Earlier this week, I swapped PR for ponies when I joined Ebony Horse Club on its annual outing with the Hampshire Hunt Pony Club. We receive a volunteer day at NBU. Thanks to this opportunity I was able to spend the day finding out more about Ebony.
I’ve been volunteering at Ebony Horse Club over the past couple of months after reading about it on the BBC (PR works!). The club was founded in 1996 by Ros Spearing, the former television researcher who is a keen rider himself. He didn’t see why equestrian activities should be the preserve of well-off children. His goal is to provide access to more kids.
Ten years on, the charity has grown to 79 active members. Up to 140 young people visit the centre each week. In 2011, The Duchess of Cornwall became its President. Ebony is located in the heart of Brixton, one of London’s most deprived areas. It provides the chance for its young riders to learn new skills and explore equine or veterinary careers. Having this opportunity can, in some cases, provide a lifeline for children who are facing significant challenges.
In an area which is still rife with problems, it is a safe haven. Children can have positive contact with horses. But also develop a sense of achievement and community to set them up for later life. It’s riding lessons and stable management, but also teamwork, discipline and learning to care for others. This can have a profound effect on young people in the area. Kids who are often the victims of unfair negative stereotyping.
For most of the riders at Ebony, the day out with Hampshire Hunt was a chance to be in the countryside and experience horse riding in surroundings they wouldn’t normally have access to. The day itself was filled with riding lessons, exploring the countryside on horseback, a BBQ, adorable Shetlands and plenty of dogs. However, managing all of this with over 30 children on ponies is a huge effort from parents, instructors and volunteers alike. Overall, it was a great success and a fantastic kick-off to the summer holidays.
It was truly inspiring to get to know the kids better as everyone bonded through their love of all things equestrian. Find out more about the charity or donate through its Virgin Money fundraiser!