The Horse

English Listening Lesson

Listening level: 3
Audio file: 1:52 min
Story length: 270 words


Here is the listening file for this lesson.


The Horse

This is an old story from China. It’s a story about how people respond to good or bad events.

Long ago, a boy and his father lived on a tiny farm. They had one horse. One day, the horse ran away.

An old woman said to the father, “I feel terrible about this bad news.”

The father listened, thought for a moment and replied, “How do you know this isn’t good news?”

One month later, the horse returned to the farm with another horse. The new horse was big and powerful. Villagers stopped by to have a look. The old woman said, “You have two animals. You must be so glad.”

The father listened carefully and asked, “Can you be sure this isn’t a bad thing?”

Later that week, the son was riding the new horse. He fell off and broke his leg. The boy recovered, but his leg was not strong.

People stopped by the farm with gifts and good wishes, but the father wasn’t sad. He said, “Are you sure this isn’t good news?”

Some people thought the father was strange.

One year later, there was a war in China. Young men from every village were forced to become soldiers. The father’s son didn’t join the army because of his bad leg.

The war ended eventually. Many men from the village were killed. The son lived for a long time with his two horses.

This story teaches us a lesson. When good or bad things occur, we shouldn’t feel overly happy or unhappy. We should accept the things we cannot change and live the best life we can.

More Practice

Here’s a gap fill exercise. Download the printable worksheet (pdf file). Listen to the story and fill in the blanks.

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