How do you describe yourself as an equestrian?
The adventure of all the different things you can do with a horse is the very best part. As an equestrian, I would describe myself as an adventurer and I love trying new things with my horse and my friends.
I rode horses when I was younger and can remember breaking my arm once in three places falling off of one.
Later in life, my friend took me out to a place to see her horses and I took a few lessons. I bought my own horse as an adult about 15 years ago.
What role do horses currently play in your life?
Horses are my escape when things are really hard in life. Being a mom of 5 adopted children – with some special needs – horses have given me a place to go to refocus and ground myself. They have also helped me and my family get through some challenging things. There’s nothing better than going down a trail with your friends to decompress.
How has your culture influenced your equestrian lifestyle?
My culture is very family and community-oriented. It’s a culture of help and support in the Native American community.
I love the community aspect of horsemanship, my friends at the barn, and the friends that I have made on the trail. We support and help one another with our horses, in crossing the finish line and in achieving our goals.
What is your happiest or proudest moment as an equestrian?
Crossing the finish line on my first 25-mile competitive distance ride. That is my proudest moment.
We had a little bit of a chaotic start that day, but I was able to work through my fears with my horse. I felt really accomplished coming across the finish line.
What challenges have you faced as an equestrian of color?
Culturally, Native American women always wore dresses and I choose to wear dresses all of the time. This is also a part of my religious beliefs as a Pentecostal woman. At times, I have experienced criticism or public mockery because of my way of dress, especially when participating in my athletic pursuits (running, horseback riding, archery, shooting, etc.).
Occasionally, I have also faced people who assume that just because I’m Native American, I have some sort of special natural ability with horses. I work just as hard as everyone else on my horsemanship and I have the same struggles.
What words of encouragement would you have for other equestrians of color or people of color considering becoming equestrians?
Just be yourself. Don’t let people dull your shine.
Horses don’t see the difference in us. They just feel our love.
Horse breed: Don’t have a favorite yet, because I am still learning them all!
Horse color: Chestnut, tri-color paints, or blanketed appaloosas.
Discipline: Trail Riding
Treat to give: Carrots
Place to ride: Any trail
Erin Beckett is a photographer and filmmaker located near Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She believes that by sharing stories of diversity, we can start much needed conversations about race, equality, and why representation matters.