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The Horses in the Hood is a partnership developed over the years with the Horses in the Hood organization. It is a unique opportunity that 10 Summer Arts Camp students have the privilege to participate. They will learn to care for and ride horses while developing their leadership skills and connection to nature.

It is a FREE week-long program that takes place in Topanga Canyon hosted by Mill Creek Equestrian Center.


Horses In The Hood & Mill Creek Equestrian Center

By Rosie Lee Hooks & Rogelio Acevedo



The Watts Towers Arts Center Campus (WTACC) has served as a beacon of light and a nurturing safe haven in the Watts community for the last 55 years. Since 1961 local youth have been coming to the WTACC for arts education, cultural enrichment, and civic leadership. The 95 year old Nuestro Pueblo, Sabato Rodia’s Towers in Watts is the rich foundation upon which we stand.


WTACC youth have been participating in the week long horse camp directed and instructed by Horses In The Hood (HHLA) at Mill Creek Equestrian Center since the summer of 2013. Our students look forward to the opportunity to ride horses in the beautiful, peaceful surroundings of the Topanga Canyon Mountains.


From the moment we arrive, after a very long drive from Watts, on the freeways, inching along; to the first glimpse of the ocean, beaches, narrow winding roads going up; giant rocks, homes in the mountains, the coolness of the trees and the first sight of the horses; we are transformed to another time and place of peacefulness.


The visible fear that some of us exhibit, slowly begins to disappear as we have contact with the horses. We are introduced to safety equipment (helmets, boots, etc.) and the enthusiasm and thirst for knowledge and adventure take over as fear diminishes. Learning about tacking and all the equipment and rules that are necessary for a safe riding experience; and grooming that puts us in our first physical contact with the horses, begin to reveal the unknown and new experiences unlike any other.  


A myriad of feelings come to mind; awe of nature, fear of the unknown, trust in an animal, amazement at the experience, pride that exudes when overcoming fear, adventurousness that is encouraged, eager to try everything, thirst for knowledge, peace and oneness with nature, and thankful for the opportunity.


The techniques that our students learned are valuable skills that are applied to everyday life, such as learning to communicate and lead, overcoming fear and awareness of their environment. HHLA has opened the horizon to new possibilities and opportunities that many of our youth never imagined possible. Many come away from the experience interested in careers working with animals and in nature.


We thank Kathy Kusner for her insight and awareness of the needs of human beings, the owner of Mill Creek Equestrian Center who also understand that those who have much, have a responsibility to share; our teachers and staff like Manny, Glory and all the student teachers who walk with us every step of the way; and to the owners of the beautiful world class horses, who house their prize possessions there, thank you for sharing.


We are grateful for this partnership with Horses In The Hood and Mill Creek Equestrian Center providing our youth and ourselves the opportunity to continue learning and growing in a safe nurturing healthy environment.   

All youth students particaping at the WTACC are expected to work 10 hours per school year (October-June) in the GARDEN STUDIO GALLERY where they will be exposed to gardening, harvesting and general care for plants and animals . Special days will be designtaed for these activities. Dates are to be announced.

Gloves and Water will be provided. Please dress preferably with long pants and clothes that closed-toe shoes

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