Blog: The role horses played in shaping the person I am today

To mark National Trustees Week, Shauna Leven, talks about the important role horses have played in her life and why she joined the Ebony Horse Club Board of Trustees.

My happiest childhood memories are of my time spent with Sasha, my bay mare. Sasha loved peppermints and having her ears scratched.

I loved riding Sasha, grooming and feeding her, mucking out, cleaning tack and spending all my time at the stables where she lived.

Many years later, as a lawyer and a non-profit executive, I realise how much Sasha gave me besides wonderful memories.

She taught me about being responsible and punctual; about treating others with respect and kindness even in the face of frustration or pain. I also learnt that life is about taking the bad (mucking out stables) with the good (long canters in the paddock) and she taught me the value of money and time.

In short, riding and caring for Sasha taught me how to be a responsible, hardworking and empathetic adult – lessons that have served me well in all areas of life.

When I moved to London from New York, I was looking for ways to meet people. As a City dweller and worker I missed horses so I started looking for opportunities to make friends through equine opportunities. I came across Ebony Horse Club, and volunteered to help on the yard. I spent several months coming to Brixton on Saturday mornings, grooming and leading the ponies.

I found it immensely rewarding to watch the kids learn the same lessons about responsibility, kindness and discipline that working with horses taught me.

It made me realise how lucky I was to have had access to horses growing up. Without EHC, the children and young people living in Brixton are unlikely to have the same opportunities growing up in a disadvantaged inner city environment.

When I heard that EHC were looking for a new Trustee, I began to think about how I might be able to support the charity further.

As the Director of a small charity at the time, I had a solid foundation in charity governance, finance and fundraising, operations and programmatic work, as well as my background in law and my appreciation for the role that horses can play in a child’s life. I knew that my experience could play a valuable role helping EHC best serve local families.

Having been a trustee for a year, it is rewarding to use my knowledge and skills to contribute to the effective management of the charity, and delivery of its work. A key focus now is on helping EHC become financially sustainable so that the charity can continue to help those in need.

It is becoming increasingly difficult for charities to raise the funds needed to provide services that are not available anywhere else so it is a vital task for EHC. My fellow Trustees and I are working hard with staff to ensure that charity’s story is heard by people around the country, to generate ongoing financial support.

In playing my part, I hope that children will experience similar lessons that Sasha taught me for many years to come, through the horses and staff at Ebony Horse Club.

We rely on generous grants from charitable trusts, fundraising support and donations from individuals to ensure we can provide much-needed services and support to children and young people in the local community. Find out how you can help by visiting our support us page.

For more blogs and updates visit our news page