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Urban Equestrian Program


McKrell and Christian Baier of Southern Blues Equestrian Center (SBEC), Collierville, TN, have embarked on a new venture. Partnering with the City of Memphis, they are starting an Urban Equestrian Program (UEP) to introduce and educate children about working with horses. It is slated to begin in the summer 2013 in conjunction with the City’s existing summer camp programs. It is available to children ages 6-18 who might not otherwise have the opportunity to spend time with horses in a professional, rural setting.

The program incorporates classroom work and demonstrations held at the Whitehaven Community Center, in conjunction with stable management instruction and riding lessons at SBEC. The curriculum couples theory lessons with practical experiences to teach all aspects of equestrian history, horse care, and training of horse and rider. Using lectures, demonstrations, worksheets, projects, and exercises, both with and without horses, experienced and qualified instructors will cover the material, ensuring safety in every situation. Learning the skills of good horsemanship will also teach the children important life skills, such as patience, responsibility, and self confidence.

The UEP will be a non profit 501(c)(3) organization, relying solely on private funding. The program will be available free of charge to participants, urban and inner city youth who generally do not have the opportunity to experience working with horses. It is currently being funded solely by SBEC, McKrell and Christian Baier. The Baiers will hold their first fundraising event on April 20, 2013 from 3 – 9 p.m. to garner more community financial support for the program. At the fundraiser, SBEC students and their horses will perform a musical quadrille, dinner will be provided, and live music from Memphis area artists in a tribute to Memphis music. There will also be a live auction of donated products and services.

Their primary fundraising efforts throughout the year will be geared around musical performances showcasing Memphis music and local musicians. By doing so, they hope to reach a much wider audience of potential program participants and sponsors by partnering with members of the music community.

Unfortunately in the U.S., equestrian sports do not have the wide ranging public appeal that other sports like football, car racing, or golf have. But in Europe, equestrian sports have great, widespread general public appeal. “Riding schools in Europe promote riding to everyone,” McKrell said. Here, few people outside the horse community understand the hard work, finesse, and skill levels involved in producing a successful horse and rider combination. The UEP, with a combination of exposure and education, will, hopefully, create more public interest and awareness of equestrian sports, plus create new avenues of interest and opportunity for the younger generation of Memphis in the beauty and excitement of horses in sport. “This will be a chance for inner city kids to learn the sport, vocational skills, life skills, and see opportunities for greater achievement,” McKrell added.

There are successful Urban Equestrian Programs in other cities, for examples, Fletcher Street Stables program in Philadelphia, PA; the Work to Ride program in Philadelphia; and the Mustang Troop at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, KY. Eventually, the Baiers hope their program will be such a success that it will expand through all 26 Memphis community centers.

For more information about this program or SBEC, contact McKrell Baier at (901) 219-7878 or e-mail: Watch for a segment coming soon on Fox 13 News about SBEC and the Urban Equestrian Program. The news crew was out filming at SBEC in late March.

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