Johnson first black American to win major grand prix

WELLINGTON — March 22 2015 – Paige Johnson recorded a milestone victory late Saturday night in the $127,000 Engel & Volkers Grand Prix at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center.

Johnson, 29, of Wellington and Middleburg, Va., became the first black American to win a major grand prix in WEF history.

Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 10.29.51 AMJohnson and her 12-year-old Belgian warmblood mare Dakota clinched the four-rider jump-off with the fastest clear round of 47.47 seconds and pocketed $41,910, her biggest paycheck in show jumping.

Johnson finished ahead of her trainer of three years, Kent Farrington and 9-year-old Belgian warmblood mare Gazelle, the only other clear team in 47.95.

“This is a huge moment,” Farrington said. “I am really excited for her tonight. She has had a great season. To see Paige have the biggest win of her career tonight was huge.

“We started a couple of years ago and set out on some goals, and we are slowly checking them off one at a time. This was a big one tonight.”

Johnson, the daughter of BET founders Robert and Sheila Johnson, has been a competitive rider since she was 5, training in Florida and Virginia. She also won the $34,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup this season.

“I came into this circuit hoping to win a WEF and I did that week six,” Paige Johnson said. “My next goal was to win a grand prix. I had no idea it would happen the same season. You can imagine that I am super excited and happy. Kent is my trainer, so it feels like the hard work, the team and everything around us is really paying off and that is a great feeling.”

Johnson is the 10th different rider to win a “Saturday Night Lights” grand prix event this season.

Canadian Olympic gold medalist Eric Lamaze has dominated the Thursday Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup events, winning a record five, including four consecutive titles. His most recent victory was Thursday with 12-year-old Hanoverian mare Fine Lady 5. The pair had a clear jump-off round in 34.47.

On Sunday, Farrington came back to win the $85,000 Suncast 1.50-meter Championship Jumper Classic with Waomi in a clear round of 38.18 seconds on the Derby Field at The Stadium.

Adrienne Sternlicht, 21, and Quidam MB won the $50,000 Artisan Farms Under-25 Grand Prix Final, and Lucy Deslauriers, 15, was crowned overall series winner, two days after winning the George H. Morris Excellence in Equitation Championship.

The 12-week WEF circuit, featuring $8.2 million in prize money, winds up this week with events Wednesday through Sunday, including the $500,000 Rolex Grand Prix CSI 5 Saturday at 7 p.m.


Grand Prix Winner Paige Johnson Prepares for GCT Miami

 March 23, 2015

What is it like to compete on the Global Champions Tour? Horse & Style asked grand prix rider Paige Johnson, a regular on the GCT circuit, why she makes a special effort to participate in one of the world’s best show jumping tours.

Johnson, who just notched the biggest win of her career this past Saturday night in the $127,000 Engel & Volkers Grand Prix CSI4* during the Winter Equestrian Festival’s Week 11, is a lifelong rider who trains with Kent Farrington out of her family’s Salamander Farm in Wellington, FL and The Plains, VA. She remembers visiting the Global Champions Tour at Valkenswaard, The Netherlands, as a teenager, and being wowed by the experience. “I was 15 and I remember calling my mom from the show and telling her I couldn’t believe how amazing it was,” Johnson recalls. “Just to see how [the GCT] has grown since then and how many locations it is in now is incredible.”

Johnson competed in London, England last year at the GCT Horse Guards Parade venue, and is excited to compete at GCT stop in Paris, France for the first time this season.

“It takes you to places you never thought you’d be competing,” she says. “Jan Tops and his entire team at the GCT are visionaries in that aspect. The VIPs are beautifully crafted, the shows are so well run and the atmosphere is fantastic. It truly is another league.”

Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 10.28.31 AMTop and above, Johnson competes at GCT London, summer 2014

With the WEF Week 11 grand prix win under her belt, Johnson is looking forward to competing at the GCT Miami more than ever. The tour will make its US debut in Miami from April 2 -4 with a spectacular venue right on Miami beach. “It’s definitely going to be a nice change of scenery!” Johnson jokes. “Who would have thought we’d be having a horse show right on the beach. And the timing in really smart. For the riders who are doing the World Cup [Final, April 15-19 in Last Vegas, NV], they can set themselves up for indoors. It’s a great transitional show for them.”

Not to mention, an amazing opportunity to watch the best in the world compete. That’s one of Johnson’s favorite things about the GCT. The quality of riders who flock to the tour’s 15 stops are unmatched, and for Johnson, just being around them, not to mention riding against them, is inspiring in itself.

With just two weeks to go until the 2015 Global Champions Tour kicks off in Miami, Johnson is taking the time to rest her top mount Dakota, a 12-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare. Dakota carried Johnson to the win in the Engel and Volkers Grand Prix, giving them both an essential boost of confidence before they tackle the brand new venue in Miami. The countdown is on.


Posted in Grand Prix | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Patricia Kelly: Ebony Horsewomen

Patricia Kelly is a pioneering horsewoman and a pillar in the Connecticut horse community. Patricia has been a staunch supporter of Cowboys of Color and has constantly fought to preserve the rich history of the stellar organization.

Growing up in Hartford, Patricia discovered her love for horses by caring for and eventually learning to ride a neighbor’s horse. Patricia never looked back and a lifetime Black Cowgirl was born.

Patricia is a Vietnam veteran of the United States Marine Corp. She founded Ebony Horsewomen in 1984 as a cultural and social enrichment organization for women. However in 1987, she noticed the significant negative impact of drugs on her community and particularly youth, so she redirected the organization to address this issue. She secured her non-profit status and changed Ebony Horsewomen’s mission to include helping inner city youth.

Without any outside assistance, she purchased four horses and began teaching women and youth how to ride. Patricia worked over the years to showcase her riders in parades and other events to celebrate and preserve the history of Black horseman and women. Patricia developed her innovative “Horse Sense” program that brought horses, educators and doctors into Hartford’s poorest inner city schools and communities. The program taught self-esteem, academic excellence, and abstinence from drugs and alcohol. The Horse Sense program has won numerous civic and community awards.

Today, Ebony Horsewomen Inc. operates as a full time non-profit youth development and equestrian center with over $500,000 in community support. The organization serves over 470 youth throughout Connecticut annually.

Patricia is currently developing a $63 million dollar Horse Park and Exhibition Center in Connecticut that will cater to world class equestrian events.

Source: Cowboys of Color

Posted in Therapeutic riding | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Patricia Kelly: Cowgirl uses horses to motivate at-risk kids

Ebony Horsewomen

141114173327-09-cnn-hero-patricia-kelly-1114-horizontal-galleryFor the last 30 years, Kelly has helped children in Hartford stay on the right track through her nonprofit, Ebony Horsewomen. The program offers horseback riding lessons and teaches animal science to more than 300 young people a year.


  • Patricia Kelly’s nonprofit is teaching horseback riding and animal science to children
  • The nonprofit is giving at-risk youth an alternative to the streets
  • Kelly: “We use horses as a hook to create pride, esteem and healing”

Hartford, Connecticut (CNN) — Fred Wright may have grown up on Garden Street, but his early childhood was far from rosy.

 “It’s tough growing up here,” said Wright of his low-income neighborhood in Hartford, Connecticut. “There’s a lot of negative influences. … It’s easy to take the wrong path.”

Raised by a single mother, Wright struggled with behavioral issues and was forced to transfer schools several times. He ultimately reached a point where he felt like he had nothing to live for.

“I was walking around with a lot on my shoulders,” he said. “I couldn’t handle it. I didn’t care about life anymore.”

Patricia Kelly is an equestrian and former U.S. Marine.
Patricia Kelly is an equestrian and former U.S. Marine.

But all that started to change when Wright met Patricia Kelly.

“I was 7 years old when I met Mrs. Kelly. … I wasn’t used to strictness. I wasn’t used to hearing the word ‘no,’ ” said Wright, now 17.

Kelly, a former U.S. Marine and an equestrian, took Wright under her wing and helped him find hope in an unlikely place: on a horse.

“Fred was like a round peg everybody kept trying to squeeze into a square hole,” Kelly said. “He was hurting. He needed a place he could express himself. The (riding) arena became that place for him.”

For the last 30 years, Kelly has helped children in Hartford stay on the right track through her nonprofit, Ebony Horsewomen. The program offers horseback riding lessons and teaches animal science to more than 300 young people a year.

“We use horses as a hook to create pride, esteem and healing,” said Kelly, 66. “They learn that they have ability. They just have to unlock it.”

Read more here.

Source: CNN

141114171504-01-cnn-hero-patricia-kelly-1114-horizontal-gallery 141114171953-02-cnn-hero-patricia-kelly-1114-horizontal-gallery 141114172152-03-cnn-hero-patricia-kelly-1114-horizontal-gallery 141114172422-04-cnn-hero-patricia-kelly-1114-horizontal-gallery 141114172812-06-cnn-hero-patricia-kelly-1114-horizontal-gallery 141114172948-07-cnn-hero-patricia-kelly-1114-horizontal-gallery 141114173139-08-cnn-hero-patricia-kelly-1114-horizontal-gallery  141114193747-10-cnn-hero-patricia-kelly-1114-horizontal-gallery

Posted in Therapeutic riding | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

The First Black Female Jockey – Cheryl White

cheryl white - jockeyOn June 15, 1971, Cheryl White became the first black female jockey. She was also the first woman at a major track to win five throroughbred races. In 1991, after passing the California Horse Racing Board’s Steward examination, she began serving as a racing official at California tracks.

Cheryl was one of racing’s pioneers. It was reported by one source that Cheryl was one of only three African American jockeys in America at that time. On October 19, 1983, White became the first female jockey to win 5 thoroughbred races in one day at a major track. “The last winner I rode that day was Montfort, a 10-year-old, and making his 100th start,” she laughed. Her accomplishments came at Fresno Fair in Northern California. 

The year she appeared on the July 29, 1971 cover of “Jet” magazine was a year to remember. Cheryl shared the covers of “Jet” with such illuminates as: Civil Rights Activist Angela Davis, boxing champion Muhammad Ali, entertainer Sammy Davis, and Congressman John Conyers.

She garnered enough attention as a jockey to become invited to the “Boots and Bows Handicap”, and all ladies’ race in Atlantic City August 28, 1972 . Cheryl, on the longest shot from a field of 14, won the race.

“In my career, I rode about 750 winners”, said Cheryl recently, the list includes Thoroughbred, Quarter Horse, Arabian, Paint and Appaloosa races. “I was leading Appaloosa rider in America for 5 years,” she remarked. She also led in stakes victories and topped the riding standings at fair meets in Northern California in the 70s.

Cheryl White’s career was not short of rewards. In 1990 she was presented an Award of Merit by the African American Sports Hall of Fame, in Sacramento, California. That same year, the California Legislature Letter of Recognition, Sports Award, and the Award of Merit.

Read more here:

Posted in Horse Racing, Jockey | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Uneku Atawodi: 1st and Only Black Female Professional Polo Player

UnekuUneku Saliu-Atawodi wears her crown well. The first female black professional polo player on the international stage represents her native Abujua, Nigeria by giving back through her charity, Ride to Shine. She regularly spends time with orphans, teaching them riding techniques, and raising money for their education trust funds so they can achieve their dreams of being “doctors, lawyers, [and] football players.”

The 25-year-old knows all to well what it feels like to be a child with a dream. Atawodi started out cleaning the horse stables and today, she’s the first and only black female professional polo player in the world.

“The world is fast becoming more and more globalized, and traveling around the world and living on my own from 14, playing polo in beautiful countries in the corners of the world from 16, that really helped me to attain a globalised view way before my time,” she offers.

“I have played in so many amazing countries around the world and have been led to meet so many amazing people, most of which have helped me in my career decisions, and have led me to some very successful business choices. A world view on anything you jump at in business greatly helps your decision-making process. Analogies from around the world give you hypothetic views on every choice you make before you make it.”

On what keeps more black women from entering the sport…
There is an influx of all cultures entering the sport, and that comes from the sport being more popularized in modern times, and getting to more people. I guess in America, it is the wealth bracket, as it is deemed an expensive and an elitist sport. But I find the polo community to be one of the most welcoming sporting communities and if you approach a club with your interest, you might end up with a beautiful new life experience.
On why it was important to earn a masters degree in international business and a bachelors in equestrian science?
I quickly realized that to advance in the sport I love, one would need to be a successful individual. My dream was always to own a polo resort. While traveling around the world playing, I’ve learned that most polo communities are financially successful via real estate. I am also greatly inspired by conceiving a business model and seeing it come to life. My mother used to say I had a bit of a short attention span with popping up with various business ideas everyday. I sold cookies at 11 and made a 300 percent profit, so you bet you my a** thought I was Bill Gates [laughs]. My international business degree helped me understand how different countries around the world operate in business and because I knew that my love came from traveling the world, I knew that I wanted to do business with various people around the world. Understanding their cultures as it pertains to relationship and business intrigued me. 
An education is very important. It helps you understand how basic things in the world work and revolve. It also helps you answer why, which we should always ask. The inquisitive mind of a child ought not be stymied. So even as adults, train your brain to always want to understand things in sports, in life, in love and understand why.
Posted in Polo | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Roberta Wilmore: Trailbrazer

By focusing on teaching underserved kids to ride, Roberta Wilmore is introducing more color into Boston equestrian circles.

Roberta WilmoreAt an auction at the Washington International Horse Show in 2004, Roberta Wilmore won a coveted chance to breed a mare to a well-known stallion. The only problem was she didn’t own a horse. “I had sperm but no mare,” says Wilmore, an energetic woman who looks younger than her 52 years. But it was hardly a major obstacle for someone who has worked in her own small way to do for the local equestrian scene what Arthur Ashe did for tennis: open the doors to kids of color.

The daughter of a black Presbyterian minister and theologian, Wilmore grew up in a white Quaker community in rural Pennsylvania. Wilmore has had a lifelong love affair with horses. By age 10, she was working in local stables in exchange for riding lessons. Later, when her parents enrolled her in an all-black Presbyterian high school in Georgia, she persuaded a former employer to send a few horses to the school, where she started a riding club, giving lessons to her peers, none of whom had ridden a horse. “I did whatever I had to do to make being with horses happen,” Wilmore says.

Working with and caring for horses gave her the confidence to “walk in many worlds,” she says, and became the cornerstone of her social development. Wilmore became an accomplished rider and, later, a popular riding instructor. She made Massachusetts her permanent home in 1982 and has continued to teach on nights and weekends after working days as property manager for MB Management Co. in Braintree. In 1997, she bought a 60-acre horse farm in Ashfield and named it Lee Ella Farm after her mother.

But in more than 30 years of working with horses, she rarely saw another black face in the riding centers where she spent so much time. So in 2001, Wilmore founded the nonprofit Children’s Equitation Center with the mission to encourage children of color and other underserved youngsters to participate in the horse world. “I had a wonderful experience with horses as a child with no money,” Wilmore says, “and I wanted other children to have that same experience.” With headquarters at her farm, the center now has six horses and runs programs after school and on weekends, holidays, and during summer vacation.

“She’s introducing a whole group of people to something that they didn’t even know was there,” says Edna Doggett, president of the center’s board of directors.

Read more here.

Source: The Boston Globe

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Paige Johnson: Salamander Farm’s Champion

paige johnson equestrian magazineMany people outside the equestrian world know Paige Johnson as the daughter of Black Entertainment Television (BET) founders Bob and Sheila Johnson, but inside the sport she’s Paige Johnson, champion jumper.

Johnson is an avid equestrian, having fallen in love with horses at age seven watching the classic cartoon, “My Little Pony.” She soon began taking lessons and has been riding ever since. After high school, she studied fashion design at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, but after a year her passion for horses got the best of her and she began riding full time.

She competes year-round on an international level in Grand Prix, and high amateur divisions. Johnson has had the fortune of training with renowned riders and trainers such as Bill Moroney, Kent Farrington, and legendary Olympian Joe Fargis. Her career highlights include multiple wins around the world, from the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, Fla., to the Vaalkenswaard Horse Show in The Netherlands. 

In August, Johnson got the call many jumpers only dream of when she was named to the U.S. Team for CSIO3* Bratislava.

Read more here.

Source: Equestrian Magazine

paige johnson equestrian magazine2

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment