MARION COUNTY – The Black Stallion Reading Project, a cooperative effort between the Ocala Horse Alliance and Marion County Public Schools, kicks off Monday, March 29, at 10 a.m. at the World Equestrian Center in Ocala.
With a staged event in Arena Two, this five-year partnership will be visually presented with special guests from the equine world including Bonnie Heath, Olympic gold medalist David O’Connor, Paralympic gold medalist Lauren Barwick, legendary female jockey Abby Fuller, and Bridging the Gap Farm’s Fabian Brant.
As well, four members of the Marion County School Board -- Chair Nancy Thrower, Vice-Chair Kelly King, Eric Cummings, and Beth McCall – will ride horses into the arena to start the event. The Marion County Sheriff’s Office Mounted Unit will also participate along with a special guest star.
Over the next five years, the Black Stallion Reading Project will harness horse power to encourage fourth-grade students to read, set goals, achieve, and become aware of job and career opportunities in the equestrian industry. The program links schools and horse farms and provides rewards and incentives for students to achieve their personal best.
During the five-year program, each participating fourth grader will receive a copy of The Black Stallion and the opportunity to experience a horse up-close and personal. For some, this will be their first encounter; for others, this could be their only encounter.
Media interviews, video opportunities, and information packets will all be available at the event featuring remarks from MCPS Superintendent Dr. Diane Gullett and Ocala Mayor Kent Guinn.
The World Equestrian Center is located at 1390 N.W. 80 Ave., Ocala, Florida, 34482. For more information, contact Ellie Trueman, president of the Ocala Horse Alliance, at firstname.lastname@example.org. All welcome.