Horse riding program teaches sport of kings to at-risk youth

Carmen Sharpe doesn’t let her children play outside their home in a dangerous, gritty section of Philadelphia.

So her 9-year-old daughter Marisol Jimenez cherishes the periodic escapes she gets through the Work to Ride program.

The nonprofit initiative helps at-risk children become equestrians while teaching them responsibility and respect. Founded in 1994, it’s located at stables in the city’s leafy Fairmount Park.

Participants receive horseback riding lessons and a chance to be on a renowned polo team. In exchange, they clean stalls, brush horses, shovel hay and droppings, and keep the stables running.

Sharpe says two years in the program has changed Marisol from a shy little girl to an outspoken young lady. Marisol is now a junior polo player.

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