Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC, in VOA Special English.
I'm Bob Doughty. On our show this week:
We answer a question about singer and actress Hilary Duff …
Tell about a young woman who does an exciting water sport ...
And report about the world's smallest living horse.
An extremely rare animal named Thumbelina is traveling around the United States this year. The goal of the trip is to try to raise one million dollars for organizations that aid children. Last summer, Guinness World Records named Thumbelina the world's smallest living horse. Faith Lapidus tells us more.
Thumbelina is forty-four and one-half centimeters tall. She weighs less than twenty-six kilograms. Because she is such an unusual creature, Thumbelina could easily be the center of attention in a circus or zoo.
Instead, her owners are taking her to visit forty-eight states. She is appearing at children's hospitals, stores, schools, horse shows, camps and fairs. Thumbelina already has raised more than ten thousand dollars for children's aid groups. She is popular with both children and adults.
Thumbelina is a kind of small horse called a miniature horse. But she has an abnormal gene that made about her half the size of a normal miniature horse.
Thumbelina is named for a woman in a story by the Danish writer Hans Christian Andersen. The woman was the size of a person's thumb, the short, thick finger on a person's hand.
Kay and Paul Goessling own Thumbelina. They keep the little horse at their Goose Creek Farms in Saint Louis, Missouri. They raise miniature horses to sell and show at competitions. Their son, Michael Goessling, cares for Thumbelina.
The little horse is five years old. At birth, she weighed less than four kilograms. The family thought she might not survive. Today, she sometimes wears leg supports to keep her legs straight. Michael Goessling says they expect Thumbelina to live about seventeen years.
When Thumbelina is home, Michael Goessling says she does not spend much time with the other horses. Instead, she plays with the family's dogs. She also sleeps in a doghouse. Two times a day, Thumbelina eats a cup of grain and a handful of hay.
Her owners say Thumbelina will not have any babies. They want to protect the health of their famous little horse. They say there will never be another Thumbelina.
Dallas Friday was only thirteen years old when her mother took her to an expert teacher to learn to ride a wakeboard. Today, seven years later, Ms. Friday has won many awards for this action-filled water sport. Shirley Griffith tells us more.
Wakeboarding is similar to surfing and water skiing. Surfers stand on a board and try to ride it over the ocean waves. But wakeboarders hold onto a rope as they ride a board behind a specially equipped boat. The motion and speed of the boat create a "wake" in the water. The rider jumps, turns and twists over the wake.
Dallas Friday learned those skills on land, doing gymnastics at school. So she thought she might be good at wakeboarding. But at first, the expert did not want to teach her. He thought she was just a beginner. But then he watched Dallas perform in the water. The expert told her family that she could make a million dollars.
During the years since then, Dallas Friday has earned top honors in competitions. Last year, for example, she won the Wakeboard World Cup in China. She has bought several houses with her winnings. She has also paid a price in injuries. She returned to the water recently after breaking her leg in seven places.
Like Dallas Friday, some young adult wakeboarders compete for money. But children also wakeboard, and so do people older than sixty. Most take part in the sport just for fun.
Wakeboarding developed over a number of years, as people skilled at water sports experimented with their equipment. It took a big step forward in the nineteen eighties. At that time, two well-known sportsmen designed straps to hold a rider's feet onto the board.
About fifteen years ago, a sports company in the state of Florida started launching competitions for professional wakeboarders. Television sports channels showed some of the action.
Today, an estimated three million people ride wakeboards in the United States. They study which boats and boards work best. They read magazines like "Alliance Wakeboard." But mostly, like Dallas Friday, they love to fly over the water on their wakeboards.
Our VOA listener question this week comes from China. Guo Xiaoyi wants to know about singer and actress Hilary Duff.
Hilary Duff is only nineteen years old. Yet she has had her own television show, appeared in movies and recorded albums. She also designs her own clothing line and has a perfume named after her.
Hilary Duff started appearing in local productions in her hometown of Houston, Texas. She moved to California with her mother and sister and appeared in several television commercials.
Her first major movie part was in "Casper Meets Wendy" in nineteen ninety-eight. Then she got the lead in a television show about a teenager named Lizzie McGuire. She appeared in the show from two thousand one until two thousand four. By that time, she had already recorded two albums of music.
In two thousand three, she appeared in three hit movies -- "Agent Cody Banks", "The Lizzie McGuire Movie" and "Cheaper By the Dozen." Here is a hit song from her album Metamorphosis -- "So Yesterday".
Hilary Duff also works with an animal rights group and is involved with several aid organizations. She has given two hundred fifty thousand dollars to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina on the American Gulf coast. And she is still not even twenty years old!
We leave you now with another hit song from Hilary Duff. This one is from her new album "Dignity" that was just released this week. It is called "With Love."
I'm Bob Doughty. Last week, we told you about the college men's basketball championship series called "March Madness." The final game was played Monday. The team from the University of Florida defeated the team from The Ohio State University to become the college basketball champion for the second year.
Last January, the Florida football team defeated Ohio State to win the college football championship. That makes the University of Florida the first school to win championships in both football and basketball in the same school year.
Our program today was written by Nancy Steinbach and Jerilyn Watson. Caty Weaver was our producer. To read the text of this program and download audio, go to our Web site, voaspecialenglish.com.
Join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA's radio magazine in Special English.