Next up in my Equestrians of Color Series is Navina Harris, a young equestrian living in the Twin Cities. I photographed Navina at the beautiful True North Ranch.
How do you describe yourself as an equestrian?
As an equestrian, I would describe myself as someone who is very passionate about horses and riding! My horse Honor and my riding coach, Rachel Walker have both taught me so many life lessons. Including skills and values that I can apply to my life, such as; patience, perseverance, work ethic, responsibility, faith and more. The feeling I get when I am with my horse Honor and really any horse is pure joy and a deep sense of peace and happiness – especially when I am riding.
What do you enjoy about being an equestrian of color?
As an equestrian of color, I enjoy inspiring my family.
My heritage is East Indian – African American. My mom is first-generation American and her parents are immigrants from Bangalore, India. My dad is African American and grew up in Minnesota. Both of my parents grew up in the city and did not have exposure to horses. The other day, my uncle in India called my family and I, and told us that he is so proud of me for working towards my goal, and riding horses even though no one on either side of the family has ever been around horses. What I enjoy the most about being an equestrian of color is that I feel like I am breaking barriers.
What challenges have you faced as an equestrian of color?
One major challenge that I have experienced as an equestrian of color, is that I have not really had any role models to look up to that look like me. It makes me want to work even harder to make my dreams a reality, and to be a role model for other equestrians of color who come after me. One way that has helped me to overcome this challenge is to focus on my dreams and goals and to work hard to pursue them. My goal is to become a better jumper and someday in the long term I would love to compete in big jumper shows. I only started horseback riding 3 years ago, and my horse Honor and I have made a lot of progress this summer, and I am excited to keep going.
What words of encouragement would you have for other equestrians of color or people of color considering becoming equestrians?
I encourage people of color considering becoming an equestrian to go for it. I have experienced a horse community that has been welcoming and warm to me and my family. I hope this is the experience for other equestrians of color too. Horses truly are amazing and they bring people together regardless of our differences.