Standing Ovation by Ovation Riding: Generous Donations Bring Diversity Scholarship Fund Up to $5,000

It is amazing to see the outpouring of support for the Nation Media Diversity Scholarship. The fund total is now up to $5,000!

Every week Horse Nation teams up with Ovation Riding to recognize those doing good in the horse world. Today we recognize riders and organizations who have reached out to offer funds to our first-annual Diversity Scholarship.

Randy Ward and Grando. Photo by Jenni Autry.

When we first announced  Nation Media’s first-annual Diversity Scholarship, we knew that the amount wasn’t much, but we wanted to do our part to help support under-represented voices in the equestrian community. Financial support is one small step toward dismantling the systemic disadvantages of being non-white, particularly in a sport as expensive as equestrian. We have been awe-struck by the organizations and riders who have stepped up to help contribute to the scholarship to increase the amount we can offer.

We appreciate riders who are as dedicated to positive change in in the world as they are committed to getting to the other side of a cross country fence. Stable View was the first organization to match our funds, which brought the scholarship amount up to $2,000.

“We built Stable View to be a Gathering Place,” Barry Olliff says, yet notes that there is an imbalance in the racial profile of those who gather there. He says he is troubled when he looks around and sees majority white competitors and spectators knowing that Aiken demographic is 33% African American. He also recognizes that educating oneself is a first step toward building an equestrian community that is diverse and inclusive of all races and ethnicities, and sees the scholarship as an opportunity to listen and learn.

“We’d like to learn,” he says. “You can’t instruct — this is all about learning. It’s about trying to work out what it is we’re missing.”

Then five-star eventer Katherine Coleman saw and offered to match our scholarship funds, bringing the total to $4,000.

“I just feel like there’s a lot of talk and a lot of momentum and it’s time for everyone to back that up with action,” Katherine says. “And if everyone does a little bit, a little bit goes a long way.”

Katherine Coleman and Monte Classico. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

“With everything happening, the awareness is there,” Katherine says. “It’s real, it’s something that is happening and needs to be addressed. We’re so blessed and so fortunate in this industry with what we do and what the horses provide that to make it available to more people is a wonderful thing.”

Like so many of us, Hannah Hawkins has been following the conversation about inequity in equestrian sport and seeking out a meaningful way to contribute. “I want to do something that’s actually helpful … what is that?” she asked herself. “I feel strongly that I would love to do something but I don’t know what to do.”

The upper-level Maryland eventer said she saw the announcement about our scholarship and the matching donations. It occurred to her that she could “just reach out.” She emailed us and offered to contribute another $1,000 to the fund, bringing the total to date to $5,000 — five times its original amount.

Hannah Hawkins and Didgeridoo at Fair Hill International in 2018. Photo by Jenni Autry.

The Scholarship calls for contributions to the discussion about diversity and inclusion in equestrian sport from minority equestrians — you can view full details here.

“This was the smallest thing I could do to help encourage discourse and push some funds toward people who are not as fortunate as others,” Hannah says.

Wondering how you can help? Just reaching out is a great start.

For real change to occur, it’s not enough for us to comment on Facebook or wait around for someone else to tell us what to do. We can all play a role, now, in helping to create a more diverse and inclusive sport. From donating to or volunteering with an organization that is doing good work to engaging the broader community in myriad ways, the onus is on all equestrians to help build a bridge of access. In the coming days, with input from a panel of equestrian diversity experts, we’ll be outlining some action-based outreach strategies for individuals and groups to get you started.

Every step forward is a positive one, and you never know when it will start a chain reaction! It is our sincere hope that this Scholarship gives some deserving equestrians a leg-up while encouraging, elevating and giving a platform to minority voices.

Go reach out today. Go riding.

Many thanks thanks to Ovation Riding for their support of both Horse Nation and individuals and organizations that are doing good work in the horse world. If you know someone who deserves a Standing Ovation, we would love to recognize them in a future post. Email the name of the person or organization along with a message about the good work they do to [email protected]. Photos/videos are always welcome, and include a link to their website if applicable.