Horses, Little Hands and Big Smiles


News from the South Florida Trail Riders!

A small army of SFTR, Rodeo Assn, Posse & community friends stood in a line, each equine with two handlers for safety…as over a hundred first graders assembled before them for their Books & Broncs First Touch experience. As the eager child approached the horse, one could see levels of anticipation, wonder, anxiety, and awe – and with the guidance of the volunteers, each student was given a chance to touch a real horse for the first time. Each horse willingly let the little hands feel the warmth of a soft muzzle, stroke a flowing mane and pet a muscular neck. Each child was given ample pony-petting time, and encouraged to talk to & thank their equine, & then when smiling gleefully was directed to get their book, Let’s Rodeo, written by Taylor Pearce. And so even the most apprehensive youngsters walked away from the ponies with a big smile & an event that would be forever etched in their memory.

We wish to thank Dawn Pearce Cucchiara for organizing this amazing annual activity. As we said goodbye to the Redondo Elem students, we were cheered and thanked by waving little arms and a sea of smiles. Dawn would then take the students to the library for the first group reading of their book, as we loaded up the horses and moved on to Avocado Elem. Over a hundred more first graders thrilled to their first encounter with our horses, and their little faces beamed as the volunteers engaged the youngsters in conversation, information about the horse, and guided their experience. We could not provide this deeply enriching activity for so many children if it was not for the generosity of new friends, SFTR, Rodeo & Posse members who brought their horses to these schools and stood to help each child enjoy the magical moments with our four-legged friends.

The follow-up to this first encounter will be on Thurs. Jan. 17, 2019 as we will host all these hundreds of children again at the Kid’s Day at the Rodeo. We will need almost twenty horses and forty volunteers to have student hands-on grooming, reading stations, trailer & tractor activities, roping & farrier venues, cowboy history & equine anatomy and arena events to amaze the youngsters. Those who attended the schools are asked to return for this special event, 8:30am to about noon. But we will need many more volunteers to manage the stations throughout the Rodeo grounds. Please, if you can spare a few hours to share your time, talents and perhaps even your horses with these students, please contact Dawn Pearce Cucchiara (305-345-2357) or Bonny George, Jr. (305-233-1897). Again, a million thanks to our volunteers for the time, energy and dedication to the SFTR Books & Broncs community literacy project – and we hope to see you in Jan!

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