse and carried her back to the house to tape her ankle himself. Ignoring the strained "ow" coming from between gritted teeth, Mr. Pace wrapped her injured ankle tightly. "I can't fathom your refusal to take care of this ankle," he said shortly. "This injury isn't a figment of your imagination. Think of the consequences to your body, before you act in ways that seem expedient. Don't you know that you can do permanent damage to your ankle?"
7 "If you're getting ready to inundate me with medical jargon, save it," Hayleigh muttered. "I've cleared bigger obstacles than this." She swung her legs to the floor and stood up to test her ankle before slipping her boot on.
8 "Watch your mouth, young lady," her father said, giving her backside a swat.
9 The injury to Hayleigh's pride was worse than the sting to her behind. Had she been able, she would have stomped out the door, but the best she could do was to hobble indignantly.
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