Chief Rookie Aside: From time to time, we like to highlight equine-inspired small businesses and the great work they’re doing. Read on to learn more about this Canadian jumper with a heart for community!
In an era where positivity can seem hard to find (or downright nonexistent), I was immediately drawn to the the musings and magic of The Positive Equestrian. This lifestyle blog and boutique is run by Marina Layton, a jumper from a small town north of Toronto, Ontario — and it’s a much-needed breath of fresh air.
I first came across this brand while creating Braided: A Herd Dynamic, Horse Rookie’s 3-strand diversity initiative. Our team had been hard at work on our social spotlight calendar for inspiring equestrians of color when we saw mention of Marina’s gorgeous diversity stickers. (More on those later!)
Being the Change
For those of us who have been blessed with a supportive and like-minded equestrian community, it can be easy to forget that isn’t everyone’s experience. As Marina illustrates (literally — she’s a talented artist!), it is up to ALL of us to foster a horse world that is inclusive, kind, and fair.
My ultimate goal is to bring radiant energy, inspiration, and positivity into the equestrian community with all the content I put forth. – Marina Layton
Between her blog and online store, she’s doing just that.
You’ll immediately notice that Marina loves “glitz, glam, and glimmer” within the horse world. That said, she isn’t afraid to get her hands (and boots) dirty. Whether she’s mucking out a stall or blogging about tough issues facing equestrians, honesty and transparency underscore everything she does.
Keep the Conversation Going
Marina has been particularly focused on how we can all do a better job acknowledging — and fixing — issues around diversity and inequality in equestrian sports.
Inequality, racism, prejudice, partiality, lack of diversity, lack of inclusivity, these are all a few ongoing issues that have been happening right beneath our noses, at a variety of facilities and show-grounds around the world. – Marina Layton
As a non-bipoc rider (“black, indigenousness, person of color”), as am I, it’s really easy to make mistakes — even when you’re trying to help. But that’s part of the process, and it’s far better to try to support equestrians than stay on the sidelines.
Will you always say the right thing? No chance. Will you sometimes feel unqualified to take part in the conversation? For sure.
It is part of the growth process; acknowledging your privilege, making mistakes, stepping outside of your comfort zone to have tough conversations — those are the “growing pains.” This is how we change and transform ourselves and our industry. – Marina Layton
This really resonated with me when we were creating Braided: A Herd Dynamic. I want Horse Rookie to be a place where all equestrians – regardless of skill level, discipline, age, race, or sexual orientation — feel welcome and valued.
By sharing more diverse voices and imagery on our website, and supporting equestrians of color financially, we hope to help the broader horse community make forward strides.
Lessons That Stick With You
For a natural creative like Marina, she turned her talents to design by illustrating a beautiful suite of stickers that showcase diversity and equality in the equestrian world. Check them out in her online shop.)
Best of all, her Mount Up for Peace sticker sheet features real equestrians of color as the models. You’ll also be see these women featured on Instagram over the next few months!
Response to these stickers has been incredibly positive, which comes as no surprise. The same day I discovered them, I placed an order for every variety. After they arrived, not a week went by before I had gifted them to people like:
- My six-year-old biracial neighbor who wants to be a cowgirl when she grows up. (I also gave her these awesome Cowgirl Camryn kids books by Abriana Johnson, Co-Host of the Young Black Equestrians podcast.)
- My social media manager who runs outreach for Braided: A Herd Dynamic.
- My fellow rider who runs a local preschool and is passionate about modeling equality to her pupils.
Now, I’m onto my second batch of stickers — and I couldn’t wait to adorn my own water bottle, pin them up in our community tack rooms, and (of course) feature them in a spotlight on Horse Rookie!
Inspiration is Contagious
The more horse people we see doing good work, sharing empowering and thoughtful messages on social media, and supporting equestrians of color, the more confident we are that positive change is happening.
We hope you’ll get involved in big ways and small, and we have a few ideas to get you started:
- Spread the word about Braided: A Herd Dynamic on social media
- Purchase (and gift!) diversity stickers from The Positive Equestrian
- Contribute personal images to our Equestrians of Color Photo Library
- Share your experience as a rider of color via a Letter to My Rookie Self
- Subscribe to the Young Black Equestrians Podcast
- Follow riders like Matt Mills and Sisters Horsing Around from our Media Guide
- Donate to one of the amazing organizations Marina highlights on her blog
Being an equestrian should be an option available to all, with NO negativity attached whatsoever. The Positive Equestrian was founded on positivity, ponies, and passion — three things that every equestrian should be able to enjoy, no matter their race, age, gender, religion, disability, or any other factors. – Marina Layton
The Positive Equestrian also put together a great list of Equestrians of Color you should be following on social media:
Together, We’ve Got This
Horses don’t discriminate, and we all need to live up to their example. Special thanks to Marina Layton of The Positive Equestrian for giving us so much to think about — and such a beautiful way to display our solidarity across the horse community.
P.S. Enjoy this article? Trot on over to:
- Media Guide: Young Black Equestrians Podcast
- Letter to My Rookie Self: Chanel Rhodes
- Media Guide: Sisters Horsing Around Vlog
- Media Guide: Matt Mills Reining Vlog
- Braided: A Herd Dynamic (Horse Rookie Diversity Initiative)
- How to Ride and Show Horses Without a Trust Fund