BOONVILLE — Miss Lady, an Arabian horse who resides at Astoria Ltd. Equestrian Center in Boonville, began the day Tuesday one color, but finished the morning as a horse of all colors thanks to children from the elementary school.
Each year the center hosts a special literacy event called Horse Tales. This year students from Boonville Elementary School got to show off their creative side by finger painting on Miss Lady.
The program is a joint effort of Astoria, Boonville Elementary and the Boonville Public Library. The Friends of the Library sponsors the event each year, purchasing copies of books in the “Black Stallion” series for the children.
First-graders read “Little Black the Pony” and “Little Black goes to the Circus” and fourth-graders read “The Black Stallion.” Last year, students in the exceptional children’s class also began participating by reading “The Black Stallion.”
“This year the EC students got to read ‘The Black Stallion Returns,’” said Ginny Stametti, whose daughter, Victoria Shaw, is the owner of Astoria Ltd.
“The program is to encourage literacy and the children enjoying reading,” Stametti explained.
In addition to getting copies of the books, the students also have the opportunity to visit the horses at Astoria where they hear from horse-riding students on how to groom and saddle horses and other information about the Arabian breed.
“It’s wonderful to have them out here and they look forward to it,” Stametti said. “With them doing this now for several years, a lot of the children who came as first-graders have the opportunity to come back as fourth-graders, which is exciting.”
Shaw said she loves to see the children interacting with the horses she loves so much. She began riding horses at a very young age and it lead her to her career path of being a horse trainer and teaching horsemanship.
“From a professional standpoint, this is the foundation of our industry, getting people in this young, creating the love young,” she said. “For a lot of these kids, they’ve never even had the opportunity to touch these animals. To have them come into a working facility and see how these horses live and be able to touch and interact with these guys, it’s amazing and especially with the special needs kids. It’s amazing to see how calm they are with the horses and how much the horses also enjoy interacting with them.”
Shaw said the Arabian breed are very people-oriented. She said she also loves that the program has an educational focus with literacy. She said it’s great to be able to plant that seed of love for both horses and reading.
Assistant Branch Librarian Kristin Johnson echoed that sentiment. Johnson said she greatly enjoyed watching the students read aloud to the horses.
“I love that they many of them are getting to pet a horse for the first time,” Johnson added.
Kitsey Burns Harrison may be reached at 336-679-2341 or on Twitter and Instagram @RippleReporterK.