Black History Month: Inspiring a new generation of horse riders

Black History Month

Cowboys are a part of the history book, but how often do we see cowboys of color? Some in the Triangle are saying not often enough and that needs to change. 

Growing up, Marcel Collymore says he didn’t see cowboys that looked like him.

“It’s not readily available you don’t just hear the Black cowboy stories, so I’ve been trying to touch and get an idea of where we came from.”

Collymore found his passion in horses. He started riding when he was young, as a way to spend time with his father. Now, he competes in ranch sorting.  

Abriana Johnson has been riding since high school. She started a podcast called ‘Young Black Equestrian’ where she shares stories of famous black cowboys who never got their proper recognition.

“Black people and Hispanics weren’t able to compete in these rodeos until after the audience would leave so that’s when you start hearing stories about Bill Pickett and Tom Bass and all these historical figures who were able to shine in the shadows because they weren’t allowed to come out when the real audience was there,” said Johnson. 

“I wish there was more representation so I try to do my best so I can represent the cowboy well,” said Collymore. 

Whether its Collymore representing from his stallion, Mona Lisa, or Johnson reaching out to the youth with Encore, her miniature therapy horse, both are hoping to use their platforms to inspire a new generation of riders.

“I think it is very important to know where you’ve come from to know where you can go.  You don’t have to be rich; you don’t have to be this top tier person to have horses or to ride,” said Collymore. 
“There are Black and brown cowboys out here they’re succeeding they’re thriving, they’re competing and that’s something that’s available to the next generation as well,” added Johnson. 

The east coast trail ride association, which has founders from central North Carolina, hosts trail rides where hundreds of people get together and go riding. They’ve had to scale back during the pandemic but they’re looking forward to more rides possibly this summer.

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