Black Cowgirl Uses Horses to Close Learning Gap in Children

Photo: (Photo : Facebook/Caitlin Ann Gooch)

A Black cowgirl uses horses to teach children reading and spelling. She founded Saddle Up and Read to help close the literacy gap in children.

Caitlin Gooch has been helping volunteer to teach children in Wendell, North Carolina, for years. She found that many kids have a hard time reading or spelling words. She knew she needed to do more after learning about the literacy rates in the US.

Racial Disparity in Children and Education

The 28-year-old told TODAY Parents that she found out that the Black children were behind their white peers. She thought that it was not okay, so she wanted to do something to close that gap.

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The Saddle Up and Read founder said that there would be no future if the kids are not reading. She had been riding horses after her father taught her how. Now, she teaches other kids to ride them too.

Kids were more engaged in learning

Gooch found that after the kids knew she had horses, they were more eager to learn how to read and spell. She realized that the children were more engaged in learning after knowing that they could see pictures and videos of her horses.

The cowgirl explained that she would use the horse pictures as an incentive after the kids have read the book with her. She also noted that some children would want to come out of the farm to see a horse personally. She would then talk to the kids' parents so they could set something up.

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Saddle up and Read and Equestrian First World Problems for Dec 14, 2020 by Kemin Equine
Caitlin Gooch from Saddle up and...
Posted by Horses in the Morning on Monday, December 14, 2020

Kids could read to horses

It was then when she thought of an idea about letting the kids read to the horses. Gooch got the support of her husband, Jaquan Salaam, to launch Saddle Up and Read. Over the past three years, the nonprofit has had over 500 children read with the founder's horses.

Gooch would have the kids read either at the farm, libraries, or even in school. She never had a set schedule because she found that those who needed to learn had the hardest time finding transportation.

More at ease with the fun reading environment

She allowed the kids to read to the horses whenever they could get there. She found that the fun reading environment has been helpful to help ease and engage the children. The founder also noted that families also enjoy and see how they encourage reading at home too.

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Besides promoting children to read, Gooch also wants to let the Black children know that they could be equestrians. She had interviewed Black riders around the world from the podcast she shared with her friend.

In the Young Black Equestrians podcast, she has realized that the Black riders have not ridden with another Black person. Because of that, Gooch wants to tell the story of a different Black equestrian. She is now working on "Black Equestrians Color and Learn," a series of 12 coloring books.

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