Today Matters; Success stories for kids

English: Kindergarten (NZ) a famous and successful Thoroughbred racehorse. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fred the horse wanted to be a great racehorse.  He dreamed of being the Grand Champion of horse racing.  One day he decided to talk to all the farm animals and find out how he could be a racehorse.

Mitsy the cat told Fred; “You’re to young to be a racehorse, your just a pony.” and went back to chasing mice.

“We aren’t a race farm.”  Laughed Juan the donkey.  “How would you ever get to race?  You’ll be a plow horse forever.”  and he went back to driving the mill press.

This went on all day.  Betsy the cow told him it took hard work and a lot of luck and that Fred wasn’t lucky.  Roger the rooster fell off his perch laughing; telling Fred he would never make it.

Fred was sad, noone could tell him how to become a champion racehorse.  Finally he decided to go see “Mad Max” the grumpy old horse who had been put out to pasture.

“That’s a fine idea!” Said Max.  “Betsy is right about one thing, it will take a lot of hard work.  So you’d better have a plan.”

“What do you mean by a plan?” Asked Fred

“When opportunity comes it is too late to prepare, so every day you will need to have a plan of how your going to exercise.  You do realize that great racehorses exercise daily?  asked Max.

“Every day?” Fred asked surprised

“Every day.” said Max.  “And today matters, are you ready to start?

“You mean now!”  Fred said surprised

“Successful racehorses make right decisions early and manage those decisions daily.  Today is the only time you have.  It is too late for yesterday and you can’t depend on tomorrow.  That’s why today matters.  So show me your stuff.  run as fas as you can around the pasture and show me what a Grand Champion looks like.”  Max said.

Fred put his head down and got ready to give it his all.  Surprised that “Mad Max” was so supportive; he determined he was going to show him what he was made of.  Rearing up in the air and whinnying loudly Fred took off to run around the pasture.

Everything was going great, Fred felt like he was running as fast as lightning, he was ready to move into the first turn and…disaster.  He slipped in some mud and went crashing into a briar patch.   OUCH!  Max came trotting over to check on him.  By this time many of the other farm animals were watching and Fred could hear them laughing as he tried to get up and out of the sticky painful briars.

“I’ll never be a racehorse!” Fred said pitifully, tears of pain and embarrassment welling up in his eyes.

“Do you think things will get better or worse?  Max asked kindly, ignoring the jeers of the other animals.

“How can it get worse?”  Fred asked still pouting.

“You could have broken a leg.” Said Max. “You ready to try again?” Max asked Fred.

“I guess, though I don’t see the point.”  Fred said glumly.

“The thoughts in your mind will always be more important than the things in  your life.”  Max said.  “Instead of worrying about the point, focus on having fun and what it will feel like winning the Grand Championship!” Max encouraged.

Off Fred ran again, this time he didn’t give it his all, and only galloped half hearted, ensuring he didn’t slip in the mud again.

“Is that the best you’ve got?” Max asked as Fred made it around the pasture.

“I thought it best to take it easy today.” Fred said.

“The only adequate preparation for tomorrow is the right use of today.  If you only give a half hearted effort in practice, how will you give it your all when it matters?  The secret to success is to be ready when your time comes.”  Max coached.

“What if I slip again?  Fred asked fearfully.

“What if you don’t?” Max asked assuredly.  “Run it like a champion and remember you only fail if you quit.”

Fred was determined to make it this time.  He didn’t want to disappoint Max, or himself , so off he ran.  This time he slowed just a little before the mud, picking up his speed after making it through the mud and reared up next to Max, feeling much better for giving it his best effort.

“Excellent!” Max shouted.  “Now do it again!”

Fred was tired, but excited so he took off again, racing around the pasture, this time going even faster, and barely slowed down in the mud.

“AGAIN!” Shouted Max

The two stayed out in the pasture almost all night until farmer Dean finally came out to bring them in.  Farmer Dean was amazed when he saw his new colt running around the pasture, and his old plow horse prancing and playing with him.  Finally he brought the two into the barn and gave them each a nice brush down, getting the mud and briars out of Freds coat and giving them each a half of an apple for being such good horses.

Farmer Dean told his wife and kids that he was going to have to put that new colt to work plowing soon, as it seemed he had to much energy.

That night many of the barn animals began teasing Fred about becoming a racehorse.  He didn’t care, because tonight he felt like a racehorse.  He was worn out, sore, and enthusiastic all at the same time.  He began thinking about how he would exercise, running in the pasture every day, playing and racing.  Even if he never made it to a race he was a champion racehorse in his mind.  That night he dreamed of winners circles, and large barrels of apples, and special oats, and fillies galore.

The next morning he woke up and anxiously awaited the farmer opening the barn so he could get started practicing.  However; Farmer Dean had different plans.

“We’re going to hook you up and get you working since you have so much energy.”  Farmer Dean said.

Fred wasn’t expecting the saddle, or bit, or the harness.  He wanted to get out and run, and fought the process for most of the morning.  Frustrating Farmer Dean.

Max finally came over and talked to Fred about his behavior.

“Listen Fred, I know you want to just go out and race, but Farmer Dean provides you with oats, brushes you down, and gives you a barn to sleep in.  Part of you is going to have to be a plow horse and earn your keep.  Remember to choose your attitude carefully.  Just reframe the situation and think of plowing as part of your exercise regimen.”

Fred knew Max was right, and reframing his attitude about the harness, saddle and bit made for an enjoyable day.

Throughout the day Max would shout encouragement to Fred, or send one of the other animals over to give him an encouraging word.  Things like

“It’s not ok to lose!”  “Winners play hurt”

“Don’t ever give up. Don’t ever give in.  Don’t ever stop trying. Don’t ever sell out.

And if you find yourself succumbing to one of the above for a brief moment,

pick yourself up, brush yourself off, whisper a prayer, and start where you left off.

But never, ever, ever give up.”

You can do it, believe in yourself even when no-one else does.”

“Champions are made in the one more fight, can you get back up one more time.”

“Do it badly; do it slowly; do it fearfully; do it any way you have to, but do it.”

Fred was so thankful for the encouragement and motivation because he was not enjoying plowing at all!  It was hard, dirty work.  The harness pulled tight on him, and the bit hurt his mouth.  Every time he slowed, Farmer Dean would snap the harness’ and sting his back haunches.  He would just imagine himself getting stronger by pulling, and determine to work harder and plow as fast as he can, knowing that when the field was plowed, he would get to run!

Finally, as the sky began to turn dark Farmer Dean untied the harness.  Fred took off like a streak, racing to the pasture, and running laps until he was ready to collapse.  Farmer Dean couldn’t believe it.  He had worked that horse hard all day, and here he was running laps when it got done.  What was wrong with this horse?

That night Fred and Max worked out the game plan for the next day.  Max was more excited than anyone had seen him in months.  Though the barnyard still didn’t believe that Fred could be a racehorse they were proud of the young colts energy.

It was a long hard spring as Farmer Dean plowed and plowed and planted and planted, and every day after plowing Fred would race around the pasture.  Some mornings he would wake up early and stretch his muscles and visualize what becoming a racehorse would look like.  Knowing that each day mattered, and he would only be given each day to prepare for the chance to race.  Finally one day late in the spring he got his chance.

Farmer Dean decided he would take this high energy horse into town for the local spring fling.  Every spring they gathered and raced, and showed off their horses, traded goods, and sold their wares, and swapped stories about what they planted and what they thought they would get out of the years work.

When Fred first saw the horses racing he got excited.  Could today be his day?  Could he get a chance to race?

Farmer Dean tied him to the fence post next to the race track.  The thunder of hooves excited Fred, and also made him nervous.  Was he really good enough to compete with these horses?  They all seemed so fast.  He remembered some of the things that Max had taught him.  He began focusing on his ability to win.  Things like; “Diliberate practice separates the amateurs from the professionals” and felt confident that he had been deliberate in his practice every day.  He felt strong and fast.  He knew that not only had he practiced every day, but had worked on ways to improve thanks to Max.  Knowing that the more one does, the more he learns.  That only through pushing past a person’s comfort zone will a horse improve his level of skills.  So each night he and Max would go over ways that Fred could get faster, stronger, and more focused knowing that someday he would get his chance.

“Alright Fred, you ready to race?”  Farmer Dean asked, petting Freds neck.  Fred Couldn’t believe his ears.  He was going to get a chance to race!

As he and Farmer Dean pulled up to the starting line Fred was focused on the win.  Repeating his mantras of success.  “Success is pictured in the mind first” he heard Max saying in his mind.  “What is imagined quickly becomes reality.”  “Imagination rules the world.”  and most importantly “I CAN WIN”

Then BANG! the gun went off and Fred rushed out of the gate, giving it all he had.  Farmer Dean could barely believe how fast the horse was running.  Fred wasn’t as used to racing with Farmer Dean on his back, but he just ignored the difference as best as he could and raced!  Soon he was pulling away from all the other horses, and people all around the track began to pay attention to this young horse who was running so fast.  Fred was living his dream.

This would be the first of many races, eventually leading Fred to be a triple crown winner, and Farmer Dean to turning his farm into a world class racehorse training facility.    Silencing all the other barnyard animals who told Fred he couldn’t do it.  Max would be a long-time coach of the many young horses who came through, coming in out of the pasture to be an important part of the training farm.


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