In Coldharbour Ward, Brixton, you wouldn’t expect horseback riding to be a popular sport. Most believe that horses are something for the rich or privileged to enjoy, but that’s not the case. Ebony’s riders are just as unique as their stable, and each of them has a story to tell. With many of them coming from poor backgrounds, they haven’t had a chance to ride a horse, much less care for one.
The Ebony Horse Club is offering them a chance to do both. For 22 years, the founder, Ros Spearing, has been taking disadvantaged children horseback riding. Growing up around horses herself, she believed that riding is an exciting skill to learn. While the club started off with no stables or horses to call its own, a £1.75 million funding allowed her to buy Wyck Gardens.
According to the Telegraph, Wyck Gardens started off as a “two-acre strip of unloved land.”
Now, it’s home to several horses and a community of thriving riders. About 120 children ride there per week, with many of them paying only £7 per lesson. Some of the children even learn to play horseback sports like polo.
For children struggling with money, school, family, and mental illness, this experience is invaluable. One Ebony Horse Club member, an 18-year-old boy named Calvin Cassar, has become Ebony’s poster boy by speaking about how the club helped him. Six years ago, he was a troubled boy going to a special school. His life was hard, but Ebony made it better.
“I was going through a hard time at home, pretty distant from my family, not getting on with my dad. I’ve got ADHD, dyslexia, autism, anger-management issues – you name it, really. I would get very frustrated at myself, and then at everyone else. I spent a lot of time on my own in my room; I had meltdowns, and I wasn’t an easy person to be around.”
From the moment he got up on Buddy, a horse at Ebony, he wanted to keep coming back. He overcame his fears about riding, and formed a bond with the horse that would help him through many hard times. “When things were really tough at home, I could come here and cuddle the horses,” he said. “It helped.”
According to Naomi, trouble doesn’t last long at the club. “For the young people who come here, riding quickly becomes something they want to do – so they don’t want to act up, they want to fit in,” she said to the Guardian. “We hear from teachers about children who’ve started to behave in school because they don’t want to get a detention that will stop them from coming riding.”
By giving these children a chance at something new and unique, Ebony Horse Club is doing more than building confidence, it’s building dreams.