Aspiring jockeys from South London are preparing to have their first taste of racing.
EHC is an inner-city charity that offers young people an opportunity to learn to ride and care for horses.
Based between tower blocks and a railway line in Coldharbour, the charity provides access to horses for more than 160 youngsters a week.
“We work with young, disadvantaged children and our aim is to open up life for them,” said Linda Hinds of the charity.
In May, EHC members visited Lingfield races, where they were given a behind the scenes tour and also presented prizes.
“Two weeks later, Clarissa Daly [PRA chief executive] got in touch with us to see if some of our members would be interested in pony racing,” Linda told H&H.
“We thought ‘this is really exciting’.”
Four young members aged between 11-14 years old have been chosen to take part in the scheme.
The aim is for them to compete in their first race in the spring on one of the charity’s ponies.
Julie and Patrick Scott from Appletree Stud in Banbury kick-started the training session in Brixton at the beginning of the summer holidays.
As well as mounted training, the youngsters have been strengthening their muscles using space hoppers and balance boards.
Ollie McPhail, the British Horseracing Education and Standards Trust’s lead education officer, also ran an Equicizer training session for members.
“They are loving it – absolutely loving it,” said Linda.
“It is another opportunity for them. We do quite a lot with them, they have been doing quite a bit of polo over the summer.”
On Tuesday (18 August) the young jockeys and ponies put their skills into practice on a gallops for the first time at Parwood Equestrian Centre in Guildford, Surrey.
The PRA runs a similar scheme at Appletree Stud near Banbury, Oxon, which started two years ago.
The idea behind it is to provide children who otherwise would not be able to try pony racing to have a go.
“From that, we then realised we could also take the scheme into inner cities,” chief executive of the PRA Clarissa Daly told H&H.
She added this gives more children the opportunity to try pony racing who might not have had the chance before.
“We are looking to show children that there is a whole wealth of jobs they can do in racing,” she said.
The programme started at EHC in July and is also running at St James City Farm in Gloucester.
Both centres have been provided with an Equicizer for the children to practice on over the winter.
The schemes are funded by the PRA with money from the British Horseracing Authority and the department for culture, media and sport.