How do you describe yourself as an equestrian?
Hardworking and dedicated. I started riding at age 23 and have been involved with horses since then. My riding career has included hunter/ jumpers and reined cow horses. I have enjoyed managing a breeding operation and currently, I am a veterinary technician for an equine sports medicine and rehabilitation facility managing their cold saltwater spa. Never did I think I would have a career working with horses to this extent.
This lifestyle is built for hard workers that never give up no matter how hard or long a day might be. I am truly dedicated to these animals and I couldn’t see myself working in any other field.
How did you get involved with horses and what role do they play today?
I didn’t grow up an equestrian. I was a dancer my whole life. I told my friend Daryn, who has been an equestrian her whole life, that I wanted to try something new. She pushed and pushed and finally got me to join my college equestrian team. I thought I was too old at 23 to start jumping and be successful, but she knew my dedication to succeed would help me get to where I wanted to be in the hunter/jumper world. I am so grateful for that push.
Today horses play a huge role in my life. In 2020 I switched disciplines and bought my first Reined Cow Horse. I will say buying my horse was one of the happiest moments of my life and I will be forever grateful to whom I purchased this amazing horse from. And the NRCHA [National Reined Cow Horse Association] is such a great organization to show in because no matter your skin color, sex, economic status, what your horse looks like, or is bred like, the judges mark the maneuvers and how well they are executed.
Also, I currently work for one of the most amazing equine sports medicine and lameness facilities in Scottsdale, Arizona. It has been amazing to learn from one of the most skilled DVM’s [Doctor of Veterinary Medicine] in the field of equine sports medicine.
How has your culture influenced your equestrian lifestyle?
I am a strong, beautiful, and talented African and Mexican American equestrian that continues to grow within the sport regardless of the tribulations I may face. I was adopted into a beautiful family and grew up in Menlo Park, California, where I rarely saw anyone of color into horseback riding. The one television show that got me addicted to horses was The Saddle Club. I wanted to be just like the young black gal on the show. A lot of my friends grew up riding at the Menlo Circus Club and I begged and pleaded to be a part of that club but it was never anything we could afford.
Though I may stand out in color, my goal is to blend in with the amazing horsemen and horsewomen I get to be around because of this sport. I aim to show anyone insecure about their skin color that as long as you are happy, that mentality will follow you and the people you involve yourself with.
What challenges have you faced as an equestrian of color?
I am very outgoing so it’s hard to say I’ve had many challenges but it does pain me not to see anyone of color at any of the competitions I have ever been to. Sometimes I feel like I stick out like a sore thumb and I’m always afraid of embarrassing myself in the ring.
As a young woman in this sport, it hasn’t been easy. I’ve given blood, sweat, tears, anything I had really, to make sure I could get in the ring. I’ve mucked stalls, fed horses, worked for free, ridden the rank ones, spent time in the hospital, and gotten back up every time I’ve been kicked down. Just to show that I can’t be broken and I will be successful.
I may not have a lot of money or financial support from my family but I sure give it my all. Knowing my horse is healthy and happy is my main priority; showing is just the fun part of it all.
What words of encouragement would you have for other equestrians of color or people of color considering becoming equestrians?
You may feel insecure about the color of your skin, but let your true light shine through. Nothing else matters except you and your horse and how much joy being in the ring gives you. Riding and being bonded with your partner is a privilege that is learned.
Don’t let anyone ever tell you, “Your goals are too big to be achieved.”
Ride hard little cowgirls and cowboys – nothing can stop you!
Horse breed: American Quarter Horse
Horse color: 4 socks and blaze
Discipline: Reined Cow Horse & Hunter/Jumpers
Treat to give: Stable Feed
Place to ride: Fx Equine Scottsdale
Yasmin is a portrait, pet, branding, equestrian and fitness photographer based in Arizona. Finding beauty in the details, she creates art photography for every day.