Reading club kids read to horses

Patrick Boyce has a captive audience while he reads.

Did you know that horses are good listeners? Well, if you had been at Stone Meadow Stables in Sand Lake on Thursday, May 10, you would have seen it for yourself. The students from the Schools of Hope Reading Club in Belmont read to some horses who were wonderful listeners!

The Reading Club, funded by Heart of West Michigan United Way, is for first- through third-graders who need some help with reading. It meets Monday through Thursday at Holy Spirit Episcopal Church. One important part of the program is independent reading at their “just right” level. Everyday this occurs for at least 15 minutes. Well, on May 10, the students had very special partners, the kind that might say “neigh” or stomp a hoof to let you know they enjoyed the story.

This is the fourth year that Stone Meadow Stables has welcomed the students. It all started when the teacher, Mary Macomber, and the students brainstormed ideas for weekly themes. When the idea of a horse week came up, Macomber contacted Carli Noffsinger, a friend and fellow church member who had a horse. She thought it would be nice if her horse, Harley, could come to see the children.

Noffsinger said, “Let’s take the kids to see the horses,” and the tradition began.

At the stables, the owners, Tom, Nancy and Dan Armock, and others welcomed the students with open arms. Brandi Feasel gave them a lesson on horse safety, and she also introduced them to the different ways a horse’s feet move. The children got to meet the many different types of horses at the stable. After a short fill-in-the-blank activity, they were off to read to their new friends! Each of them had picked out the books they wanted to read, and the horses loved it.

The day finished with a picnic of grilled hot dogs, chips and cake provided by the Stone Meadow staff. Then it was time to say thank you, give the horses a quick carrot snack, and load onto the bus. Everyone who participated in this wonderful day had a smile on their face and stories to tell about the day the Reading Club kids read to the horses.

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