How Ride To The Olympics Brings Diversity To Equestrian Sports

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Since 2017, fashion designer Miguel wilson has worked to position black students to participate in equestrian sports at the highest levels of competition through his non-profit organization Ride To The Olympics.

The Atlanta-based organization gives downtown kids access to horseback riding lessons, horse farm tours, summer camps, and field trips to show jumping and jumping events. polo. Through its HBCU initiative, Ride To The Olympics partnered with Morehouse College in 2019 to launch the first HBCU polo team.

Today, RTO works with its first all-female college team, consisting of two Spelmanites and a student from the Atlanta campus of Savannah College of Art & Design. The three young women are fortunate enough to one day become the first African American women to play at a professional level, despite the fact that the US Polo Association has 40% of its membership in 2020 being women.

“I never rode a horse outside of myself starting this, let alone playing polo, so I had to get over my fear of thinking, for example, that I would get kicked or fall,” Gia Tejeda, one of the all-female team members, Recount ABC News. “I just have the impression that you can learn to ride a horse and really master a sport that you can also, in the same sense, conquer the world, because it takes a lot to ride a horse. “

Wilson told ABC News he recognizes that the absence of African Americans from the polo world is mainly due to a lack of access, which is exactly what Tejeda’s teammate AnaSimone Guimone said. preventing him from getting involved at a younger age.

“A lot of kids in these downtown areas,” Wilson said, “they know football, they know basketball, but who knows how many professional polo players we have in Northwest Washington, DC, or in southwest Atlanta? “

As part of his initiative to standardize both horse riding and polo in the community, Wilson recently partnered with the Boys and Girls Foundation to create eight teams so that students not only get exposure to the sport, but have the opportunity to play against children who look like them.

“The change of scenery, seeing concrete turn to grass,” Wilson told ABC, “for a lot of inner-city kids, going out into the country and being able to spend a few hours with horses is life changing.”

Wilson and his team have extended the experience beyond the student-athletes they support. Each year, the organization’s main fundraiser is the Atlanta Fashion and Classic Polo, a three-day event that reframes the opulence of polo events to center African-American people and culture.


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