Ellis Ferrell, founder of Fletcher Street Urban Riding Club, recalls his bull riding days at his grandmothers’ farm in Tallahassee, Florida early on. There was no other sport comparable to the adrenaline rush of a wildly bucking bull in his impressionable mind; that is, until he began watching westerns at the local theatre. Ferrell marveled at the bold powerful stallions racing across sweeping landscapes as symbols of saviors.
By the late 1940s Ferrell was riding horses on the streets of Philadelphia, renting them in Fairmount Park. Mastering equestrian skills over the years, Ferrell envisioned the sport as a unique opportunity to broaden the horizon of urban youth; teach them horsemanship, improve mental fortitude, physical stamina and develop attributes that could be applied to real-world competition. “Horse riding is not only therapeutic and instills discipline,” says Ferrell, “but it enables a sense of empowerment to the disenfranchised and those living in communities of hopelessness.”