Lexington students learning to ride through life

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – There’s just something about a horse that makes a person feel good, no matter your age. However, not everybody has access to the  animals, even here in the horse capital of the world.

A Lexington group has made it their mission to introduce students to the equestrian world to promote both academic and physical achievement, as well as a higher self image.

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Race Street Riders has weekly lessons out at Masterson Station Park.

The ups and the downs. We’re taught from an early age to never give up, and ride it out. Much like these students are learning to ride out the trot.

“They’re just very brave. Very brave for kids who have never seen or touched a horse before, to just come out guns-a-blazing, ready to learn,” says Brittany Thompson.

These fourth and fifth graders from Booker T. Washington Elementary School are the latest crop of the Race Street Riders. The nonprofit organization was started in 2017 by Brittany Thompson. She and her team give inner city kids the opportunity to work with horses.

Thompson feels very strongly about the bond between a horse and a human, “Horses are just … They’re just a beautiful beast. I mean, they just know you. They can read you. You don’t have to say anything, and they can read if you’re sad, if you’re happy, if you’re angry, if you’re not feeling confident that day. They will challenge you so that you will feel the right way.”

The eight-week program offers free weekly lessons, food, transportation to and from the park, and the attire necessary to ride. But according to those involved, the skills the students gained working with the horses are priceless.

“I have to say, there’s something really empowering when they get on a big horse, and they realize they can make that giant horse do what they like. They think they can do anything,” says riding instructor Georgia Ockerman.

The trust, responsibility, courage and confidence earned are all valuable, and perhaps even more so when you’re having a great time, at least to the students.

“The best part of being out on a horse is that you have so much fun, and you learn different things that you didn’t know.

My favorite part is when the horse trots, like when it goes fast.”

The ups and the downs. Both necessary components of horsemanship, but also for life. And for at least a couple hours each week, these race street riders sit tall in the saddle, knowing they hold the reins to control not only their horses, but also their futures.

Ockerman enjoys watching them gain confidence through riding, “Once they get it, they’re just thrilled. You know, and I … It’s a hard sell but you’re like, “You’ll know when you got it.” And they’re like, “Oh, well this makes sense. Thank you so much.” I think by the end, they realize they can do just about anything. That’s the best thing ever.”

Anyone wanting to volunteer and get involved is welcome.

The group is in need of donations for riding clothes, tack, snacks and other items for the lessons.

They are also hoping for a safe vehicle to transport the students to and from the lessons.

If you would like to help or want more information, you can email Race Street Riders.

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Amber grew up on the beaches of the Space Coast of Florida, but comes to Lexington from the Western Slope of Colorado, where she was the evening news anchor for the CBS affiliate in town. The change from flip flops to snow boots was a major culture shock, but she fell in love with the mountains, beautiful scenery, amazing people and endless opportunities to explore the western terrain. However, as a Gator and graduate of the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications, she’s excited to be in Kentucky and back in SEC territory. She feels fortunate to have spent almost two decades working in various aspects all across the country in the world of television. From news to film, TV, and commercials, Amber has always loved the close connection the industry provides with the community and enjoys bringing breaking news to viewer’s homes, helping keep everyone aware of what’s happening. Telling people’s stories is her passion, and she’s learned everyone has something interesting to contribute, and many of the best lessons come from the most unlikely sources. While in Colorado, she covered a variety of stories, including the major changes, issues and solutions as medicinal and recreational marijuana are introduced across America. Like many Lexington residents, horses are Amber’s first love, and she’s so happy to be living in the Horse Capital of the World. Equine Science was actually her initial college major, with the intentions of becoming a veterinarian, so she has the utmost respect for everyone in the industry. She was a member of the University of Florida’s Equestrian team, Block and Bridle Club, and grew up riding and showing horses. She was extremely active in the 4-H Equine Horse Judging and Hippology programs and even competed at the Kentucky Horse Park on various occasions. Amber can’t wait to get involved in anything and everything horse related in the area. Her other hobbies include running, dancing, traveling, hiking, exploring, reading and art. She loves sports and can’t wait to attend games here in town. Amber loves meeting new people and trying new things. Traveling the world has inspired a list of what to do, where to go next, and what adventures await. She’s hoping to jump right into the Lexington lifestyle! Please send any and all ideas and thoughts for stories, things to do and try, etc etc and connect with her on both Facebook and Twitter: @AmberFreemanTV or email at Afreeman@wtvq.com.