Caitlin Gooch is no ordinary cowgirl.
Oh, sure. She grew up on her father’s sprawling ranch. She’s been riding horses since she was three years old. She competes in relay race competitions. She’s a mom, too. Wife to a husband in the military. And she homeschools her three children.
Not so unusual for a cowgirl, right? But besides being a skilled horsewoman, Caitlin is an avid reader, and she grew concerned about the low literacy rate amongst Black children in her home state of North Carolina. So concerned she knew she had to do something about it.
She approached her local library and partnered with them to encourage young children to read. The plan was that for every child who read three or more books a month, they could sign up to be entered into a drawing to visit Caitlin’s father’s horse farm. There, the children were encouraged to read to the horses, and how cool is that? Studies show that the animals are patient, non-judgmental, and most importantly, improve reading skills.
The plan took off, but it wasn’t long before Caitlin hit a roadblock. Transportation to her father’s horse farm was challenging for the children and kept some of them from the coveted visit and reading sessions.
Undeterred, Caitlin decided to take her horses to the children. Armed with donated books, she loaded up the horses and drove to elementary schools, child care centers, libraries, church youth groups, and other community events across North Carolina.
Closing the gap for illiterate children has become her passion, a goal she works on every day. She’s received praise and mentions from such super-stars as Oprah Winfrey, Kelly Clarkson and Brad Paisley. She’s been featured in Vogue, CNN, and numerous major publications. She’s written a coloring book illustrated and relatable to Black children, too.
While the pandemic kept her from visiting the children on her literacy quest, she used the time to concentrate on fundraising with a GoFundMe campaign to help her buy land to build an equestrian center and library. Caitlin says “I believe building this space for them to be exposed to horses and providing books with characters who look like them will help push Saddle Up and Read to raise literacy rates in North Carolina.”
Nope. Not ordinary at all. In fact, Caitlin is pretty darned amazing.
Buy BLACK EQUESTRIAN on Amazon
To learn more about Caitlin and her work for literacy – https://www.saddleupandread.org/
Who do you admire that has made a difference in someone’s life, either through history or modern day?