Therapy ponies hoof it to local school

May 5, 2009 7:47:15 AM PDT
Students at one Delaware school are learning more than just reading and writing.

The unique lessons are coming from some unconventional teachers who show up complete with hoofs and manes.

At the Centreville School children love to play and they love to learn, especially outdoors where some of their teachers come with 4 legs.

The sheep here are probably talking about the newest additions to this school for children with learning differences. One is named "Duncan" and the other is "McNiel." They are both therapy ponies.

Teachers at the Centerville School were smart enough to realize their students would learn just by caring for the ponies. Both were donated by a program that places the animals with children who have special needs.

"People are looking outside of the box, they're looking at different tools that they might be able to use in their classrooms to get through with their kids," Patty Draper, from Personal Ponies Limited, said.

The little horses have already made a big difference to the children at the school. They've given the kids something to focus on other than their own personal challenges. Halley Baker thinks caring for the ponies gives her classmates a much needed break from the books.

"When they focus on that then go back inside, it helps them focus for learning at school," Halley Baker, 10, said.

The ponies have also taught the children responsibility.

Abby Carpenter, 9, told Action News: "You've got to brush them, you've got to bathe them and you've got to pick up their poo, it's really hard."

When the children are having a hard time emotionally, they've learned even more. "When you're sad, they can make you happy," according to Alex Clark, who is 10 years old.

Parent think the horses have been a big help, too.

"The school itself has enhanced her life and I think the horses just continue to add the magic value of the school," said Patti Bescript.

The therapy ponies have passed the test here.

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