The students arrived at Bee County Coliseum and split into groups, to rotate between seven stations. At the stations they learned about what type of feed and hay horses like, how to groom a horse, how to take care of a horse’s feet, and how to saddle and bridle a horse. A veterinarian spoke to them on horse health at another station. Then for fun, a calf roping station was set up for the children to toss hoola-hoops over a steer head. It’s harder than it looks!
At most of the stations a horse was available for the students to touch and stroke and at the end of each session the children were invited to read a page of the book “Little Black, A Pony” to the horse. That was a special moment. There is a definite connection between children and horses.
For the finale, a Black Arabian horse was turned loose to music and the wild accompaniment of the children. Each child then received a second book, ”Little Black Goes to the Circus,” also written by Walter Farley, to read and keep for their own.
The Black Stallion Literacy Project has proven results. Since its inception in 2001, the BSLP has served 200,000 first- and fourth-graders and 7,200 teachers in nine states. BSLP has found that when encouraged children with reading difficulties make rapid progress – once they surmount the fear of embarrassment or failure. Thanks to their out-of-classroom encounters with live horses (characters in their books, which they get to keep), BSLP children are not forced to read, they want to read.
First-grade teachers or parents who would like to learn more about this program, and would like to see it a local school, may go to www.bslp.org or contact Virginia Cherry 361-358-2320.