OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe horses of Jeremiah’s Crossing, a therapeutic horseback-riding ranch in central Wisconsin, are a diverse bunch. There’s Rocky, a Palomino quarter horse; Allee, the Bay Tobiano Paint; Sugar, an Appaloosa mare; and Chief, the resident Mustang, to name a few. All play a big part in the ranch’s mission to help children and adults with special needs.

At the ranch, established by Kathleen and Roger Harris in 2006, individuals diagnosed with physical, cognitive, emotional, or academic disabilities learn to ride horses at no cost. The Harrises believe that horseback riding is beneficial to body, mind, and spirit: It strengthens muscles, improves balance, and bolsters confidence, and it teaches relationship-building skills when the inevitable bond forms between rider and horse.

In addition to encouraging riders to canter and gallop, Kathleen—a former teacher—encourages the riders at Jeremiah’s Crossing to read throughout the summer. When she heard about Little Free Libraries, she knew that an LFL stocked with horse books would be a perfect addition to the ranch. The problem? Since they provide their services for free, they didn’t have the money to buy or build one.

Harris_1Not dissuaded, some of the riders (pictured at left) helped board member Kristin Kania apply for funding through Little Free Library. “Last year, our riders read books all summer long,” she wrote. “They chose a book and then wrote a letter about what they read. It’s great reading and writing practice, and they enjoy the opportunity to read horse books. However, in order for our kids to have access to the books as needed, we had to store them in a box—which didn’t protect them against weather and curious cats! The purpose and benefits of the Little Free Library solves this problem for us perfectly and will inspire our kids to read.”

A Little Free Library was happily donated to the ranch last year, and the young riders have been enjoying it ever since. “We are most grateful to the men who built our LFL and to the organization for considering our request to have it donated,” Kathleen says. “Because we provide lessons to our participants at no cost, finding the resources to purchase the LFL just couldn’t happen. We believe the LFL will bless many of our participants and their families in the future.”

If you’ve donated to the Little Free Library organization, the kids (and horses) thank you.

Margret Aldrich is a writer and editor in Minneapolis currently at work on a book about Little Free Libraries, to be published by Coffee House Press in 2015. Keep up with Margret and the book on Twitter: @mmaldrich, @lflbook.

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