How do you describe yourself as an equestrian?
I began riding at about nine years of age. In high school, I got into rodeo and playdays; even Rodeo Queen competitions. I have been barrel racing now for about 15 years.
Recently I have found myself wanting to explore other disciplines after training my 6-year-old Quarter Horse gelding, Rolex. I’d like to try cow horse competitions, like boxing and reining. Continuing to learn and hone my horsemanship skills is quite important to me.
What do you enjoy about being an equestrian of color?
I guess it’s not so much about enjoying it as much as it is gaining knowledge from different types of experiences. However, I must say that I’m proud of my heritage. I’m half Hispanic/Mexican. I grew up in a predominantly white world but as I get older I’ve realized that I want to learn more about the Hispanic culture.
What challenges have you faced as an equestrian of color?
Overall, there aren’t too many challenges I’ve faced. I try to be someone who fights in the face of adversity, rather than sit back and be a victim of my situation. One thing– I’m majoring in Agriculture Communication in college. Agriculture is very traditional, and the roots run very deep. There’s not a lot of diversity. I’d like to see more.
Also, I’ve often wished that people would take the time to learn how to pronounce my last name. It’s a little thing but it means you care about me. Sometimes, I feel like people read my surname and immediately come up with stereotypes, like I must enjoy spicy food! I’m learning to! People need to be more aware of when they are being racist. It’s not hard to treat people kindly and how you want to be treated.
What words of encouragement would you have for other equestrians of color or people of color considering becoming equestrians?
I think my best advice would be to keep doing what you are doing. Keep working hard towards your goals and you will definitely achieve them. As long as you stay humble and always be kind to people, you will end up on top. I have learned over the years that your only true competitor is yourself. Work hard and your efforts will be rewarded.
Julie Cordero is a pet and equine photographer based in Texas.