The power of the pony
by Bee-Picayune staff
Apr 24, 2012 | 984 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Bill Clough photo
Eight-year-old Dominick Maldonado, a student at St. Mary’s, hoops the bull’s head with a hula hoop. This was one of several activities that students were able to participate in conjunction with the Black Stallion Literacy Project. The project held its second part at the Bee County Expo Center on April 10.
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Reading led to rewards for more than 160 students at the Bee County Expo Center on April 10. The students got to do various activities that were part of Black Stallion Literacy Project.

Several weeks ago, Star of Texas Arabian Horse Club visited each of the schools involved in the program and gave the first-graders one of two books about Little Black the pony.

The children were also able to see Little Black at that time.

The club brings a real life pony when they drop off the books to get the children excited about reading. A couple of weeks after that, the schools have their day at the Coliseum, where they get to do fun activities tying back to the book.

The program was started in Beeville after members of the Star of Texas Arabian Horse Club attended a training in Waco to be horse handlers for the Black Stallion Literacy Project (BSLP). The program has since been changed to Horse Tale, and the Black Stallion portion falls under that umbrella.

“We saw the program and realized this was something we could bring to Bee County,” said program organizer and club member Virginia Cherry. “We pioneered bringing this program to South Texas. BSLP is a statewide program, geared to using horses to excite children to read and learn.”

The first year the program took place was in 2006, and just one school, St. Mary’s Academy Charter School, participated. In 2007, R.A. Hall Elementary School was added.

The program had approximately 160 first-graders who participated this year. Each child who participated received the two books about Little Black to keep. One of the books was received when the program visited the school and the students received the second book when they were at the Coliseum.

The books cost the club $10, and the club raises the funds with yearly donations from Beeville Rotary Club, private donors and club activities so that the club is able to give the books to the kids free of cost. The Coliseum is also donated to the group free of charge so that they can host their annual program there.

The club depends heavily on donations to keep the Black Stallion Literacy Program going every year.

BSLP was originally started in Florida in 1999 by Tim Farley (author’s son) and Mark Miller. The program gained popularity and is now put on in several states by non-profit organizations like the Star of Texas Arabian Horse Club.
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