ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – Elementary school students had a chance to practice their reading skills on Thursday with some very good listeners. The Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office brought in horses from their Mounted Patrol Unit as part of a new reading program.

(credit: CBS)

Red Hawk Elementary School students gathered in small groups to read the book “The Happy Police Horse” to six horses, including two miniature therapy horses. The book was written by Lt. Rich Anselmi, who heads the Mounted Unit, and illustrated by Deputy Mateo Montoya-Collis.

(credit: CBS)

“Reading aloud to the horses can help students feel more confident about learning, motivate them to read, lift their spirits and teach them patience, kindness and empathy,” said Lt. Rich Anselmi.

Deputy Montoya-Collis said the program helps kids develop confidence and relationships in the community.

ACSO Deputy Mateo Montoya-Collis (credit: CBS)

“This isn’t a one-time thing. This isn’t a one-trick pony,” said Montoya-Collis. “We want to make sure that for years to come this book can inspire kids to get involved with their community.”

(credit: CBS)

The deputies and their horses plan to visit other schools in Arapahoe County. The book is currently on sale through the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office. For every book purchased, the sheriff’s office will provide a free book for a child in need.