The Not So Pretty Things
This blog is not only to talk about the pretty things in the equine world, but also to open doors, start challenging conversations, and get other equestrians thinking about underlaying issues in the industry. When I started this documented journey, I had no clue that my word and presence would have an small effect in the community. And because of this, I am here writing about a subject many people wouldn’t feel comfortable having- race.
I live in Toronto, Canada also known around the world as the mosaic of cultures. I am fortunate to be in a city so accepting, as well as having such a huge support system of friends and family. But this isn’t the case for many in the world. Being a Chinese equestrian, I have struggled with identity my whole life and being at eventing schools where my sister and I were the only asian riders in the whole barn was hard. When I was younger I experienced a slew of discriminatory acts as simple as staring, critiquing my smile, my eyes, and speaking in gibberish. I remember, taking a trip and being referred to as “chinky”, “squinty”, and had fingers being pointed at me; all at the age of 12. It was difficult and I was hesitant to step foot and pursue a sport that was predominantly caucasian, as I was fearing the worst outcome. That being said, in the horse world I have yet to experience that kind of racism (above), but rather a silent form through little to no representation of asian equestrians.
I looked up to caucasian women, strong and passionate, yet I always found myself missing a piece of the puzzle. There is a foundation of great powerful women out there who have broken the glass ceiling. While this is beyond commendable, there is a connection untouched when a child doesn’t see their own ethnicity being represented. I’ve heard so many stories of kids wanting to be with others they look like and while as sparse as we might be, it is important we do lift each other up.
I recently received an equestrian catalogue in the mail. The spreads were beautiful, photography was well done, and the horses were gorgeous. However, I couldn’t help but notice all the models were caucasian. No minority was represented in the whole catalogue. I was slightly saddened by the lack of diversity because little things like this causes exclusion. As simple and overlooked as this may be by many, doesn’t make it tolerable. It doesn’t create a welcoming environment for people who are interested in the sport.
The equine world has a glass ceiling and only few minorities have broken through such as dressage rider Ellesse Jordan Tzinberg and show jumper Karen Polle and a handful more. The creator of Bibimbap Skincare, Lynn Mueller, is educating women in the industry on Korean skincare- amazing! Brands such as Noelle Floyd, Heels Down Magazine, Sidelines Magazine, Maelort, Samshield, and more are celebrating ethnicities through their social media platforms and partnerships. We need to join them in the celebration to create an open and engaging space.
These women and brands, give girls the chance to look up to someone who looks like them in a white-dominated sport. Seeing riders of different ethnicities, makes it accessible for all minorities to join. The equestrian world is slowly evolving into a diverse sport, but has a long road ahead.