MICHIGAN CITY – Springfield Elementary School brought a special treat for kids who live at Lakeland Estates on Monday, and it came on four legs.

As part of a 10-week summer reading and activity club sponsored by the school, students who live in the neighborhood were treated to horseback rides, right on their own block.

"Springfield Elementary is the school that kids at the Lakeland Estates community attend," Michigan City Area Schools spokeswoman Betsy Kohn said. "This summer, Springfield is bringing enrichment activities once a week to the kids/families there."

“We’ve partnered with Lakeland Estates for the past couple of years,” Springfield principal Lisa Emshwiller said. “This summer, we decided it would be fun for our staff to stop by to read to our students who live here, and to have some activity time with them.”

Monday’s meeting had an extra dose of excitement.

Counselor Deb Carpenter kicked things off by reading the award-winning book, “The Girl Who Loved Horses” by Paul Goble. Afterward, students worked with staff members to make picture frames for photos that would be taken later.

And then, it was time to ride.

“This is a dream come true,” said a thrilled Tinasia McLin, who was first in line. “I always wanted to ride a horse!”

Afterward, she described the experience as “Fun! Kind of like a roller coaster.”

The horses, along with materials for the photo frame craft, were provided by Transitions Equestrian Center and owner Melissa Ashcraft. Jan Wenig, grandmother of Springfield fifth-grader Aiden Huss and Krueger eighth-grader Eva Huss, works at Transitions and made the connection for the school.

Children as young as age 3 through eighth grade took turns riding and posing for photos as Ashcraft led them in a grassy area surrounding the Lakeland playground.

“It was curvy and bumpy,” reported a delighted Lindell Payne. His friend Giovanni Garrett joked that he felt a little like a cowboy.

The Springfield club meetings will continue at Lakeland each Monday at 1 p.m. through Aug. 5. Each week, sessions include story time and a craft or activity, and conclude with children choosing a free book to take home.

At the first meeting, students created a Peace Quilt. Future meetings will be centered on painting and “Christmas in Summer.”

The project is coordinated by Emshwiller, Springfield curriculum coach Julie Feikes, and Cheryl Webster of the Michigan City Housing Authority. Springfield staff volunteers at Monday’s event included Robin Endris, Deb Carpenter, Katie Krueger, Jenny Lux, Gayle Herrbach and Sheila Sobecki. Additional staff will be participating throughout the summer.

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