Gene was a brown horse who lived at a farm and his legs were very thin. He was born with those thin legs and even though he could walk, he couldn’t gallop like other horses. This made Gene sad because every month there was a celebration and the horses got to run in many races. Because Gene couldn’t run, he was always last and this was very embarrassing.
He talked to his mom about how bad he felt and she said, “I think you need to sit these races out.”
Gene shook his head no and said, “The farmers make us all do them. I don’t really have a choice.”
His mom sighed and said, “Good luck then.”
The next day was the big race. Gene walked over to the starting line and all the pigs, cows, roosters, chickens and chicks were all watching.
All the other horses were lined up too, but Luke, the one behind Gene, knew it was him and started laughing. Luke said, “You can’t run, you fool.”
The other horses joined in with Luke. “That’s right! Go away, Gene!”
Gene started crying and sneaked away.
On his way home, he saw a beetle. The beetle said, Hello, I’m Mr. Beetle. Can I give you some advice?”
“Sometimes when you’re really different you just need a new set-up.”
“What do you mean by that?” Gene asked.
Mr. Beetle said, “Come with me.”
He led Gene away from where the horses were racing. Then Mr. Beetle said to Gene, “Look at those barrels. Can you move them, please?”
Gene walked over and moved the barrels one at a time with his snout.
Then Mr. Beetle said, “Could you also move that bale of hay?”
Gene walked over and pushed and pushed and pushed, and moved the bale of hay. He was so focused he didn’t even realize what he just did.
He had made a whole obstacle course.
Mr. Beetle said, “Now, try running through the obstacle course.”
Gene started walking through the course, and then Mr. Beetle said, “Try speeding up a little.”
Gene started walking a little faster and then went even faster. Before he knew it, he yelled out, “I’m running!”
Mr. Beetle nodded. “Now run back to the race, my friend.”
Gene went back and they were just starting the third race. Luke, the mean horse, ran and stood right beside Gene. “Why are you back? Everybody knows you can’t run.”
Gene froze up for a second, but then remembered the obstacle course. He turned all of his attention to getting ready to run.
The race began and Gene got nervous so he started off walking. Luke ran past him and then turned around, gave him a mean smile, and galloped away.
Gene thought of Mr. Beetle and started running. He ran so fast that he passed Luke and all the other horses. He won first place!
The cows, pigs, chickens, roosters and chicks all cheered for him. Even all the other horses, including Luke.
Gene felt so good. He looked over and saw his mother smiling and looking very happy.
Gene learned that if you’re different, sometimes you have to listen to wise voices (like Mr. Beetle’s), trust what they say, and try new ways to deal with obstacles.
Luna Pacheco Beaty is 7-years-old and will be starting 2nd grade in the fall.