It’s time to debunk a myth that seems to have seeped into the crevices of our beloved horse industry.

When we look back over the last year, many of our most memorable moments have been conversations around the impact of cultural events in the horse industry.

Many of the industry’s top competitors were called upon to make statements of support or opinion on matters that may or may not impact them, despite being the minority in the industry. (According to U.S. market research compiled by Wonder research service, the competition sector of the equestrian market accounts for 32% of the $102 billion dollar industry. The remaining 68% are recreational riders, workers and racing.)

But equally important has been the voice of the “every rider.” At the forefront of many of these conversations have been regular people at the grassroots level who care for their horses themselves, expose children to the industry, and create experiences outside the constraints of a show ring.

So this myth?

You have to be an equestrian athlete with a huge platform to make an impact on this industry.

There are several shining examples of people in the horse industry who have found their voice over the last year, demonstrating that you can make a true impact without the pedestal that competitive equestrian sports tends to elevate people to.

Here are some shining examples:

Caitlin Gooch of Saddle Up and Read

Caitlin Gooch and her non-profit have taken the world by storm since early December. Her passion and character beams from every article and feature as she explains how the inadequate literacy rates of minority children in North Carolina inspired her to use her horses to make a difference. In this recent CBS feature, she shares how she makes a difference in her community, by sharing her horses with local children and distributes books to kids in need.

Brittney Chambers of CBC Therapeutic Horseback Riding Academy

Brittney Chambers operates a lesson program with over 70 students enrolled. As a young business owner and trainer, she has continued to give back to the community by hosting organizations affected by sex trafficking and gun violence. As the demand for her program has grown, she has the flexibility to hire additional trainers, add horses to her program and step into her role as a professional trainer.

Erin Brown of Philadelphia Urban Riding Academy

Erin’ Brown’s partnership with Missy Clark of North Run was big news this summer. But that’s not all the executive director has up her sleeve. In a recent press release, Phelps Media Group announced fundraising efforts for a new equestrian facility in Philadelphia. With ambitious fundraising goals, Erin and PURA are heading into 2021 on track to create a lasting impact on inner city youth, introducing them to horses and building community in the process.

Chanel Rhodes of Mane Tresses

At the crossroad of self expression and equestrian lifestyle stands Chanel Rhodes and her “afrocentric pony” Lady—in their matching hair pieces. This viral duo has spent the last year gracing social media with their colorful ensembles, matching from head to hoof. Just recently, Chanel announced her plan to make her “whimsical horse hair pieces” available to the public. If you’ve ever wanted to turn heads in this “over saturated” industry, Mane Tresses will soon give you the opportunity.

These women have used their platforms to single handedly bring attention to important issues in and outside the horse industry and continue to make an impact on local and global communities.

If you are interested in how you can make a difference in the horse industry without a huge platform, here are a few tips I discuss in my latest mythbusting video on my YouTube channel:

  • Share a story that solves a problem or addresses a gap in conversation
  • Be consistent with your message
  • Speak when no one is listening and work when no one is looking

2020 was a year of conversation, 2021 is a year of action. We can all do our part to make a difference in our communities and in the horse industry as a whole.