The mother of a young dual-heritage rider is campaigning for more diversity in equestrian publications, advertising and imagery.
Claire Goodwin carried out research into the subject as she had seen her daughter Erin-Mae, now seven, make observations.
A few years ago, Erin-Mae was in a showing line-up, and she said: ‘Why am I the only brown person, Mummy?’ Claire told H&H. “At that age, it’s an observation, and I didn’t really know what to say, just kind of ‘That’s how it is in this class’.
“Over the next year or so, she was becoming more able to communicate her ideas. We’re in quite a rural area, in Shropshire, and at the shows we go to, it would be unusual to see another person of colour. It opened my eyes.”
During lockdown last spring, Claire bought a number of magazines, including equestrian publications.
“By that point, I think Erin-Mae had realised it wasn’t just in the horse world; she’s in quite a minority in the area,” Claire said. “We were flicking through and she was asking what things were; I said they were adverts, and there was one with four people in it. She said ‘Well, I’m not there’.”
Claire and Erin-Mae found no more pictures of people of colour, and then after George Floyd’s death in the US, and trying to explain the subsequent events to her daughter, Claire contacted a local newspaper, who ran a story on Erin-Mae’s riding.
“That was really positive, and I could see people making changes,” Claire said. “So we decided to do this survey. We might be a minority, but let’s see if other people think like us.”
More than 110 people responded, and the majority felt that equestrian media and brands do not represent or use people from BAME (Black, Asian and minority ethnic) communities enough.
In a section for other comments, respondents said they would like to see more diverse representation, as they felt this would benefit the whole industry as well as individuals, and that they think changes are being made.
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One wrote: “I feel advertising should be more diverse, but putting articles in about BAME riders just to make up the percentage isn’t right, they need to be meaningful or deserved articles to have an impact.”
Claire believes increasing diversity in imagery and publications will help younger people relate to the industry and aspire to be involved.
“If the first thing a child notices is ‘That’s not the colour of my skin, that person isn’t like me’ — it’s about identifying with people, especially when you’re young.”
She also stressed that her research is not aimed at trying to label the equestrian world as racist, but about observing and raising awareness.
“It’s about doing things that will give magazines the people to write about,” she said.
“I’d like to do this survey again in 12-18 months to see if things have really changed; I’d like to think we’re at a turning point and things are here to stay. If every brand could just use a percentage of people who aren’t white in their adverts, that would increase the diversity.”
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