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Club Teaches Kids About Horse Riding and Life


Manuela Jimenez, 15, rides Splash in a riding lesson at Ebony Horse Club in Brixton, south London, Sunday, April 18, 2021. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
Club Teaches Kids About Horse Riding and Life
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From VOA Learning English, this is the Health & Lifestyle report.

Usually in school or in clubs, children are told not to horse around – horsing around means to act badly. But in south London, there is a club that loves it when students horse around.

The Ebony Horse Club is a riding school for children from poor families. General Manager Naomi Howgate runs the team that operates the school. With the help of volunteers, they give about 140 rides each week to children. They teach not only horseback riding but also important life skills.

Tasneem Aly, right, and General manager Naomi Howgate take the harness off Bailey after a riding lesson at Ebony Horse Club in Brixton, south London, April 18, 2021
Tasneem Aly, right, and General manager Naomi Howgate take the harness off Bailey after a riding lesson at Ebony Horse Club in Brixton, south London, April 18, 2021

The club recently reopened its stables. They were closed for months because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The program’s eight horses have returned to their home after a long rest outside London in East Surrey. Across the road from housing for the poor, young people are again learning how to ride.

Sia Bart, 15, trots on a horse named Joe in a riding lesson at Ebony Horse Club, April 18, 2021
Sia Bart, 15, trots on a horse named Joe in a riding lesson at Ebony Horse Club, April 18, 2021

They begin by learning how get on the horse, or how to mount. Then, they learn how to walk, trot, and finally canter the horses. These are specialized terms for how a horse walks or runs.

Mikhi Fearon, 17, rides Molly in a riding lesson at Ebony Horse Club, April 18, 2021.
Mikhi Fearon, 17, rides Molly in a riding lesson at Ebony Horse Club, April 18, 2021.

One of the club’s youngest riders is Shaddai Mcleod. The 9-year-old was very excited to be back in the saddle. He rides after school. But he joins the team on Sundays to help in the yard. He said he gets great satisfaction taking care of the horses: cleaning out the stables, grooming the horses, and measuring out their evening meals.

Shaddai Mcleod, 9, brushes Rose at Ebony Horse Club in Brixton, south London, April 18, 2021.
Shaddai Mcleod, 9, brushes Rose at Ebony Horse Club in Brixton, south London, April 18, 2021.

Shaddai recently received his first award for grooming.

His sister Zion is 13 and works just as hard as her brother. As she saddles up her favorite horse, Eddie, for her lesson, she says how lucky she is to be a member of the club.

Zion Mcleod, 13, spends time with Eddie at the club.
Zion Mcleod, 13, spends time with Eddie at the club.

“You would never think this was here in the middle of Brixton,” she said. Brixton is in a London neighborhood once known for racial tension, crime, and violence.

Zion Mcleod, 13, sweeps out the stables at the Ebony Horse Club.
Zion Mcleod, 13, sweeps out the stables at the Ebony Horse Club.

Along with riding close to home, Ebony Horse Club members take day trips to pony clubs in the English countryside. Before the pandemic, groups of children from the club had wonderful experiences. They also have traveled as far away as Sweden to ride horses. Several students who finished the program have found jobs in the horse industry.

Ebony’s senior youth worker is Radikha Nagar. She played an important part in keeping children and their families connected to the club during the pandemic.

Tasneem Aly leads Bailey back to the stables after a riding lesson.
Tasneem Aly leads Bailey back to the stables after a riding lesson.

The club has experienced an increase in children wanting to join. But it needs donations to survive. The cost of riding is based on the riders’ situation at home.

Donors have continued to support the club during the COVID-19 pandemic. But like other organizations, Ebony may experience money problems as the British economy recovers from the health crisis.

However, Howgate told the Associated Press that the horse club plans to continue to raise money “to not just maintain” but grow their activities.

Shaddai Mcleod is all smiles as he washes the legs of a horse named Rose.
Shaddai Mcleod is all smiles as he washes the legs of a horse named Rose.

And that’s the Health & Lifestyle report. I’m Anna Matteo.

Reuters reported this story. Anna Matteo adapted it for VOA Learning English. Mario Ritter, Jr. was the editor.

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Words in This Story

club –n. a group of people who meet to take part in an activity such as a sport or hobby

stable –n. a building where horses are kept, fed and cared for

saddle –n. a seat that is put on the back of horses

groom –v. to clean and care for an animal

maintain –v. to keep in good condition; to care for

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