Riding for Reading Comes to Arizona
RELEASE: October 30, 2008
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: By Marnye Langer
Caitlin Houlihan and Little Joe (Janice Hischer, owner and trainer) took home the championship ribbon from the first Riding for Reading class in Arizona, and earned some money for her school’s library along the way. Collman Equestrian Productions held the class as part of the Scottsdale Fall Preview (October 16-19). Earlier in the day, Houlihan won the Low Junior/Amateur Jumper Classic on her own Double O Seven. The Riding for Reading class marked her first time showing on the flat. "I wanted to help my school, and it sounded like fun," she said. She earned a library grant for Scottsdale’s Mountainside Middle School library.
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 who competes earns grant money on behalf of his or her school.
Mountainside Middle School will get a second grant as Sam Waslewski, who also rides under Hischer’s tutelage was reserve on her pony, Texas T. "I ride four days a week," she said. "I love everything about it so much—the horses, and my friends at the barn. The class was a way to help the school."
Founded in 1997 by Penny Carpenter, Lisa DaValle and Marnye Langer, Riding For Reading library grants have impacted more than 500,000 school age students. Every rider in a Riding For Reading Class receives a grant to his or her school’s library, regardless of placing. Riders in the Top Ten receive larger grants to their schools.
Riding For Reading is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to promoting reading, literacy and education through equestrian sports and activities. In addition to special Riding For Reading ribbons designed and sponsored by Hodges Badge Company, the riders take home a bag full of goodies, including books, horsey gadgets and horse treats. In addition, Riding For Reading gives junior riders a rare opportunity to ride for their schools.
Two other pony riders in the class won Riding For Reading library grants for their schools. Katherine Scotford (Lois Whittington, trainer) on Zane Gray, a Welsh/Arab cross, and Sandi Baker on Jimmy Dean (Alicia McNeil, trainer) were both Top Ten. Baker’s sister, Terri showed the Thoroughbred mare Vanity to a Top Ten finish as well. The entire Baker family rides, and the sisters had their first horseback experience before they were a year old. "I was six months old when my parents put me in a backpack and took me out riding," said Terri.
For horse show producer Chris Collman of Collman Equestrian Productions (CEP), this class has special meaning. His older daughter, eight-year-old McKenna, is an eager reader. "Her favorite thing to do is read," he said. "Her goal is to read 1,000,000 words this year. The Riding For Reading Class fosters reading and education, and money goes into the school system. It’s a way for a sport that can be seen as elitist to give back to the community in a great way for a good cause. I’ve discussed holding a class with Marnye (Riding For Reading Founder and President) for a couple of years."
CEP plans another Riding for Reading class at its March show. With the help of Paige Waslewski, Sam’s mother, CEP hopes to get community involvement and local sponsors. "Riding For Reading is a unique event," said Collman. "Usually when horse shows or charities ask for donations, part of the money is for operational costs. Here 100% of the money goes to the community and the libraries. We’re hoping the locals will step up."
For more information on Riding For Reading, its programs, how to host a Riding For Reading Class, and donations and sponsorships, visit www.ridingforreading.org
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