By the EIE Editorial Staff
The good news is that equestrian activities can be enjoyed equally by everyone. In fact, equestrian events are the only Olympic events where men and women compete directly against each other equally. This includes dressage, eventing and show jumping. There are no separate men's or women's divisions as the competitions are simply open to everyone!
The landscape of LGBTQ+ friendliness in the equestrian world is complex and multifaceted. There are promising signs of inclusivity, but also room for improvement and ongoing challenges. Here's a nuanced perspective.
- Gender neutrality: Equestrian is one of the few sports where competition isn't segregated by gender. Men and women compete head-to-head at all levels, creating a naturally more inclusive environment.
- Strong community: Many within the equestrian community are known for their welcoming and supportive nature. Shared passion for horses often transcends other differences, fostering a sense of camaraderie.
- Visible LGBTQ+ presence: Prominent LGBTQ+ Olympians and professionals in the sport, like Carl Hester and Robert Dover, contribute to normalization and acceptance.
Challenges and areas for improvement
- Rurality: The predominantly rural nature of equestrianism can expose LGBTQ+ individuals to rigid attitudes and limited diversity.
- Visibility: While acceptance is growing, LGBTQ+ riders may still face subtle prejudice or feel pressure to downplay their identities.
- Bullying and harassment: Incidents of discrimination and bullying, though isolated, are still reported within the community.
While the equestrian world offers considerable promise for LGBTQ+ individuals, it's not without its challenges. Continued efforts towards education, inclusivity, and combating discrimination are necessary to create a truly welcoming environment for all.
It’s not accurate to label entire equestrian disciplines as definitively "more" or "less" LGBTQ+ friendly. Each discipline, and indeed each individual barn or riding center within those disciplines, can vary greatly in their level of inclusivity and welcoming atmosphere.
However, there are some trends and resources that can help you find LGBTQ+ friendly equestrian environments.
- Organizations and initiatives: Look for barns or riding centers involved with organizations like Equestrian Pride or Horse Equality that actively promote LGBTQ+ inclusion within the equestrian community.
- Visible diversity: While not foolproof, noticing diverse riders and instructors at a barn can be a positive sign of an inclusive environment.
- Open communication: Don't hesitate to directly ask about a barn's policies and commitment to inclusivity. A welcoming barn will be happy to answer your questions honestly.
- LGBTQ+ equestrian communities: Online groups and forums can connect you with other LGBTQ+ riders and offer valuable insights into specific barns or disciplines.
- Recommendations and reviews: Ask fellow riders, trainers, or local tack shops for recommendations of inclusive barns or riding centers. Online reviews can also offer clues about a barn's atmosphere.
Ultimately, the best way to find an LGBTQ+ friendly equestrian environment is to trust your gut and seek out places that feel welcoming and respectful. Remember, you deserve to feel comfortable and supported while pursuing your passion for horses.
Here are some additional tips for creating a safe and inclusive space for yourself in any equestrian setting:
- Be open and authentic about yourself.
- Speak up if you experience any discrimination or harassment.
- Support other LGBTQ+ riders and allies.
- Advocate for inclusivity within the equestrian community.
Remember, fostering a welcoming and respectful environment for everyone is what truly matters, and you can play a role in making the equestrian world more inclusive for LGBTQ+ individuals.
You can find more interesting stories in our section on Recreation & Lifestyle.