Our History

Taking The Reins was founded in 1998 by two horsewomen, Judith Hopkins and Debra Avery. These two amazing women recognized the extraordinary potential of an equine-based educational program for L.A.’s under-served, urban girls.

TTR’s first home was at The Paddock Riding Club, an equestrian facility in Atwater Village, with 5 horses and an extra horse stall converted into a classroom.



Ten years later, TTR made a significant move and purchased the 2-acre facility next door to The Paddock and adjacent to the L.A. River.

In 2018, under the leadership of Executive Director Jane Haven and TTR’s Board of Directors, Taking the Reins was able to retire the mortgage on their property. The following year, they broke ground on the new Equestrian center, creating a beautiful, state-of-the-art facility to house their herd of 10 horses. 

Thanks to well trained horses, a dedicated Board of Directors, passionate volunteers, and deeply committed staff, Taking the Reins continues to grow. We have served thousands of children in our 22 year history, helping them to become strong, confident and courageous as they Take the Reins of their own futures and goals.