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Fergs
Apr. 10, 2009, 08:51 AM
This article about Jamal Brown was in the Washington Post yesterday. He sounds like a great kid who just needs some help to realize his dreams! I hope he can keep riding...what an inspirational story.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/04/08/AR2009040804114.html?referrer=emailarticle

IslandGirl
Apr. 10, 2009, 09:05 AM
What a great story! I would love to be able to help him out, but I didn't see any contact information. Did I miss something? Any kid nowadays that is willing to work and to dedicate themselves to ANYTHING should be given every opportunity to do so.

I have to say, though, that I found Kathy Clark's comment EXTREMELY offensive and rude, and completely off base. I'm surprised they published it. But, then again, it IS the Post.

ETA: I just emailed John Kelly with an offer to help.

REH
Apr. 10, 2009, 09:11 AM
I contacted the reporter directly and will let y'all know if I hear back with contact info.

caffeinated
Apr. 10, 2009, 09:12 AM
I don't think she was that off base. Yeah, a majority of us aren't rich*, and yeah, the sport is more diverse these days,.... but go to an A show and who is the majority there? Rich white girls. *shrug*

(and yes, I know that even rich white girls work their butts off to get good, and many put in more hours than I can even begin to comprehend, but demographics is demographics.)

But for all of us who shoveled lots of poo just to afford lessons, and scrimped and saved to go to the occasional C show, and stayed up till 4 AM on school nights reading "Winning" or "Hunt Seat Equitation" under the covers with flashlights, I hope Jamal makes it and lives his dream, 'cause really, it's our dream too :)

*by which I mean the majority of horse owners, as a whole. Not just "h/j show people," who I think by and large are much more likely to be affluent, by the standards of our society anyway.

Hunter Mom
Apr. 10, 2009, 09:22 AM
What a great story. I love seeing young kids who are willing to work for their dreams.

IslandGirl
Apr. 10, 2009, 09:23 AM
As you wrote, the majority of horse show folks aren't rich white girls, and making such a statement makes Kathy, as a rich white girl, sound VERY elitist. Especially when that statement is included in an article about a not-so-fortunate young black man trying to pursue a dream.

Granted, the vast majority of horse people are white women, but I must disagree that the majority are rich. Certainly the most visible ones are at least wealthy, but there are many others that never get noticed that scrimp and save to be able to compete and pursue THEIR dreams.

Not much offends me, but I DID find Kathy's statement to be offensive, especially considering the context in which it was published. A little condescending, as if she was saying: "You're a young black man and I'm a rich white girl. I'll help you play in MY sandbox and won't all my friends think I'm generous!!!"

LexInVA
Apr. 10, 2009, 09:32 AM
You clearly took what she said out of context. When she said "It's a rich white girl's sport.", she said, in not so many words, that the wealthy white girls are the ones who are competing at the highest levels and winning acclaim. It's a completely accurate statement given the context of the young man who is neither wealthy nor remotely of Caucasian ethnicity. I highly doubt her decision to lease him a horse was based on any sort of "Trading Places"-esque idea to live an otherwise unattainable dream.

Fergs
Apr. 10, 2009, 09:44 AM
I bristled at her comment, too, but mostly because I am really hopeful that equestrian sports won't always be elitist. It'd be great to get some more diversity.

I'd totally donate a modest amount of money to help this kid. But it sounds like maybe more than that, he needs the mileage and experience that he can only get by spending more time in the barn and in the saddle. I hope he gets some solid contacts and opportunities through this article.

Heineken
Apr. 10, 2009, 09:45 AM
I am most impressed with his mother, so obviously out of her comfort zone, but willing to go the distance for her kid. BRAVO.

Trakehner
Apr. 10, 2009, 09:56 AM
"A lot of guys when they ride, they don't love their horse," Paige Dunn, the Barrie coach, told me. "Jamal loves his horses. He gives them big pats and hugs. He treats them like they're more than just a vehicle," unlike most boy riders. "I think if he keeps this up, he'll go as far as he wants to."

[edit] As a male rider who was once a boy, I loved my horses and didn't know any other guys my age who also didn't. It's the riders (males and females) later in life who never rode who see horses as "motorcycles with hearts"...usually polo or the foxhunters who only get on their horse at the hunt.

Sorry, but I don't feel for the boy. He's got a great scholarship to a good school...but he's got wine taste on a beer budget. He wants to show horses...great! Pay for it yourself?

"Rich white girl sport?" vs. "Middle class black boy typical sport?" I'm a white male, I worked my butt off to pay for my horses and shows, rode anything, taught lessons, cleaned stalls and braided more manes than I ever imagined existed...but I wasn't expecting anyone to pay my way. He wrote to the black president and the black rich woman in Middleburg...sounds like for a handout. Sorry, get rid of the race (the story is full of subtle hints) and get yourself on the skinny end of a fork and broom, be a groom at shows...it's called "Earning your way" vs. "My own stimulus package-because I'm not a rich white girl".

Jeeze, good thing he doesn't want to do one-design sailboat racing, we'd be hearing how no blacks race America's Cup in the Potomac and it's a rich white boys sport.

REH
Apr. 10, 2009, 10:00 AM
While I'm hesitant to stick my neck out around here much anymore, I feel compelled to comment on the offense taken to "rich white girls"--whomever above said that the vast majority of the sport isn't rich white girls needs a reality check...bottom line, even though many of us "working class white girls" in our sport don't like to think of ourselves as "rich", by most of America's standards we are, even if we're not Georgina Bloomberg rich. Yes, we may have to work off bills, braid ourselves, etc etc but we're still living better than the non-lobbying/lawyering/politicoing residents of DC. It's kind of like the (in my opinion offensive) license plate frame "poverty is owning a horse"--people living in real poverty would love to have the luxury of a hobby that's making them broke.

Fergs
Apr. 10, 2009, 10:05 AM
The reporter who wrote the story is having a live online discussion at noon in case anyone is interested in discussing the article with him:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/discussion/2009/04/08/DI2009040803402.html?hpid=discussions

And I happen to think Jamal and his family simply don't know where to look for opportunities. I definitely don't think they're looking for handouts! So much of the horse world is who you know and the kinds of connections you have.

MyGiantPony
Apr. 10, 2009, 10:21 AM
"A lot of guys when they ride, they don't love their horse," Paige Dunn, the Barrie coach, told me. "Jamal loves his horses. He gives them big pats and hugs. He treats them like they're more than just a vehicle," unlike most boy riders. "I think if he keeps this up, he'll go as far as he wants to."

[edit] As a male rider who was once a boy, I loved my horses and didn't know any other guys my age who also didn't. It's the riders (males and females) later in life who never rode who see horses as "motorcycles with hearts"...usually polo or the foxhunters who only get on their horse at the hunt.

Sorry, but I don't feel for the boy. He's got a great scholarship to a good school...but he's got wine taste on a beer budget. He wants to show horses...great! Pay for it yourself?

"Rich white girl sport?" vs. "Middle class black boy typical sport?" I'm a white male, I worked my butt off to pay for my horses and shows, rode anything, taught lessons, cleaned stalls and braided more manes than I ever imagined existed...but I wasn't expecting anyone to pay my way. He wrote to the black president and the black rich woman in Middleburg...sounds like for a handout. Sorry, get rid of the race (the story is full of subtle hints) and get yourself on the skinny end of a fork and broom, be a groom at shows...it's called "Earning your way" vs. "My own stimulus package-because I'm not a rich white girl".

Jeeze, good thing he doesn't want to do one-design sailboat racing, we'd be hearing how no blacks race America's Cup in the Potomac and it's a rich white boys sport.

Wow - did we even read the same article? :confused:

Jamal's mom wrote to Sheila Johnson, the wealthy co-founder of BET, whose daughter, Paige, is a competitive rider. Dannielle thought it would be instructive for Jamal to muck out the stalls at Johnson's Middleburg stables. She's still waiting to hear back. "We're not sure we wrote to the correct place," Dannielle said.

Jamal also sent a letter to the Obamas, offering to show Malia and Sasha around Rock Creek Stables, where he works and rides most weekends.

jn4jenny
Apr. 10, 2009, 10:35 AM
Other than the fact that he's a black male student, I don't see where the "story" is here. For the most part, I'm with Trakehner--and I say this as a non-white rider who came from a middle class family that struggled to afford even one riding lesson per week (and yes, I did pick up the pitchfork and do barn work to increase my riding opportunities). And it appears that Jamal has a one-up on me because at least he's got people involved who are willing to help him financially and in terms of connections. The kid is on his way, so to speak.

OTOH, I'd give the REPORTER a piece of my mind for failing to actually let Jamal speak for himself. Although it's hard to say with such minimal input from Jamal himself in the article, but it's entirely possible that Jamal is deeply grateful for the opportunities he's already received and is NOT looking for a handout. It sounds like Jamal has a completely reasonable future plan that's all built around hard work: keep working at his local stable, continue to get great grades and try for a college scholarship, etc. It's not the route that's most likely to lead him to the US Equestrian Team, but at least the kid is smart enough to be focusing on education AND horses rather than putting all his eggs in one basket.

Mayaty02
Apr. 10, 2009, 11:08 AM
I love the story but am not sure about the article itself. In particular I was not sure what the last sentance was meant to convey. To me the metaphor seemed to say that Jamal will "stumble" in his quest.

MyGiantPony
Apr. 10, 2009, 11:15 AM
I love the story but am not sure about the article itself. In particular I was not sure what the last sentance was meant to convey. To me the metaphor seemed to say that Jamal will "stumble" in his quest.

I know...I read that and kept looking for a link to the next page...it could have been a really good story, but it was just poorly/lazily written.

InWhyCee Redux
Apr. 10, 2009, 11:32 AM
I have to say, though, that I found Kathy Clark's comment EXTREMELY offensive and rude, and completely off base. I'm surprised they published it. But, then again, it IS the Post.

ETA: I just emailed John Kelly with an offer to help.
______

What's rude about telling the truth? Look at any recent list of Medal/Maclay finalists and tell me otherwise; it takes an enormous amount of money to show on the A Circuit and Kathy Clark knows it.

That said, love this story; good for her (and for you!) for helping this young man! Ms. Johnson, where are you!?

Mayaty02
Apr. 10, 2009, 11:40 AM
I know...I read that and kept looking for a link to the next page...it could have been a really good story, but it was just poorly/lazily written.



I did that too! I looked twice to see if I was missing something :no:

Dun Ciarain
Apr. 10, 2009, 12:32 PM
When she said "It's a rich white girl's sport.", she said, in not so many words, that the wealthy white girls are the ones who are competing at the highest levels and winning acclaim. It's a completely accurate statement given the context of the young man who is neither wealthy nor remotely of Caucasian ethnicity.

Wealthy white girls are the ones who are competing at the highest levels and winning acclaim????

I thought the Grand Prixs and World Cup events were the highest levels. At least 50% of the riders are male in those events.

caffeinated
Apr. 10, 2009, 12:44 PM
Wealthy white girls are the ones who are competing at the highest levels and winning acclaim????

In the equitation ring and in the under 21 age group, I would say yes.

equest
Apr. 10, 2009, 01:22 PM
______

What's rude about telling the truth? Look at any recent list of Medal/Maclay finalists and tell me otherwise; it takes an enormous amount of money to show on the A Circuit and Kathy Clark knows it.

That said, love this story; good for her (and for you!) for helping this young man! Ms. Johnson, where are you!?

I agree - she told it like it is- yes, she could have been more politically correct but it is the truth - and good for her for helping him out.

Dun Ciarain
Apr. 10, 2009, 01:51 PM
In the equitation ring and in the under 21 age group, I would say yes.

I would agree about the equitation ring, but I still don't think junior equitation medals at 3'6" are anywhere near the highest levels of the sport. It's a big deal for juniors, but hardly a stepping stone to the U.S. Equestrian Team (which is the goal of the rider in the article). Since the average age of a rider on the U.S. team is upwards of 35 years old, there is a lot of riding time between winning at junior equitation and being on the U.S. team (about 17 years).

Many of the highest placed riders in the NAYRC are males. I know that the individual Gold Medal winner in 2007 was a male rider. I can't remember who won last year.

cleartheoxer
Apr. 10, 2009, 02:22 PM
Yikes. I don't think that woman's comment was rude at all and I applaude her for reaching out and helping (PAYING for a horse for him to ride) this boy out. As a single parent of a rider, I know how hard it is to afford what my daughter loves to do and I would do (and have done) anything to help her perfect her passion. In doing so, my daughter has learned many valueable life lessons. No she doesn't have the nicest horse on the block but her horse is beautiful to her and suits her just fine. No she doesn't have the nicest show clothes but thanks to many generous people, you wouldn't be able to tell the difference and you wouldn't know that the $400 show coat she's wearing was given to her. My daughter works her tail off to afford her horse, to advance in her riding skills and she is also an excellent student academically. I say "you go girl" to Jamal's mother for writing to that woman and for writing to the president. This kid will go farther in life than many of the rich, white girls who think the world owes them a favor. My daughter can ride just as well (even better) than some of them!!! Go Jamal and I hope you find every single perk out there to help you become the rider you so badly want to become. I hope he reads these posts.

Pirateer
Apr. 10, 2009, 02:31 PM
This article about Jamal Brown was in the Washington Post yesterday. He sounds like a great kid who just needs some help to realize his dreams! I hope he can keep riding...what an inspirational story.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/04/08/AR2009040804114.html?referrer=emailarticle

There are a LOT of great kids who just need some help.
Not all of them are fortunate enough to be a double minority (male rider, black) in DC with the first pseudo-Af.American president.

*headdesk*

Who helps the middle class white girls?

Oh right, no one.

Anyplace Farm
Apr. 10, 2009, 02:32 PM
I can't say I was offended by the woman saying it is a 'rich white girl's sport'. I guess rich is relative but I've never considered myself rich. I think it bugged me that I got lumped into the rich white girl category because I know how hard I have had to work and how hard I work now to feed my appetite for this sport.

Yes, there are plenty of rich girls doing this. Of course! If you were rich, you'd do it too! But you do it even if you aren't rich because just the experience of being with the horses, doing this sport and hanging out w/your horse friends is so great that you feel damn, damn rich.

Cita
Apr. 10, 2009, 02:36 PM
Other than the fact that he's a black male student, I don't see where the "story" is here.

OTOH, I'd give the REPORTER a piece of my mind for failing to actually let Jamal speak for himself. Although it's hard to say with such minimal input from Jamal himself in the article, but it's entirely possible that Jamal is deeply grateful for the opportunities he's already received and is NOT looking for a handout. It sounds like Jamal has a completely reasonable future plan that's all built around hard work: keep working at his local stable, continue to get great grades and try for a college scholarship, etc. It's not the route that's most likely to lead him to the US Equestrian Team, but at least the kid is smart enough to be focusing on education AND horses rather than putting all his eggs in one basket.

Yeah, I totally agree. There are TONS of horse-crazy, dedicated, responsible, hard-working young people who would KILL to have the opportunity to even take lessons. So he doesn't have his own horse and isn't sitting on tons of cash, boo-hoo. Join the club! At least his mother is supportive, which is more than many parents.

Kudos to the kid and his mom, and I wish him all the best in fulfilling his dreams... but why is this a news story, other than that he's black and from the inner city?

Horse-crazy kid, currently lacks the resources to truly fulfill his equestrian dream, but is dedicated and really hard to ride and learn as much as he can. Seriously, how does that not describe a huge number of people even on this bulletin board?

MyGiantPony
Apr. 10, 2009, 02:40 PM
There are a LOT of great kids who just need some help.
Not all of them are fortunate enough to be a double minority (male rider, black) in DC with the first pseudo-Af.American president.

*headdesk*

Who helps the middle class white girls?

Oh right, no one.

Only speaking for myself, but as a middle class suburban white girl, I never felt the lack of resources that a black kid from the city must feel when it comes to this sport.

I had access to lessons, supportive parents and lots of ways to earn my way.

At least this kid has a supportive mom. That will be a huge help to him.

Fergs
Apr. 10, 2009, 03:09 PM
Only speaking for myself, but as a middle class suburban white girl, I never felt the lack of resources that a black kid from the city must feel when it comes to this sport.

Amen! Lack of resources, I'm sure, not just in relation to the sport but in a lot of other ways as well.

Inner city children of all races hardly have access to the outdoors anymore. I think it's remarkable that someone like Jamal has the drive to work his butt off to learn how to ride and be a horseman. And I hope that he succeeds and is able to do anything he wants to do.

missmaserati
Apr. 10, 2009, 03:12 PM
There are a LOT of great kids who just need some help.
Not all of them are fortunate enough to be a double minority (male rider, black) in DC with the first pseudo-Af.American president.

*headdesk*

Who helps the middle class white girls?

Oh right, no one.

I don't see any reason why being a an African American male makes him any more fortunate. And just because he happens to be one doesn't mean he'll automatically be given more opportunities than the middle class white girls who you say aren't being helped.

justdandy
Apr. 10, 2009, 03:15 PM
I think it's great that Jamal wants to follow his dream! He's certainly on the right track. He's already proven that he's willing to work for what he wants. He earned a scholarship to a private school with a riding program. That should say something. It says in the article that his mother contacted Sheila Johnson. I wonder if the coach at the school (or anyone else) has recommended that she contact other top h/j barns in the area to see if they have working student positions available for weeknds during the school year and full time during the summer? If not, she should most definitely contact the top local h/j barns.

Good luck to Jamal! It's been a tough road for most of us. He's lucky to have a mother that supports him.

Jaideux
Apr. 10, 2009, 03:15 PM
I wish the picture was of him riding, and not standing in front of (what appears to be) a very messy tack room...

Trevelyan96
Apr. 10, 2009, 03:17 PM
This kid already has a leg up on a lot of other aspiring riders. He has drive and talent, and a supportive parent who's taught him the value of hard work and a good education. Kudos to mom Danielle for being an awesome parent in an environment that all too often encourages the "I'm a victim and you owe me" mentality. I don't see any of this in either this parent or child, which makes them a lot more worthy of help and support in my estimation, because they are doing everything they can to 'help themselves'.

Is it very possible that his race was a factor in making this a 'story' and will actually open a few additional doors for him? Of course. But what's wrong with that as long as he continues to keep that good head he has on his shoulders and his priorities straight? I would help any kid in that position, regardless of race, sex, or where they come from.

As for being offended at the comment that this is a 'rich girl's sport'. Why bother? Its a reality that horses are a very expensive passion, so the more resources you have, the easier it may be to show on the A circuit. But truly, if you love horses, you love horses, and to me, there's a huge difference between the horse crazy kid who's thrilled to be able to trail ride a backyard pony and do a few 4H shows and the spoiled brat who's whining "I can't afford to show on the A circuit, so I'm not going to work hard for a chance to ride on the C circuit.' Why would I want to lift a finger to help the latter.

Pirateer
Apr. 10, 2009, 03:19 PM
I don't see any reason why being a an African American male makes him any more fortunate. And just because he happens to be one doesn't mean he'll automatically be given more opportunities than the middle class white girls who you say aren't being helped.

Because he is in the right "place" at the right (presidential) time.

Trust me, no newspaper would be writing a story about a little white girl from the city who wrote a letter to the Bush Twins and offered to take them to her barn for a field trip.

Good on Mommy for working the right bit of PR, but c'mon. Really?

Trixie
Apr. 10, 2009, 03:40 PM
Trust me, no newspaper would be writing a story about a little white girl from the city who wrote a letter to the Bush Twins and offered to take them to her barn for a field trip.

Good on Mommy for working the right bit of PR, but c'mon. Really?

I'd think that after all the whining and complaining about how kids today are lazy and don't have a work ethic, it's always nice to hear about a kid that has a work ethic and is working hard towards a goal.

I will say that he's lucky to be riding with Paige Dunn, she was beyond wonderful to me when I was younger and didn't have horses to ride.

jn4jenny
Apr. 10, 2009, 03:51 PM
Amen! Lack of resources, I'm sure, not just in relation to the sport but in a lot of other ways as well.

Inner city children of all races hardly have access to the outdoors anymore. I think it's remarkable that someone like Jamal has the drive to work his butt off to learn how to ride and be a horseman. And I hope that he succeeds and is able to do anything he wants to do.

And where, praytell, does the article say that Jamal is an "inner city kid"!? It says that he lived in Southern Maryland when he was younger, which is a very diverse area ranging from upper class suburbs all the way down to "the hood". [Edited here to note that the article mentions that his family currently lives in Brookland in NE DC, which is an up-and-coming neighborhood, hardly "the hood" although admittedly not a top-flight upper-class district.]

Also, getting a scholarship to a prestigious private school in DC does not necessarily mean that you're poor. I had several friends in college at UVA who had attended such schools in DC but had middle-class parents. Their parents weren't rich enough to afford private school, but they certainly weren't "poor" or "inner city". Most of their parents worked in non-profits or for government agencies.

Whatever Jamal's family's income status, I still don't see the story. He's a hardworking kid who's overcoming income challenges to pursue his equestrian dream. We could say the same of thousands of youngsters in this country. Kudos to Jamal for being willing to put in the work, but without Obama-mania, I doubt that Jamal would be in the newspaper.

LexInVA
Apr. 10, 2009, 03:56 PM
The family resides in the Northeast section of DC. I don't know any more than that so I couldn't tell you if they live in or around one of the trouble spots but they are not in Southeast DC which is the place most people associate with high levels of crime in DC.

Trixie
Apr. 10, 2009, 03:57 PM
Actually, it said in the article that he's from Northeast, which has both decent and very bad areas. It's probably a fair sized commute for him to get to school - probably a 40 minute drive, more on public transportation.

To be more specific, it said "Brookland."

Brookland might be considered "up and coming." It has it's good points, but it's had quite a bit of crime. It's not Trinidad, but it's also definitely not NW DC.

Fergs
Apr. 10, 2009, 04:06 PM
The article says nothing about where the family currently lives in DC, but if they live in the Northwest section of DC (which is the quadrant of town closest to the Barrie School), there's a good chance that they live in a middle-class or upper-middle-class neighborhood.

If you read the article closely (reading comprehension, anyone?) it says the family now lives in Northeast DC which, by and large, falls into the category of inner city.

SaturdayNightLive
Apr. 10, 2009, 04:29 PM
Good for this kid, but I don't see where he is any more deserving of help toward his goals than any other hardworking not rich kid. I know tons of kids that can't afford to get to the top levels of this sport, and nobody is throwing money at them. And quite honestly, there are bigger problems in this country than a kid that wants to ride nice horses and can't afford it. Helping someone get a leg up in a luxury sport is kind of a ridiculous thing to do given the hard economic times and the level of actual poverty in this country. He can't afford to ride as much as he'd like? Boo hoo, me neither. Some people can't afford food.

caffeinated
Apr. 10, 2009, 04:40 PM
geez. It's not like he's whining and complaining and begging for money. He sounds like a hard worker who's chasing a dream, you know, like most of us were when we were his age.

But unlike, say, me, it seems other people in the sport are noticing his potential and trying to help him out. Nothing wrong with that, is there?

Personally I do find the story a bit compelling, if only because it makes me wonder what attracted him to the sport in the first place. I always wonder how people are drawn to it, when they aren't growing up in a place where they see horses all the time, or have no family connection to the sport.

I dunno, but it seems to me that some folks on this thread are attributing all sorts of things to the article and the young man himself that aren't there. If your local paper featured a local rider who did all the same things as Jamal, and was looking for sponsors/help, would there be this reaction of "hmph, what makes him so special?" that I'm seeing here? If it were a white girl who had contacted, I dunno, Chris Kappler, for extra help, would people say she was begging for handouts?

jn4jenny
Apr. 10, 2009, 04:43 PM
If you read the article closely (reading comprehension, anyone?) it says the family now lives in Northeast DC which, by and large, falls into the category of inner city.

Forgive me if during a day when I've reviewed 250+ pages of prose as a college composition instructor, including a number of graduate student dissertation chapters, I failed to read an article from the Post word for word on my lunch break. :rolleyes: I stand corrected, and thanks for the correction, but your snark was unnecessary.

Being familiar with DC myself, I agree w/ others that Brookland is neither Northwest nor is it Anacostia. It's about in the middle.

Pirateer
Apr. 10, 2009, 04:43 PM
I dunno, but it seems to me that some folks on this thread are attributing all sorts of things to the article and the young man himself that aren't there. If your local paper featured a local rider who did all the same things as Jamal, and was looking for sponsors/help, would there be this reaction of "hmph, what makes him so special?" that I'm seeing here? If it were a white girl who had contacted, I dunno, Chris Kappler, for extra help, would people say she was begging for handouts?

You know, a local girl I know was featured in our town newspaper a 2-3 times, and the first thing we wondered wasn't "what makes her so special?" but instead "Is her mom sleeping with the reporter as WELL as the trainer?"

LOL!

lesson junkie
Apr. 10, 2009, 05:17 PM
Jamal has to step way outside his usual environs to pursue his love of horses and riding. Pretending that his ambition for a professional riding career isn't uncommon for a person of his background is to ignore reality. I can't see how this story is anything but an affirmative to the power of horses to inspire people to be the best they can be, and dream big.

I know that's corny, but I don't care. Thanks to the OP for sharing this, and all the best to Jamal. I hope we see him dressed in a red coat with a medal around his neck one day!

Kinsella
Apr. 10, 2009, 05:44 PM
Ditto Lesson Junkie! Best of luck to Jamal, I hope he realizes his dream!

3Dogs
Apr. 10, 2009, 06:27 PM
ditto me too the above

- you all are all over the place here - comments about the president and Sheila Johnson - for goodness sake, we all know that news chooses certain stories because they make "good" stories but crikey:

Horses and young affluent girls - a given.

Horses and not so affluent black boys - a huge stretch!

And whatever Sheila Johnson has done in her life, to be applauded I am sure, she is not remotely financially challenged, likewise Bloomberg, or Springsteen or any number of others I could mention. Color doesn't matter.

Give it a break - great story - kid should be encouraged!

lonewolf
Apr. 10, 2009, 08:52 PM
Count me among those who wish Jamal nothing but the best of luck.

C'mon guys, it IS a rich white girl's sport. I am not rich (by anyone's standards), but I think that the survey of horse owners puts them in a very high income bracket on average (over 300K, I believe). If you look at people who show hunter/jumpers on the 'A' circuit, it is probably even higher.

And yes, he is pursuing avenues of sponsorship which are not open to the rest of us because they highlight the fact that he is black and non-rich and therefore unusual in the sport. Well, good for him. If you had an unusual angle to play that might help you achieve a goal, wouldn't you? If you thought that people might help you, why wouldn't you ask them? That shows drive and determination, and I don't resent him in the least.

The sport would be well-served to have a few more stories like Jamal's in it, especially if some of them became successes. It would make us all look better.

Wanderluster
Apr. 10, 2009, 09:10 PM
Eric Lamaze has beaten amazing odds and sometimes his own bad decisions to become a master in a sport that doesn't open their arms to the disadvantaged, he simply became indomitable and pushed through the barriers based upon his phenomenal riding talent and tenacity.
There are other kids that are facing huge odds at the Compton Junior Posse, where kids must maintain a certain GPA and donate their time helping out in the stable to continue riding there. This program is working wonders with children in an impoverished, crime ridden area overcome social and personal obstacles. :cool:

MelantheLLC
Apr. 10, 2009, 09:38 PM
This makes me think of a black 7 year old boy from a small town in east Texas I met last year. He was staying temporarily with a family I know because his mother had been arrested for drugs. There was no food in his house when the mother was taken away. He was amazed when my friend told him that he could have anything he wanted from her kitchen--he just had to open the cupboard.

They came to stay with us for a few days on vacation. He had never before been out of his small town. My friend told me he loved horses, was just obsessed with them. We were not where I keep my horses at the time--I wish we had been so he could have had a ride. He was so shy he would hardly talk but has the sweetest smile. I gave him a poster of a painting by Stubbs (Whistlejacket), and a Breyer Black Beauty along with the book.

He's living now securely with his uncle and family, I'm told. But this story just reminds me how it broke my heart because I can't see any way this child will have a chance to become the horseman he could be. He has that quiet soft way of moving that horses would respond to, and I so wish there was truly a chance for anything in this country, as there is supposed to be.

So best wishes to Jamal; at least he's got a shot.

Couture TB
Apr. 10, 2009, 09:57 PM
I do wish him all the luck, but his story is not uncommon. Quite a few of us worked our butts off because our parents didn't have tons of money. We got the problem horses and we made them safe and did some showing. In order to go to a few shows a year we never went on vacation. Heck when I was growing up I didn't even know people went away for weeks just to relax!

When I decided that I wanted to truly try to do the larger events (I'm an eventer :)) My parents couldn't afford to have me train with a good trainer, there wasn't even one within an hour drive! or a 'made' horse. So I switched to homeschooling, became a working student at 15, loaded my adopted Standardbred into the trailer and left home. I saw my parents once a month. I worked from 5am to 9pm for both my horses and my room and board and lessons. Then eventually became a working student in Canada when I was 17 and competed to Advanced.

Came home trained horses and gave lessons during the day and worked in a bar at night in order to compete.

All that came to an end after a bad accident where now after years of surgery and other health issues I am now going to be able to compete again.
If the kid wants it bad enough then he can or will find a way. It won't be easy and he should be ready to be tired, frustrated, and willing to give up what most kids want like movies etc.

Horseymama
Apr. 10, 2009, 11:07 PM
I find the "rich white girl sport" comment extremely tasteless. It's bad publicity for our sport. That kind of comment is really damaging. We want to be seen in a positive light to the general public so that we can have more interest, more sponsors, etc, to forward our sport and make it more accessible to all. Why would this woman make a negative comment about show jumping to a publication unless she wishes to condemn it? It doesn't matter what you believe, don't condemn our sport in public! This seems like a no-brainer to me. I can't figure out for the life of me why someone would do that. :(

Rainrider
Apr. 10, 2009, 11:14 PM
Why don't people keep their politics out of a discussion about a kid wanting to ride? How many black kids are showing? In our neck of the woods there are none at this time. For a young man and a black young man to have such an interest in horses should be commended, not made into a political comment or agenda. Some Americans do not have the opportunity to become involved in this sport and we need to encourage all to participate, not just the select politically correct few. I think one of the biggest problems with this sport is the perception of being an elitest sport and some of the comments make this ring true.

Midge
Apr. 11, 2009, 07:14 AM
That said, love this story; good for her (and for you!) for helping this young man! Ms. Johnson, where are you!?


This, I do not get. What, is Sheila Johnson supposed to pony up for every black kid who wants to throw a leg over? Every time some trainer gets a black kid in the barn, Mrs. Johnson hears about it. As far as I'm concerned, she has zero 'responsibility' here.

SarahandSam
Apr. 11, 2009, 07:34 AM
It is a "rich white girl's sport" in the sense that that seems to be group that has the easiest access and visibility. It's the same discussion that's come up with Georgina Bloomberg and Jessica Springsteen and so on; yes, they're talented, but the talent and interest they showed when they were young was then nurtured with the best training, the best horses, the most support to do the expensive shows and circuits, etc.

I volunteer at the local therapeutic riding center and they were nice enough a few years back to let me bring three of my high school students, from the inner-city school I teach at, to do a 4-week series of lessons in the therapeutic program, for free. These were all freshmen boys who were interested in animals but had never even met horses before; they were black, lived in the east side and had never really left the city. It was pretty darn hilarious to see Antoneyo, in his gang colours, cringing in the barn aisle with hoof pick in hand going, "Miss, tell it not to kick me!" as the placid school horse dozed in the cross-ties. And Nico, curled into a tiny fetal position in the saddle as I led his horse away from the mounting block, eyes squeezed shut! By the end of the lessons though they all loved it and were talking about horses at school constantly. I have two of them (Antoneyo got kicked out) now as seniors and Dayquan still asks me, "How's my horse?"

But none of them continued. Regular lessons were $50 a pop, and that was the only place they could get to--other barns were outside of the city, and they couldn't get there by bus or taxi, and none of their moms had cars. It's hard to work your way up in horses when you have to go home and babysit your cousins or siblings while mom works her second or third job. There's more concerns--transportation, time, etc.--than just money when it comes to horses, and again, those are things that a "rich white girl" has easy access to, but not necessarily a poor kid, white or black. I didn't get to do anything with horses for a long time when I was little because my parents couldn't afford lessons and they wouldn't drive me out to a barn. I didn't know anyone who rode; I lived in a trailer park forty miles from the nearest barn. I had to stay home and baby-sit my brother after school; I sat and read C.W. Anderson books about the heroine getting off the bus, hopping on her bike and riding over to the stables to work, and wished that was me. I saw rich girls at school who talked casually about showing but had no real interest in their own horses. It wasn't until I was in my twenties that I had enough resources--money, time and transportation--to begin in horses again.

So "rich white girl's sport" means to me that that's the group the sport is designed and built around; those schedules, that money level, etc. Doesn't mean that there isn't potential for others who have talent and willpower; just means that there are so many more obstacles in their way that we don't see their faces on TV as much as we may do the Jessicas and Georginas.

tikidoc
Apr. 11, 2009, 08:23 AM
Jamal has to step way outside his usual environs to pursue his love of horses and riding. Pretending that his ambition for a professional riding career isn't uncommon for a person of his background is to ignore reality. I can't see how this story is anything but an affirmative to the power of horses to inspire people to be the best they can be, and dream big.

I know that's corny, but I don't care. Thanks to the OP for sharing this, and all the best to Jamal. I hope we see him dressed in a red coat with a medal around his neck one day!

Well put.

Horseymama
Apr. 11, 2009, 10:12 AM
So "rich white girl's sport" means to me that that's the group the sport is designed and built around; those schedules, that money level, etc. Doesn't mean that there isn't potential for others who have talent and willpower; just means that there are so many more obstacles in their way that we don't see their faces on TV as much as we may do the Jessicas and Georginas.

Yes, I agree with much of what you've explained in your post, HOWEVER, it does not need to be touted to the public as such. You can say that golf is a "rich white man's sport," because of those the sport was designed and built around, and then along came Tiger Woods who propelled the sport to a new level of enthusiast. Now you can watch golf on TV every day of the week. I'm sorry, but I can count on one hand the times I've seen show jumping on TV in the U.S.

It is bad publicity and quite simply, stupidity to make a comment to a publication that our sport is about "rich white girls." This will only harm the sport. It doesn't matter what you believe the truth is. I have absolutely no respect for this woman "Kathy" in the article. It's great to help this boy, who seems very deserving, but why condemn our sport at the same time?

Trakehner
Apr. 11, 2009, 10:51 AM
"Some Americans do not have the opportunity to become involved in this sport and we need to encourage all to participate, not just the select politically correct few."

"It's great to help this boy, who seems very deserving, but why condemn our sport at the same time?"

These quotes are very confused...."select politically correct few?" PC is pro-minority and anti-wealthy/white. So, all the mewing for a black kid who wants to ride is 100% PC. I don't recall stories of middle-class white males or females being pushed as deserving. He's already got a scholarship to a tony private school...I'm sure race had a lot to do with that scholarship too!

Why is he "deserving"? Because he wants to ride? So what, most people who love horses wanted to ride as kids, many didn't have their own horses and took lessons during the summer and didn't go to a private school with an equestrian team where they could ride.

This kid already has a leg up on the majority of kids, he rides on an equestrian team in high school and is going to a private school for free...

Mara
Apr. 11, 2009, 11:44 AM
Geez, it didn't sound at all to me like the kid's looking for a handout. Nowhere did I see any indication that they feel Sheila Johnson "owes" anybody anything just because there's a race connection. And if I were the parent of a kid in his situation, you bet I'd be checking out every avenue to help him realize his dream. His mom isn't looking for shortcuts for Jamal; she made it pretty clear she expects him to work for his dreams.
Jamal's story is unique because he's pursuing a career/sport that most young African-Americans don't. I think it's safe to guess he's a minority among his peer group, which isn't easy for a kid in his teens. And further kudos to him for recognizing the importance of academics.
As for it being a "rich white girl's sport", bear in mind that journalists rarely print the entire context, either for editing reasons or just to sensationalize. Not that there isn't more than a grain of truth to it. Vast cash reserves won't replace talent and dedication, but they sure help smooth the way.
I wish him the best. Time will tell. He may not make the upper echelons of the sport, but with his attitude he'll have many options. Maybe he'll be the vet who finally makes the breakthrough on laminitis cures, or a top trainer.

jlf
Apr. 11, 2009, 01:19 PM
Jamal's story is definitely unique for a kid who lives in Brookland. I drive through that area every day on my way to work. No it's not the worst by any means, but there is definitely not a farm nearby! And I would def be caught off guard if I were driving through one day and saw a young black male wearing boots and britches!

I am always glad for a good kid who gets some special recognition :) It doesn't happen often so we should wish the best for kids like Jamal.

And kudos to his mother as well - sounds like she is doing everything she can to make her son's dream come true - even one that is very unusual for his demographic. Great story :)

Parker_Rider
Apr. 11, 2009, 01:38 PM
Geez, it didn't sound at all to me like the kid's looking for a handout. Nowhere did I see any indication that they feel Sheila Johnson "owes" anybody anything just because there's a race connection. And if I were the parent of a kid in his situation, you bet I'd be checking out every avenue to help him realize his dream. His mom isn't looking for shortcuts for Jamal; she made it pretty clear she expects him to work for his dreams.
Jamal's story is unique because he's pursuing a career/sport that most young African-Americans don't. I think it's safe to guess he's a minority among his peer group, which isn't easy for a kid in his teens. And further kudos to him for recognizing the importance of academics.
As for it being a "rich white girl's sport", bear in mind that journalists rarely print the entire context, either for editing reasons or just to sensationalize. Not that there isn't more than a grain of truth to it. Vast cash reserves won't replace talent and dedication, but they sure help smooth the way.
I wish him the best. Time will tell. He may not make the upper echelons of the sport, but with his attitude he'll have many options. Maybe he'll be the vet who finally makes the breakthrough on laminitis cures, or a top trainer.

You took the words out of my mouth! :) I didn't get that he was asking for handouts... his mom wrote Jackson asking her if Jamal could help muck out stalls. That doesn't sound like "Please have my son ride your horses for free!" to me. No, this isn't an "Insurgents bombed the Mariott in Islamabad" story. It's a feel good, kids are still working towards dreams, "I wanna read good news" story about a boy who loves horses and is working his butt off to get an education and ride with the help of his mother. The journalist is worthless, IMO, and leaves so much to suspect interpretation by the reader (I, too, wonder about that last sentence!! what did that mean?!).

I still don't know what Obama has to do with this... other than the fact that both are black and Jamal wrote him to show the girls around the barn? There are always stories of minorities doing things like this, regardless of political leaders.... confused about why they'd only publish this story about a black boy from DC who wants to be on USET because of a black man who grew up in Hawaii playing basketball?

Good Lord, people, it's a cute story; it doesn't have to be a life-altering Platonic piece to be discussed in college classrooms!

InWhyCee Redux
Apr. 11, 2009, 03:22 PM
Yes, I agree with much of what you've explained in your post, HOWEVER, it does not need to be touted to the public as such. You can say that golf is a "rich white man's sport," because of those the sport was designed and built around, and then along came Tiger Woods who propelled the sport to a new level of enthusiast. Now you can watch golf on TV every day of the week.
____________

Sorry -- I can afford Tiger's clubs, I can afford Venus & Serena's rackets, and I can swing away on the public courses and courts, but I cannot afford a Medal horse and six months at the Maddens.

Best of luck to Jamal; even if he doesn't make the team someday he has got "gumption," is willing to work, and likely will go far in whatever he sets off to do. I'm off this thread....

Keep1Belle
Apr. 11, 2009, 10:33 PM
There are a LOT of great kids who just need some help.
Not all of them are fortunate enough to be a double minority (male rider, black) in DC with the first pseudo-Af.American president.

*headdesk*

Who helps the middle class white girls?

Oh right, no one.

Its just ONE news story about ONE child who happens tpo be a black boy. I have seen other stories published about middle-income white girls who are trying to make it in the horse world, usually found every few months in Practical Horseman. Callan Solm comes to mind, but there have been others. Anyway i enjoy reading these stories just the same as reading Jamal's or Sachine Belle's or whomever.

I dont sit and cry poor me middle class black girl, where is my 15 minutes of fame.

try being objective. The point was here is a kid competing in a sport, it which someone like him is typically not exposed to...

M. Owen
Apr. 12, 2009, 08:04 AM
I didn't get that this family was looking for handouts either. The family and boy seem to be looking for opportunities for him to work off learning experiences, and I think that is fantastic. They asked to be able to muck stalls at the Johnson's farm, not for a freebie. I think it is great that he is trying so hard to find opportunities even though they can't afford to own a horse. I would agree that the reporter's may not have struck quite the right tone, and that last metaphor had a negative connotation.

About the "rich" white girl thing, I would say that it is by and large true. I spent the majority of yesterday at a horse show and saw exactly one rider who did not appear caucasian (she was clearly of Asian descent- and a lovely little rider). I know not everyone who shows is "rich" per se, I would guess more than 50% would be solidly middle to upper middle class.

On a side note, I'd love to be able to help out a hard working kid who can't afford their own horse some day by offering some riding time and a nice horse to show. I was just talking to my trainer about it yesterday, as a matter of fact, thinking ahead to when my horse is a little more experienced.

SarahandSam
Apr. 12, 2009, 08:07 AM
Yes, I agree with much of what you've explained in your post, HOWEVER, it does not need to be touted to the public as such. You can say that golf is a "rich white man's sport," because of those the sport was designed and built around, and then along came Tiger Woods who propelled the sport to a new level of enthusiast. Now you can watch golf on TV every day of the week. I'm sorry, but I can count on one hand the times I've seen show jumping on TV in the U.S.

It is bad publicity and quite simply, stupidity to make a comment to a publication that our sport is about "rich white girls." This will only harm the sport. It doesn't matter what you believe the truth is. I have absolutely no respect for this woman "Kathy" in the article. It's great to help this boy, who seems very deserving, but why condemn our sport at the same time?

I actually would bet that when Tiger Woods started his rise in the golf world, there were probably some commentators who mentioned that he was an anomaly in a "rich white man's sport," and that would be a fair comment too. Referring to golf as such didn't make it less likely to be shown on TV or bring bad publicity--that was how people thought of it already. Tiger's presence gave it a wider demographic maybe, which caused "younger" sponsors to gravitate toward it, more air time on TV, more interest, etc. Maybe some corporation just needs to mold poor Jamal into the "hip urban face of show jumping." d;

I don't think that her comment would harm our sport; it's not going to change people's perceptions--I think it just highlights the contrast between the way people think of show jumping, and the image presented by a young African-American boy taking an interest in it.

Dun Ciarain
Apr. 12, 2009, 01:14 PM
I actually would bet that when Tiger Woods started his rise in the golf world, there were probably some commentators who mentioned that he was an anomaly in a "rich white man's sport," and that would be a fair comment too. Referring to golf as such didn't make it less likely to be shown on TV or bring bad publicity--that was how people thought of it already. Tiger's presence gave it a wider demographic maybe, which caused "younger" sponsors to gravitate toward it, more air time on TV, more interest, etc. Maybe some corporation just needs to mold poor Jamal into the "hip urban face of show jumping."

A couple of my thoughts...

First, Tiger Woods is hardly the first person of color at the highest levels of championship golf. Don't forget, there have been successful Asian and East Indian golf professionals for decades. Tiger Woods is hardly a hip-hop hero either. I remember Tiger Woods years ago referring to himself as a mix of black, Asian and white. He had made up his own word to express what he felt his race is it was - I forgot was he called it, but it referred his multi-racial background. In case some people have forgotten, Tiger Woods went to Stanford University, urguably one of the best colleges in the country.

Second, show jumping is never going to have a hip urban face. The simple fact that there are very few horses in major cities and virtually none in the inner cities will always constrain its popularity. And the sport is very expensive - another limitation to its popularity. There have been black professional rodeo riders for as long as I can remember and that certainly hasn't made western riding any more "hip" or "urban." Current sponsors and advertisers aren't interested in trying to remake show jumping. All of the current non-horse related advertisers and sponsors such as Rolex, private banking firms, investment firms, real estate companies, etc. target the base customers of the show jumping world - much higher than average net worth individuals and families - regardless of what race they might be.

Finally, being in California, I see a greater racial diversity of riders in Hunters/Jumpers than most places. However... The bottom line is that in the U.S., there are far more females in the H/J world than males. The sport is expensive, so you will always have a large portion of the riders being well-off. The racial composition of the country is primarily white. This is also mainly a sport that attracts those living in suburban or rural communities, which have an even greater proportion of whites in their racial composition. Given all the structural impediments, I don't see show jumping being any less dominated by "rich white girls," at least at the junior levels, anytime soon.

Horseymama
Apr. 12, 2009, 02:45 PM
____________

Sorry -- I can afford Tiger's clubs, I can afford Venus & Serena's rackets, and I can swing away on the public courses and courts, but I cannot afford a Medal horse and six months at the Maddens.

Best of luck to Jamal; even if he doesn't make the team someday he has got "gumption," is willing to work, and likely will go far in whatever he sets off to do. I'm off this thread....

You missed my point completely. It's not about making the higher levels of jumping competition affordable for you, it's about bringing a wider audience to our sport. That attracts more sponsorships, more positive publicity, and can increase the quality of our sport altogether. Think about Spruce Meadows for a second...they have a five year waiting list to be a sponsor. They broadcast the show jumping at Spruce Meadows all over Canada. The show is superbly run, with great footing, stabling, classes, prize money etc., etc. This is one of the possible results of good publicity.

It's about patronizing the sport that we love. Tiger Woods brought a new level of interest to the sport of golf, not just because he was black, but also because he displayed an amazing work ethic, enthusiasm for his sport, integrity, and grace. He didn't accomplish that by making comments like "golf is a rich white man's sport," whether or not he believes that. Comments like that are tasteless and inappropriate. Tiger Woods is a true patron of his sport.

It's about doing what's best for our sport as a whole, not just each of us individually.

Dun Ciarain
Apr. 12, 2009, 05:59 PM
You missed my point completely. It's not about making the higher levels of jumping competition affordable for you, it's about bringing a wider audience to our sport. That attracts more sponsorships, more positive publicity, and can increase the quality of our sport altogether. Think about Spruce Meadows for a second...they have a five year waiting list to be a sponsor. They broadcast the show jumping at Spruce Meadows all over Canada. The show is superbly run, with great footing, stabling, classes, prize money etc., etc. This is one of the possible results of good publicity.

It's about patronizing the sport that we love. Tiger Woods brought a new level of interest to the sport of golf, not just because he was black, but also because he displayed an amazing work ethic, enthusiasm for his sport, integrity, and grace. He didn't accomplish that by making comments like "golf is a rich white man's sport," whether or not he believes that. Comments like that are tasteless and inappropriate. Tiger Woods is a true patron of his sport.

It's about doing what's best for our sport as a whole, not just each of us individually.


Golf has gained and lost popularity as a succession of "hot" players have risen and fallen. Contrary to what someone said earlier, golf has been televised for decades. The same tournaments has been televised as far back as I can remember. Despite the hype, the typical golfers in the U.S. are white and either business executives or retirees. The golfing demographic really hasn't changed that much over the last decade or so while Tiger Woods has been playing. Green fees are expensive. After a building boom in the late 80's and 90's, there has been a steady decline in the number of golf courses, with the lower fee, public courses shouldering the bulk of the closures. Golf courses take a lot of room, there are a limited number in major cities, and the number of courses in major cities has not increased, if anything, they have decreased significantly.

Spruce Meadows has been popular in Canada and drawing large crowds for decades. Same thing is true at the big shows in Europe. The fact is, equestrian sports are more popular in Canada and Europe as horses are more ingrained in their cultures. Just think about the all the sports that show jumping has to compete against to get televised in the U.S.:

Football (both professional and college), Baseball, Hockey, Basketball (both professional and college), Tennis, Golf, Horse Racing, Rodeo Events, Auto Racing, etc., etc.

Ron Southern was a very successful business person when he started Spruce Meadows. He is or was on the boards or is a major shareholder in many of the corporate sponsors of Spruce Meadows. One of his daughters came to California for one summer, I believe in 1983, and showed with the barn I was at. They brought several horses, at least one of their own grooms, and for many months, a Spruce Meadows tractor-trailer truck was either at our barn or on the road with us. Even back in 1983 they had a huge committment to equestrian sports. The fact is, however, they were able to influence corporate sponsors, which in turn underwrites the televising of the events. ATCO is a major sponsor of Spruce Meadows and Ron Southern is the Chairman. I believe that ATCO does a substantial amount of business with CN and Shell, both major corporate sponsors of Spruce Meadows events.

The bottom line is that Spruce Meadows was built and underwritten by a very wealthy individual who also had the company and influence to direct sponsors its way for its events. Sponsorships of many sporting events is due to the personal interest in the various sporting events by directors or executives of companies, not because the event particpation is more "diverse."

Horseymama
Apr. 12, 2009, 07:21 PM
Dun Ciarain,

Yes, I know the history of Spruce Meadows. I've ridden there many times and lived in Calgary for a short while. I know a little about the history of golf as well (I worked at Adidas many years ago, we kept up on who's who) I'm not sure what your point is but mine is why accentuate the negative about our sport? It serves no one. I'm not trying to make event participation more "diverse." I just love our sport and hate to see someone make negative comments about it in public.

Dun Ciarain
Apr. 12, 2009, 08:49 PM
Dun Ciarain,

Yes, I know the history of Spruce Meadows. I've ridden there many times and lived in Calgary for a short while. I know a little about the history of golf as well (I worked at Adidas many years ago, we kept up on who's who) I'm not sure what your point is but mine is why accentuate the negative about our sport? It serves no one. I'm not trying to make event participation more "diverse." I just love our sport and hate to see someone make negative comments about it in public.

The point I'm making is that some of the posters seem to believe that if you can somehow expand show jumping to inner city youths, show jumping will become mainstream, great more sponsors, and get more television coverage. You mentioned Spruce Meadows, and since I know the Southerns, I wanted to expand on the reason why it gets sponsors and why it gets television coverage.

I agree with you that when someone is quoted as saying: "it is a sport for rich white girls," that those commments can and will be taken negatively by the average reader of the article. Even if the sport appeals only to white females, it would still appeal to about 40% of the population. Right now, it only appeals to a small fraction of that market. That is the place to start to expand the popularity of show jumping. I agree that when people make comments about show jumping, they should accentuate the positive aspects and stop making the stereoptyical comments that don't help the public image of show jumping.

pinkme
Apr. 12, 2009, 09:38 PM
And this is the kind of kid I would love to have free lease my seeing eye horse.

gottagrey
Apr. 13, 2009, 02:10 PM
Some of the folks in my office read it and all thought it was a nice article - to tell you the truth I don't think much focus (by those in my office) was made on the rich white girl comment - as there were no comments about it. And let's face it - at least in the Washington Metro Region - it is pretty much a sport w/ the majority of riders being young (and not so young) well-to do white females.. particularly in H/J. Gee I guess that makes me "rich or well-to-do" wonder if my banker would agree :lol:

JER
Apr. 13, 2009, 02:30 PM
All I can say is.... GO JAMAL!

:yes::yes:

Foxtrot's
Apr. 13, 2009, 04:57 PM
I can relate to Jamal - it is a long haul from the end of a shovel to the big shows.
Almost every athlete who has made something of themselves in their chosen sport has had to rely of a few leg ups, take the kindness of other people's generosity ane eventually, be in a position to pay back to others.

There is demand for in hand handlers at the big shows, catch riders, schooling riders, etc.

briddygirl
Apr. 18, 2009, 01:06 PM
yeh, right! :) I am a mom to 2 girls, both of whom help me "afford" our horses and everything else associated with horse-ownership. We rent our own place (small, rustic barn) in a quiet neighborhood with a ring -- to help with our expenses we also have a boarder or two....we feed twice/day, clean stalls, clean fields, and train our own pony b/c we cannot afford to pay a trainer.....we do have an instructor who comes out to help us and give us pointers from time to time. We buy all our equipment used and we sell what we outgrow, or no longer need. My 2 girls are very responsible and have learned to do what they need to do to be able to afford this very expensive "hobby"......I am glad we aren't "rich" b/c we would never had the opportunity that we have to learn about horsecare, etc. ---- sure, every so often I do wish that I had that gorgeous barn, with an indoor :)! Or a groom to get our horses ready for the show, or some barn workers to clean and feed.....but, then reality hits and I realize.....it's time for me to go to the barn and tend to those lovely equine of ours! :)

theblondejumper
Apr. 18, 2009, 06:22 PM
I wasn't impressed with the article itself but I WAS impressed by Jamal's attitude towards riding and his ambition. Nice to see this type of story being made public.

silver2
Apr. 18, 2009, 06:48 PM
I find the "rich white girl sport" comment extremely tasteless. It's bad publicity for our sport. That kind of comment is really damaging.
Really? I find it a very accurate assessment of horse sports in the US.

The my-pretty-pony-ness of the hunter world is not conducive to a) boys or b) low costs. And the majority of the junior riders these days are in the show hunter world.

Horseymama
Apr. 18, 2009, 07:16 PM
I guess I am always trying to look at the big picture, the grander scheme of things. I think about the sport I love and how it could improve and how we can move positively into the future. And although that may be mostly subjective and open to opinion, I do have to think that GOOD PUBLICITY is good for our sport and BAD PUBLICITY is not.

Who care if you or all of us believe it is accurate to say show jumping is a "rich white girl sport?" It's not the fact that's under question. It is stating it in public. It is negative. It can only have negative implications.

I don't understand why this isn't obvious. If you love our sport, please don't bash it in public. And if you don't, do something else.

superpony123
Apr. 18, 2009, 07:22 PM
"A box full of first-place ribbons attests to his skill in equitation, an event in which riders are judged on how good they look on a horse. "

Yeah. Equitation. It doesn't matter if i screw up every line or fall off. I still look good on the horse--i must be a winner! :lol: But then again, i'm not sure how else a non-horsey-person journalist would understand it, so i can't take much offense. That's probably how i'd describe it to a non horse person, even though i try to throw in the "how accurate you ride" -- thats where they start to not understand :lol:

great story, though :yes:

Nootka
Apr. 18, 2009, 07:33 PM
I hope Jamal does well.

That being said... I know a 30 yr old black male rider in Northern Virgina that could make a cow look good at a show. He is still struggling and has never asked for a hand out. Even to this day he would muck stalls at the Johnson's and not complain (we have acutally had this convo before...LOL). He is not well off so it is hard for him to afford the **** eventer to make his name.

http://fredericksburg.com/News/FLS/2007/032007/03222007/265086/hs0332andresmm2.jpg/photo_view
http://i9.photobucket.com/albums/a94/nadanejsi/of50590334.jpg
http://i9.photobucket.com/albums/a94/nadanejsi/of50590394.jpg

I also taught a very very poor young black male (13yrs old) that had so much talent. He was GREAT and just sooooo gifted. Alas, he fell victum to the streets and is into drug and who knows what else after I moved down here to FL. I was the fire in his a$$ and kept him in line but now he is gone and I regret it. His mother did not care about him and I wish I brought him to FL with me.:cry:

I also think that there was a girl that was in Robert Dover's show thingy that was far from white;)

I hope he does well be he is far from the first great rider. I know a great handler that is also black. I am glad this boy is outta the streets and doing well for himself.

linquest
Apr. 18, 2009, 07:48 PM
Not every negative statement made about a sport is "bashing" or needlessly harmful. Sometimes, harsh words made publicly are needed to get people to stop being complacent about things that could be improved and effectuate real change.

Horseymama
Apr. 18, 2009, 11:54 PM
Point taken, Linquest. However our sport is a far cry from having a serious public following in the media. It's one thing to have two sports commentators critically discussing football strategies on ESPN with millions of viewers, and our sport having an article written in one newspaper about how "amazing" it is that we have a poor black participant. (He sounds like a very nice, deserving, talented kid.)

I hope you are right and this spurs people to stop being complacent and talking without thinking. Maybe next time Kathy what's-her-name will, instead of making snippy negative comments about our sport, say something like: "It's such a positive experience for a young person to learn the horse husbandry skills and mental focus it takes to ride and train horses at a high level. This sport is a wonderful way for many, especially someone coming from a disadvantaged situation, to share in the camaraderie of an equine athlete." (Or something to this effect.)

I am passionate about this sport. There is so much more to it than "rich white girls." Sure, money helps, (in all of life) but I guarantee you that all of the best riders in this sport, no matter how much money they have or don't have, have worked their asses off to get to where they are.

Danniebrwn
Apr. 19, 2009, 06:45 AM
Greetings,

This is Jamal's mom. I want to thank you all for the support and kind words. I am also concerned that some did not think the article was news worthy. I would like to share my thoughts with you;

Jamal gravitated to horse books before he could walk. Jamal first entered school in DC Public School System. His parents do not have equestrian experience-we both grew up in DC. We moved to Southern Maryland when he was 6. Like most people, we wanted a better quality of living. Jamal first got on a horse when he was six. I am humbled to this day when I recall the look on his face and his instructor's face when we both seen Jamal connect what he has read for 5 years to the actual joy of riding. I learned that passion is an action verb that day. Due to circumstances, we moved back to DC. Jamal re-entered a DC Public Charter School. None of his peers in DC understood his passion. Jamal was teased and often had to defend himself because he appeared to be different. Many youths in our community was ignorant about horseback riding as a sport. Jamal became depressed. He missed the community in which embraced his love for horses and the fact that horses and barns were a common thing in the country. I could not let that happen, so I started networking, making phone calls, and requesting help from the community to support my son's goal although unusual for an inner city kid within the African American Community.

I discovered the Barrie School through research. I applied to the school on Jamal's behalf and was awarded financial aid based on income and his grades. Trakehner, the Barrie School is very diverse and not all the minority students are attending based on need. Race is not a factor and we never played the race card...although in the sport of equestrian; it is difficult to blend in race wise and economically. Jamal has works hard. What the article does not share is the fact that he works hard in the community outside of equestrian related events as well. Jamal worked last summer for the Mayors Summer Youth Employment Program and used the money to buy his horse riding equipment. As a teenager who likes to look nice, he passed up the opportunity to buy the latest sneakers or the trendy clothes. I work three jobs and yet we still can not afford this sport. We are grateful to Kathy who mentor's Jamal and knows the sport language. In the article, she states she provides "little financial help". She has leased a horse for Jamal during last summer, early fall, and has provided him with lessons for summer. However, the economy is affecting everyone and resources are not that many in this sport. Jamal does not have access to the A-rank or the money that will assist him in getting there. Will that stop him? No. Jamal stated that horseback riding is a life style, not a hobby. He will go as far as his blessing and good health will take him in this sport. If he makes it to the US Olympic team one day, then it’s on the shoulders of anyone who took an interest in him and made an investment in him. Jamal purpose in the article was to inspire his peers and to let them know that he is still very much a young man who likes something a little different then most of his peers. It is true that when we go to competitions, most do not look like him. He is the only male, black, or both. This is why when we first started going to the Washington International Horse Show, he almost topped over the rail when he saw Paige Johnson ride. He was blown. He wanted to know who was this person that looked like him, owned a horse, and was able to ride in such a prestigious show case. Jamal left there inspired and hopeful. We realized much later that she too came from wealth. Jamal and his family hope that the article will inspire other young men in Jamal's community who do not know anything about horses and/or that a horse center is here in DC. I received emails from young men and women of Jamal's peers who stated that they never knew that they could participate in an equestrian sport because in the media and television; it showed only people who were white and rich. Jamal is an inspiration and that was the purpose behind the article. Yes! Jamal did reach out to the Obama’s. However, the Obama’s reached out first to Jamal and the entire Washington, DC community by stating that they would like to be a part of the DC community as our new neighbors. Again, Jamal would be honored to give our first black president children a tour of the sport that he too finds himself in a rare position. Yes! Jamal would be honored to clean the stalls of Shelia Johnson's farm because he identified her as the first person who was Black and seemed to arrive in the equestrian sport. However, this site has taught me something else about my son. Jamal asked me what they mean by a "handout". He said "mom I do not ever remember you asking anyone to give you or I anything. You always stated can he work or earn this opportunity". I am humbled because we are raising an awesome kid and if anyone wants to support him, then we welcome the support. In our community we believe in the village support system. Jamal will stand on other's shoulders to get to the next level. I would like to see Jamal beat the odds. I would like to see compete in A rank series. Some of your greatest athletes have sponsors......why can't Jamal. I wish I knew more about this sport. This is why I rely on knowledgeable people like the people who access this website. Please continue to share helpful information to help me become a better support system for Jamal. It is soo much that I want to say about his character alone that makes for a good Washington Post article; but it only because I am his mom. I am certain there are other talented young men and women who deserve to have a story written about them. I pray that their moment will come and that the exposure will help someone. I promise that I will read it and provide the feedback that will help one succeed in their journey.

If you have any questions, please email Danniebrwn@aol.com. I would be happy to clarify anything that may have been misunderstood. Take care and thank you for allowing me to share.


Dannie

Vandy
Apr. 19, 2009, 10:50 AM
There are a LOT of great kids who just need some help.
Not all of them are fortunate enough to be a double minority (male rider, black) in DC with the first pseudo-Af.American president.

*headdesk*

Who helps the middle class white girls?

Oh right, no one.
Am I the only one totally offended by this comment? For what it's worth, I am, on a small level, "sponsoring" a young rider who happens to be blond, blue eyed and female. She works her butt off, cleaning stalls every day and riding whatever she can throw a leg over. I pay for her to show whatever I have available. You'd be surprised at the number of trainers who are willing to lend a hand to motivated, hard working kids of any color - Pirateer, you'd have to lose the piss-poor entitled, resentful attitude if you wanted to experience this firsthand.

chunky munky
Apr. 19, 2009, 12:06 PM
Totally offensive and unfortunately there is no legislating against stupidity.

Tamsin
Apr. 19, 2009, 02:00 PM
Greetings,

This is Jamal's mom. I want to thank you all for the support and kind words. I am also concerned that some did not think the article was news worthy. I would like to share my thoughts with you;

Jamal gravitated to horse books before he could walk. Jamal first entered school in DC Public School System. His parents do not have equestrian experience-we both grew up in DC. We moved to Southern Maryland when he was 6. Like most people, we wanted a better quality of living. Jamal first got on a horse when he was six. I am humbled to this day when I recall the look on his face and his instructor's face when we both seen Jamal connect what he has read for 5 years to the actual joy of riding. I learned that passion is an action verb that day. Due to circumstances, we moved back to DC. Jamal re-entered a DC Public Charter School. None of his peers in DC understood his passion. Jamal was teased and often had to defend himself because he appeared to be different. Many youths in our community was ignorant about horseback riding as a sport. Jamal became depressed. He missed the community in which embraced his love for horses and the fact that horses and barns were a common thing in the country. I could not let that happen, so I started networking, making phone calls, and requesting help from the community to support my son's goal although unusual for an inner city kid within the African American Community.

I discovered the Barrie School through research. I applied to the school on Jamal's behalf and was awarded financial aid based on income and his grades. Trakehner, the Barrie School is very diverse and not all the minority students are attending based on need. Race is not a factor and we never played the race card...although in the sport of equestrian; it is difficult to blend in race wise and economically. Jamal has works hard. What the article does not share is the fact that he works hard in the community outside of equestrian related events as well. Jamal worked last summer for the Mayors Summer Youth Employment Program and used the money to buy his horse riding equipment. As a teenager who likes to look nice, he passed up the opportunity to buy the latest sneakers or the trendy clothes. I work three jobs and yet we still can not afford this sport. We are grateful to Kathy who mentor's Jamal and knows the sport language. In the article, she states she provides "little financial help". She has leased a horse for Jamal during last summer, early fall, and has provided him with lessons for summer. However, the economy is affecting everyone and resources are not that many in this sport. Jamal does not have access to the A-rank or the money that will assist him in getting there. Will that stop him? No. Jamal stated that horseback riding is a life style, not a hobby. He will go as far as his blessing and good health will take him in this sport. If he makes it to the US Olympic team one day, then it’s on the shoulders of anyone who took an interest in him and made an investment in him. Jamal purpose in the article was to inspire his peers and to let them know that he is still very much a young man who likes something a little different then most of his peers. It is true that when we go to competitions, most do not look like him. He is the only male, black, or both. This is why when we first started going to the Washington International Horse Show, he almost topped over the rail when he saw Paige Johnson ride. He was blown. He wanted to know who was this person that looked like him, owned a horse, and was able to ride in such a prestigious show case. Jamal left there inspired and hopeful. We realized much later that she too came from wealth. Jamal and his family hope that the article will inspire other young men in Jamal's community who do not know anything about horses and/or that a horse center is here in DC. I received emails from young men and women of Jamal's peers who stated that they never knew that they could participate in an equestrian sport because in the media and television; it showed only people who were white and rich. Jamal is an inspiration and that was the purpose behind the article. Yes! Jamal did reach out to the Obama’s. However, the Obama’s reached out first to Jamal and the entire Washington, DC community by stating that they would like to be a part of the DC community as our new neighbors. Again, Jamal would be honored to give our first black president children a tour of the sport that he too finds himself in a rare position. Yes! Jamal would be honored to clean the stalls of Shelia Johnson's farm because he identified her as the first person who was Black and seemed to arrive in the equestrian sport. However, this site has taught me something else about my son. Jamal asked me what they mean by a "handout". He said "mom I do not ever remember you asking anyone to give you or I anything. You always stated can he work or earn this opportunity". I am humbled because we are raising an awesome kid and if anyone wants to support him, then we welcome the support. In our community we believe in the village support system. Jamal will stand on other's shoulders to get to the next level. I would like to see Jamal beat the odds. I would like to see compete in A rank series. Some of your greatest athletes have sponsors......why can't Jamal. I wish I knew more about this sport. This is why I rely on knowledgeable people like the people who access this website. Please continue to share helpful information to help me become a better support system for Jamal. It is soo much that I want to say about his character alone that makes for a good Washington Post article; but it only because I am his mom. I am certain there are other talented young men and women who deserve to have a story written about them. I pray that their moment will come and that the exposure will help someone. I promise that I will read it and provide the feedback that will help one succeed in their journey.

If you have any questions, please email Danniebrwn@aol.com. I would be happy to clarify anything that may have been misunderstood. Take care and thank you for allowing me to share.


Dannie

Dannie, your son does indeed sound like an awesome kid and you sound like an awesome parent. I do sincerely hope that Jamal will be able to continue riding. However, a great talent and passion for riding combined with limited finances are not at all uncommon. Your letter could have been written by thousands of other Moms who wish that they could afford to see their child ride with the wealthy kids on the A circuit. Lots of kids are willing to work their butts off to ride, but there is no way this will pay to train and compete at a high level. Many thousands of kids dream of being sponsored by someone who magically pays all of their equestrian expenses, but this is exceedingly unlikely. There is no doubt that, in the hunter-jumper world being a guy and African American is a whole lot less common than being a white girl, but I'm not convinced that this alone means that he deserves more support than other equally dedicated, equally financially limited young riders. As others have pointed out, riding is after all a luxury sport. Your son's best bet by far is to get excellent grades, go to a good college and eventually get a high paying job that will allow him to support a horse-owners life style. He sounds like the kind of kid who can achieve this.

linquest
Apr. 19, 2009, 02:22 PM
Horseymama- it doesn't matter that our sport has a small public following or that the article only appeared in just one newspaper. From Jamal's mother's comments, it appears that the article has already had a positive effect for him personally as well as his peers who did not believe that the sport would be welcoming to them. As long as it reaches SOME people and opens up a few minds, change can come of it.

As a minority myself, I have experienced what it's like to be teased both by those "rich white girls" with comments like "Your people don't ride horses, what are you doing here?" as well as by people of my own ethnicity who said that I'm "trying to act White" by engaging in an activity that they only see Caucasians participate in. An article like this when I was growing up would have provided some comfort and inspiration to me, and could have educated others that I wasn't a freak trying to be something I'm not.

I'm very glad that I've stayed in the horse world (though I'll never make it to the A circuit or become a pro) as horses have brought me a lot of joy. I'm also very grateful for the generosity of certain other "rich white girls" ;) and many no-so-rich that allowed me to continue riding at times I couldn't afford to. However, I completely understand how the stereotypes of the sport dissuades others of my background from being heavily involved in riding. As long as the media only shows a certain type of person getting involved, that perception is not going to change.

gottagrey
Apr. 19, 2009, 10:22 PM
I figured something out - sometimes stories like Jamal's are often meant to represent all the Jamals/kids in the world. The article about Jamal could be/should be viewed as symbolic for those kids in similar situations - whether it be horses or some other activity they are passionate about. The story was about a young person's passion. When Margie Engle was a kid she too had that passion for horses but she had to work in order to ride and work she did - seems to me it paid off pretty well for her :) I watched this show about a man from Mexico who enter the US illegally. Although educated in Mexico he made his living picking tomatoes...saved his money and attended community college. There one of his professors recognized his talent and knack for math and encouraged him to pursue a medical career. His peers told him he would be picking tomatoes for the rest of his life. But this man had a passion to learn and be successful - today that man is one of the country's top neurosurgeons!

To Jamal, ages ago, my sister road at Rock Creek in Washington, DC. There was a young man there (probably about Jamal's age, perhaps younger) who was a darn good rider.. My sister told him - Ricky you are a darn good rider -I hope you keep it up... About 7-10 years after that, My sister and I were at a horse show, as was Ricky.. who now was a local, much in demand professional rider/trainer.. He came up to my sister and recalled their conversation that day when he was a teen and told her he took her advice! (neither one had probably laid eyes on each other for about 10 years)

Whisper
Apr. 20, 2009, 12:09 AM
It sounds like he's hard-working and is doing well so far, and I think it's fantastic that a non-horsey publication is showcasing a more "average" rider's dreams. On the rare occasions that horses do get into mainstream media, they usually focus on people who are already at the top, or who are physically disabled, etc. Not that there's anything wrong with an article about either, just the tone was different. :D

Personally, I don't have near his talent, but I grew up poor (as in on welfare), and couldn't afford lessons. I mucked/fed/etc. in exchange for riding. I've been blessed with many opportunities to ride for free, or in exchange for mucking out/other chores as an adult, as well. Right now, I have 5 horses I can ride whenever I like, as long as it's not too wet. None of them are going to win any A circuit H/J shows (or other high level events), but they're fun, safe, sweet horses: Paint (http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3196/2812539535_e8628f0596.jpg), bay QH (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RR9A4JVShiU), chestnut TB (http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2396/2082959288_b30a9904d6.jpg), Araloosa gelding, and Appy filly. I can ride two of them out on the trails, and they're willing to let me show or take lessons off the property if I like, as long as I pay for my expenses.

Danni, I'm sure you are very proud of him, and I'm glad you've been willing to support him as best as you can! It's expensive, and very competitive, so he will have many challenges ahead. It sounds like he's doing everything he can to do well, and it didn't come across to me like he was whining. Sponsors are pretty rare for juniors, and not allowed for amateurs, and rare for lower-level professionals. Most sponsors that *do* help riders provide free or discounted products, rather than money (ie. galloping boots, feed, breeches, etc.).

Trixie
Apr. 20, 2009, 09:55 AM
Jamal asked me what they mean by a "handout". He said "mom I do not ever remember you asking anyone to give you or I anything. You always stated can he work or earn this opportunity". I am humbled because we are raising an awesome kid and if anyone wants to support him, then we welcome the support. In our community we believe in the village support system. Jamal will stand on other's shoulders to get to the next level. I would like to see Jamal beat the odds. I would like to see compete in A rank series. Some of your greatest athletes have sponsors......why can't Jamal. I wish I knew more about this sport. This is why I rely on knowledgeable people like the people who access this website. Please continue to share helpful information to help me become a better support system for Jamal.


There is no doubt that, in the hunter-jumper world being a guy and African American is a whole lot less common than being a white girl, but I'm not convinced that this alone means that he deserves more support than other equally dedicated, equally financially limited young riders.

It didn’t sound to me like Jamal’s mother said anywhere that her child “deserves more support” than other children, only that her son was working hard and was grateful for any support.

Again, after all the nasty folk that come on here and ramble about how children of this generation don’t want to work hard for opportunities, I’m really happy ANYTIME I see a kid who is dedicated and hardworking.

I do agree with the thought that riding is a hard, hard way to earn a living, and working hard and going to a good college will help equip him to afford his dreams. A lot of us have made the choice between riding and teaching for a living, often on other people’s horses and at their whim, or working hard at an outside job to afford to own one and show. Personally, since I want to own a farm one day, I work for a defense contractor so I can build my way up.

Also, a lot of professional riders also make the mistake of skipping college and having nothing to fall back on. While I don’t recommend getting an equine degree necessarily, I think that in a sport with a high possibility of injury, it’s important for riders to have a plan if they can no longer ride. A business degree is useful in this industry and all other industries.

Summit Springs Farm
Apr. 20, 2009, 10:30 AM
Danniebrwn- I'd like to meet your son, we'll be at Upperville horseshow in June, I'm sure Jamal would love to go, check out their website for more info. We will be at the hunter breeding portion. Let us know!

We live in GA and have only one black trainer, that I know of, who is a blast and is well liked and respected, he even has black clients as well.

Plenty on people make a living riding and training.

This sport is not a "rich white girl sport" that implies you have to be rich and white to do it, its a sport that attracts that type perhaps, but it is not that at all. So keep calling our sport that and you will keep the sterotyping.

loshad
Apr. 20, 2009, 10:47 AM
Danniebrwn- I'd like to meet your son, we'll be at Upperville horseshow in June, I'm sure Jamal would love to go, check out their website for more info. We will be at the hunter breeding portion. Let us know!

We live in GA and have only one black trainer, that I know of, who is a blast and is well liked and respected, he even has black clients as well.

Plenty on people make a living riding and training.

This sport is not a "rich white girl sport" that implies you have to be rich and white to do it, its a sport that attracts that type perhaps, but it is not that at all. So keep calling our sport that and you will keep the sterotyping.


Summit Springs, nowhere did Jamal's mother call this a rich white girl's sport. It was the trainer (Kathy?) who said that.

This is a kid (and a mom) who are working HARD to make the kid's dream come true. I am seriously impressed with their work ethic and determination.

The idea that there aren't (quite a few) opportunities like this for middle class white kids makes my rolly eye muscles tired. My trainer has 3-4 working students -- all of them except one middle class white girls. The one that isn't is a white girl from a poor family who gets a hell of a lot of support from the trainer (and none from the family). Every barn I've ever been in has had working students -- almost every one of them middle class to rich white girls. If you haven't found one of those spots the problem lies with you NOT with kids like Jamal and my trainer's working students who are all working their butts off to get where they want to go.

Summit Springs Farm
Apr. 20, 2009, 02:01 PM
loshad, I didn't think Jamal's mom did say that, some other posters were saying that. I hope I'll meet Jamal at Upperville, if he can make it.:)

loshad
Apr. 20, 2009, 02:21 PM
My bad, Summit Springs -- I misunderstood your phrasing. Good luck at Upperville!

poltroon
Apr. 20, 2009, 02:28 PM
Whatever Jamal's family's income status, I still don't see the story. He's a hardworking kid who's overcoming income challenges to pursue his equestrian dream. We could say the same of thousands of youngsters in this country. Kudos to Jamal for being willing to put in the work, but without Obama-mania, I doubt that Jamal would be in the newspaper.

So it's Obama's fault now that we got a positive, wonderful story about horses, horse showing and a young horsey kid's work ethic?

Bring it on, I say. :D

poltroon
Apr. 20, 2009, 03:02 PM
RE: rich white girl's sport.

Let's face it: every single trainer has had this conversation with a student. Maybe they left out the white or the girl part.

I saw it, in context, as being fairly positive. Here is a woman who knows most people who get to enjoy her sport are rich white girls, and she's willing to put her money where her mouth is and help someone who is none of the above. That's a nice thing to see. That says good things about the people in horse sports, even if they happen to be rich, white, and female: that they (we) want to admit anyone who loves horses and wants to work hard.

poltroon
Apr. 20, 2009, 03:17 PM
Danni, he sounds like a great kid. Getting teased for loving horses is dreadfully common, even if you are a little blonde-haired girl, and I'm so glad that you've found a place for him where he can be around horses and follow his passion.

He may turn pro or he may turn out to be one of us, a talented amateur who ends up making his living some other way, but either way I think he's on a good path, and I'm pleased as punch that horses have been part of it.

A lot of us had USET dreams; some of us make it and a lot more of us don't, but the dreams are real and never really die. How old was that amateur Japanese dressage rider who competed at Beijing? 70? This is a sport that can be part of your life for the long haul, and as an amateur with a good job, you can even occasionally get to the Team.

I loved reading the story.

InWhyCee Redux
Apr. 20, 2009, 04:57 PM
RE: rich white girl's sport.

Let's face it: every single trainer has had this conversation with a student. Maybe they left out the white or the girl part.



And correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't NCAA Equestrian a women's-only sport, making it impossible for Jamal to get an athletic scholarship based on his riding, and discouraging other boys from persuing the sport?

Tamsin
Apr. 20, 2009, 05:43 PM
Even if NCAA teams did allow men, Jamal's chance of landing a really useful riding scholarship are remote. Very few full-tuition scholarships exist in riding or in most other sports for that matter. On the other hand, an African American male with top grades, has an EXCELLENT chance of getting an academic scholarship---full tuition and board--at many, many prestigious universities and colleges.

LexInVA
Apr. 20, 2009, 05:43 PM
And correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't NCAA Equestrian a women's-only sport, making it impossible for Jamal to get an athletic scholarship based on his riding, and discouraging other boys from persuing the sport?

More or less, you are correct. The NCAA recognizes "Women's Equestrian" whereas the IHSA is just "Equestrian". A guy can (and a few have) easily compete in the IHSA but it would take a lot of wrangling with the NCAA committees to get them to recognize male riders as athletes though I do not think it would be impossible. That would certainly have to happen before any male rider could apply for an NCAA riding scholarship.

Cita
Apr. 20, 2009, 05:45 PM
I figured something out - sometimes stories like Jamal's are often meant to represent all the Jamals/kids in the world. The article about Jamal could be/should be viewed as symbolic for those kids in similar situations - whether it be horses or some other activity they are passion about. The story was about a young person's passion. When Margie Engle was a kid she too had that passion for horses but she had to work in order to ride and work she did - seems to me it paid off pretty well for her :)

To Jamal, ages ago, my sister road at Rock Creek in Washington, DC. There was a young man there (probably about Jamal's age, perhaps younger) and was a darn good rider.. My sister told him - Ricky you are a darn good rider -I hope you keep it up... About 7-10 years after that, My sister and I were at a horse show, as was Ricky.. who now was a local, much in demand professional rider.. He came up to my sister and recalled their conversation that day when he was a teen and told her he took her advice!

I like this a lot :yes:

Individualblue07
Apr. 20, 2009, 09:05 PM
I just want to say that as nice of a story as that is... I think he is already getting alot of help compared to most other riders these days. I feel like a real person that needs help is one that has the heart, dedication, determination and passion... but may not be able to afford it due to medical issues.

I personally feel that someone like my friend needs help. She is only 19 and has been suffering from both chronic kidney and immune failure since she was 14 years old. She had no choice in the matter, and has to recieve IV's every 3 weeks. She cant even look at the past medical bills without crying and breaking down... realizing that her health and medical bills.... has probably caused her dream of making it in this industry, vanish right before her eyes. It doesnt help living that she is living in an area where money runs the sport either. She has worked herself so hard to be able to ride, that she's gotten to the point where she has caused herself to get extremly sick. She's been a working student, groom, photographer, housesitter, babysitter... you name it, she's probably done it. She has even been a order of go girl... and stood in the rain handing out orders of go for grand prix's just so that she can make some extra money in order to ride. When she was sick, and unable to ride... you could just see how it affected her... If you could see her now, you would understand that riding is her life. The day she can no longer do it, is the day that her world would end...

I just wish people would look at story's like my friends and see that other people have just as hard. If any one could use support of sponsors, or any help... I honestly feel like my friend deserves it. She had to lay in a hospital bed for a while and consider what would happen if she didnt make it through til tomorrow.... I dont know how she lived through it and yet is one of the most optomistic people I have ever met, and she is determined that she will make it as a top equestrian. She has done as much as she can in order to be able to make a name for herself, but sometimes working hard isnt enough...

She finally has the most amazing trainer, but I just want her to be able to achieve her dream...

She has no idea im posting this... but she knows this is how I feel.

Im not trying to cause problems.
I just would like people to know that there are other riders out there that cannot live without riding... but may have to give it up one day because of their medical funds.

Horseymama
Apr. 20, 2009, 11:19 PM
Dannie, your son does indeed sound like an awesome kid and you sound like an awesome parent. I do sincerely hope that Jamal will be able to continue riding. However, a great talent and passion for riding combined with limited finances are not at all uncommon. Your letter could have been written by thousands of other Moms who wish that they could afford to see their child ride with the wealthy kids on the A circuit. Lots of kids are willing to work their butts off to ride, but there is no way this will pay to train and compete at a high level. Many thousands of kids dream of being sponsored by someone who magically pays all of their equestrian expenses, but this is exceedingly unlikely. There is no doubt that, in the hunter-jumper world being a guy and African American is a whole lot less common than being a white girl, but I'm not convinced that this alone means that he deserves more support than other equally dedicated, equally financially limited young riders.

I agree with you here, Tasmin. He does sound like a great kid and what a great mom! There is no doubt he is deserving and I do think the article is newsworthy. But everyone, no matter who you are, has limitations and stuggles to overcome. I mean gosh, read the post by Individualblue, that breaks my heart. I know race can be huge to overcome in this world, but I felt like by the article focusing on the fact that he is black (along with the "rich white girl" comment by Kathy) makes our sport sound racist. And although it may be, does publicizing that it is help it get better? Or does it just continue a negative stereotype?



As others have pointed out, riding is after all a luxury sport. Your son's best bet by far is to get excellent grades, go to a good college and eventually get a high paying job that will allow him to support a horse-owners life style. He sounds like the kind of kid who can achieve this.

This is where I have to disagree with you. Maybe for some it is a luxury sport. For me, riding and being involved in this sport is a necessity. I am completely unwilling and unable to do anything else. It is my life. I have tried to do other things, have other jobs, and I have, and I was very, very unhappy. I have had my own struggles to overcome, and I would do whatever it takes to do this. I imagine he is like this as well. Not to downplay the importance of going to college (because it is very important) but just because he comes from little money doesn't mean he can't be a great rider and trainer someday.

I say, keep the dream, Jamal, you can do it!

oyster56
Apr. 21, 2009, 07:53 AM
From: Kathy Clark

I apologize to anyone who took offense at my comments in the story. In the course of more than an hour conversation with the reporter, I did say that along with many other things. However, I’ve only been a “rich” white girl since age 40. I didn’t grow up that way. Like many of you I worked hard to be able to ride, taking care of others horses, teaching, mucking stalls, etc to earn money. I competed very successfully at the local level and was able to go to several A-level shows every year – but only as a groom for a good friend who was actually competing. She and her parents were always kind and generous to me and I always appreciated the opportunity.

By age 16 I realized I would never get the chance to compete at the high levels. Money aside, I probably didn’t really have the talent anyway. But the sport taught me so many great lessons – the responsibility of taking care of the horses every single day (my parents didn’t pay full board, only for a stall), hauling water in wagons when the pipes were in danger of freezing, mucking stalls when you have the flu, manhandling bales of hay and feedsacks, not to mention the hours of practicing dressage or flatwork, building a partnership with my horse, etc. These lessons served me well when I began my business career and I’ve always been grateful that this was the sport I was engaged in during my youth. Hard work, persistence, and passion for what you do are ingredients for success no matter whether it’s sports or work and I was lucky to have learned that early in life through horses.

It had been over 30 years since I’d been involved in the sport when I met Jamal. My goal has been to give him encouragement and to provide some opportunities for better access to horses and instruction. My payback is the time I get to spend with a wonderful family. Jamal’s enthusiasm is contagious and I love spending time with him. His mom is a great role model, encouraging him every step of the way and working three jobs to help support his dream.

Are there other people in this world who need help? Of course. The reality is that most of us have the good fortune to live in the US which despite all its flaws, still is the greatest land of opportunity ever seen. There are millions, maybe billions, of people in Africa and Asia who don’t have their basic survival needs met. No individual can save the world, but every person who has benefited from the help or generosity of others can make a decision to pass that on by helping someone else. It doesn’t matter so much what you do – it just matters that you do something!

Thanks to everyone who’s taken an interest in Jamal and for all the encouragement and offers of help or support. Thanks too for your passion and the great discussion – though not everyone may agree with each point, it’s great to talk about some of these issues.


Kathy

LexInVA
Jul. 4, 2009, 10:56 AM
Just thought you guys would like to know that Jamal was made the "Honorary Youth Chair" for the WIHS last month. According to the write-up, he's supposed to help them reach out to the DC community, younger equestrians, and develop a day of kid-friendly free activities.

Cita
Jul. 4, 2009, 11:22 AM
Just thought you guys would like to know that Jamal was made the "Honorary Youth Chair" for the WIHS last month. According to the write-up, he's supposed to help them reach out to the DC community, younger equestrians, and develop a day of kid-friendly free activities.

Hey, that's neat. Good for him!

poltroon
Jul. 4, 2009, 01:44 PM
That is cool. As a suggestion, around here we've had stick-horse classes that were very well received. (My favorite part of the stick-horse barrel racing was when one of the entrants threw a shoe! :D)

yellowbritches
Jul. 4, 2009, 01:50 PM
Just thought you guys would like to know that Jamal was made the "Honorary Youth Chair" for the WIHS last month. According to the write-up, he's supposed to help them reach out to the DC community, younger equestrians, and develop a day of kid-friendly free activities.
I missed this discussion when it first popped up, so was wondering what that was all about. Now it makes more sense!

I have some ideas for the kid....

OneonOne
Jul. 4, 2009, 02:27 PM
I've done stick horse shows for several different age groups (including horse-less college kids!) and it is always a blast. That would be a great activity for a community.

seeuatx
Jul. 4, 2009, 02:58 PM
For the horseless, I LOVE the idea of stick horse classes. We used to run around little jumping courses, with lead changes and all when I was little.

For the younger kids with horses (or even lesson horses), we've done "white glove" classes. It's an in-hand sort of like pony club Horse Management inspections. Anyone else have white glove inspection at summer camp? Mine did and we won a Golden Dustpan award. Anyhow we plan to have a Golden Curry Comb this year.