The Urban Equestrian Academy

The Urban Equestrian Academy is a social enterprise established in 2015 by Freedom Tariq Zampaladus, working to the mission statement ‘Connecting Inner City Communities to the Equestrian World’. The academy aims to make horse riding and all aspects of equestrianism more accessible to children and adults who otherwise would never have the opportunity to be a part of this fascinating industry. The academy focuses not just on riding, but also on equine care and utilising Equine Assisted Learning to help these young people develop a new range of skills and give them the opportunity to realise their full potential.

The academy’s first service is A.J.P.C which stands for ‘Azeezahs Junior Pony Club’; a unique afterschool provision with over 100 registered members and 30 regular members who attend weekly sessions on a Tuesday and Thursday, with sessions on a Monday and Sunday due to start from September 2018. These sessions alternate between riding, stable management and theory, ensuring that all members develop a well-rounded knowledge of equestrianism. As well as developing their equestrian skills and knowledge, this also encourages empathy, team work, social and motor skills and helps to build confidence.

Freedom – an accomplished horseman and author of the award-winning book “From the Hood 2 Horses” – established the academy after experiencing first hand the benefits of time spent with horses. After re-locating with his family from England to the Caribbean at the age of fourteen, Freedom ended up working for his uncle at his yard “Ocean Pacific Stables”, developing a keen love of horses, and a wealth of knowledge. Since then, Freedom has worked in many areas of equestrianism, most notably at the Arabian Stud farm “Umm Qarn Farms”, owned by former Qatari ruler HRH Sheikh Abdullah Bin Khalifa Al Thani. This knowledge gained working on such a variety of yards, coupled with his desire to help young people, led Freedom to launch the Urban Equestrian Academy, with the intention of making horse riding accessible to people from all walks of life.

Equine Assisted Learning, or Hippotherapy as it has been formally known since the 1960’s when the first official studies were carried out into its efficacy as an adjunct to physical therapy, has long been recognised as being both physically and mentally beneficial - even as far back as 460 BC when Hippocrates wrote that horse riding was one of the most advantageous forms of natural exercise.

At WeatherBeeta, we strive to be at the heart of the equestrian community, and an important part of that aim involves supporting enterprises such as this, to ensure that the equestrian community is accessible to people from all walks of life, and to help the next generation of horse riders, owners and grooms on their way. This year, we teamed up with The Urban Equestrian Academy to provide its members with affordable but high-quality clothing, footwear and helmets for riding, as well as donating jodhpur boots and chaps to ensure that children aren’t riding in unsuitable footwear and risking injury.

In May we attended an open day organised by the academy, held at Park View riding school on the outskirts of Leicester, to celebrate the success of their recent crowdfunding campaign to raise funds to purchase a minibus to transport children to and from the stables. This was a great opportunity for us to see first hand the work that the academy does, and to talk to the children about how much they enjoy their time with equines. Also in attendance on the day to support the great work the academy is undertaking was Peter Soulsby, the city mayor of Leicester, as well as ITV Central News who ran a story about the academy and its valuable work in the local community.

The academy continues to go from strength to strength, with Freedom and his team continuing to raise awareness and promote the benefits of the work they are doing.  He explains that the vision is for them to one day have their own land base headquarters and franchise right across the country starting with Nottingham and Birmingham. We at WeatherBeeta are looking forward to being a part of their journey over the coming years, and helping to shape the next generation of equestrian superstars.

If you are interested in getting involved, signing up, or finding out more about this wonderful enterprise, please see http://www.urbanequestrian.co.uk/ or contact the team direct either by email to info@urbanequestrian.co.uk or by telephone 01662 042 792