In summer 2020, we launched a 1st Annual $5,000+ Diversity Scholarship with the support of generous donors, inviting minority equestrians to contribute to the discussion of diversity and inclusion in equestrian sport. It is the mission of this annual bursary, which we intend to expand in coming years, to call for, encourage, elevate and give a platform to minority voices in a space where they are underrepresented.
How do we build a more diverse, inclusive and accessible sport? In the coming weeks, we will explore this question alongside many of the 27 Scholarship recipients as they share with us their essays in full. Collectively, their perspectives coalesce into a body of work that will no doubt help inform a viable path forward for equestrian sport, and we are committed to connecting their actionable ideas with the public as well as leaders and stakeholders of the sport.
Today we welcome Briannah Kaitlyn McGee. More voices: Lea Jih-Vieira | Scnobia Stewart | Kimberly Kojima | Helen Casteel | Lissette Williams | Christopher Ferralez | Malachi Hinton | Mitike Mathews | Katherine Un | Muhammad Shahroze Rehman | Dana Bivens | Leilani Jackson | Julie Upshur | Aki Joy Maruyama | Jen Spencer | Jordyn Hale | Dawn Edgerton-Cameron | Madison Buening | Caden Barrera | Deonte Sewell | Anastasia Curwood
Photo courtesy Briannah Kaitlyn McGee.
When we find ourselves driving after a long, rainy day, we usually look for a rainbow, and when we come across one we admire its beauty as it takes many colors to produce such an amazing sight. Each and every color of the rainbow is beautiful and unique, with no singular color superior to the others. Each and every rainbow, with all its distinctly beautiful colors, can be compared to the same in our many skin colors represented around the world. Every ethnicity and culture is part of the human race and each has played an integral part in the history of the world we all share. The amount of melanin in your skin does not determine your ability, especially in horseback riding. Being of a different race makes a person more unique and can set them apart from their peers. I find that not blending in makes our human race so much more open to diversity and specifically within our riding community.
Personally, I do not fit into any one stereotypical box. I don’t fall into the white category because I have brown skin, and I often do not fit into the black community because I have straight hair. When you look at me, you may not be sure what ethnicity I am, but that is what separates me from most people in my circle. People often confuse me for being Mexican or Hawaiian, but in reality I am half Australian and African American.
Photo courtesy Briannah Kaitlyn McGee.
Diversity is another word for different, just as every horse is different, but yet the love for our horses, whether one dollar or ten thousand dollars in cost, are what brings us equestrians together. We just see each other as the same, and that is how it should be. Horses also break down barriers for people with mental health or physical issues by allowing them to engage in interactive therapy with animals and people who have a desire to help others in need. It also normalizes their disabilities for that moment in time while on horseback. Upper, middle, and lower class children all can have the opportunity to join forces and compete in their respective riding styles or just plain ride with each other because where you come from should not matter when you are in a saddle. When we ride together, our ethnicities, sexuality, cultures, or any other differences do not define us.
Everyone of all ages, ethnicities, capabilities, levels, classes, and more, come together when riding to enjoy the love of our four legged partner and friend, one we all love and devote ourselves too. By doing this, we strive to see each other’s talents and not skin color. Ultimately, with a bright shining light and sharing our unique colors, we as a united equestrian community, can create a rainbow that will lead to a “melting” pot of gold.
Nation Media wishes to thank Barry and Cyndy Oliff, Katherine Coleman and Hannah Hawkins for their financial support of this Scholarship. We also wish to thank our readers for their support, both of this endeavor and in advance for all the important work still to come.
Get involved! Briannah’s optimism is inspiring as she reminds us that our differences are not only worth accepting, they’re worth celebrating. Conscious acts of honoring diversity helps overcome stereotypes, builds cultural awareness, discourages racism and encourages unity. Did you know that October is Global Diversity Awareness Month, and October 4 is National Diversity Day? This year let’s commit to celebrating the diversity that already exists in our barns and equestrian communities even as we seek to grow it.
Speaking of October, you’ll want to save the date of Saturday, Oct. 10, for the 3rd Annual Day of the African Equestrian and 2nd Annual Tom Bass Seminar on Diversity in Equestrian Sport. The event is taking place virtually this year, and we’ll be bringing you further details as we get them!