Kids and Horses

Thirteen-year-old Jennifer Jones and 12-year-old Johnice Patterson slowly approached with a large leather bridle over their heads as the horse jerked away.

“Ru-pert,” Jennifer said in gentle rebuke as she struggled to show Johnice, a novice, how to properly bridle a horse. For some reason, Rupert was uncooperative.

Their instructor, Lelac Almagor, stood a few feet back, arms crossed and smiling.

“The hardest thing for me is not being able to help them,” she said, chuckling, before Jennifer and Johnice finally got the bridle on. It’s one of the many jobs they have to do each day before being able to climb on a horse’s back.

This is the KIPP AIM Academy equestrian team. Most of the students live in Southeast Washington and come from families of meager means, which would typically make horse riding — an expensive habit — off-limits.

But in two years, Almagor, an English teacher at the charter middle school who started the equestrian program, has managed to forge a sort of magnetic, magical connection between the kids and the horses.

Southeast equestrian team an unlikely outlet for kids,” The Washington Post, July 26, 2009