African American horsewoman Greta "Jade" Krafsig understands the struggle to be an equestrian in a predominantly white world. The Warrenton, Virginia, horsewoman regularly encounters racism, classism, body shaming and insensitive comments. In 2020, she launched a diversity program at her White Oak Stables to provide access to horseback riding for minority communities and shares what has made it successful.
Increase accessibility. Horse’s aren’t cheap, and the expense of lessons and showing can make them inaccessible for underrepresented riders. Krafsig believes that lowering prices is key to bringing riders from all walks of life into the industry. Most people don’t want to hear about lower prices because it means less revenue and less profit.
“Lower prices also means more business,” she said.” I run eight to 14 lessons a week, and they are almost always full. I have brought in outside instructors to keep up with the demand for the number of lessons, until the pandemic. Even with another instructor on my payroll, my riding stable is still profitable.”
Enjoy the ride. Showing, leasing and expensive clothing are just not possible for many minority families, according to Krafsig. Often when families on limited incomes become riding clients, stable owners push riders to higher and higher price points until it becomes discouraging and limits participation. Instead, riding stable owners should find ways to provide opportunities within their budgets.
“If you really want to offer these things, then consider how you can make them more affordable for your students,” she said. “Go to cheaper shows, have a clothing and boot exchange box, get several show jackets in different sizes and let people use them the day of the show rather than requiring they buy one.”
Provide more opportunities. Raising awareness of the sport, making it more affordable and providing inclusive opportunities are pivotal to increasing diversity in the equestrian community, according to Krafsig.
She suggests asking yourself the following questions in finding ways to reach more riders.
- Do you have any riders of color? Why not?
- Do you advertise in places that riders of color would visit, why not?
- Do you encourage your students equally?
- Do you give all students the same opportunities no matter their difference in skill levels?
- Can you provide extra riding time for students who need more practice because they can afford fewer lessons?
- Can you help arrange carpools for people without transportation or limited transportation?
- Can you offer an after school program where the riders are dropped off right from school for kids whose parents work full time or odd hours?
Articles previously published in this diversity series are: