The Equestrians of North Philly

For more than 100 years, the Fletcher Street Urban Riding Club has been countering crime with a love of horses. The non-profit, based in north Philadelphia, provides a safe environment for local teens to escape a community overcome by gang violence and unemployment. Photographer Ann Sophie Lindström spent several months documenting the organization to complete her interactive project, “Don’t Fence Me In.” At first, the horsemen were not impressed by Lindström, but when she started sharing prints with them, they warmed to European photographer. “The horses give them an opportunity to get away from everything that is going on in their lives,” she said. “Horses can heal troubled souls. That is something I experienced myself.” [19 photos total]

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The stallion Dusty rears up as Jamil Prattis, 25, leads him to the lot across from the Fletcher Street Stables on Saturday, October 19, 2013. Jamil started getting involved with horses when he was 12 years old after he saw a group cowboys riding through the streets of North Philadelphia. He followed them to the stable. (© Ann Sophie Lindström) #
In 2005 the artist Joason Slowik created the mural "Big Sky Country" on a building on 3222 W Montgomery Avenue in North Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The mural unites elements of today´s urban landscape with the memory of Buffalo Soldiers. (© Ann Sophie Lindström) #
Tymeir Sanders, 17, stops by a friend's house on West Harold Street while on a ride with Rosie on Sunday, June 1, 2014. (© Ann Sophie Lindström) #
Stephfon Darnell Tolbert, 31, teases his pony stallion Harlem and makes him rear up on Wednesday, October 2, 2013. The pony is known for being aggressive when someone gets too close. (© Ann Sophie Lindström) #
There is no indoor arena at the Fletcher Stable, so the Urban Horsemen use the vacant lot across the street to train their animals. Edward E. Ward, 65, can be seen lunging his horse on Sunday, October 6, 2013. (© Ann Sophie Lindström) #
A horse is tied up in front of a vacant lot on Fletcher Street on Wednesday night, October 6, 2016. Horsemen bring their animals outside while they clean the stalls. (© Ann Sophie Lindström) #
Eddie Montgomery, 42, Jamil Prattis, 25 and the stable manager Edward E. Ward, 66, work together to unload a trailer of hay to stack in the stable's attic on Saturday, September 20, 2014. The horsemen usually buy hay from sellers outside of Philadelphia and pick it up themselves to avoid delivery costs. One bail costs between $3 and $5. (© Ann Sophie Lindström) #
Jamil Prattis, 25, sits in front of his house on French Street in North Philadelphia on Friday May 23, 2014. (© Ann Sophie Lindström) #
Stephfon Darnell Tolbert, 24, prepares feed for his horses on Sunday, October 16, 2016. The horsemen have tack rooms where they keep the supplies, feed and hay for the animals. (© Ann Sophie Lindström) #
Carleb Carter, 22, takes a ride across the street from the stables with his nephew Marquan, 4, on Thursday, May 22, 2014. (© Ann Sophie Lindström) #
Stable manager Edward E. Ward, 65, cuddles his horse Maverick on Sunday, September 29, 2013. (© Ann Sophie Lindström) #
Romere Burch,13, rides bareback on the stallion Ace N da Whole on Glennwood Ave in North Philadelphia on Thursday, October 3, 2013. He does not own the horse, but the Urban Horsemen let neighborhood kids take care of the horses and to keep them out of trouble. (© Ann Sophie Lindström) #
Donnell Glenn, 28, and Milan Ferrell-Garland, 15, lean on a car parked on Fletcher Street on Sunday, April 27, 2014. After the horsemen return from riding, they often hang out at the stable until late. (© Ann Sophie Lindström) #
Donnell Glenn, 28 takes a walk with his horse Cash on Monday, October 14, 2013. He said that he enjoys being out at night because the streets are empty and silent. Evening walks with Cash distract him from everything that is going on in his life. (© Ann Sophie Lindström) #
Stevie Spann, 50, checks on the horses before closing the stable on Saturday evening, August 22, 2014. The stables on Fletcher Street don't have automatic drinkers for the horses so the horsemen fill up their water buckets several times a day. (© Ann Sophie Lindström) #
To get shelter from the sun, Jamil Prattis, 26, Stevie Spann, 50, and Nate Benson, 40, sit inside a horse trailer to smoke on Sunday, May 25, 2014. (© Ann Sophie Lindström) #
Quarter horse mare Classic looks out of the window of her stall in Northwest Philadelphia on October 21, 2013. During the second half of the 20th century, urban stables thrived as the city abandoned industrial buildings. This made it possible for the horsemen to have rent-free or inexpensive stable locations. (© Ann Sophie Lindström) #
Fletcher Street has a reputation for being a testosterone-driven machismo environment. Bojack lifts a 165lb dumbbell while other horsemen watch on Monday, May, 12, 2014. (© Ann Sophie Lindström) #
Donnell Glenn takes his horse Cash out for an evening walk on Wednesday, October 9, 2013. (© Ann Sophie Lindström) #

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