The Duchess of Cornwall spent Tuesday horsing around the gardens at Clarence House with some very special guests. It was all part of a visit with Ebony Horse Club, a community riding centre which Camilla has been president of since 2009.
The horse club, which is located in Brixton, “aims to help children learn new skills, develop aspiration and take on new responsibilities,” according to Clarence House. The club works with young people in some of South London’s most disadvantaged neighbourhoods, using horse riding to give children a safe place to go and an activity to help them improve confidence.
Camilla, who has been a horse lover since childhood, surely had much to discuss with the young riders who were welcomed to Clarence House for the event. She also greeted a horse called Splash, who seemed to be enjoying eating the grass before Camilla offered him a carrot snack.
Claudia Buchanan, a 16-year-old from Streatham, told the Daily Mail she was on the club’s waiting list for “quite a while” and has now been riding for six years. “It was a dream for me. Not a lot of people from our area ever get the chance to do it. It was an amazing opportunity. I have got to know so many people through it, none of whom would have had an opportunity to ride if it wasn’t for the club.”
One of the horse club’s riders, a 12-year-old boy named O’Shane, recently came home with a first place win after taking to the Ascot turf for a pony race. Four of their riders trained for the race this spring, and it culminated with O’Shane’s win in the 148cm race.
The Duchess also chatted with some alumni and supporters of Ebony Horse Club, including 18-year-old Khadijah Mellah, who is now training to ride in the Magnolia Cup at Goodwood this August, and Downton Abbey creator Lord Julian Fellowes, who is a supporter of the charity.
“It is trying to get these kids out of a situation where they have so few options and give them a different perspective,” Lord Fellowes told the Daily Mail. “Somehow getting on a horse seems to allow them to do that. It gives them a sense of control, which is often very attractive when you live a life with no sense of control, confidence and, of course, just joy.”
He added, “The Duchess has been on a horse since she was very young. She knows what riding gave her and knows what it can give these kids.”
“Here it is now going from strength to strength,” the Duchess of Cornwall said of the organisation. “The only thing is we now need an Ebony Horse Club in every major city.”