901 Now: Whitehaven students exposed to equestrian through local after-school program

Published: Nov. 3, 2023 at 5:50 PM CDT|Updated: Nov. 6, 2023 at 10:04 AM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - A one-of-a-kind sport, not often seen in a lot of schools, continues to expose children in Whitehaven to the world of horseback riding.

Through Bridge Up Giddy Up, students get to experience a free after-school program with a unique track to learning all things equestrian-related.

And in year three, the kids just keep on coming back.

“You’ll have some of the most adrenaline rush times on the horse. And once you get off, you’re going to feel like you want to do it over and over again,” Zachary Hightower said.

Hightower is one of several students who was introduced to an opportunity he just couldn’t pass on.

“They’re like, ‘Oh, you ride horses? I didn’t know that. You don’t look like it, I wouldn’t peg you as that,’” Raven Robinson said.

Robinson is another rider who never thought her passion could lead to even more life-changing moments.

“I didn’t expect this, I was like, ‘I’ll go ride and then go home,’ but it’s a lot more responsibilities,” Robinson said.

Whitehaven High student Zachary Hightower and his horse
Whitehaven High student Zachary Hightower and his horse(Action News 5)

From stable chores to the arena to competitions, every day, the program aims to provide students with a chance to pursue a sport that’s often considered overlooked, exclusive, or simply expensive.

And for parents, the exposure for their kids is more than enough.

“She wanted to run track and play basketball, which is so traditional for our culture,” Demetria Robison said. “But I’m happy she’s being exposed to a different culture, and that grasp that she has on it is amazing.”

Amazing — and only the beginning for kids like Zachary and Raven.

“I want to be in the Olympics, I want to go very far with this sport,” Hightower said.

“I see myself being a more advanced rider and being more bound and more connected to my horse and putting more time and effort into it,” Robinson added.

There are 48 students from the Whitehaven community in the year-round training at the Southern Blues Equestrian Center with round-trip transportation provided weekly for each student.

To learn more about this opportunity, visit GiddyUp — BridgeUp.

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