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Olympic riders back campaign to boost diversity in equestrianism

Top riders including Nick Skelton, Laura Collett and Carl Hester are backing a new campaign to drive increased diversity and inclusion in equestrianism.

Reece McCook, founder of Ride Out Racism, has joined forces with Daisy Honeybunn and her husband Pravin Mukhi, founders of the DHD Foundation charitable trust, to launch #IAMPARTOFTHECHANGE.

H&H reported this summer that Reece had set up his campaign after years of discrimination, judging and verbal abuse, not to mention the fact he was the only person of colour in every equestrian establishment he had been in.

“It was disheartening and I lost my confidence – my dreams were shattered and I didn’t think I’d ever be able to work in the industry,” he said. “But with the support of friends and family I set up Ride Out Racism, to lower barriers and make the sport more accessible and diverse on every level.”

Reece met Hickstead director Daisy when he was nominated to appear on her Horse & Country TV series Daisy Dines With, through his work as an ambassador for the Urban Equestrian Academy.

“Reece is a very determined and impressive young man, and he is doing such important work within our sport and industry,” Daisy said.

“We have become great friends, and we wanted to work on a campaign together that could actually spark real effective change. We want to build a more diverse equestrian world, where seeing faces of every colour, and people from every sphere of life is the norm, and where acceptance is automatic.

“Many people and organisations are already working extraordinarily hard within the industry towards this goal, but there is still a long way to go. We wanted our campaign not only to show people the projects we are working on, but also to create a platform for others to share their own work and ideas.”

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Projects include giving riding lessons to young people from disadvantaged communities, and funding Reece’s studies towards the British Horse Society coach in complete horsemanship qualification.

There is also an ongoing project with Ebony Horse Club in Brixton, and collaboration with an equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) training consultancy, which aims to provide EDI training grants for equestrian brands.

Top riders who showed their support for the campaign by appearing in its launch video also include Laura Tomlinson, William Whitaker, Shane Breen, Laura Kraut, Natasha Baker and YouTube star Esme Higgs.

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