How would you describe yourself as an equestrian?
I’ve always had a love for horses but never did anything about it until a few years ago. I went through some tumultuous times and stumbled upon horses and riding. I’ve never felt this sense of peace and fulfillment before.
I got my horse green while also being a green rider. Usually, that combo doesn’t mix, but for us it does. We have both learned so much during our time together, and I’m looking forward to decades more.
I’m really enthusiastic when it comes to riding. I love to try a little bit of everything, whether that be English or Western riding, and my horse tells me that he enjoys it too. As of now, I am looking forward to enjoying novice showjumping and amateur jumper schooling shows.
What do you enjoy about being an equestrian of color?
Well, I definitely stand out!
It’s not regular to see a black equestrian in New Mexico. Because I’m different, I’m always asked questions, such as “What brought you to horses?” and “What kind of riding do you do?”
These questions always lead to incredible conversations and making new friends of different races, riding styles, and backgrounds. I enjoy it. I enjoy being different from the crowd and potentially bringing something new to the community here.
What challenges have you faced as an equestrian of color?
In any group, there will always be small-minded, toxic people. But these people are inconsequential and not worth consideration. It’s better to focus on the positives and the better people in the community. I’ve come across my share of negative people in my continuing growth as an equestrian, and luckily it’s safe to say that the good outnumber the bad.
What words of encouragement would you have for other equestrians of color or people of color considering becoming an equestrian?
I am so happy that I stumbled upon horses when I did. I can truly say that it has only enhanced my life. The hard work, effort, commitment, and time spent are all worth it.
In this sport and being of color, I have quickly realized that you’re not spending all of this time, money, and effort for other people and their enjoyment. You are doing it for yourself. There is only you and your horse on this journey.
Jessica Lian Photography is an equine portrait photographer based in New Mexico. Using natural light to showcase the connections between horses and riders is paramount to JLP’s photography. When Jessica isn’t photographing equestrians (or playing with her son and working horses), she is writing her masters which focuses on equity in how POC are portrayed in informal science institutions.