Plan moves forward for Detroit Horse Power to build urban equestrian center in Detroit

Posted at 10:43 AM, Jun 12, 2024

A plan to bring a large urban equestrian center to Detroit's west side took another step forward this week.

Detroit Horse Power, the organization behind the plan, purchased a 14-acre property in the area of Fenkell Avenue and Linwood Street, after the Detroit Public Schools Community District board approved the purchase.

Hear more about Detroit Horse Power from its founder below:

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The site is where the Paul Robeson School once stood. It was destroyed by a fire in 2011 and demolished in 2012.

Also, Detroit Horse Power officials said the site plan approval was granted by the city of Detroit's Building Safety Engineering and Environmental Department.

Detroit Horse Power urban equestrian center - 1

The plan is for the site to be home to a new 26,395-square-foot urban equestrian center that serves Detroit kids through field trips, summer camps and after-school programs.

It calls for stables to accommodate up to 17 horses, an indoor riding arena, outdoor riding spaces, paddocks for the horses to graze, classrooms and community space.

Detroit Horse Power urban equestrian arena lobby

Detroit Horse Power was founded in 2015 by David Silver, who is a former teacher and competitive horseback rider.

Over the past several years, he and the organization have used horses to instill social skills for Detroit kids between the ages of 11-18, and have taken them to partner facilities outside of the city.

“When we set off on this journey to do something so out-of-the-box as include horses in a Detroit neighborhood to serve young people, there was no guarantee that we’d be able to secure an appropriate site in a neighborhood that wanted this to be a part of the community’s future,” Silver said in a statement. “To have these major foundational milestones achieved is something we’re very proud of. It’s affirming to have put in a lot of work and be one step closer to the organization’s ultimate vision and providing a future that kids in our community deserve. We’re committed to reaching our long-term goals to deliver great outcomes for Detroit’s youth.”

Detroit horse Power lobby rendering

Leairra Jones was in third grade when she first saw a flyer for the program.

"I saw that it had a pony on it and third-grade me was in love," Jones said. "I'm running home to tell my mom 'We have to do this!'”

It may have been the pony on the brochure that sold her, but it was the experience that kept her coming back. Jones even competed at the Michigan State Fair in 2017 and now will be working for Detroit Horse Power as a counselor this summer. She graduated from Cass Technical High School just last week.

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"I didn't know how to start. That was my first time around horses,” Jones said of when she first began. "It was a very small program, but to see it come to life like this means the world.”

Those programs are set to expand through the construction of the new facility. Detroit Horse Power said it has raised $5.2 million, with another $1.4 million pending, toward its $11.4 million goal.

The plan is to break ground on the project this fall.

7 News Detroit reporter Brett Kast contributed to this report.