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She realized that most kids didn’t know much about the history of Black folks in equestrian sports, and sought to fill that gap as well. Since most children don’t have direct access to a local stable or horseback riding lessons, Gooch decided she would create opportunities for a handful of kids to visit her family’s farm so they could help groom the horses and take a riding lesson. Thus, Saddle Up and Read was born. Eventually, Gooch began loading her own horses into a trailer and bringing them to elementary schools across the state to teach kids about horses in a classroom setting. The only problem was, she didn’t own a truck or trailer at the time. So she put out a call on social media that went viral. Before long, Caves Farm in Maryland had donated a truck, followed by Double H Farms in Florida. Before the pandemic hit, Gooch had visited around 200 classrooms, and she was amassing book donations from strangers and organizations across the country.
Saddle Up and Read was created and founded by Gooch in 2017 as a direct way to help raise literacy rates for children in North Carolina. Gooch grew up on the farm, tending to her family’s horses and participating in trail rides every weekend as a kid. A voracious reader, Gooch eventually coordinated local events where she could read to children at the Wendell Community Public Library. She told the kids all about her family’s horse farm and her long history of riding horses and learning about them through the years. This inevitably led to kids asking to see photos of her horses she talked about, and she saw quickly how much kids responded to the subject. It inspired her to incorporate both reading and horses as a therapeutic approach for children to increase their literacy skills.
Gooch says one of the most common questions she receives is “why identify as a Black cowgirl?” instead of just calling herself a “regular” cowgirl. She laughs a bit before elaborating. “I say Black cowgirl because it needs to be stated, people need to be reminded that there are certainly Black folks who ride horses, and who are equestrians. It sounds silly to state it so obviously but if you open any major horse or equestrian magazine you probably won’t see any Black people shown riding horses. You mainly see white people in fancy clothes with expensive gear doing what I’ve been doing essentially my whole life. Representation, even at the barest minimum, really matters, especially for kids,” she explains. The sport’s history of exclusion can be reflected in its gear: Gooch notes the need for helmets that accommodate textured hair, for example. She recalls many times when her own afro or braids had to get squished down in order to fit in a standard helmet. Now that she’s teaching lessons, she makes sure to tell families about the best ways for kids to wear their hair upon arrival for lessons since there are no helmets that are designed this way (Gooch alludes to the fact that she may just step in and work on this, something I have no trouble believing she will do as soon as we get off our call). It’s not only the lack of visibility for Black riders that frustrates Gooch, but the way disabilities and all body types aren’t given the same space to thrive in equestrian sports. Gooch recalls the first time she saw a Barbie doll featured with a horse and later a book depicting equestrian Barbie out on a stable ride, holding the reins and sitting incorrectly. “I was like, Barbie, girl, you don’t need to be teaching anybody anything about horses! Who made this?” she laughs.
Product detail for this product:
Suitable for Women/Men/Girl/Boy, Fashion 3D digital print drawstring hoodies, long sleeve with big pocket front. It’s a good gift for birthday/Christmas and so on, The real color of the item may be slightly different from the pictures shown on website caused by many factors such as brightness of your monitor and light brightness, The print on the item might be slightly different from pictures for different batch productions, There may be 1-2 cm deviation in different sizes, locations, and stretch of fabrics. Size chart is for reference only, there may be a little difference with what you get.
- Material Type: 35% Cotton – 65% Polyester
- Soft material feels great on your skin and very light
- Features pronounced sleeve cuffs, prominent waistband hem and kangaroo pocket fringes
- Taped neck and shoulders for comfort and style
- Print: Dye-sublimation printing, colors won’t fade or peel
- Wash Care: Recommendation Wash it by hand in below 30-degree water, hang to dry in shade, prohibit bleaching, Low Iron if Necessary
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