How do you describe yourself as an equestrian?
I’m a trail rider who is starting her journey into limited/long-distance endurance riding. I like to think that I’m a decent rider and equestrian.
Eowyn is my first horse and I have learned so much with her from groundwork to in the saddle and trail work. I try to listen to my horse as much as possible and I think that has helped both of us grow. I’ve been told by a trainer that Eowyn is really well trained (though she has some habits that we are working on).
How has your culture influenced your equestrian lifestyle?
I don’t find that being an equestrian of color impacts my day-to-day life, but there are some wonderful benefits. My favorite thing is learning that my other country (Iran) has its own rich equestrian history. From the Caspian horses, to the tack they use, to the mounted sports.
I am also a historical costumer, so that coupled with being an equestrian and having this fabulous array of traditional clothing and customs to pull from is really incredible. I’ve been so busy conditioning my horse and I that I haven’t had a chance to do much with the Persian costuming yet, though I have many plans!
What challenges have you faced as an equestrian of color?
Finding people like me in this sport. I’ve been riding my whole life (minus about 8 years), and literally last weekend, for the first time ever, I met a half Persian equestrian like me! It was an exciting moment.
I started endurance riding and there have been zero other equestrians of color. Like sure, I can be white assumed, but it was still a weird experience being one of the only BIPOC people there. (Someone’s husband was also BIPOC, but they weren’t riding.)
Dealing with politics and people’s beliefs that are the complete opposite of mine. With the last presidency, things came to a head with Iran and other Muslim countries. The things I read on the internet from other horse people were… not ok. It was really discouraging and difficult. I had to create another Facebook page for all of those people because many are leaders in the equestrian community. I can’t deal with it in day-to-day life.
What words of encouragement would you have for other equestrians of color or people of color considering becoming equestrians?
Hold your head up high. Don’t shy away from who you are.
Try to find friends who hold similar beliefs to you. They will support you for who and what you are.
Alaina is an equine portrait photographer based out of the San Francisco Bay area. She is driven by an endless love of horses, a deep passion for storytelling, and a profound desire for an equitable, empathetic world.