“Founded in 1994, Work to Ride (WTR) is a 501 c3, non-profit community-based prevention program that aids disadvantaged urban youth through constructive activities centered on horsemanship, equine sports and education. The program is housed at Chamounix Stables, located in Fairmount Park, Philadelphia. This setting provides a unique opportunity to bring urban youth in contact with animals and nature. Work to Ride is designed as a long-term program for 7 to 19 year-old youth who must commit to a minimum of one year of participation. It is, however, expected that participants will choose to remain with the program through high school graduation. Work to Ride graduates receive help with college enrollment and most also choose to return to Chamounix to mentor new participants.
Work to Ride provides youngsters with a positive outlet for their energy and an alternative to negative “street” activities. Participants develop discipline, responsibility, and life skills through training, riding, and performing horse care and barn management chores. They also develop confidence, self-esteem, and the skills necessary to complete successfully in their chosen activities. The youth are allowed to choose among various horse sports. While most are trained and talented in several sports, polo has proven to be the perennial favorite of Work to Ride youth. In addition to acquisition of life-skills, Work to Ride also emphasizes the necessity of academic achievement. Staff and volunteers provide after-school tutoring to help students maintain the passing grades required for program participation.
Work To Ride programs and activities are designed to explore new ways of engaging youth in significant educational, social and cultural experiences that are otherwise unavailable. The youth build relationships and develop problem-solving skills through spirited teamwork and cooperation. Activities at the stables as well as during competitions and trips allow participants to interact with diverse people and to be exposed to a variety of new experiences.
Additionally, Chamounix Stables becomes a ‘home away from home’ for participants. Spending time at the stable helps kids develop family-like relationships that become integral components of their lifestyles. Participation in Work to Ride teaches the youth that the combination of hard work and supportive relationships leads to success.”
“It is difficult to sum up in a paragraph what Lezlie means to me. To me, Lezlie is very much my superwoman. Since the first day I met Lezlie, I admired her tenacity and intolerance for accepting anything but the best in an individual. Her love for kids and animals is second to none. I know Lezlie’s passion for horses began on the race track, but not long after her love evolved into something much larger. In 1994, she founded the Work To Ride program; A Philadelphia based nonprofit. Lezlie would go on to change thousands of inner-city kids’ lives. I am one of them. For over two decades, she has opened doors and broken barriers. Most notably, leading the first all African American polo team to a National Interscholastic Championship.
We will forever owe her a debt of gratitude. I write this note with unconditional love. Lez, thank you for what you have done for me and continue to do for others. You are an inspiration.”
– Kareem Rosser, Work To Ride
“After reading the stories of the incredible women recognized on SheHero, I can unequivocally say that Lezlie Hiner is a worthy addition to this list of outstanding women.
I heard about Work to Ride about ten years ago, when my daughter, who was 16 at the time, asked if we could host a few of the work to ride kids who were attending the Cheshire Hunt Camp at our pool. That summer evening began our relationship with Work to Ride, many of the kids in the program and Lezlie.
Lez is the brain child of Work to Ride. However, not only is it her vision, she does everything from teaching the kids, to picking them up from school, driving them to polo meets & race meets and even some to college. Her success is directly related to her passion, commitment and dedication to these less fortunate kids from the inner city of Philadelphia. Lez runs a tight ship: You work so that you can ride, but more than that you must keep your grades up, be respectful and don’t get into trouble. Because of Lez, many work to ride kids who started in the program have gone on to good colleges and successful careers. This would not have been possible for them, but for her vision and commitment. Further to her dedication to the kids, is her dedication to her horses. Lez won’t send any of her retired horses off the property to retire. She wants to look after them herself!
Lezlie Hiner is the epitome of a SheHero and I am honored to know her and the kids of Work to Ride.”
– Evie Dutton, True Prospect Farm
“They say you should never underestimate the heart of a Thoroughbred, yet the same is true for Lezlie Hiner. So many of us in the horse community have been touched, healed, and inspired by our animal partners; but it takes a truly amazing person to be able to embody that love, and share it with everyone around them. Lezlie has taken her passion for horses, and changed the lives of so many inner-city children through her program Work To Ride. However, her reach is much further. Lezlie is an advocate for everyone she meets, an inspiration in her community, and a role model to anyone who has the pleasure of knowing her. I feel beyond lucky to have met such an inspirational horsewoman, and to have been touched by her overflowing heart. In her race to make history and change the world, she is winning and bringing her whole team with her.”
– Martha Anderson, Work To Ride – Cornell University 2016
“Lezlie Hiner is a remarkable person doing remarkable things for so many young people. Truly compassionate, looking to do the most good for those who need some honest trust and guidance to learn and mature into confident and aspiring young adults.
Lezlie provided, through her own ways and means, the opportunity for young people in downtown Philadelphia to experience relationships with horses and the sport of polo. Those relationships to horses, polo and people allowed deep learning and a healthy respect for the inherent responsibilities of being present and for making a significant difference in the lives of families and communities.
Lezlie is a leader by example – with the heart, soul and grit that creates a positive, long-term impact to make this world a better place to live.”
– Peter J. Rizzo, Former CEO United States Polo Association