The world is at once vast and small. On a street in Philadelphia generations of people have struggled against seemingly insurmountable odds to preserve a tradition of horsemanship. An artist in Paris stumbled upon photographs of these urban cowboys and was fascinated by the juxtaposition of horses and cars in a large American city.
His visit to Fletcher Street Riding Stables turned into an eight-month odyssey, during which he photographed the people, along with the horses and the cars they had to dodge while they pursued their passion for all things equine. The chief curator of one of the world’s most comprehensive collections of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art, on a visit to Paris, discovered a selection of work featuring Philadelphia’s urban cowboys. Et Voila!
Serendipity brought the Fletcher Street Riding Stables, French-Algerian artist Mohamed Bourouissa, and Sylvie Patry, the Chief Curator of the Barnes Foundation, together. Urban Riders, the exhibition that showcases the people, horses and traditions of the Fletcher Street Riding Stables, opened in June at the Barnes (http://www.barnesfoundation.org/) and will run through October 2.
Life comes at you fast. And that’s just perfect for Shariah Harris, who made her debut in the sport of high goal polo this summer.
Speed is as much a part of polo as…well…stomping divots at halftime. “I love the speed,” the Cornell University student says, laughing. Polo ponies (not always ponies, but the alliteration works) race down the 300-yard field at lightning speed, chasing a ball that’s traveling at upwards of 100 miles per hour.
Fear? She’s immune. “Once you go out there and do your thing,” she explained—her thing being total focus on the action and the ball, “the nerves go away. I tell everyone to try it, because once they try it they become addicted.”
Harris was a substitute on Postage Stamp Farm’s high-goal polo team at the prestigious and very tony Greenwich Polo Club in Connecticut this summer. Her road to polo started with a wrong turn near Philadelphia’s Mann Music Center. Her mother got a little bit lost, and turned down a road that led to the Chamounix Equestrian Center. Instead of a dead end, this road opened to a world of possibilities, as Harris and her two siblings begged their mother to take a look at what was going on at the stable.
Heather Hollahan has been training horses since 2009. Here is her story in racing:
CF: Are you a Pennsylvania native? What is your background with horses and racing?
HH: Actually no. I'm originally from Rockland County, NY, and started legging up thoroughbreds at San Luis Rey Downs in California in the 90's. When I started training again I was based at beautiful Delaware Park. When Delaware started shutting down stabling in the winter I tried Florida one year, Penn National another and then Parx. I had a great winter there and never left.
Growing up I was the horse crazy girl in class. I worked at the barn after school, cleaning stalls just to ride. It kept me out of trouble because my parents always knew where to find me. Besides reading horse racing books like Black Gold and the Black Stallion I really wasn't into horse racing. When I was a kid almost all the horses we rode were off the track but other than that I had zero interest (in racing), I just loved all horses!
CF: How did you make the transition to racing and what did you think of horse racing the first time you saw a live race?
One old gray mare has found a new home thanks to the generosity and compassion of a woman who has never owned a horse before.
Stories of horse rescues can be heart wrenching. At the same time, a successful outcome warms the heart. This one is of particular interest because the rescuer comes from outside the horse world.
Norma Dobrowolski saw the work of Kelly Smith of Omega Horse Rescue online through the rescue’s website and their Facebook page. Although she has no real experience with horses, Dobrowolski felt drawn to help in some way and had made some donations.
“I had a little pony when I was a kid, but I don’t know that I ever rode it,” Dobrowolski said. “I love animals.”
She was particularly drawn to the picture of one animal, a black horse named Basic Black Lace. It was the 4th of July holiday weekend of last year, and hope looked slim for the horse that Smith hoped to rescue. Dobrowolski felt compelled to help.