How do you describe yourself as an equestrian?
I would call myself a “horse girl” turned equestrian. I have loved horses from the moment I saw them. From pre-K age onwards, I would read and study as much as I could about them. Even before I had taken a single lesson, I knew all of the basic terminologies. Whenever I would go to a fair, I’d rush to the pony rides to get a taste of being an equestrian. Online, I would play any horse game to get the feeling of ownership of a horse. When I was really little, I would even run like one.
I was addicted to horses and everything about them; from care to riding. When I was six, my parents set me up for my first riding lesson to see if I would like it. That one lesson confirmed to me that I wanted to be an equestrian. From there I did a summer camp and starting in the Fall of 2017, I was able to take consistent weekly lessons. Now three years later, I was able to buy my first horse. My current goal with my horse is to eventually move up in eventing and do more hunter paces together.
What do you enjoy about being an equestrian of color?
What challenges have you faced as an equestrian of color?
I am thankful I have never received any direct attacks based on race, however, my race has affected my experience. Many people don’t expect me to be an equestrian. Sometimes, because I don’t fit the “image” of what an equestrian should be, people will doubt my ability. I’m no expert in my field, but it hurts when people assume you know nothing or look down on you because of things you can’t control. I find that some people will hold less respect for me because of my race.
I am very thankful though, that most people I have met do not judge me off of my looks and that makes me hopeful that there will be more diversity in the horse world and in my local equestrian community.
Horses don’t care what you look like. If you want to try horseback riding take a shot at it! Horses are for everyone and equestrianism is a great skill to have. For those of color who are feeling discouraged in their riding because of their race, don’t worry.
You are just as worthy to ride as anyone else, and your current position in the horse world, whether owning and showing or just taking lessons, does not represent your worth as a rider. Keep working hard to improve your craft and enjoy the animal you love!
Lisa Dolny is an Atlanta based Equestrian portrait photographer.