ROCKFORD, Mich. — Equest Center for Therapeutic Riding in Rockford took a whole new approach to National Reading Month this year, using horses to help more West Michigan students discover a love of reading.
Kelly Alcock is the program coordinator with the center and said, “It’s a positive experience for the kids. It’s a stress-reliever. It’s a surprise.”
For the first time, the Equest Center for Therapeutic Riding invited the public to celebrate National Reading Month.
“I’ve always wanted to touch a horse,” said Samantha, a fourth grader at Century Park Learning Center.
The students from Century Park were invited to the Rockford facility. That’s just one of the events they hosted with students across West Michigan.
Samantha told 13 ON YOUR SIDE she was “very excited because this is my first time with a horse.”
“While we’re here and used to seeing horses all the time, kids aren’t used to seeing a horse or touching a horse or being that close,” said Alcock.
The students met multiple horses with different personalities. They also got the chance to read aloud to a horse.
Alcock explained that, “It’s just a sense of empowerment. They might be shy at school to get up and read in front of their whole class but when they have the horse there, they pop right up and get their reading on.”
There was some interaction for the horse too, getting to smell the students’ hair.
Samantha said, “It felt ticklish.”
“The kids are smaller than we are. So, this is still a really big animal to them. So, getting that sense of empowerment and brushing them and being comfortable around them, letting their guard down a little bit, while boosting up their confidence at the same time,” said Alcock.
The Equest Center for Therapeutic Riding will be opening its doors to the public again next weekend for their Easter with the Equest Bunny event.
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