Louisville Magazine

AUG 2019

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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32 LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 8.19 Horses kick up dust as they retrace their steps, carrying young riders inside the round red metal arena at the Louisville Equestrian Center in Taylorsville. A 17-year-old I'll call Dwayne watches from the nearby tack room, a squeaky overhead fan ticking away the slow summer afternoon seconds before it's his time to ride. It's Friday, the last day of this week's HOOF (Horses Offering Opportunities for the Future) Academy — a week-long non- profit summer program that teaches kids how to care for and ride horses. "Are they done yet? Are they done?" Dwayne asks as he cleans bridles hanging from the ceil- ing. He and a group of teenage boys from Spring Meadows — a residential facility for youth in the state's care — sing lines from Lil Nas X's "Old Town Road" between their impatient questions. Brooke Broders, a HOOF counselor with a long blond ponytail streaming out from under a baseball cap, looks at her watch. "Probably another 10 minutes," she says. Dwayne sighs and scuffs his two-toned By the Reins Kids get "turned loose" — in the riding arena and in life. By Taylor Killough Photos by Mickie Winters A BIT DEEPER leather cowboy boots on the dusty tack room floor. Halie Heller, a direct-care counselor at Spring Meadows, says Dwayne came to their facility wearing those two-toned boots, a pair of black sweatpants tucked into their tops. Before coming to Spring Meadows, Dwayne wasn't really from anywhere. He moved from house to house, state to state with his mother and siblings, staying with whoever would take them. e first few weeks at Spring Meadows, Dwayne was angry and he let everyone around him know it. If you wanted Dwayne to participate in anything, Heller says, he was rude, and would argue until you gave up. But that was four months ago. Today, Dwayne is quietly but confidently navigating the strange threshold of legally defined adulthood. One week isn't a long time to learn how to ride, but Dwayne is determined. At every learning station, his hand flies upward with both questions and answers. He observes the LEC staff while other kids take breaks on the arena risers. Dwayne and the Spring Meadows group know the younger riders are done before

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