Some Mid-South kids are learning outside of the classroom this summer and in the barn.
To the passerby, with kids smiling and mounted on horses, this might look like your average pony camp.
But to these students at the Southern Blues Equestrian Center in Collierville, this summer they're experiencing something none of them have before: professional horse riding lessons.
The new Urban Equestrian Program is a partnership between the center and the city of Memphis. The program's first students from the Whitehaven Community Center are proudly now in the saddle and eager to continue their ride.
Partnership gives kids chance to learn about horses
To no surprise to McKrell Baier, who organized the Urban Equestrian Program and runs it out of her Collierville-based barn, these students have fallen in love with horses just a few weeks into their training.
"They're amazed! They just love it so much!," she said.
It's not just about riding. The campers from the Whitehaven Community Center are eager to care for the horses, even the not so fun stuff!
"When I picked up them up at the community center today, one girl asked me, 'do we get to scoop manure today?'," Baier said.
"Most times on TV shows, you see a horse kicking a person and I didn't want to make the wrong move and the horse get upset and kick," said one of the UEP students. "After grooming and riding, it's pretty amazing."
The students attended two classroom sessions in June learning about the history of horses and safety. After just two sessions at the stables, they've climbed into the saddle twice - and they're hooked!
Even when they're riding, the students are constantly learning. They're also required to complete a project about what they've learned at the stables, so they can become mentors at future camps.
"They have to have the perseverance to want to do well so they can help us be ambassadors for the next group of kids," McKrell said.
Southern Blues Equestrian Center Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Southern-Blues-Equestrian-Center/166475246836212
Rockin' on the Rooftop Aug. 17: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=209195799230823&set=a.166475543502849.1073741825.166475246836212