You don’t need to drive your kids out to the country to get an up-close experience with horses. Here in southeast Michigan, there’s a horse stable where you’d least expect it.
“In any of the history books, there’s very little that you would find about the buffalo soldiers,” says association president 1st Sgt. James Mills, age 78.
These were African-American soldiers, including former slaves, freemen and Civil War soldiers, who served during peacetime “with the odds stacked against them,” the association notes, serving and protecting a country that did not see them as equals.
“It’s an intimate part of our history that’s forgotten,” Mills says.
So at the Detroit stable, he and other volunteers welcome school groups, families and individuals to take part in a “History and Horses” program where they can tour the stable, see the horses, learn about the buffalo soldiers and even meet soldier re-enactors.
“What we’ve found is that kids are like a magnet to horses. They don’t want to leave once they realize that these are safe animals,” he says. “It’s an opportunity for them to get close and personal.”
The association’s volunteers donate their time to lead programs and maintain the Rouge Park grounds, stable and horses. Groups must schedule the History and Horses program in advance, but the stable is open daily for self-guided tours.
“They have to come out and see for themselves,” Mills encourages families. “If they’ve never been around big animals, or your kids have never been around them, bring them out and see what their reaction is.”
Buffalo Soldiers Heritage Center is located at 21800 Joy Road in Detroit and is open to the public from noon-4 p.m. daily, weather permitting. For more information visit them online.