How would you describe yourself as an equestrian?

I am that one person that is quiet, observant, and finds my happy place working with my Quarter Horses. My passion is working with youth and exposing them to the equine industry.

As an equestrian, I take pride in developing youth through my equine nonprofit program: Frankie’s Corner Little Thoroughbred Crusade (FCLTC). I teach basic horsemanship to advanced horseback riding, ranch living, and leadership development through a research-based curriculum. I feel like I never work when I am teaching youth about equines. I love when they are new to the industry and their eyes light up as they advance in my program.

I enjoy riding horses and being an instructor, but I truly enjoy teaching the art of being an equestrian.

How did you get involved with horses?

Never would I imagine that my life’s journey would bring me to being a founder and clinician of a youth equestrian nonprofit today. I can only start by saying that I knew at an early age the smell of horses was my true love.

I can remember at the age of seven I admired my grandfather, Frank Wilson’s, work ethic. He worked in the horse industry for over 40 years.

He had a STRONG impact on me and where I am in the equestrian community today. If he didn’t take me to work with him and expose me to horses, I would not have the vested passion and interest in the industry that I do. I appreciate him so much for investing in me, and I am forever grateful to be able to carry on his legacy in the equine community.

I would go to work with him at Jonbell Farm, owned by Mr. Bell. One day, I experienced an epiphany while riding go-carts on the farm. I saw my grandfather taking one of the horses out to the field to ride, so I got off the go-cart and walked closer to the fence; he mounted, began to trot, and then gallop the young horse thus sparking my interest to ride.

At first, going to the farm satisfied my interest just to see the horses, yet my desire to interact more with them was growing. I had to think of a clever way to request my grandfather to introduce me to the next phase.

Alongside my grandfather, I had unwittingly learned many of his responsibilities at the farm and I waited for the perfect time to plot my next move. In an effort to help him finish his duties, I picked up a broom to sweep the breezeways, hoping that if he could finish early enough that he would teach me how to ride myself. After all his duties were done, I got enough courage to ask, “Granddaddy, can you teach me how to ride?” His answer was, “Oh no, it’s not safe”. But by him giving me that heart-wrenching no, my desire to ride intensified even more.

One day, I got the courage to ask again, “Granddaddy, am I big enough now to learn how to ride?” and he gave the same answer from four years prior.

I cannot forget, that as he walked away to tend to a horse, his co-worker Mr. Don Jenkins, Sr. said, “follow me son.” Mr. Jenkins made me promise not to tell my grandfather what he was about to do. When the coast was clear and my grandfather had gone out to the field to exercise a horse, Mr. Jenkins put me on a horse in one of the stalls. That ignited a passion that has never burned out for horses. In that five-minute ride in the stall, an eternal flame has continued.

What do you enjoy about being an equestrian of color?

I enjoy being able to share the knowledge and experience that I have by pouring it into our youth in the community. I want to create a pipeline for youth of color to have as vested an interest in equestrian careers as they do for pursuing other careers.

I love to ride my horse around the city of Lexington, Kentucky to various events with my cowboy gear on, so I can change the narrative of what has been portrayed in the equine industry.

I am also proud to see that there is more notoriety for people of color who have made an impact. It is important to share the history of equestrians to know how we have gotten to where we are today.

What challenges have you faced as an equestrian of color?

One of the biggest struggles that I find is that we have people of color that are in the industry, but we don’t work together in order to provide a resource and expose more people of color to the industry.

There are so many opportunities, and it would be interesting to see all of us work together. The industry would be so much richer and it would be a dream come true for me.

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

I would say, we belong in the equestrian industry. We have a long way to go as we focus on creating inclusive spaces for people of color in the industry, but we have made many long positive strides.

So I would say, hang in there and be the change that you want to see.