Have you ever been told you don't belong at a horse show because it's “not your place” and called a racial slur? Have you ever been told that you will break your horse? Or, have you ever asked if you're the groom when you're holding your horse while dressed in show clothing with a number pinned to your back?
As an African American woman in the horse industry, Greta "Jade" Krafsig understands the struggle to be an equestrian in a predominantly white world. The Warrenton, Virginia, horsewoman has regularly encounterd racism, classism, body shaming and insensitive comments. At her White Oak Stables, she strives to offer affordable options for kids from underrepresented areas and ethnic backgrounds to feel safe, included and encouraged around horses.
“Even at my own farm where I introduce myself as the owner, I get asked if the horses are mine. Yes, all five are mine,” she said. “I’ve been asked who lives in that big house up the hill (my house), if I go to the Black Baptist Church down the street (no), what my husband does for a living (I'm not married), what I do for a living to afford my place (I'm a computer programmer). I've even been asked by delivery drivers when I open my front door if I'm the maid.”
Creating an environment that is welcoming to all riders begins with inclusivity in all things, according to Krafsig. That means teaching riders of all backgrounds.
She has taught plus-sized riders, transgender riders, gay riders, riders with sensory integration issues, riders with low self-esteem or low self-confidence, anxious riders, and even cancer treatment patients.
“Being welcoming isn't just about your ethnic and cultural background,” she said. “I encourage my students to get to know each other, to understand how our differences make us unique, and that there is nothing right about one or wrong about another.”
Krafsig launched a diversity program at her barn to create opportunities for raising awareness and increasing access to horses for African Americans, Native Americans, Asians, Pacific Islanders and Hispanics.
She discourages all gossip and drama, even so far as to ask people to leave if they stir up trouble or make any unnecessary or mean comments.
“I don't care how much income they generate, this kind of toxicity is not permitted in my program,” she said.
Here are some resources to help you serve a diverse client base: