Natasha Fuller immediately saw the great potential of horse riding for children in Kansas City’s urban core when her daughter took horse riding and immediately fell in love with it.
She saw how quickly her daughter became compassionate, caring and responsible for her horse. She also saw her grow confident in herself, despite some challenges while learning to ride.
“I can’t tell you how many times my daughter had been bucked off her horse – because her horse was crazy, but she just kept getting back on and had the tenacity to keep going,” Fuller said. “It’s really easy to identify ways that using horses could be a catalyst in neighborhoods and in the lives of other little people.”
Fuller began the nonprofit Show Me Riders Horse Club in 2013 to share the numerous benefits of introducing children to horsemanship and to help eliminate many of the barriers that prevent access to horse riding in the inner city.
One of the biggest barriers is the cost of owning a horse. It can cost anywhere between $145 to $175 each month just to have someplace to keep a horse, not including grooming and feeding costs.
Another barrier is the lack of places to actually go horse riding or learn to horse ride.
“Kansas City is a major metropolis with ties to horses and cowboy culture, but doesn’t have readily available equestrian services,” Fuller said.
Local services are especially limited when you’re looking ride horses recreationally, and even more limited when you’re looking for riding programs for children.
Since 2016, KC Parks and Recreation has allowed the club to host their annual October Ponies and Pumpkins, a free event where families decorate pumpkins and go on pony and wagon rides at the Little Blue Valley Park on 75th Street and Noland Road. She continues, so far without success, to press the City to allow the club to use park trails for horse riding.
Fuller is also working to secure a permanent home for Show Me Riders. For now, the club uses her parents’ 20-acre property where they keep about 14 horses for members and where participants of their new upcoming class will learn the basics of horsemanship.
Horsing Around: Horse Riding 101
Currently, the Show Me Riders have about 15 members who are 17 to 23 years old. Because of the pandemic, members aging out, going to college or moving away, that number represents their smallest membership ever.
To attract more young people to the club and the broader equestrian world, later this summer the club will begin offering a free, six-week course called “Horsing Around” for individuals eight-years-old and up to learn the basics of horse riding.
“Horsing Around gives us an opportunity to rebuild and refill our organization,” Fuller said.
While the club traditionally hosts clinics or one-time lessons, this is the first time they’ve offered a multiple week course.
Class participants will learn topics like horse grooming, saddling, barn safety, horse anatomy and once they’ve gained adequate knowledge, they will have the opportunity to ride. Fuller will also bring in guests each week who specialize in different horse-related topics to expose the children to other horse riders who look like them.
Fuller said she is also opening the class up for adults who are interested. “Even though the adults are there to learn, they can also be there to provide mentorship and provide another level of showing that it is not an anomaly that Black people want to learn how to ride,” she said.
Those interested in participating in the course should email: info@ theshowmeriders.com.
Keep up with Show Me Riders Horse Club on their Facebook page: www.facebook.com/showmeriders.