Shariah Harris was 8 years old when her mom took a wrong turn in Philly's Fairmount Park neighborhood, and she saw other Black kids riding horses. They were with the Work To Ride program, in which children ages 7-19 participate in equestrian activities, get paid for stable work, and receive tutoring to maintain grades and enroll in college. Harris and her siblings spent hours at the barn, learning to ride, groom, and clean stalls. At age 12, Shariah joined the polo team and ended up playing mostly with boys. That challenge turned her into a very physical player with exceptional drive.
Work To Ride offered amazing learning opportunities, including trips to Nigeria and Argentina, and led to her acceptance at Cornell, where she captained the polo team for 3 years and earned a reputation as a formidable player. She got her degree in animal science, then went back to school for a registered nurse degree. She is playing on the Work To Ride team, sponsored by Melissa Ganzi, with British 10-goaler Nina Clarkin, Maddie Grant, and Caitlin Cregg, and scored the winning goal in a match on 2.7. (photo below credit, Candace Ferreira)
My favorite quote comes from the npr piece. Shariah says, "I hate to lose more than I love to win." That article has more about Lezlie Hiner (pictured below) who is also 'what an equestrian looks like.' (Photo credit: Windsor Johnston, NPR)
Why I Love This Story: It's the plot of half the horse stories I ever read, or wrote. A young person with disadvantages; a 'chance' encounter with horses; a stable as refuge; a wise mentor; add hard work, courage, and a supportive mom, and bingo! Several years later, 'instant success'! I also love how formidable Shariah Harris is, and how she rocks that polo helmet.