Author - Steph Kallstrom

As an individual balancing the realms of equestrianism, yoga, shelter case management in the DTES/Naloxone sector, and proudly bearing the title of #EDSwarrior, my life’s narrative is a tapestry woven with resilience and advocacy. My journey in the equestrian world has been a dance between passion and perseverance, navigating both physical hurdles and the complexities of being a person of color in a predominantly white sport.

My infatuation with horses sprouted from a childhood encounter at a birthday party, sparking a deep-rooted love that led me to acquire my first horse at the age of 12. This marked the beginning of a journey characterized by joyous moments with my first pony, setting the stage for my current companion, Tigger. Tigger, an Oldenburg, not only reflects my undying spirit but also signifies an unyielding partnership, especially after conquering a career-threatening ligament injury with an unconventional rehabilitation approach.

While my equestrian pursuits have been formidable, my life took an unexpected turn when I grappled with the diagnosis of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a condition that has posed profound challenges and altered my path. The journey to understand and manage this condition remains ongoing, demanding unwavering strength and adjustments.

Amidst these trials, my ambitions in the equestrian world remain unwavering. Despite the uncertainties posed by my health, my determination to partake in the Winter Equestrian Festival persists. Managing a full-time career alongside riding responsibilities has its toll, but my passion for the sport propels me forward, buoyed by a consistent yoga practice aiding in my physical recovery.

The hurdles I face extend beyond health; being a black equestrian in a largely white-dominated space has introduced its own set of trials. The struggles of representation, inclusivity, and economic barriers are profound. Yet, within this challenge lies an opportunity for change. I am proud to lead and be part of the Black Equestrians community, striving to promote inclusivity, access, and visibility for black riders. Our mission is to dismantle barriers and create opportunities for future generations, fostering a more diverse and representative equestrian community.

As I continue my journey, I hope to be a beacon of inspiration for equestrians grappling with chronic illnesses, advocating for joy and determination amidst adversity. My story is not just about conquering personal hurdles; it’s about paving the way for a more inclusive and diverse future in the equestrian world.