Edited Press Release
August 29, 2023 – Last year, reading scores across the country declined to levels not seen since 2005, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Specifically, Black students fell behind with 56 percent not meeting basic benchmarks at a 4th-grade level and 47 percent at an 8th-grade level. Noting this disparity in her own community, Caitlin Gooch, known widely as “The Black Cowgirl,” founded the nonprofit Saddle Up and Read to improve youth literacy in North Carolina, particularly in communities of color. The nonprofit explores the powerful bond between people and horses through holding reading and story time events at her family’s farm, encouraging children to read in exchange for spending time with horses.
Every year, the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) honors animal heroes who have demonstrated extraordinary efforts, as well as individuals who have shown outstanding commitment to assisting at-risk animals. Encouraging more than 1,000 under-resourced children in North Carolina to read books to horses, Saddle Up and Read is now being honored at the ASPCA Humane Awards Luncheon on October 12th at The Plaza in New York City with the ASPCA Equine Welfare Award, which is given to a person or organization that combines inspiration, innovation, and collaboration to champion equine welfare.