Our luncheon speaker on March 10th was David Silver of Detroit Horse Power, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit formed by him in 2015. His vision was to expand the opportunities for children in Detroit through riding and taking care of horses. David is from New York and grew up with horses. He competed in three day eventing, an Olympic sport that combines dressage, cross-country, and show jumping. He got his degree from Dartmouth College and joined Teach For America, who placed him in Detroit. David taught on the west side of Detroit and was influenced by the research on social emotional learning that helps to develop the character traits that underlie success in school and in life. The programs of Detroit Horse Power illustrate how horses teach perseverance, empathy, responsible risk taking, confidence, and self-control. DHP started with a two-week summer camp with 18 students and has grown steadily ever since, averaging 100 students in the summer months. For the present, they travel to the facilities of the DHP partners, but those barns can be more than an hour away. One of their closer partners is the Grosse Pointe Equestrian Center (formerly Grosse Pointe Hunt Club).In addition to the summer camps, Detroit Horse Power offers after-school programs with more than 20 students on Tuesdays and Thursdays and on weekends but again, the travel to the distant barns is a problem. Their goal has always been to have permanent home for riding and caring for horses within the Detroit city limits, and for several years they have been considering different sites. They ultimately settled on the 18-acre site at Linwood and Fenkell, the former site of Paul Robeson Academy, off the Lodge Freeway. After lengthy negotiations, they finalized a lease from the Detroit Board of Education last October. They hope to open the facility by early 2023, after constructing stables for 25 horses, indoor and outdoor riding spaces, and fenced paddocks. They have engaged architects, planned an environmental assessment, and started a $5 million capital campaign. David invited us to their annual gala held in November of each year.
In his question and answer session, David told us how they plan to acquire horses by donation, but of course the cost of maintaining the horses will be high. In order to continue to make their programs free to Detroit students, they are exploring various partnership and funding possibilities. Although DHP has a staff of three, most of the teaching is done by volunteers.
For more information, see the Detroit Horse Power website here.