Understanding LUCK

Most traditional therapeutic riding programs are conducted in ways that define the population served as “less than.” In other words, “you” have a deficiency and that is why you get to work with horses and be healed—but you need us (the agency) to do that for you. Additionally, urban students in traditional therapeutic riding programs are bused to facilities in the suburbs or country, intimating that they are allowed access because there is a determination of need—again often based on deficiency or if “we” allow it. This method also suggests that a participant’s access can be taken away for a variety of reasons (loss of transportation, changing schools, being “diagnosed” as not “needing” the therapy). LUCK’s philosophy flips this premise on its head.

“Urban students in traditional therapeutic riding programs are bused to facilities in the suburbs or country intimating that they are allowed access only if there is a determination of need. This suggests that a participant’s access can be taken away for a variety of reasons–such as being “diagnosed” as not “needing” the therapy.”

By putting a stable in an urban setting, there is a sense that it belongs to the children in the area so, if they choose, they can learn about themselves through horses, help train horses, and participate in equine-assisted mental wellness programs. Thus, LUCK’s message is one of empowerment to the 5 – 19-year-old, able-bodied, at-risk youth attracted to our programs. LUCK lets them know, loudly and clearly, that we need them to:

1) work with horses and caring mentors to strengthen themselves physically and mentally so they can help others

2)  learn skills that require practicing compassion, self-compassion, and empathy 

3)  understand and practice verbal and non-verbal communication exhibited by horses so they can better advocate for themselves and others

4)  be willing to learn from others who have more experience so that one day they can teach others what they have learned. 

5)  trust adults and authority figures to help them set personal goals and work in teams to meet those goals.

6)  practice self-regulation and self-reflection to determine what brings them joy and allow that to guide their growth, developing talents and skills they value.

LUCK’s monthly programs are free of charge, and no children are turned away as long as we have the resources to accommodate them. Participants work with horses, some rescued from slaughter. LUCK’s three-tiered program includes: skill building, introduction to horsemanship, and fundamentals of horsemanship. We also offer workshops for students interested in related trades such as farrier work or braiding; internships; employment opportunities; individual lessons; and opportunities to compete.

Embedded in each programmatic level are fundamentals of Ohio Department of Education curriculum (math, science, physical education) as well as soft skills like critical thinking, communication, conflict mediation, teamwork, and negotiation.

Other Established Urban Equestrian Programs that have our outmost respect include:

  • Compton Jr. Posse, Los Angeles, CA
  • City Ranch Inc., Baltimore, MD
  • Fletcher Street Urban Riding Club, Philadelphia, PA
  • Detroit Horsepower, Detroit, MI
  • Work to Ride
  • More!

Further Reading:

  • “Crossing the Line: A Fearless Team of Brothers and the Sport that Changed Their Lives Forever,” Kareem Rosser
  • “The equestrians of North Philly”, Emily Anne Epstein, The Atlantic, 2017
  • “Detroit Horse Power: Urban Horsemanship Provides a Proven Tool for Changing Lives”, Nancy Kotting, Huffington Post, 2016
  • “Compton Jr Posse students pick horses over gangs”, Alex Michaelson, abc7.com, 2015
  • “Compton Jr Posse Fights Gang Membership on Horseback”, Caleigh Wells, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, 2018
  • “The Wire meets the Wild West: Urban cowboys tackle gang violence and drugs of inner-city America”, James Nye, dailymail.co.uk, 2012
  • “Working with horses reduces stress hormones in young people”, Katy Muldoon, The Oregonian, 2014
  • “Human-Animal Interaction and Metaphor in Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy: Empirical Support for the EAGALA Model”, Angela K. Fournier, Human-Animal Interaction Bulletin, 2018