Monday, February 4, 2013

Black Riders

Black riders. Even typing those two words makes me feel a bit uneasy. It's a shame. We could talk all day about senior riders, or female riders or beginning riders or trail riders or gay riders. (Look up gay rodeo if you doubt me on that!)  But introducing race as a qualifier makes white folks nervous, no matter the context.
 
This week on radio I had the opportunity to confront that demon headon. A delightful horsewoman by the name of Tassey Kennedy joined me to talk about riding in the black community. It's a big deal. Some organized rides draw tens of thousands of riders. My white guilt had me in a fog of stupid at first. I thought she wanted to expose a social problem that needed fixing. Turns out, we think exactly the same on such matters. People are drawn together by what they have in common. Sometimes it's interests or values or beliefs. Many times, a shared culture figures into this. Black riders enjoy riding with other black riders. Tassey feels the only problem that needs fixing is the lack of awareness that a black riding community even exists. The web site blacktrailriders.com should help in that regard.
  
Tassey says she's fine with the terms black and white. Everyone understands them, and we just need to lighten up when race enters the conversation. Tassey is actually biracial. Her mom is a white Canadian, and her dad is of African/Caribbean descent. So she’s really an African-Caribbean-Canadian-American. I think.
 
I confess that I slipped and called Tassey "dear" at the end of the interview. What can I say? I find her endearing. Somehow, I think she's fine with that, too.
 

13 comments:

Unknown said...

I hate that awkwardness that you must have felt and there shouldn't be that gap... but there are many "blacks" that are not fond of horses and you just don't SEE the blacks particpating in horse shows or activities. With that in mind, you don't SEE very many Mexicans at horse shows etc., either... but I know there are many, many Mexican's that love their horses and I see so many in their backyards in the "Mexican" housing areas. So why don't they all join in? I find it interesting and too bad they don't.

Unknown said...

I hate that awkwardness you must have felt! I know many blacks are fearful of horses. You never SEE blacks participating at horse shows or other horse activities, though.(Well, I haven't and I have been to alot of shows) That being said... many, many Mexicans have horses, I see them all the time in back yards, driving through Mexican housing areas... but you don't SEE them at horse shows hardly ever either... I find it interesting that they all don't join in.

FlaTav said...

I believe that many do not join in because they don't have the money to do so. They don't have disposable cash for lessons, show clothing, entry fees, etc. Horses and showing horses are considered luxuries for most average citizens, no matter what color or ethnicity they happen to be.

FlaTav said...

I believe that many do not join in because they don't have the money to do so. They don't have disposable cash for lessons, show clothing, entry fees, etc. Horses and showing horses are considered luxuries for most average citizens, no matter what color or ethnicity they happen to be.

4miniaussies said...

I live just down the road from an African American gentleman that trains roping horses. I've been looking for an excuse for months to go meet him and his horses but don't want to invade his privacy. There was also a story in our local paper recently about another African American cowboy, Aaron King, who trains and competes in roping and who is mentoring youth who are interested in the sport. He was able to help one young man get a college scholarship to an ag school.

Unknown said...

Comeon, "Black Trailriders", when are we going to git over this stuff. I've seen black horse people all over Florida, participating in rodeos and trailriding. Time to just talk horses, leave the race, gender sexuality stuff out of it!!!

FlaTav said...

@"Unknown" poster who mentioned "Black Trailriders": I don't know what part of Florida you're from, but I'm a native South Floridian, still live here and I do not see black riders participating at local horse shows and such. If black riders still feel it's a necessity to discuss it, perhaps there are issues they are aware of that we, as Caucasians, are not.

Loren Schumacher said...

Tassey may not have a problem with black and white, but I do. Differentiation by race,creed, cultural differences, or left and right-handed for that matter, continues to create divisions in a country, the USA, that sorely needs to come together. As a horse owner I recognize everyone astride a horse as a horseman. I know, I know, the term horseman can be divisive too. When will we ever learn.

Loren

Retired Rider said...

Hmm. Some interesting comments posted here. I'm certainly uncomfortable with generalizations about Blacks being afraid of horses. I don't know what material is being presented in school these days but be careful of generalizations and feel free to research the roles of the Buffalo Soldiers, the settlement of the West and even the current involvement of Blacks on the race tracks and as owners. I do agree that cost probably has an impact on involvement especially in today's economic climate. Keep in mind geographic location of local stables to black communities also influences access to and knowledge about horses. I ride dressage and rarely see other blacks competing but assume there's not just one reason why I don't because it could just be my region. The scoring procedure of dressage let's you know if a judge has been unfair and its pretty simple to tell if there's a "problem". I think I've probably experienced more discrimination based on my age as a senior rider than anything else. But I do believe its the common love of horses that's important and not the rddiscipline, race, sex or culture.

AntwanMole said...

Found this story very interesting, I am a African American Cowboy. I grew up riding my entire life. I do believe in the saying different strokes for different folks and I ride and am associated with black and white cowboys up and down the east coast. We trailride and compete only for fun. Anybody who says that "The Black Cowboy" doesn't live is completely wrong. I am and know many black cowboys, just like Tassey says it is just not publicized like others. And as far as being scared goes, a black can train a horse just like anybody else and vice versa, it all boils down to the better horsemanship.

qtrhrse4 said...

I am a black horsewoman and know hundreds of black cowboys and cowgirls all up and down the east coast and 1 in Canada (hey Tassey). I have been riding for over 30 years, owned several horses and love trail riding. In my old age (umm) I am getting the urge to join Actha but again, there are not many competitive events in my area. But because many on here are saying you don't see us I guess I will have to double my efforts and show you that we are out here. We camp, we ski, we scuba dive, stop all the assumptions. To unknown: there are just as many blacks that are not "scared" or "fond" of horses, I have several friends, that train horses, sell quality horses and compete in shows. Maybe many of the black people that YOU know are fearful because they may have never been exposed to horses, have you tried introducing them to a horse? My friend has competed and won many shows but the crown was he competed several years ago in the Quarterhorse congress and won! We are out here!!!

Darlene Lester said...

I am a black horsewoman and know hundreds of black cowboys and cowgirls all up and down the east coast and 1 in Canada (hey Tassey). I have been riding for over 30 years, owned several horses and love trail riding. In my old age (umm) I am getting the urge to join Actha but again, there are not many competitive events in my area. But because many on here are saying you don't see us I guess I will have to double my efforts and show you that we are out here. We camp, we ski, we scuba dive, stop all the assumptions. To unknown: there are just as many blacks that are not "scared" or "fond" of horses, I have several friends, that train horses, sell quality horses and compete in shows. Maybe many of the black people that YOU know are fearful because they may have never been exposed to horses, have you tried introducing them to a horse? My friend has competed and won many shows but the crown was he competed several years ago in the Quarterhorse congress and won! We are out here!!!

Janice Scott said...

UNKNOWN needs to broaden her world and become more open minded. Check out my FB page "Equestrian Minorities" it can help dispel a lot of ignorance!