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In Lesotho, aka the Kingdom in the Sky, a small mountainous enclave in South Africa, the remote, dusty village of Semonkong feels like the African “wild west”—maybe because of all the horses hitched outside tin shacks or the cowboys riding by draped in wool blankets. Here, the absence of drivable roads means the horse has overtaken the car: donkeys and sturdy Basotho ponies are the only reliable means of transport. In early October, the village is a hive of activity: it’s the day of the biggest horse race of the year. Riding may be a necessity here, but it’s also the sport of choice and an opportunity for young shepherds to compete against one another. Amid the general clamor at the end of the race, we meet this year’s winners: Kabelo and Mpho. Like many other 16-year-olds in the area, they’ve been riding and racing for years. Insufficient funds and inadequate horses have prevented them from competing outside Semonkong—but all that may be about to change…
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