Horse has helped to transform the lives of children and disadvantaged young people at a groundbreaking inner city riding club.
When Mikhi Fearon first arrived at Ebony Horse Club as an 11-year-old, he was scared of the animals.
Now 17, he is not only a keen rider, but a young man with a bright future - thanks in part to one very special horse.
Splash is the pride of Ebony Horse club, a pioneering charity sandwiched between tower blocks in Brixton, south London, that gives children and young people the chance to take up riding.
For 25 years, the club has worked with some of the capital’s most disadvantaged communities and supports young people from the age of eight to develop a love of horses and also learn key life skills and self esteem.
Mikhi says: “When I first came, I was actually afraid of horses. But I soon grew to love them. It is such a unique location, there is nothing like it around here and has helped so many young people like me.
“Ebony has given me so many opportunities and skills. I have learnt so much about horses and nature and Splash in particular helped me gain so much confidence.
“At school I was really energetic and I did not know how to control that but through coming here, I learnt that horses react to your vibes, and it helped me calm down.
“I soon realised you couldn’t be excited all the time next to a horse, especially Splash, who can also be excitable. I feel like Splash is one of the nicest and most mischievous horses I have met. He is definitely a hero to me, he is the only horse who has helped me in so many areas become the man I am now.”
Ebony’s engagement manager David Fleming, says: “Splash is a gentleman. He has also proven to be very successful working with young people with additional needs due to his gentle nature. I have worked with many horses, and Splash is a truly unique and inspirational individual.”
Naomi Howgate, general manager of Ebony Horse Club adds: “The young people that we work with would not be able to access horse riding anywhere else. Lots of the kidshave additional challenges as well, and have been referred to us by social services, or they have challenges at home or at school.
“Splash so deserves this award, he has helped hundreds of young people to gain confidence in themselves and in riding. I could put someone on him who has never ridden, and they would be fine. He has helped those scared of horses, those who have a physical disability or additional needs, and yet he is so patient and kind and they know they can trust him. He is a total hero, and absolute star.”