Read To The Rescues

Summer Reading Program

Read To The Rescues, is a groundbreaking literacy initiative and equine engagement program created by Educators for Unbridled.

The purpose of Read To The Rescues is to unbridle the joy of reading, improve reading comprehension, and to connect children with horses. It is volunteer run by teachers in our community and free to attend. In its first year (2021), over 400 readers participated in the program.

Readers brought their own books and selected books from the vast collection of horse stories in our Secret Forest Memorial Library. Each child reads for about one hour to one horse, and sometimes multiple horses. When young people read to a horse, the horse leans in to listen, gleans a kind eye, and offers an expression that beckons the reader for more. Over the course of a reading session, we have observed the shyest reader who can barely utter a whisper, become an animated storyteller in the presence of our horses.

"In the most vulnerable moments of reading, horses are friends who are accepting, genuine, and empathetic."

~Susan Kayne, CHES

After reading, children are provided with an opportunity to learn the rescue story of the horse(s) that they chose to read to, and to spend time grooming the horse(s) while learning about the responsibility of providing the proper care and nourishment for horses. 

The horses who take part in the program are all permanent residents in the Sanctuary at Unbridled.
This provides students the freedom to establish a relationship with the horse(s) and continue to follow the horse(s) over time. As our first summer program unfolded, young people who initially arrived at the behest of parents, fell so in love with reading to the horses that they came back week-after-week. What began as a quick trip to read a few pages, developed into repeat visits with young people, siblings, parents, and grandparents -- all of whom read to the horses and spent hours grooming them. Together, they embraced new concepts and gained a compassionate understanding of how horses experience their lives to carry with them into their world.

At the end of each Read To The Rescues session, readers reflected on their experience and received a bookmark featuring the horse they chose to read to. Each reader received a laminated Certificate acknowledging the book they read from, how they thought the horse felt during reading, and how they felt while reading to the horse of their choice.

  • Parents say they notice a significant improvement in the reading comprehension, confidence, and conversational skills of their children.
  • Teachers reported that the real rescue stories of the horses of Unbridled inspired their students to think creatively and critically to advance the care and protection of horses.

The popularity and impact of Read To The Rescues resulted in an Official partnership with the New York State Libraries, special mention in a Proclamation issued to Unbridled Thoroughbred Foundation by NY State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr., and a feature story on Spectrum News: 

In 2022, Unbridled and NYS Libraries will launch Read To The Rescues via zoom into Libraries across New York State in a series of virtual story time hours with the horses. In the Spring, the program will resume in person in the Stable (through November). 

It is our goal through Read To The Rescues to promote literacy, inspire academics and a love of literature, and increase engagement with equine from an entry point of compassionate care and kindness towards how the horse is experiencing his or her own life.