How do you describe yourself as an equestrian?
Passionate, caring, driven, and extremely eager to improve. After I show you can usually find me watching my video over and over again, especially if I still have more classes to show in.
I’m very detail-oriented & a visual learner. I always try to lay my patterns out perfectly and make sure that I don’t get in the way of my horse. Especially at big shows, at that point, you’ve spent so much time & money getting there that it would be devastating to me if I messed up a simple thing.
I’m also very involved with AQHYA & the Washington State Quarter Horse Youth Association. This is my second year being the WSQHYA Reporter.
How has your culture influenced your equestrian lifestyle?
I don’t feel as though my ethnicity has affected my equestrian lifestyle on a day-to-day level. My Dad & his sisters grew up riding horses in Southern California. His side of the family comes from a Hispanic/Spanish background while my Mom’s side of the family is Italian/American.
I started riding around age 7 after begging my parents to let me take lessons. My mom never rode horses growing up but my dad did. I remember seeing this photo when I was little of him on a pony. He couldn’t have been older than age 10 in the photo. I’m sure that was part of the reason I wanted to ride horses so bad. Who knows where I’d be if I hadn’t seen that photo!
What challenges have you faced as an equestrian of color?
I feel very privileged to have not experienced many challenges in relation to my ethnicity. Most of the people I interact with in the horse world are young girls who are also involved in WSQHYA. Our club has around 50 youth members right now, and everyone in the club is super nice. I’ve never felt that they have treated me differently because of my ethnicity.
What is your happiest or proudest moment as an equestrian?
My proudest moment was at the 2021 All American Quarter Horse Congress. Going into the show, I had no idea what to expect. Congress was only my third real horse show with Randy and our biggest class prior to that only had about 10 other riders in it.
In my first class, Level One Youth Hunter Under Saddle, there were almost 70 entries. Randy & I finished 11th overall and 10th in the NSBA. We were also able to represent WSQHA in the National Youth Activity Team Tournament Hunter Under Saddle. Randy & I finished 5th overall in that class & our team finished 3rd in the team tournament.
What words of encouragement would you have for other people of color considering becoming equestrians?
Do it! Starting something new can always be overwhelming, especially if people there don’t look the same or share similarities with you. There are not very many people of color in our sport & I think that could make people of color more hesitant to become involved in the horse community.
But I’ve found that everyone in the horse community is super supportive and most of us just want everyone else to do well. We all have one thing in common, a passion for horses.
At the end of the day, as long as you’re happy doing what you’re doing, no one can tell you that you aren’t successful.
Horse breed: Quarter Horse
Discipline: Hunt Seat
Treat to give: Strawberries
Place to ride: The outdoor arena at our barn, especially on warm summer mornings!
Jeni Jo Photography is an equestrian portrait photographer based in Washington state