Riding For Reading Sets New Record at Los Angeles Event
RELEASE: September 9, 2008
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: By Marnye Langer
"Libraries are built over time, and we can always use all the help we can get for our libraries," said Hart School District liaison Pat Willet. Comments like these are usually completely unrelated to horse showing, but thanks to the Riding For Reading charity, and riders such as eighth grader Ashlyn Matheus, horses are helping school libraries in a very big way. With a record 55 riders competing for $10,000 worth of library grants, the enthusiasm surrounding the very special Riding For Reading class was palpable at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center on Labor Day.
Riding For Reading is a non-profit charity that supports libraries in schools around the country. The class, which is judged similar to a hunter pleasure class, is open to all school age equestrians and allows younger riders a rare chance to compete equally against their older junior counterparts. Every rider that competes earns grant money on behalf of his or her school.
After the "dust" settled after three different sections of riders worked, the judges called back the finalists for some additional work. After all the participant ribbons were awarded, and then the Top Ten, Matheus, an eighth grader at Ranch Pico Junior High, was named champion. "I thought the Riding For Reading Class would be fun, and I would be able to help raise money for my school's library," said Matheus. "When I got in the Top Ten I was really nervous, and when they called me as champion I almost cried I was so happy."
Two local school principals were on hand to help hand out awards and to accept boxes of donated books for their schools' libraries. Emilio Urioste is the principal of John Burroughs High School, and Bobbie Kavanaugh is the Principal of William McKinley Elementary. Both schools are part of the Burbank Unified School District. Both principals were impressed with the Riding For Reading Class, and with 3,000 students in his school Urioste was sure at least one must ride and show horses. "I'd really like to see a John Burroughs student in this class next year."
Langer Equestrian Group holds the Riding For Reading Benefit Show as a way to raise money for the charity and its literacy programs. "At a time when many schools are cutting funding for their libraries, this worthwhile equestrian program raises funds to counter that trend," commented Langer.
Classes at the one-day show ran the gamut, from ponies to open jumpers, and also included several important medal qualifiers, such as the USEF Hunter Seat Medal Class, and the CPHA Medal Class. Trainer Karen Healy proudly supported the show and coached her students to top placings in the aforementioned classes. "Reading is a very important part of my life, and I am happy to be able to get behind a program that promotes it," she said.
Terri Farley, author of the popular young reader series The Phantom Stallion
, proudly supported Riding For Reading by donating copies of her book to all participants in the Riding For Reading class. The Nevada-based Farley was on hand at the show to sign autographs and personally hand out copies of her book. "I really do think that this is such a creative way of attacking the literacy problem in schools," she said. "When I was down there over the weekend I was just delighted to see how happy the kids were to get their bags of books! The combination of horses and reading is fantastic."
The benefit show was also supported by sponsors Bob and Arlene Anders of Designs by Arlene. Artist Arlene Anders, known for her bronze equestrian statues, decided to give back to the horse community that supports them. "It's all about supporting education," commented Arlene.
Riding For Reading will wrap up its show season with one more class in October at the Scottsdale Fall Classic in Scottsdale, AZ. By the end of 2008, Riding For Reading will have made library grants to schools throughout the country benefiting more than 500,000 st