HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — It’s one of Hartford’s best-kept secrets: equine therapy right in the city’s north end.

“You usually see this in the suburbs, you don’t see this in the inner city,” said Patricia Kelly. She founded Ebony Horsewomen Equestrian and Therapeutic Center 36 years ago in Keney Park, after seeing for herself how riding horses as a child had its therapeutic benefits.

“Understanding that inner-city youth really doesn’t have access to these kinds of things, and that’s the horse industry, and it’s not cheap,” said Kelly, “so we wanted to bring these experiences and these opportunities to kids in the inner-city.”

Now she offers educational and therapeutic programs to kids in Hartford and beyond.

“I was told as a young African American male that we just hold our feelings in,” said Chaz Carroll, who participated in Ebony Horsewomen programs as a child and has since returned to work for them as an adult. “When they come here, this is their escape.”

Ebony Horsewomen is in the process of gradually reopening since Phase Two kicked off. Kelly said their services are so needed now more than ever. 

“Our focus is on youth because they’re under a tremendous amount of stress,” she said, “and with the George Floyd stuff going on, they’re quarantined away from their friends. The psychological fallback from that is going to be tremendous for a while to come.”

She says that time outside and on the farm can help relieve those stresses.

“Not everybody does well with talk therapy and horses have an excellent way of helping you get to the core of your problem and being able to express it and work towards some therapeutic goals.”

Patricia said they are accepting donations to help fund their programs.