Our History

Patricia Kelly’s story, and the evolution of Ebony Horsewomen, Inc., begins with a Jewish grocer who had a horse and wagon next door to a home newly purchased by Kelly’s parents in the early 50's. Her first friend in this strange new neighborhood was a grocer she knew as Mr. Fisher and his horse, who Patricia groomed and rode until its unfortunate death 2 years later in a fire.

Equipped with a newly cultivated affinity for the equestrian lifestyle and her imagination, Patricia later rode along the dusty trails with Gene Autrey, Roy Rogers, The Lone Ranger and Hopalong Cassidy, using an old Queen Anne Chair as her trusty steed and her father’s neck ties as reins. Patricia rode along during her favorite western programs every Saturday morning to her peril, perched on the arm of her mother's treasured chair.

As Patricia Kelly came of age, it was considered strange for a "colored girl”, with no available representation at her disposal, to fashion herself as a cowgirl.

After high school, Patricia joined the United States Marine Corp. After serving her time in the military, she returned home only to find that her passion and love of horses had deepened. It was then that she connected with a men's group in Hartford, CT… The Ebony Horsemen; who, for decades, had been a noted group of African-American horsemen, but whose presence was winding down in the area. She approached the president of the organization, hoping to satisfy her personal need to reconnect with the horses and found that effort to be the foundation of what is now known as Ebony Horsewomen, Inc.

In the fall of 1984, Patricia E. Lawson-Kelly and her youngest daughter founded and organized the Ebony Horsewomen. Ebony Horsewomen's newly minted membership attracted skilled equestrians from Alaska to Maine; women who appeared in parades, rodeos and horse shows all across America.

Ebony Horsewomen would soon become the first African-American all-female equestrian organization to be invited to participate in the Tournament of Roses Parade, in Pasadena, California in 1990 and 1991. The State of Connecticut Legislature proclaimed Ebony Horsewomen, Inc. as Goodwill Ambassadors and named the state as the official home of Ebony Horsewomen. 

Shortly after establishing itself, Ebony Horsewomen developed innovative equine-based programs to further its belief and mission as community leaders. The organization would eventually expand as a full-service equestrian and agricultural center, housing horses and other animals from which our young participants could develop a comprehensive equine and animal science education, along with the added benefits of Equine Assisted Growth, Learning, and Therapy.

FB IMG 1466209121316

 Ebony Horsewomen, Inc.’s staff is a group of dedicated, nurturing, licensed and credentialed therapeutic personnel, and riding and science instructors.

The organization serves about 300 youth annually. Our passion is the youth we serve and our desire to stimulate the development of their academic achievement and social skills, to drive wellness, and to develop their leadership and employment skills through horses.