Rescued horses help kids improve reading skills

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Kids and horses share a special relationship at a stable in Winter Haven, and it's paying off with better reading skills in school.  

Austin Olson is always excited to read to his best friend, Beaux at the Hope Equine Rescue.

Austin is one of many children who come to the farm twice a month to read to horses.

"They just look at you and just show emotions," Austin said.

"I think it is pretty cool to read to horses," said reader Leah Martinet.

Dani Horton, the founder of Hope Equine Rescue says the organization rescues abused, neglected and unwanted horses and rehabs them so they can go to new homes.

She says the Reading to Horses Program is a plus for students who struggle with reading.

"We get a lot of kids out here that are extremely shy and this builds their confidence because they can read to something that's not going to make fun of them, correct them if they mess anything up," Horton said.

Parents are happy for the positive impact the initiative has on their kids and horses benefit from the program, too. For Austin, the program has been a big success.

"I was reading on a four, now I am on a seven," he said.

The program is for kids kindergarten through 8th grade. Anyone who would like to visit or volunteer with Hope Equine Rescue may make an appointment by contacting Dani Horton at 863-287-7503 or