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Guest Tulse Hill

Horses Saving Brixtons Youths

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Guest Tulse Hill

Underprivileged children saddle up and ride out of inner-city hell


The streets of Brixton are a far cry from the rural stables and green meadows where Britain’s elite are accustomed to honing their riding skills.

A new equestrian school in the middle of one of the country’s most deprived districts, however, has sparked an opportunity for the horse-riding movement to shed its “toff” image.

Until now, the students of Ebony Horse Club in Brixton’s Coldharbour Ward, which has one of the highest crime rates in the country, have learnt grooming and theory on plastic horses with occasional trips to Surrey to experience the real thing.

However, The Times has learnt that the South London area is set to host the first inner-city riding academy for 30 years, after the British Equestrian Foundation (BEF) provided start-up funding in an attempt to show that the sport is not just for the upper classes.

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The initiative, which hopes to attract children who might otherwise become involved in gangs, has received royal support in an attempt to attract a wider range of participants.

Katie Price, the reality television star also known as Jordan, was last year recruited by Hoof — an arm of the BEF — to encourage more people to take up riding. With her background as a glamour model, she had previously struggled to be accepted in equestrian circles.

The Brixton project has attracted support from the Duchess of Cornwall, who became the Ebony club’s patron last year. She is expected to host a fundraiser for the project at Clarence House to raise additional money needed for the project.

David Gadsby, the BEF’s London representative, told The Times that the equestrian movement had long been seen as a sport for the upper classes but the reality was quite different.

“It is the most fundamentally inclusive of all sports because the horse doesn’t care whether you are white, black or gay. It doesn’t care what your background is.”

Olympics legacy funding of £200,000 will help to kick-start construction for the Brixton academy, which has received planning permission from Lambeth Council.

About £1.75 million is needed for the project, which will include stables for up to ten horses and will provide classes for 160 children a week. Currently it accommodates up to 40 children a fortnight.

Ros Spearing, who runs the Ebony club, said that the scheme was open only to children from disadvantaged backgrounds whose parents could not afford such opportunities.

She said that learning to ride gave children a focus and a skill, and instilled discipline. “It really changes their lives. The horse’s acceptance is unconditional. If you are kind to the horse, it will be kind back to you. It doesn’t care if your mother is a junkie, or if you’ve been excluded from school. If you respect it, the horse will respect you.”

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A girl I mentored is part of this. She loves it, its a good thing.

(I know ur slightly takin the piss)

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Nathan Foster was also involved in this.

Don't know why they are saying occassional visits to do the real thing, as some of the kids have participated in show jumping and pony club activities.

Brilliant Organisation, not just horse riding though they have done other outdoor activities with the kids too.

Took some of the kids to see my horses the look on their faces when they seen the sheer size of the shire was amazing. Fully supported! :Y::Y:

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