Saddle Up Detroit event helps build rider confidence
Detroit — Riding a horse may have been on Renee Brown's bucket list, but as she mounted a mustang named Jake, her nerves got the better of her.
"I want off!" Brown, 62 of Detroit, shouted as she sat head and shoulders above a group gathered Saturday at the Saddle Up Detroit event that is part of ARISE Detroit Neighborhoods Day 2018.
But after some gentle words of advice from the experience horsemen and horsewomen around her, Brown and an ever-patient Jake slowly trotted off under the blazing sun Saturday afternoon.
"It felt good," Brown said of the ride. "They are gorgeous, these horses."
David Silver, executive director of the non-profit Detroit Horse Power which brought the event to Salsinger Playfield on Linwood, said horse-related experiences help people of all ages build confidence and develop perseverance, empathy and self control.
About 100 people attended the event with riders ranging in age from preschool to senior citizen. The four horses used for the event came from Cedar Ridge Equestrian Center out of Ann Arbor.
"Tons of kids are getting introduced to horses for the first time. It's been a great day," Silver said.
Charles Boone, with the Michigan Black Horsemen's Association, volunteered Saturday at the event, helping riders into stirrups and onto saddles. He encourages everyone to experience horsemanship as a way to truly understand a horse's demeanor.
"To bond with a horse and have it comply with you gives you a feeling of power," he said. "This gives you that personal experience."
During the summer, Detroit Horse Power runs free horseback riding summer camps for Detroit youth. During the eight-week course, Detroit youth learn how to ride, take care of horses and engage with guest speakers from equine professions, Silver said.
"These horse-related activities all center around social-emotional learning that set students up for success in school and in life," Silver said.
The host facility for the camp is Ringside Equestrian Center in New Hudson.
Kaira Clanton, 11, is a member of the camp and came out Saturday to watch her mother, LaTanya Clanton, and Brown, her grandmother, ride horses for the first time.
LaTanya said being in the camp has helped her daughter more patient and more cautious.
"It's been a good experience for her," she said.