Ebony Riding Club

Can you remember when you first became fascinated by horses? Some riders are introduced to horses from a very young age, others take up the hobby when they are teenagers or adults. Whether you start your journey with horses as a child or as an adult, horses have an amazing ability to draw you in and capture both your heart and mind, for many people their interaction with horses can be life changing. Even for those that cannot understand the attraction of these enchanting animals, the following story gives a true insight into the powerful and inspirational effect horses can have on someone’s life…

Coldharbour Ward in Brixton, London, has some of the highest rates of gang and drug related crimes in the city. With high rates of unemployment and under-achieving academic results in schools, you can only imagine the difficulties children and young people face growing up in this area. Not far from Loughborough Junction on the edge of Wyck Gardens you will find an unusual sight for a built up urban area, Ebony Horse Club is located on a corner plot of the gardens and houses 9 horses along with a sand school and some turnout areas for horses.

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Ebony is not a standard riding school, it has been purposely built and developed to help disadvantaged children and young people in the local area, giving them the opportunity to work with horses. Ebony Riding Club is a charity-based club that relies entirely on donations to carry out the work it does. In 2002, after several years of organising youth riding trips in the area as part of Accra Youth Club, Ros Spearing began work on creating Ebony Riding Club. In 2007 planning permission was granted for a community riding centre to be built and Ros’s dream of helping her local community started to become a reality. The riding centre was then officially opened by HRH Duchess of Cornwall in 2011, since then awareness of the club and its work has grown.

Ebony Riding Club 3Ebony is providing help to 120 young people each week aged from 8 to 18 years old, of which 26% of members have disabilities. There are many inspiring stories to be heard from the children and teenagers that are part of the programs provided by the riding club. There are many skills that the horses help teach these young people that horse riders all over the world can probably identify with. The children at Ebony explain how working with horses has helped them with their self-confidence and communication skills with others. Many of the young people involved with Ebony come from disadvantaged and unsettled homes where they do not have strong role models to guide them, this is what Ebony can offer them. Ebony can offer them structure, support and most of all a family that is there for them. The young riders believe that the horses teach them how to be better people, to be patient, to be kind and to respect others. Most of all, the time spent with horses has encouraged them to be the best person they can be and to aim high despite the struggles they may face outside of the riding centre.

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In 2007 the realities of life in the Brixton area outside of the riding club were tragically highlighted when one of the club’s members was murdered in a gang related shooting. Nathan Foster spent a lot of his time at the riding club helping younger riders overcome their fear of horses. Nathan did not get on well at school and Ebony was the start of a new chapter in his life. Over the 12 years he spent at Ebony Nathan changed his life for the better and was on track to achieve more than he could have imagined when he first started at the riding club. Nathan was only 18 years old when he was killed in a street shooting.

Ebony Riding Club 5Ebony Riding Club provides an escape for these young people and supports them to become achievers, including setting them up with life skills that will benefit them for the rest of their lives.

“Ebony Horse Club pushes me to be more, and gives me time and space to let go of what’s happening in the outside world.” 14 year old member of Ebony

To find out more about this inspiring charity take a look at their website www.ebonyhorseclub.org.uk. On their website you will find more stories about how they have helped young people and details about how you can donate to the charity to help Ebony continue its work.