How do you describe yourself as an equestrian?

I am a lover of horses who is dedicated to continuously growing in my riding, horsemanship, and mounted weapons – creating my own lane as a Cowgirl.

Horses are my spiritual animals. Although I do not own a horse yet, I have trained on 28 Quarter Horses and Tennessee Walkers. I will spend the rest of my life exploring the many kinds of horses around the world until I own a few.

I realize now that this isn’t about who rides the best, the fancy medals, competitions, or the action roles where I do my own horse stunts. It’s about the healing that horses bring to me and I will reciprocate that love back by learning equine care and providing companionship with gratitude.

 

How did you get involved with horses?

I originally got involved with horses to prepare for an audition for a film role where the actor was supposed to ride a horse and fight with a machete. I am already a swordswoman, but at the time I wasn’t that skilled in horse riding so I immediately started training for 3 months consistently on horseback.

After the action shot got cut and the role did not exist any longer, I kept riding. I then realized horses were my spiritual animals and I’ve been consistent in my riding with mounted weapons ever since.

 

How has your culture and/or race influenced your equestrian lifestyle?

I am an American African. My roots come from Ethiopia. My Mother is African American and my Father is African.

This Cowgirl and Equine culture experience has inspired and influenced me to create a curriculum to help black children in the Foster system heal thru horses as an alternative to psychotropic medication.

Of course, all children will be welcomed but the emphasis is to give black children in poverty stricken communities and in the foster system an opportunity to learn about horses and equine care without the worry of paying for lessons or the need to lease a horse from me.

What challenges have you faced as an equestrian of color?

My greatest challenges were when I did not have a supporting community, and it was very difficult at times to push myself to keep training when I did not have much access to horses. Once I moved past that and gained more confidence, I found the right group of supportive people and that is when my world opened up more.

I arrived in the horse world as an adult who is a swordswoman/martial artist. I always found myself to be an outsider in the Cowboy community in Los Angeles. More than a few experienced Cowgirls weren’t very kind or did not want to offer advice when I reached out. It also did not help that Covid had just started so I already wasn’t very social or trusting of new people anyways.

Fortunately for me, I used that disappointment as fuel to get a better seat and eventually found barns that would allow me to work and ride. I was soon comfortable around the barn and tacking up so I did not need help from the guys or to seek friendship from other Cowgirls.

With my passion and determination to be the best I can be, I managed to make those challenges and confrontations healthy driving tools in my horsewoman journey, and as I got better I found myself surrounded with great horse people in both the western and English riding disciplines.

What is your happiest or proudest moment as an equestrian?

My most proud moment so far is when I was asked to get on a newly broken wild horse – Jack – after seeing men fall off and a guy severely injured by him the day before.

Without fear, I got on the horse. The instructor threw me a sword and I successfully rode in a gallop for a few minutes and with no hands. It was the moment I knew my spirit was in the proper alignment with gratitude to ride horses and connect with them organically.

What words of encouragement or advice would you have for other equestrians of color?

I would encourage other equestrians of color to keep training, value the experience of the opportunity to expand their horsemanship, and allow the healing of horses to keep them encouraged.

Surround yourself with kind people that want to see you grow. Always lead with gratitude and a humble heart.

Horses are very smart animals and they feed off your energy, so leave everything behind before you step to them.

Melanin’s Favorites

Horse breed: Quarter Horse
Horse color: Black/ Redish dark brown
Discipline: Western
Treat to give: Watermelon
Place to ride: Desert and Beaches