June 2016 Issue - page 1

Vol. 23 No. 6
Our 23rd Year
June 2016
LANC., PA 17604
Work to Ride Success Story Shariah Harris Joins Cornell Class of 2020
By Crystal Piaskowski
Nestled far back amongst
the trees on a dead-end road,
a stone’s throw away from the
Pennsylvania Turnpike, sits
Chamounix Equestrian Center,
the home of the indomitable
Work to Ride program in Phil-
adelphia, PA. Established over
twenty years ago, Work to Ride
is a non-profit community-based
prevention program that bene-
fits disadvantaged urban youth
though constructive, educational
activities centered around horse-
manship and equine sports. Not
only do these eight-to-eighteen-
year-old students learn to ride
horses and muck stalls, but they
also go head to head against oth-
er interscholastic polo teams and
challengers to prove their mettle
on the competition field.
The Program
Executive Director Lezlie
Hiner is a no-nonsense, frank
woman with a hearty, throaty
laugh. She describes the pro-
gram and its approximately
twenty members with admira-
tion, stating that the reality is
rigorous work that often requires
long, forty-hour-week partici-
pation for the highly involved
members. “To make it in this
program, the kids have to be
pretty determined. It is not for
the weak of heart or for a child
that thinks ‘oh, this is going to
be fun, I’m going to ride hors-
es’,” said Hiner.
Work to Ride accepts
applications on a biannual basis
and requires participants to fall
within certain guidelines, such
as residing within Philadelphia
and maintaining a high level of
commitment. In the fall of 2015,
Hiner noted, the program only
accepted eight new applicants out
of the thirty who applied, and as
of publication, only four remain.
“They just don’t realize how
intensive it really is,” said Hiner.
“They were just not cut out to do
the work.”
After the first year, the mem-
bers generally spend five days a
week at the stables—sometimes
from dawn to dusk— grooming
and exercising their mounts,
maintaining the facilities, and par-
ticipating in events such as polo
matches, pony racing, jumper
shows, gymkhanas, and much
“There’s rarely a week-
end where we aren’t doing
something,” chuckled Hiner. If
by chance the students aren’t
traveling that weekend, there’s
a strong possibility they are
weeding and mulching the
garden, cleaning the bathrooms,
cleaning tack, or cobwebbing the
barn rafters. “It’s funny, but they
would rather clean the bathroom
or muck a stall rather than pull
weeds,” Hiner revealed. “I’m
In many ways, Work to Ride
is really about personal growth.
Not only does the program
support equestrian, educational,
social, and cultural opportunities
inner-city children may not have
been able to experience other-
wise, but it also fosters necessary
life skills like empathy for hu-
mans and animals, responsibility,
discipline, and task completion.
Students rotate the role of ‘barn
manager,’ an effective point-per-
son who completes more work
than anyone else as he or she
delegates duties, oversees the
welfare of the thirty-plus horses
in the barn, administers equine
medication, and accepts respon-
sibility for how the day runs its
The youth build relationships
and develop problem-solving
skills through spirited teamwork
and cooperation. Activities at the
stables as well as during competi-
tions and trips allow participants
to interact with diverse people
and to be exposed to a variety of
new experiences.
The Collegiate
Work to Ride stresses the ne-
cessity of academic achievement
and involved volunteers provide
after-school tutoring to help stu-
dents maintain the passing grades
required for program participa-
tion. “The high school graduation
rate in this area of Philadelphia is
around forty-five percent, maybe
a little higher for the girls,” stated
Hiner matter-of-factly. “The
main goal of Work to Ride is for
the kids to stay in school, do well,
graduate, and learn an equine
sport. Getting into college is the
icing on the cake.”
But that’s exactly what
Shariah Harris did. Harris, of
Lansdale, PA, joined Work to
Ride in 2007 at nine-years-old,
after her mother made a wrong
turn down the dead-end lane of
Chamounix. She is now accept-
ing, nearly a decade after that
fateful day, a full scholarship to
Cornell University to major in
large animal veterinary science
as well as a mallet to call her
own on Cornell’s women’s polo
“I was always a bit of a
tomboy; I like the rush of sports
and used to play football with
my friends,” said Harris. “I like
polo because it’s about how
good you are at the sport,” she
paused. “It’s a level-playing
Harris has certainly made
the most out of her time with
Work to Ride, participating
mainly in polo and traveling
both around and outside of the
country to collect accolades.
“From day one, Shariah was
extremely responsible and took a
lot of joy in working with hors-
es,” said Hiner with pride. “She
was heavily recruited by a bunch
of different schools and I am
thrilled to death that all of these
people had an interest in her and
she’s getting the attention she
rightly deserves.”
(Continued on page 21)
High school senior Shariah Harris rides Late Starter in the Field
Hunter division of the Thoroughbred Makeover at the Kentucky
Horse Park last fall. Harris embraced the hard work and high
standards required by the Work to Ride program for inner city
youth and was rewarded with a full scholarship to Cornell.
Photo credit: Lezlie Hiner
Man who transported ‘paintball pony’
found guilty … pg. 4
Wild Willowdale: Dead heat, tailgaters
dodge horses … pg. 24
British rider dies in tragic accident at
Jersey Fresh … pg. 23
…and much more!
Pastures & Fencing Feature!
Pages 6-17
1 2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,...32
Powered by FlippingBook