Vietnam War veteran and horseback rider Patricia Kelly founded Ebony Horsewomen Inc. (now known as EHI) in 1984 to help empower inner-city young women by having them tap into their inner equestrian. Today, the organization works to empower all through equine-assisted psychotherapy.
“It was clear that even though women needed something, children needed something more,” she said.
Eventually, EHI expanded to serving all age groups in its Hartford, Connecticut stable.
Because of the pandemic, demand for EHI’s services have grown.
“We have seen an uptick in every age group,” said Kelly.
Those who have registered for EHI’s services have come from far and wide. Kelly reported that the organization has seen clients from as far as Florida.
Licensed equine-assisted psychotherapists work at EHI’s Healing Horses Therapeutic Center to help at-risk youth and adults by providing an alternative to talk therapy.
“The reason why it works for any gender, race or religion is unlike talk therapy, it’s non-invasive,” said Kelly. “You’re not sitting trying to figure out your pain.”
In addition to its Healing Horses Therapeutic Center, EHI also offers a summer camp for children (which will go on this year), a dressage and leadership academy for girls ages 10 to 18, and an equestrian center that can be used for events.
Its most recent addition is the Mary Fields Museum and Conference Center.
Made possible by a grant, the museum will be inaugurated later this year. It was built to honor Mary Fields, a former slave who became the first African-American female Star Route US Postal Service mail carrier in the United States. She was also known as “Stagecoach Mary” for her horse riding skills.
“She was one of the many individuals who have contributing in the horseback riding field,” she said. “She was unorthodox, strong, and was no wilting flower. She stuck to her guns.”
The significance of being a black female stable owner in a field that is dominated by hundreds of mostly white owners is never lost on Kelly.
“There are many white-owned organizations in rural and suburban communities like this one,” she said. “Without cultural competency, it is almost useless to be working in this field.”
For more on EHI, visit https://www.ebonyhorsewomen.us