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February 28, 2021 – Black history is always important to us and we thank State Line Tack ® for introducing us to the Equestrian Diversity Project which includes Ebony Horsewomen.

What is Ebony Horsewomen?

Founded by Patricia E. Kelly in 1984, Ebony Horsewomen, Inc. was initially conceived as a cultural enrichment organization. Made up of African American female equestrians who operated community programs and rode in rodeos, EHI has morphed over the years into a comprehensive equine educational and therapy program.

A Grocer and a Horse and Wagon

In the early 1950s, Patricia’s parents moved to a new neighborhood. There, their neighbor was a Jewish grocer who owned a horse and wagon for his business. Mr. Fisher, the grocer, allowed Patricia to groom and ride the horse until its unfortunate death 2 years later in a fire. However, this short timespan was long enough to ingrain her desire for the equestrian lifestyle. Growing up as a horse crazy youth, many people thought it strange for a colored girl to fancy herself a cowgirl, with no visible representation to inspire her to it.

Marine Corps, a Men’s Group and New Beginnings:

Patricia joined the USMC after high school, and after she left the Corps, she yearned to rejoin the equestrian community. She connected with a men’s group in Hartford, CT - the Ebony Horsemen - a noted and long-standing group of African American horsemen.

Based on her experience with that group, Patricia and her youngest daughter organized the Ebony Horsewomen, which immediately started attracting skilled equestrians from Alaska to Maine, women who appeared in parades, rodeos, and horse shows all across America. They became the first African American all-female equestrian organization to be invited to participate in the Tournament of Roses Parade in 1990, and the State of Connecticut Legislature proclaimed them as Goodwill Ambassadors.

Another article we featured this month was Capturing the Vibrant Culture of Black Cowboys. The Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo, founded in 1985, celebrates the black men and women keeping the cowboy tradition alive. The essence of the rodeo is to educate people from all over the world about the story of African American cowboys and cowgirls. Cowboy The Brotherhood Riders Youth Club of Stockton, California is a mentoring program with at risk youth. The founder Sylvester Miller, travels with the youth to several rodeos in California. 

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