A Baltimore program that teaches horseback riding to children may have to close after its CEO learned that the farm he has leased for more than a decade has been sold to a buyer who intends to turn the 22-acre refuge into a lacrosse facility.
Ahesahmahk Dahn, who opened City Ranch in 2007, said news of the farm’s sale came in late April, the same week Governor Hogan visited the Windsor Mill facility to issue him commendation for his community contributions and named him a Maryland Outdoor Recreation Ambassador. That same week, syndicated talk show host Tamron Hall filmed a segment for her eponymous show in which she highlighted Dahn for turning his “unbridled love of horses into a mission to saddle up city kids for success.”
The Tamron Hall episode based in Baltimore will air on Tuesday, as part of the host’s “Spring Refresh” week, and marks her first time on the road since the pandemic hit. Other Baltimore features include an interview with Orioles’ pitcher John Means, fresh off his no-hitter; and a feature on how the community rallied to support restaurants during the pandemic.
The horse segment features Dahn and his wife, Jean, both retired educators who have spent 30 years working with children in the Baltimore area. Dahn, a native of South Carolina who was raised in Baltimore, gained appreciation of activities for children from the time he played basketball in a recreation center at Mt. Royal Elementary School on McMechen Street. He eventually earned a basketball scholarship at Morgan State University.
Dahn also developed a love of horses in high school. After graduating from Morgan State, he got the idea for a horse ranch because, he said, it was different than basketball and would give children a chance for different dreams.
He also considered a sailing school for city children, but learned one already existed, so he focused on the equestrian program as a way to refocus and inspire youth and reduce crime. He said he also saw an equestrian program as a way to shift the narrative that shapes public opinion of Baltimore. “We are not going to fix everything,” he said. “We all have to be part of the solution.”
Dahn said he now works with about 2,000 children annually, which includes those who visit the ranch and his community visits.
City Ranch has 12 horses and two trailers, which he uses to take horses into communities in Baltimore City and surrounding counties. If he is forced to leave his current location, which he leases for $3,000 a month, Dahl said he will look for space to board horses in the communities he frequents. Dahn said he expects to meet with the new owners this week to see if they have interest in renewing his lease. He said he is hopeful.
In the meantime, Dahn said he is focusing on what he can control. Last month, City Ranch, University of Maryland BioPark and the University of Maryland, Baltimore Community Engagement Center announced a free introductory horsemanship program for 24 Baltimore youth ages 10 to 15 in the greater southwest Baltimore neighborhoods, which is running now through June at the BioPark at W. Fayette Street and Fremont Avenue.
Participants are learning basic horse skills along with lessons in leadership and critical thinking.
As for the Tamron Hall show, Dahn said he enjoyed filming it and is looking forward to seeing it when it airs. For the segment featuring City Ranch, Hall interviewed Dahn and Keola Edwards, a fifth-grade student at Powhatan Elementary School in Baltimore County, who volunteers at the farm. Hall, an avid rider herself, hopped on a horse and took a ride around the farm. “She’s a Texas girl. She knows how to ride,” Dahn said, joking that she did well on the horse, but lost her footing on the ground. “She did just like I would have done. She fell, kept rolling like falling was part of the plan.”
You hit the nail on the head. You captured the essence of the purpose of City Ranch. We are not going to solve all of Baltimore’s problems, we are however, going to be actively involved in changing the paradigm.
I think what you are doing is wonderful! My 3 kids all played lacrosse & there are plenty of opportunities around…not so much horseback riding! Wish you the best outcome ❤️
This is an incredible and very worthy program. Horses and children are a go in so many ways. When children learn how to care for, ride, and communicate with a horse, it inspires a challenge to learn to be responsible, develop numerous skills in terms of care, and instills patience skills that are invaluable. Kudos to this couple for giving of their time and love for animal and child!!! I hope this program can continue- it is and will continue to make a difference for all involved.
Please keep us posted on what happens next. This was an excellent story about something so very positive!!!
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