Gwen likes reading. Reba likes listening.

Gwen and Reba

Reba likes getting dressed up. She likes being outside. She likes having stories read to her. Reba is also a miniature horse.

In fact, she’s one of the star miniature horses at Flames to Hope, an equine-assisted therapy program in Noble, OK, which exclusively uses miniature horses to connect with people. They work with people of various challenges, ages, and backgrounds. Reba is heavily involved with Flames to Hope’s Read at Ease program, which allows children who lack confidence while reading the ability to practice in front of mini horses.

One of the kids who reads to Reba regularly is Gwen. She’s been visiting Reba and Flames to Hope for awhile now, and in that time the results have been amazing. Gwen’s mother decided to put Gwen in the Read at Ease program at Flames to Hope in an attempt to boost her daughter’s reading level, acknowledging that the whole idea sounded a little weird at first. And when you look at the process, it can seem a bit out of the ordinary.

When Gwen comes in to visit Reba, she usually puts on a quick fashion show with the mini horse — dressing Reba in different clothing and accessories as a way to loosen up. Then the reading begins, and that’s where the true magic happens. Like Gwen’s mother puts it, her daughter is able to open up with the horse. Gwen can read to Reba, and she can make mistakes while doing it. She doesn’t have to worry about being criticized mid-sentence. It may seem like a strange way to learn on the surface, but the results have been hard to argue with.

Gwen’s reading performance has jumped up four levels in just four months, and her mother has noticed her daughter’s added confidence. Gwen really likes reading now. She even says that it’s fun to come out and read to Reba, and Reba never gets tired of hearing new stories.

Learn more about the programs at Flames to Hope

More Stories