Hello everyone! Welcome back to another blog. For this first blog of February, I wanted to celebrate some black equestrians of the past to kick off Black History Month. I will be sharing some information about a handful of equestrians that my parents taught me about when I was younger to ensure I knew I was not alone in this sport. They were able to show me that barriers were broken and to remember to respect those that came before me. I also wanted to give a well-known example of someone who I have looked up to for a long time, of someone who has continued to help break barriers in this sport we love
Equestrians in History:
Isaac Burns Murphy was someone my parents taught me about the first time I visited the Kentucky Horse Park. A lot of people had considered him the best American jockey. Another thing that may be surprising to some is that the jockey world used to be dominated by African-Americans. Isaac was the son of a slave. He has verifiably won more than 35% of his races, won the Kentucky Derby three times, and four runnings of the American Derby. He was able to be inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1955 and is now buried near Man O’War in the Kentucky Horse Park.
Living near Cleveland, my parents taught me a lot about her. My dad was actually able to go see her race. Riding her father’s horse on June 15, 1971, she became the first African American female jockey. She was able to break so many barriers in not only racing but winning. She won over 750 races and earned more than 750,000. She had grown up around horses her whole life. Her dad was a jockey and her mom bred and owned horses.
Donna Cheek. As a child, I thought I was related to her because, at my family reunion, we have a lot of people with the last name Cheek. I was very disappointed to find out I was not related to this amazing woman. Donna Cheek was the first black woman to join the US Equestrian Team in 1981. She also was the first equestrian to be inducted into the Women’s Sports Hall of Fame. She has an amazing story. She, like many equestrians, are not sitting on an abundant amount of cash. She was able to still overcome that through her hard work and opportunities. I am so inspired by her story, and I hope that this will encourage you to continue to work for what you want to accomplish
Where we are now:
Mavis Spencer started riding lessons at the age of 5 and has been riding since then. As she began to start her professional riding career, she was able to start as a groom to learn how to make a living out of riding. It was when Lorenzo de Luca got injured that she had her chance to shine. Since then she has been one of the riders for Neil Jones. I have looked up to her for a very long time. Seeing someone who worked hard for what she wanted, and made the most of the opportunities she was given.
I hope that I am able to continue to break down doors in the equestrian world! Always remember, we do it for the love of horses! Thank you for reading! Who was your favorite? Why did you like them? Let me know in the comments below!