How do you describe yourself as an equestrian?

I have been riding horses for 13 years, so I would definitely describe myself as passionate. My family had no history of horses before I showed an interest, so everything was new. I started riding horses when I was five years old at the Deschutes County Fair pony rides. I rode so many times that those in charge told me I couldn’t ride again because other people wanted a turn.

At ten, I started to ride competitively with my local 4-H group. That is when I leased my first horse, Fudgy. She was a nice little Arabian/Quarter Horse cross and she taught me a lot about the basics.

In 2017, I bought my heart horse and forever horse, and he has pushed me, pushed me, saved me, and made me into the rider that I am today.

What do you enjoy about being an equestrian of color?

Meeting people that look like me has been a highlight of my career being an equestrian. Where I grew up, many people I met through shows or at my barns were white. I remember competing in my freshman year of high school and in the 120 people who competed at that show there were only 2 people of color.

I enjoy bringing diversity to shows and barns and showing people that this is not just for white people. You don’t meet a lot of people who are of Colombian descent. I feel an automatic connection to someone riding whose color isn’t white. I feel happy that people of color are enjoying a predominantly white person’s sport and now we’re getting more recognition in the horse world.

What challenges have you faced as an equestrian of color?

I’ll be honest, I didn’t notice that everyone around me was white when I was younger. I was so focused on the horses that I didn’t notice that nobody looked like me. But I know less than ten people of color that ride horses and I have been in this sport for 13 years.

It is unfortunate, but the equestrian industry is very judgmental; judgemental of riding, clothing, horses, and skin color. Very rarely do I see equestrians of color competing in the higher levels of competition, it is mainly white individuals. Riding horses is deemed as a luxury sport, not many people can afford to keep and show horses. While I love this sport, it has many downfalls, for people of all color, but especially people of color.

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

Despite all I’ve said, I love horses and I love the sport. I wouldn’t want to do anything else but work with horses, hopefully for my entire life. It hasn’t been a smooth ride these past three years. My horse and I have dealt with two torn tendons, one strained ligament, and arthritis. I’ll admit that many times I’ve wanted to give it up, to do something easier and something less financially draining. But I didn’t, because I love this horse too much and this industry.

Being an equestrian isn’t all about showing and winning, there is a lot of mental strength and grit required. You have to be able to pick yourself back up again when you fall and get back on. Your partner is living and breathing, and they don’t speak your language. You have to be kind and understanding, while also being strong and firm.

This sport, yes, it is a sport, asks a lot from a person. You’ll get hurt, you’ll cry, and you will be so frustrated, but it is so rewarding. I know I make it sound like it’s such a bad sport, but it’s really not. When all the pieces come together, when all your hard work pays off, you’ll love the sport and your horse.

So if you want to start riding horses, go for it! Nothing should stop you, not your skin color, experience, or age. Horses don’t see color, they see your heart, and I think that’s all that really matters.