How do you describe yourself as an equestrian?
I’m a country girl who loves horses. My first ride was on a stallion in a baby seat that my father bolted to a saddle. They were my protectors and friends. Now I have the honor of being a protector for them.
How did you get involved with horses?
My Dad. He took a car seat to his job and riveted it to a saddle. My first ride was in a parade at 2 months old, sound asleep. I would continue in rodeo with him until I was in my 20s.
I was away from horses for many years, but I always missed that part of who I am. These days, horses in my life means rescuing seniors and giving them the best life possible and a forever home. They give SO much to us; it’s a privilege to give back to them and honor my faith as a caretaker of what the Lord has given us.
What challenges have you faced as an equestrian of color?
When I was little and was barrel racing, grown-ups would come up to me and my sister and ask us whose horses we were on. When we said they were ours…they’d laugh at us. They weren’t laughing after the scores were posted, though.
Numerous times, however, our scores were “not valid” or we’d have to re-do the run because we were told there must have been a malfunction. Some just could not accept that we loved what we did and wanted to work to be the best we could possibly be.
Now, it’s better than it was, but there are still some attitudes that let themselves be known or attempt to make you uncomfortable. But my Momma always said, “If people are gonna make you the center of the room by staring … make sure they see something they won’t ever forget.”
Work hard and shine on!
What words of encouragement would you have for other equestrians of color or people of color considering becoming equestrians?
Firstly: be committed – to yourself and your new giant buddy.
Take your time to find the right horse and build a bond that will last a long time. Take lessons or find a mentor that will help you become confident in the style of riding you wish to do.
Last: Learn to walk … then run … then my dear, you can FLY!!!
Rachel Griffin is a wholly obsessed horse-nerd-turned-photographer based in Oklahoma. She’s on a mission to help devoted equestrians feel confident and comfortable in portraits with their heart horses—because that partnership too important to let nerves or worries get in the way of celebrating it.