Lezlie Hiner, founder of the Work to Ride program, believes in empowering youth and providing them with a safe space to learn and grow while also playing polo. The Work to Ride program is a combination of donated horses and hardworking youth, who are responsible for taking care of horses and cleaning the grounds. However, the main focus of the program is to encourage students to stay on track while building their self-esteem.
In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Lezlie Hiner spends her time at the Chamonix Equestrian Center serving as a coach and mentor to young children. Because the Chamonix Equestrian Center sits between two of the most crime ridden areas, some of the children involved in the Work to Ride program come from those neighborhoods, like 14 year old Marisol Jimenez who has been in the program since the age of seven. “Being in the program has kept me away from a lot of stuff like getting involved in drugs and gang-related things,” stated Marisol. “Being at the barn, I feel safe.” For Marisol, the program offers more than just the opportunity to ride horses and compete in polo, it’s also a life changing experience.