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Strides for Equality Equestrians

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Co- Founders: Dr. Anastasia Curwood and Heather Gillette

How many years have you been riding/ been working with horses?
Strides for Equality Equestrians’ co-founders, Dr. Anastasia Curwood and Heather Gillette, are lifelong equestrians, joining force with a leadership core of fellow amateur and professionals from the equine industry, academia, environmental biology, and other walks of life.

Describe your personal goals and overall hope and vision for the Equestrian Community in terms of expanding and sharing horses and equestrian sports with individuals from all walks of life:
SEE began with the goal of promoting inclusion and allsyhip in the eventing community. Heather and Stacy wanted to create a program to make support visible and make the voices of BIPOC equestrians and their allies heard out loud.

 
From this goal grew the desire to expand diversity in all equestrian sports by reaching out to BIPOC people in their own communities and building partnerships with existing organizations that have developed programs and relationships at the local level. 
Through professional pathway programs, mentorship, and financial support, Strides for Equality Equestrians aims to elevate underrepresented communities within the world of horses -- and beyond.

How do you feel equestrian sports can better diversify our equestrian communities?
Equestrian sports boast one equalizing common denominator: the horse. The horse does not care about anything but your communication with them. However, having access to the horse is not something all individuals have. Equestrian sports serve as a catalyst for curiosity and engagement. Many riders - and other sporting enthusiasts - can recall a particular moment or individual that inspired them to pick up the craft for themselves. By elevating riders of color and from marginalized backgrounds, we can create more visible pathways for involvement and remove some of the long-standing barriers to entry to horses and horse sports.

What are ways you/ your organization have successfully introduced horses to new individuals in our community?
We have successfully partnered with existing equestrian access programs/non-profits such as Detroit Horse Power, as well as organizations such as the Maryland Horse Trials to provide financial donations and opportunity support to aspiring riders. We have also worked to highlight the efforts of individuals and programs within the community dedicated to increasing diversity and representation. Our most successful and recognizable program is the Ever So Sweet Scholarship, which provides fully-funded training opportunities with three-day eventing rider Sara Kozumplik, thanks to support from the USEA Foundation and Edy Rameika. Smaller scholarship opportunities such as our Leg Up Grant have also provided training and educational offerings. We plan to continue to expand and grow our efforts to benefit and grow the equine community.

 

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