PETERSBURG, Va. -- School is about to start or has started for kids across Central Virginia, but in a big dusty barn in Petersburg, the learning has been horse-powered all summer for kids like Skyler Petras.
Skyler loves horses.
"Their personality. And like, I love to ride them, spending time with them. And I love how beautiful they are," Petras said.
But these aren't just horses at Cockade Stables. Owner Amy Grieco will tell you that they're also teachers.
"The kids are taking the labels of the parts of the horse that they learned yesterday and they're attaching them to the actual parts of the horse," Grieco said.
Amy said students develop confidence and critical reading skills in a fun and exciting way with a horse as their listening partner.
"They're reading directions to the horse and they're following the directions of the game they're going to do with the horse," Grieco said.
It's a barrel of fun that could help lead to better grades.
"The goal is to get them to understand that learning can be fun. It's fun to learn," Grieco said.
Amy said equine-assisted learning can be used to reengage students in academics as well as with high-risk adolescents in alternative school programs.
And she's not kidding about the horses being teachers too.
"They're a mirror to our emotions and our energy. And so they immediately give us feedback. We may not want that feedback, but they're telling us what we need to know about ourselves," Grieco said.