Sylvia Bishop (Horse Trainer)

Bishop, among first black horse trainers, dies at 84

By Erik Schelzig, The Associated Press
ImageCHARLESTON, W.Va. — Sylvia Bishop, who may have been the country’s first black woman licensed to train thoroughbred horses, has died. She was 84.

Bishop, who died Dec. 27 2005 at Jefferson Memorial Hospital in Ranson, W.Va., was an owner and trainer of thoroughbred racehorses for more than 60 years until retiring in 2000, citing her worsening arthritis.

“When I began training back in 1938, men were definitely shocked and surprised to see me,” Bishop told the Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association, of which she was a member, in 2003. “The fact that I was a woman, and on top of that a black woman, was almost too much for some of the fellows.

“But I loved horses and horse racing far too much to let my dream go,” she said. “I knew from the beginning I would have to take the bitter with the sweet.”

Webb Snyder, a 91-year-old former jockey who exercised Bishop’s horses, said that while horse racing was a male-dominated world in the 1940s and 1950s, he never “heard anybody say anything bad about her.”

“Back in those days you’d never see a woman around the stable area at all,” Snyder told The Associated Press on Wednesday. “Today it seems there are more women around the tracks than men, but back then it was something else.”

Bishop’s horses won 44 races between 1987 and 2000, earning a total of $166,633, according to Equineline.com. Earlier electronic data was not available.

Dickie Moore, general manager of racing at Charles Town Races & Slots, remembered Bishop as “just one of the group.”

“She was a very good horseman,” he said. “She was well-respected by everyone.”

Bishop — survived by one daughter, three grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren — was buried at the Pleasant View Memory Gardens in Martinsburg, W.Va., on Saturday.

Source: USA Today

Read an article in the December 1961 issue of Ebony here:

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About bfequestrian

I am an equestrian trained in hunt seat. I am an avid horse advocate and I am the Marketing Director and Volunteer Coordinator for a horse rescue in Cumming, GA called www.savethehorses.org. I also own a horseback riding Meetup group called Georgia Horseback Riding that has a membership of over 700 horse enthusiasts. http://www.meetup.com/Georgia-Horseback-Riding/members/ Join us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/groups/blackfemaleequestrians/
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