Miniature horse helps wrap up year of reading success
FAIRMONT, W.Va. (AP) — Torunn Radcliffe had never seen a horse in person.
That changed last Tuesday when the Literacy Volunteers of Marion County got a visit from Stormy the miniature horse, who came as somewhat of a reward for the students of the tutors of the organization.
“Six weeks or so ago she was talking to a tutor and said she had never seen a horse,” said Kay Nesselrotte, director of the Literacy Volunteers. “I asked if she would like to come and she was really excited about it.”
Stormy is a therapy horse from the organization On Eagles Wings, and she serves as an outside ambassador for literacy and mental health because of her compact size of 31 inches.
Stormy walked into the Literacy Volunteers building in bright pink shoes to promote her mission of literacy by having the kids read a book to her.
“She’s kind of our visiting ambassador because you can’t take big horses places,” said Nancy Hickman, a horse handler with On Eagles Wings. “We have a literacy program where we do a reading program in school systems, she’ll visit nursing homes, we go to Children’s Hospital in Morgantown once in a while; her purpose is to be able to visit people who aren’t able to come to the farm.”
Before reading from a book about horses put Stormy to sleep, kids were able to get acquainted with her and engaged in a discussion about the habits of horses, which was another reason Nesselrotte and the Literacy Volunteers wanted to bring her in.
“We explain about horses to children that maybe have never been exposed to a horse,” Hickman said. “We try to give the children more of an actual interaction with the horse on the horse’s level, as opposed to just petting the pony.”
Hickman led the kids - and some parents in attendance - through different information about Stormy, by first letting her sniff each person in the room before getting some petting from the group. Hickman then allowed them to lead Stormy around the halls by using what she described as “a little horse magic.”
“They get to pet, they get to groom, we’ve got bows they can put in her hair, and in a group like this we like to let the kids lead her,” Hickman said. “We talk about what the safety points are of being around a horse, and we try to make it as much of a horse experience and a learning experience we can for the groups that we visit.”
Hickman said Stormy just about always garners attention and extracts excited reactions from the kids she visits, and this one was no different. Despite some nervous movements at first, the kids settled in with Stormy after a while, and were sad to see her leave at the end of her visit.
The skills the students learned over their semester of tutoring also helped in their task of reading to Stormy, making Nesselrotte’s mission with the organization a success.
“There was no other reason for it whatsoever other than just to promote our program and have the horse come and visit with us,” Nesselrotte said. “It was just a fun thing we could do to teach our kids about horses.”
Information from: Times West Virginian, http://www.timeswv.com