A pen with five horses sits next to the playground at Samuel Coleridge Taylor Elementary School in West Baltimore. A group of children, from pre-K to fifth grade, stand outside the pen with eager smiles on their faces.
For most of these kids, it’s their first time seeing a horse up close, much less riding one. Seeing the joy on their faces never gets old for Ahesahmahk Dahn, the founder of City Ranch.
“It’s tear jerking sometimes, to watch them just explode with excitement,” he said.
Dahn started City Ranch in 2007 as a way to share his love of horses with others. He and a group of volunteers bring horses to schools like Samuel Coleridge to teach them about caring for horses and how to ride them.
They also do therapy rides, pony parties and horse workshops.
“We just put people and horses in the space and let them figure it out,” said Dahn. “The way these animals are peacefully co-existing in this space, the children can learn how to do that themselves as they grow older. They have that skill of compromise and working with others.”
City Ranch is one of hundreds of stables licensed by the Maryland Horse Industry Board, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary. The board also works to promote the state’s billion-dollar horse industry.
“It shows the great diversity of our horse industry, from the Preakness to Ahesahmahk Dahn bringing horses into the city so kids can learn about them,” said Ross Peddicord, the executive director of the Maryland Horse Industry Board.
According to Peddicord, Maryland has the most horses per square mile than any other state. Roughly 100,000 horses reside in this state.
Peddicord says the work that stable owners like Dahn are doing helps with their mission to make horses and horse riding a more prominent part of Maryland’s culture.
“It’s an amazing job that he does, introducing people to horses who normally are in an urban environment and usually never see a horse other than maybe an arabbers or the Baltimore Police Department’s mounted unit,” he said.
City Ranch is always looking for help, whether its monetary donations or volunteers. Click here for more information on how to help.