How do you describe yourself as an equestrian?

I would describe myself as a student of horses. There is always so much to learn and a myriad of ways to learn it all. I try to improve as often as possible, by auditing clinics, learning from others’ mistakes, and doing my research. As for my discipline, I’m an eventer at heart, and I love to jump!

How did you get involved with horses?

I fell in love with horses at a young age. At the age of 8, I had never even been near a horse and was already determined I would own one someday. I checked out horse care and riding books from the library and learned everything I could for years.

Although, it was not until I was 11 that I convinced my parents that my horse obsession was not abating so they might as well capitulate and let me take lessons. As a result, their pocketbooks cried. However, I was in heaven.

Despite my lifelong horse obsession, I have just purchased my first horse in the last six months. He’s quirky, energetic, and a kick ride, and it is because of him that I can honestly say I work to ride. I enjoy every moment with him. He’s mine and I’m his. We’re in this for the long haul.

What do you enjoy about being an equestrian of color?

I love riding, plain and simple. While I can expand upon how hard it is being a person of color in a predominantly Caucasian-dominated sport, I can’t say that there are many perks specific to being a black rider.

However, it is encouraging with groups and programs, such as Equestrians of Color, that expose opportunities for the minority population to engage in sports that they wouldn’t normally think to try. In that regard, I am proud to add my voice and experiences to make this sport more inviting and inclusive.

What challenges have you faced as an equestrian of color?

Racism and bias are a given. Even in Atlanta, a city rich in culture and diversity with a large African American population, it is hard to be an Equestrian of Color. For example, the process of choosing a trainer is that much more difficult for a person of color.

On several occasions, while researching a potential trainer, for instance, I have had to decide if the trainer’s skill level and training style are exceptional enough that I should overlook the racism found on their social media. I will be honest and say that I compromised on one and regretted it.

What words of encouragement would you have for other equestrians of color or people of color considering becoming equestrians?

Riding is not easy. It’s time-consuming, expensive, stressful, and sometimes dangerous. Being a person of color on top of all that can make your low moments all the more gut-wrenching. But the feeling when you are completely in sync in mind and movement with your mount is indescribable.

Those moments are 100% worth the struggle, the backaches, falls, and yes, the pointed stares. Horses do not give a whit about human societal issues. They simply want someone to care about them. Oh, and treats. They definitely want treats!