Black-Led Nonprofit Uses Horseback Rides To Boost Literacy

Getting kids to enjoy reading is a tough task. One Black-led non-profit in North Carolina is using horseback rides and other equine activities to get more kids reading books and bolstering literacy in the community in the process. 

Founded in 2018 by Caitlin Gooch, Saddle Up and Read is on a mission to get more children of color reading by supporting schools, libraries and community group efforts in providing diverse children’s books to kids in Wendell, North Carolina. 

Gooch, whose family owns a 87-acre farm, reaches kids by packing up horses in a trailer and bringing books along, too. 

“Why not use that energy that they have when they see the horses to get them excited about reading?’ Gooch said in an interview with CBS This Morning. Late last year Gooch shared her story on Twitter and got over 70,000 likes and a multitude of shares. The real-life cowgirl and executive director even got a shoutout from Oprah Winfrey.

During the pandemic, Saddle Up and Read continued operating, collecting toys and books to donate to children for the holidays. Though in-person farm visits came to a halt, Gooch still made sure kids got books.

In addition to running the organization, Gooch co-hosts a podcast about Black equestrianship and released a coloring book that covered the lives of 12 Black equestrian pioneers. 

“It feels amazing to be that kind of representation,’ Gooch told CNN. “And I’m happy to share these experiences.”

Photo: Getty Images

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