photo by Katherine O. Rizzo

first published in the June 2021 Equiery

In partnership with City Ranch and the University of Maryland BioPark, the University of Maryland, Baltimore Community Engagement Center (UMB CEC) offered free introductory horseback riding lessons and horsemanship program for children ages 10-15 in the greater southwest Baltimore City neighborhoods.

The program runs for 10 weeks with 24 children attending. City Ranch founder Aheshmahk Dahn explained, “We had them come every day for two weeks so they could really get to know the horses. After that, they do one day for eight weeks.” The idea for the program, which brought nine horses, instructors and volunteers into Baltimore City, stemmed from a meeting Dahn had with Ashley Valis, now Executive Director of

Strategic Initiatives and Community Engagement at UMB but at the time was representing the Governor’s Office. “They wanted to be able to bring some sort of horseback riding program into the city and we did a one-day event back in 2019,” Dahn explained.

After several ongoing conversations with Valis, the whole idea came together this April. “The biggest value of this program is the children really got a chance to learn quickly and become more outgoing and confident as a result,” Dahn said. The program filled with a waitlist on the first day of registration! “We hope to do something like this again in the fall.”

For their continuous efforts to bring horsemanship into Baltimore’s city communities, City Ranch was named a Maryland Outdoor Ambassador by Governor Hogan on May 5. Naming Maryland Outdoor Recreation Ambassadors was a recommendation of the Maryland Outdoor Recreation Economic (MORE) Commission, which was established by Hogan in 2017. As part of the program, ambassadors continue working to enhance the state’s status as a leading destination for outdoor recreation.