By Bobby Ellis
As Mercy stood under the shade of a tree at Julius Marks Elementary (Fayette County), children lined up beside her, some giddy with excitement, others nervous.
“She’s so big,” they said to their teachers.
Mercy, a rescued Belgian draft horse, is rather large. She stands around 18 hands high – or 6 feet at the shoulder. The children nervously approaching to pet her barely reach the top of her legs.
Mercy is the spokesmodel for Take the Reins, a service learning program that attempts to show students different career paths within the equine industry.
“It’s about saving horses and the horse industry,” said Julius Marks Elementary Principal Lynn Poe, who is writing the curriculum for the project. “We want to allow the students to be subjected to jobs that the horse industry brings to Kentucky, especially because this is horse country. And it means the students are fostering a horse.”
The project came about after Poe was approached by staff members from the Equine Humane Center approached Poe to start the pilot at Julius Marks.
“This is a dream come true,” says Poe as she watches the students and Mercy, with tears in her eyes.