DRIPPING SPRINGS (KXAN) — This upcoming Monday, March 2 marks the birthday of children’s book icon Dr. Seuss. To celebrate, one Texas non-profit is having children read his books and others to horses days ahead of the date.
RED Arena is an organization based in Dripping Springs that aims to empower children with disabilities through working with horses. It was founded in 2008 with six children and one horse, and has since grown to serve around 150 kids a week in Dripping Springs. In 2018, a second location in San Marcos was donated to the organization.
As Red Arena grew, founder and executive director Jennifer Young worked to find new ways the horses could be used to help empower children with disabilities. A program was introduced to help kids build confidence and get excited about reading.
Red-y to Read
“We have had amazing success with this. I really didn’t realize how impactful it would be, not only for our participants in this program, which kids and adults can do but just kids in the community who are struggling a little bit at school,” said Young. “We’ve just seen some amazing success stories with how excited they’ve been. So they’ll come and read to the horse then they want to go home and read to their parents where maybe they struggled with that before, but they’ll read the same book then tell their parents about how the horse liked it.”
The reading program has since expanded to Red Arena’s sibling support program, where the brothers and sisters of participants get to spend some time reading to the horses themselves.
“Our horses are really special and they really know who their kids are and they kind of treat them differently, they are a little sweeter to them,” said Young. “I don’t know what it is just about the energy it just helps calm you to be near them and it’s very peaceful.”
Mother Alyson Dunn agrees. She has seen her son Noah, who is diagnosed with Down Syndrome, grow and learn with riding and reading to the horses at RED Arena.
“It really flipped things in my mind. To see him shine in a way that’s uniquely Noah… I hate to use the word ‘magical’ but amazing doesn’t seem to say it enough,” Dunn said.