Black Women are less protected than the mares we ride on

Black Women are Less Protected than the Mares we Ride on

If you have been following me for any amount of time, you know I am half of Young Black Equestrians the podcast. On the podcast, we discuss the passion, culture, and lifestyle of the black horse industry. We advocate for diversity and acceptance in an industry that historically erases the impact of the black horseman. 

We have been featured in magazines, and even in the New York Times, discussing exclusionary practices and racial divide in the horse industry. We showcase individuals that have passionate stories of challenge and triumph who are Black people and also equestrians. 

Let me say that again. Black people. And also equestrians.

As someone with a platform that has grown consistently over the last 2 years, I often take into account the image we share with the public and try to make sure we are “on brand”. As I delve more into the importance of voice and branding and ensuring authenticity, I realized I was cocooning myself and pushing the message of YBE without being its face. Even though Caitlin and I started this platform “out the mud” (as one of our favorite artists Tobe Nwigwe would say), it was so important to me to share the voices of people who deserve to be heard that I suggested that be the focus, not us personally. Not saying it is right or wrong, just my thoughts at the time. 


Caitlin is the empath out of our duo. She feels from the purest place and is passionate about children unlike anyone my age I have ever interacted with. She is the supportive voice and calm amidst the storm for many and she even suggested I reach out to Adam Hollingsworth aka Dreadhead Cowboy after I suggested he get a publicist of some sort. It wasn’t until I saw Caitlin’s post yesterday that I felt compelled to write about it. 

Now, I realize the importance of continuing to be the voice and continuing to do the work to advocate for our audience and ourselves relentlessly and unapologetically, so I want to get into some of the thoughts I had and felt compelled to share a week after the Dan Ryan ride.

Caitlin and I interviewed Adam Hollingsworth in May 2020 and his episode aired June 3rd. “Since June 20, five children under the age of 11 were shot and killed in Chicago” states a recent ABC News article, also sharing the grim number of almost 40 children’s lives lost since January 2020. On September 21st, Adam rode his horse NuNu down a highway in Chicago to raise awareness about the growing violence in his community affecting the lives of the children he hopes to inspire. I watched the news coverage of his ride while it was in action. I was on the phone with Caitlin. I told her, “this is not going to end well… this is not going to be good”. I knew, as a Black person in America and as a Black person in the horse industry that the animal activists, horse people or not, were going to come after him. I knew that as bold as he wanted his statement to be, it will be overshadowed by and demonized by the media because the horse suffered. 

Do I believe Adam should be held accountable for his actions? Of course. He ran the horse hard on concrete and it appeared lame and injured when he was finally taken into custody. I’m sure there is a law in place and if he broke it he can face that as the American justice system has no issue handling people of color. 

Am I going to pretend like I know the entire story? No. HOWEVER, I know without a shadow of a doubt that the media will look for any reason to crucify a Black man and blow an entire situation out of proportion. 

Am I going to sit here, on my multiple platforms, and berate, degrade and discuss the mistakes of one Black man when I have ALWAYS been a proponent of education and awareness? Hell no. If there is a law that was broken, hold him accountable. BUT also present in this game of accountability is the expectation. The expectation that the same rules apply to everyone, right? We know, historically, currently, and damn near in the future that this is not the case for Black people. 

As loud as people scream and holler about the trauma NuNu faced last week, where is the same uproar when horses are drugged in the hunter ring, race track, or in halter classes. Where is the same backlash when you see your favorite trainer riding a horse with spurring scars or anything else mentioned in this article sharing the dark side of the horse industry? Don’t pretend to tout your “passion for animals” as a badge when you don’t even have passion for people. We have deleted multiple comments from our platforms spewing hate and misinformation simply because we shared Adam’s story earlier this year. We’re not having it. Periodt. Not on our platforms and not in the space we hold sacred. Accountability is one thing, hate and racism masked as animal advocacy is something completely different.

It is amazing… ONE WEEK after Adam’s infamous ride. After NuNu was presumed to need to be euthanized, she makes a MIRACULOUS recovery and she is in a loving home that will do right by her. ONE WEEK after Adam’s ride for #kidslivesmatter HIS HORSE has raised over TEN THOUSAND dollars on a GoFundMe that was begrudgingly shared because her location was “outed”. 

How many families in Chicago received ANY support after losing children they carried in their own womb?

Hello, a reminder here just in case you need it. I love horses. I am passionate about horses, horse people, horse businesses, and the horse industry. What I will not do is choose horses over the lives of little Black boys and Black girls that could be my siblings, my cousins, or even my own children. Am I to believe you would?

Boom. There’s the soundbyte if you were looking for one. 

Do you hear what you are asking? Do you understand that as you share skewed, misinformed, ill-willed articles and add your two cents, you are sharing the fact that you will bat for the life of a horse you don’t know, that may live to be 30 years old if it’s lucky, over the lives of real, actual, live people?

A friend of mine mentioned wanting to record a video about Adam and his recent infamy amongst a couple of other things and I had to ask her, “What are you trying to accomplish?” It’s a sincere question I ask myself when I produce anything. What will this information accomplish in this world? Does it add to the conversation? Is it inspiring? Is it relatable? Is it informative? If the goal is to create another piece of media that degrades this Black man while White people all over this industry are hollering louder about the horse that massed a 10k fund in 7 days than they are about the lives of the Black babies being lost or the corruption and injustice surrounding the Breonna Taylor verdict… I’m not with it.

There is an adage, “All skinfolk ain’t kinfolk,” and I heard Tamika Mallory say it during a press conference after the Breonna Taylor verdict was shared. After seeing posts and reading comment sections from my fellow Black cowboys and cowgirls, I shake my head still. As someone who has brought veterinarians to Black horse events, brought literature, supplies and spoke verbally about the care of horses since I have been involved in the industry, I have to ask, “What did you do before you knew better?” Using your platform to degenerate the impact of a man you barely even know is not how we come up in this world.

It is not lost on me how women of color are constant advocates and support systems for our male counterparts, but don’t always get the same energy reciprocated. I have heard first hand from women going to bat in comment sections about how we are in the intersection of fighting for our lives and fighting for our equine passion with keyboard warriors we may soon have to call colleagues. You know what, I may just need to save that for another blog post…

From the plight of gun violence in cities around the world to the injustices that surround victims of police brutality, the response of the horse industry when a Black horseman makes a mistake is one rooted in hypocrisy, racism, and incredible fragility. After seeing the banter surrounding Tory Lanez’s shooting of Meg the Stallion, the Breonna Taylor verdict, and literally every other example of how historically, and currently, the sentiment seems to be the same as it was over 400 years ago: Animals carry more value than the lives of Black and brown people. My statement stands…

Protect black women. black lives matter. kids lives matter.

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