I am Caitlin Gooch. I am from Eagle Rock, NC. I live in Virginia but the horses and nonprofit reside in Eagle Rock, NC. My husband is in the Navy so we are temporarily in Virginia. Yes, I travel back and forth to run the nonprofit. It’s a six hour round trip. I am married, met my husband on Instagram a few years ago. I have three daughters, six horses, three dogs, and a rabbit. I have a container garden in our home in VA. I am the author of a coloring book called Color & Learn: Black Equestrians. Volume 1 is out now. It features 12 trail blazers. When I am in VA, I am working from home for Saddle Up and Read plus homeschooling my children. When I am in NC, I am spending time with family, friends, at the barn, and taking Man Man on adventures to read to kids. Saddle Up and Read is my full time job. I used to teach riding lessons to kids but I found I prefer teaching horsemanship classes. I am the co-leader of a 4H club I started called Happy Hooves. And I feel like I am leaving something out because I really do so much.
Saddle Up and Read
Saddle Up and Read is a nonprofit organization I started in 2017. It didn’t become an official 501c3 until 2019 when I applied. I saw there was a need to get kids excited for reading so I thought it would be great to combine horses and literacy. And it has been a wonderful idea!! It first started with me inviting children from the community to read to horses at the farm. Then I started to do a Black history month reading tour. Traveling to classrooms, libraries, and youth groups to read books about Black equestrians. When the pandemic hit, I decided to travel to neighborhoods with the books and my horses. Kids could get books for free and meet the horses. I also did this because the demographic of youth I wanted to reach, weren’t able to come to the farm due to transportation issues. Not every family has a car and not every family has parents home before 8pm (huge limitation). The word about Saddle Up and Read quickly spread in December 2020 and I am so happy to see how many people support it! This summer we will be giving 100 families home libraries and providing diverse books to new teachers. Kids really enjoy reading to horses. It changes how they think about reading. It makes reading fun. I hope Saddle Up and Read can make a significant impact on the literacy rates in North Carolina and one day the world.
I Love My Muck Boots!
I bought my first pair of Muck boots in 2018. I heard they were great for mucking stalls. At the time I was caring for 22 horses in our main barn. Our manure pile (more like a manure mountain) is a bit of a walking distance away so I was walking a lot. Walking and pushing a raggedy wheelbarrow full of manure. I saw the Muck boots in tractor supply one day and decided to just get them. They were absolutely amazing and I seriously wore them every single day. I am not exaggerating. I wore them to the store, to the barn, trail rides, on walks to the mailbox (we live on a dirt path), yes, I wore them everywhere. Due to the rapid use, my boots actually came apart before the anniversary of my purchase. My feet still didn’t get wet even with the sole coming off. I remember thinking, I love these boots so much I wore them out! Thankfully I sent in an email and the company sent me a new pair of boots.
MUCKPROOF, to me, means I can wear my boots to the barn, while riding horses, during 4H meetings, while running errands and my feet won’t hurt or get wet. When I put my Mucks on, I don’t worry about where I am stepping or what I am stepping in because my Mucks protect my feet.
You can visit the Saddle Up and Read website here.
Saddle Up and Read is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization based out of Wendell, NC.
Two-thirds of kids in America who aren’t reading proficiently in fourth grade will end up on welfare or in jail.
This disproportionately affects children of color. Even though millions of dollars have been spent on literacy in America, literacy rates have not improved. There are many factors to consider when questioning why this happens. One includes the lack of representation of diverse characters in books. Children read more when they see themselves in books. With the help of the community and supporters around the country, SUAR has created a library of books that feature Black equestrians.
Our program is committed to encouraging youth to read.