How a riding club counters crime with horses.

For more than 100 years, horsemen in North Philadelphia have been countering crime with a love of horses. The Fletcher Street stables provide a safe environment for locals to escape a community overcome by gang violence and unemployment.

The photographer Ann Sophie Lindström spent several months documenting the group to complete her interactive project, “Don’t Fence Me In.”

At first, the horsemen were not impressed by Lindström, but when she shared her prints with them, they warmed to the 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.”

A stallion named Dusty rears up as Jamil Prattis, 25, leads him to the lot across from the Fletcher Street Stables, October 19, 2013. Jamil became involved with the horses when he was 12 years old, after he saw a group of urban 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 “Big Sky Country” mural on West Montgomery Avenue in North Philadelphia. The mural unites elements of the city’s landscape with the memory of Buffalo Soldiers. (Ann Sophie Lindström)
Tymeir Sanders, 17, stops by a friend's house on West Harold Street while out on a ride with Rosie, June 1, 2014. (Ann Sophie Lindström)
Stephfon Darnell Tolbert, 31, teases a pony named Harlem, making him rear up, October 2, 2013. Harlem is known for being aggressive when someone gets too close. (Ann Sophie Lindström)
There is no indoor arena at the Fletcher Stable, so the horsemen use the vacant lot across the street to train their animals, October 6, 2013. (Ann Sophie Lindström)
A horse is tied up in front of a vacant lot on Fletcher Street while horsemen clean the stalls, October 6, 2016. (Ann Sophie Lindström)
Eddie Montgomery, Jamil Prattis, and the stable manager Edward E. Ward work together to unload a trailer of hay to stack in the stable’s attic, September 20, 2014. The horsemen usually buy hay from sellers outside of Philadelphia and pick it up themselves to avoid delivery costs. One bale costs between $3 and $5. (Ann Sophie Lindström)
Jamil Prattis sits in front of his house on French Street, May 23, 2014. (Ann Sophie Lindström)
Stephfon Darnell Tolbert, 24, prepares feed for the horses, October 16, 2016. The horsemen have tack rooms where they keep supplies, feed, and hay. (Ann Sophie Lindström)
Carleb Carter, 22, and his nephew Marquan, 4, take a ride across the street from the stables, May 22, 2014. (Ann Sophie Lindström)
Stable manager Edward E. Ward cuddles a horse named Maverick, September 29, 2013. (Ann Sophie Lindström)
Romere Burch,13, rides bareback on a stallion named Ace N da Whole on Glennwood Avenue, October 3, 2013. The neighborhood kids are encouraged to take care of the horses 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, April 27, 2014. After riding, young people often hang out at the stable until late. (Ann Sophie Lindström)
Donnell Glenn takes a walk with a horse named Cash, October 14, 2013. Glenn 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 for the 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)
Jamil Prattis, Stevie Spann, and Nate Benson sit inside a horse trailer to smoke and escape the sun, May 25, 2014. (Ann Sophie Lindström)
A mare named Classic looks out the window of her stall, October 21, 2013. During the second half of the 20th century, Philadelphia’s urban stables thrived as the city abandoned its industrial buildings, making it possible for the horsemen to have rent-free or inexpensive stable locations. (Ann Sophie Lindström)
Fletcher Street has a reputation for being a macho, testosterone-driven environment, May, 12, 2014. (Ann Sophie Lindström)
Donnell Glenn takes Cash out for an evening walk, October 9, 2013. (Ann Sophie Lindström)

This story originally appeared on The Atlantic.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. How To

    Against Little Free Libraries

    Does that birdhouse filled with paperbacks on your block represent an adorable neighborhood amenity or the “corporatization of literary philanthropy”?

  2. a photo of a Metro PCS store in Washington, D.C.
    Equity

    What D.C.’s Go-Go Showdown Reveals About Gentrification

    A neighborhood debate over music swiftly became something bigger, and louder: a cry for self-determination from a community that is struggling to be heard.

  3. a rendering of the moon village with a view of Earth
    Design

    Designing the First Full-Time Human Habitat on the Moon

    SOM, in partnership with the ESA and MIT, wants to accommodate research and maybe even tourism on the moon.

  4. a photo of a man surveying a home garage.
    Transportation

    How Single-Family Garages Can Ease California's Housing Crisis

    Given the affordable housing crisis, California cities should encourage single-family homeowners to convert garages into apartments and accessory dwelling units.

  5. A tent-like pavilion with a colorful stained-glass design in a cemetery at dusk.
    Design

    The New Art Galleries: Urban Cemeteries

    With their long-dead inhabitants remembered only foggily, historic cemeteries like Mount Auburn and Green-Wood use art to connect to the living.