Black History Month: Must Read Equestrian Books

Black people have played a vital role in the equestrian community throughout history. From training and grooming to racing and competitions, they have paved the way for those who came after them. Check out these brilliant books that further explore the history of Black people in the equestrian community, how they developed their skills, and the accomplishments that followed. 

The Great Black Jockeys by Edward Hotaling

More than a century before Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in major league baseball, black athletes were dominating America’s first national sport. The sport was horse racing, and the greatest jockeys of all were slaves and the sons of slaves. Cheered by thousands of Americans in the North and South, they rode to victory in all of the major stakes, including the very first Kentucky Derby. Although their glory days ranged from the early 1700s to the turn of the 20th century, the memory of these great black jockeys was erased from history. Who were these athletes and why have their names vanished without a trace?

Buffalo Soldiers in the West: A Black Soldiers Anthology by Bruce Glasrud and Michael Searles

This anthology focuses on the careers and accomplishments of black soldiers, the lives they developed for themselves, their relationships with their officers (most of whom were white), their specialized roles (such as that of the Black Seminoles), and the discrimination they faced from the very whites they were trying to protect. In short, this volume offers important insights into the social, cultural, and communal lives of the buffalo soldiers.

The Black West by William Lorenz Katz

A  history of the black people who participated in the development of the Western frontier in the United States, in such categories as the explorers, fur traders, early settlers, slaves, cowboys, and soldiers. The book opens with a brief treatment of the early African presence in the New World and closes with equal brevity in the 1890s as the frontier closes. The Black West enriches and deepens our stirring frontier saga as well as providing a revised and expanded text that deepens our understanding of the vital role played by African American men and women on our early frontiers.

The Compton Cowboys by Walter Thompson-Hernández

In Compton, California, ten black riders on horseback cut an unusual profile, their cowboy hats tilted against the hot Los Angeles sun. They are the Compton Cowboys, their small ranch one of the very last in a formerly semi-rural area of the city that has been home to African-American horse riders for decades. A story about trauma and transformation, race and identity, compassion, and ultimately, belonging. New York Times reporter Walter Thompson-Hernández paints a unique and unexpected portrait of this city, pushing back against stereotypes to reveal an urban community in all its complexity, tragedy, and triumph.

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