How would you describe yourself as an equestrian?

Someone who is in it for the connection with the horse. I fell in love with horses as a young child and have been extremely blessed to have parents that supported me throughout my equestrian journey. More than riding, I love being around horses. It gives me peace of mind unlike anything else.

The barn has always been my safe place to get away from the worries and stresses of day-to-day life. I have found that there is nothing better than sitting in the field with the horses for a break from reality. My favorite thing about being an equestrian is the emotional connection you form with the horses.

I think there is something so beautiful about having a deep connection with an animal – figuring each other out without words, but through other forms of communication.

How did you get involved in horses?

Funny enough, my mom put me on one of the rocking horses at Meijer for a picture one day. That was enough to get me hooked! From there, I begged my parents for lessons until they relented. Without their support, I would not have been able to ride for as long as I have.

My grandfather also loved horse racing. He used to come out and watch me ride, so I think it is a great way to keep his memory alive and stay connected to him.

What challenges have you faced as an equestrian of color?

While I am fortunate not to have faced any huge hurdles as an equestrian of color, I have dealt with microaggressions along the way. Eventually, the little comments or stares get to you, but I never let it dim the love I have for the sport.

I have been really blessed to be at my last few barns. I think finding the right community has made my journey much easier.

How has your culture influenced your equestrian lifestyle?

In my culture, a strong work ethic is not just valued, but expected. My parents raised me to always give 110% on anything I am doing, and that passed on to my equestrian lifestyle as well. Although I don’t have upper-level aspirations in the sport, I work hard to learn the most I can to be a successful horsewoman on and off the horse.

What are you most proud of as an equestrian?

My proudest memory as an equestrian would be my first trail ride with my horse Jax. Jax was my first horse. He was my dream come true. I owned him for about two years and while those were some of the best years of my life, it didn’t start out that way.

After months of doubting our relationship and not feeling like we had a true connection, I decided to take him out on the trails one day to let loose. I don’t know what switch clicked on that day, but by the end of the ride, there was a mutual trust that had grown so much stronger.

Jax taught me many life lessons. One of his most important lessons was to let go of your worries and enjoy the moment.

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

I would first tell them they are about to embark on one of the best journeys life has to offer. I would also tell them to take the leap!

Our identities as equestrians should not lie solely in our color, but in our love for the sport. Finding your community is so important. I would encourage anyone to keep looking until they find a community that is supportive in all ways.