Uncategorized

Highlighting black excellence in equestrian sport

Like many, I have been ill while watching the news lately. It is not a surprise or shock to me that I am part of a racist system. But I have not done enough. I also know that this is not about me, so here is my goal: to talk about equestrianism as a racist system, and to make space for voices of color.

Think about the last horse show you attended. Think about the fellow boarders at your barn. Think about the kids in your lesson program. Think about the Instagram accounts that you follow and the blogs that you read. Think about the models who show off new tack and clothing trends in catalogues. The overwhelming majority of them are white. Maybe they’re in fact exclusively white. Has that ever occurred to you? Maybe, if it has occurred to you, you thought it was just a coincidence.

It’s not a coincidence. No space that is exclusively or near-exclusively white is a coincidence. It is a deliberate, systematic erasure accomplished through a variety of ways: careful stacking of privilege, intimidation and bullying, and then careful removal. Black people, and more broadly people of color, have been closely associated with horses for as long as human beings have been.

3 in 30: The Trappings of Sporting Art - Calendar & Events
Richard Singleton with “Viley’s Harry, Charles and Lew”, 1834, Edward Troye (American, 1808–1874)
“Richard Singleton” is the horse’s name. Viley is the name of the man who owned both the horses and the men in this painting.

It’s important to know, understand, and sit with that. Equestrianism is not neutral. It is not an escape – or if it is those things for you, then that’s a sign of your own personal privilege. What are you going to do about it?

Below, I’ve tried to gather a collection of links that represent people of color in the horse world, both past and present. If you have something to add to this list, please leave a comment. I will continue to update this post. I will also continue to update as I do more of my own research. If you want to start to undermine the whiteness of equestrianism, start by listening to these voices.

First: an excellent roundup by L. Williams of Viva Carlos here: So You Want to Be an Ally… I will not duplicate any of her work in this post; you should read it in her own words and appreciate the work she did to pull it all together.

Instagram Accounts

@alexgreerdressage
@theblackequestrian
@dressagebyjayne
@worktoride1
@theconcrete.cowgirl
@cowgirl_chanel
@chetakhorses
@ctc_dressagequeen
@comptonjrequestrians
@urbansaddles
@theurbanequest
@urbancowgirlsllc
@ebonyhorseclubbrixton
@breexybby_
@stephkall
@thepersistentequestrian
@clipclopbook
@theericahills
@fitjumperrider
@itstheajway
@youngblackequestrians
@detroithorsepower
@equestriannoire
@comptoncowboys
@saddleupandread
@theblackcowgirl
@urbancowgirl510

Blogs

Viva Carlos
Ambitious

Podcasts

Young Black Equestrians

Books & Articles (~ denotes a children’s book)

No Room for Bigotry in Equestrian Sport from Horse Nation
Buffalo Soldier from Wikipedia (includes a list of Medal of Honor recipients)
The Kentucky Derby’s Forgotten Jockeys from Smithsonian Magazine
Cheryl White was first out of the gate from The Undefeated

Nonfiction

Race Horse Men: How Slavery and Freedom Were Made at the Racetrack by Katherine C. Money
Beautiful Jim Key: The Lost Story of the World’s Smartest Horse by Jim Eichler Rivas

Fiction

~The Last Black King of the Kentucky Derby by Crystal Hubbard
Buffalo Soldier by Tanya Landman (YA)

Equestrian Organizations & Businesses (* donates that they accept donations as a nonprofit)

*Saddle Up and Read (and their GoFundMe) (I will post further about this excellent organization shortly.)
*Work to Ride
*Compton Jr. Equestrians
*Urban Saddles
*The Urban Equestrian Academy
Equestrian Noire

6 thoughts on “Highlighting black excellence in equestrian sport

  1. If you’re not familiar with Tom Bass, check him out for your list! https://historicmissourians.shsmo.org/historicmissourians/name/b/bass/

    I am bookmarking SO MANY POSTS full of resources I am trying to work through. Thanks for adding more good ones that I need to read/watch/follow/etc. This week has been so overwhelming and I feel so frustrated and unable to help. I started by voting this week (which I always do, but still). And now I’m taking other baby steps to try to educate myself and contribute however I can to effect change.

    Like

  2. In some states it was illegal for blacks to even ride, it’s one of the many, many reasons I cherish my ability and privilege to have a horse and help bring awareness to riders of color.

    Like

  3. Wink, The Incredible Life and Epic Journey of Jimmy Winkfield by Ed Hotaling is an excellent book of the life of a black jockey

    Like

  4. Thank you for sharing this list. Your point, “Think about the models who show off new tack and clothing trends in catalogues. The overwhelming majority of them are white,” is something I have noticed working in equestrian retail. Product photography from manufacturers is almost exclusively white. I don’t know if it will make any difference, but I emailed every manufacturer we carry at the tack shop and asked them to start including people of color in their product photos.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s