Patricia Kelly has been a lover of horses since she was a young girl growing up in Hartford, Connecticut. After learning to ride at a neighbor’s house, she never looked back as she embarked on a life as an African American cowgirl who wanted to share her love for horseback riding.
After serving her country in the United States Marine Corps during the Vietnam War, Patricia founded Ebony Horsewomen in 1984. Her goal was to establish a cultural and social enrichment organization for women. After noticing the negative impact of drugs in her community, particularly with youth, she changed the mission of her organization to focus on helping inner-city youth.
With her own funds, Patricia purchased four horses and began teaching women and youths how to ride. Some of her riders would go on to help spread the message of Ebony Horsewomen by riding in parades and other showcase events. Her “Horse Sense” program has been very successful in teaching self-esteem, academic excellence and abstinence from drugs and alcohol. Patricia’s program continues to win numerous civic and community awards.
Today, Ebony Horsewomen, Inc. is a full-time nonprofit youth development and equestrian center. The organization serves 310 youths throughout Connecticut each year. Patricia continues to be a leading supporter of Cowboys of Color, while being one of the most well-known figures in the Connecticut horse community. In December 2014, Patricia was named a CNN Hero by the network.
Champion for change:
Ebony Horsewomen, Inc.
Kelly’s kids have a 100% graduation rate from high school and an 82% acceptance rate into college.