by Xion Abiodun
When you think of an equestrian what do you envision? Do you picture an older Black woman with horses in Oakland? Personally, that’s what I envision because that fits the description of all the equestrians I know. There is something very special about the one I am interviewing today. Not only is she a professional equestrian, but she also teaches the art, for free! She is truly a gem to the community.
Xion Abiodun: May you tell us about yourself – name, interests and what you do?
Patricia Jackson: My name is Patricia Jackson. founder-CEO of We Ride Too /Oakland Youth Equestrians 501c3 in 2020. I’ve been a Critical Care for the past 37 years and resident of Oakland for approximately 50. I feel a strong connection to Oakland roots, culture and diversity.
I enjoy witnessing the benefits that horses bring to individuals and the community’s health.
I’m one of two community outreach liaisons for the nonprofit in Alameda County. I’m excited about the positive impact that horses can have in the community.
Xion Abiodun: How long have you been an equestrian? How and why did you get into it? What made you want to create a non-profit dedicated to youth riding horses?
Patricia Jackson: I’ve been an equestrian for approximately 10 years. I got into it because my granddaughters wanted to ride. I thought I should learn to ride if I was going to introduce them to horses. During that journey, I was met with obstacles and adversities. I was told “Black people don’t ride.”
It was clear to me at that juncture that if it was said to me directly it had been suggested perhaps to our youth as well. Thus I set out to start a nonprofit that would bring all of Oakland’s youth together. Diversity and inclusion and become excellent horsemen / Equestrians.
Xion Abiodun: Why did you base your non-profit in Oakland? Was that intentional?
Patricia Jackson: Yes, it was intentional because it is an outcome of an experience. Yes, all must know that “We Ride Too,” thus the name given. Secondly, because of Oakland’s vibrant regional parks resources – the City of Oakland owns a horse stable, purchased with funds from a bond measure – that exposes youth and community to equestrianism. There is a window of opportunity to expose all of Oakland’s youth to nature and horses. Our mental and social health could be positively impacted. I’m committed to the cause and legacy.
Xion Abiodun: What are some of the major impacts that your program has on youth?
Patricia Jackson: Our youth have been able to be exposed to and represent their skill amongst the broader equestrian community, such as the Silicon Valley Horse.
- Confidence and improved sense of well being.
- Improved concentration and ability to focus on academics with decreased stress, anxiety and depressions.
- Our program fosters developing authentic relationships with ourselves and others.
Xion Abiodun: What are some of the responsibilities of an equestrian?
Patricia Jackson: One of the primary responsibilities is to take care of your physical and mental health, so that we can offer the same to our equine companions. They are sentient beings.
Proper boarding, feed and exercise on a daily basis is essential, as is the investment of time and finance. It can be an expensive endeavor. This is why our youth haven’t been able to benefit from the positive aspect of being with horses. Our non-profit is narrowing this gap.
Xion Abiodun: What is the main thing that you want youth to take away from your non-profit?
Patricia Jackson: To know themselves and the ability to have healthy relationships – horses can aid in developing this life skill. Know that they “Do RideToo” and have the ability to endeavor to do whatever they have passion and interest in.
Xion Abiodun: Does your class compete in equestrian competitions? Please share with us what that looks like and maybe some stories of your students competing and winning?
Patricia Jackson: There are many levels at which to compete. All work begins on the ground developing skill and working within safety. We have riders who have been working on horseback for more than two years and some competed this summer at the Silicon Valley Horse. They competed at their age and skill level. We are pleased to say they performed exceptionally well, and were presented with ribbons, which reflect the required commitment of time and hard work.
All preparation required gathering of resources from donors, volunteers and allies.
The non-profit is striving to make this experience accessible to additional Oakland youth equestrians. Many hands make light work.
Xion Abiodun: How can people get involved with your non-profit?
Patricia Jackson: They can become involved by emailing us at email@example.com. Please state your interest and how you would like to become involved.
All of our services are offered free of charge to their participants. We are in need of continued philanthropic support to continue growing the impact of our mission. We RideToo is a nonprofit 501c3 accepting tax-deductible donations in the following manner.
- We_RideToo social nonprofit page: www.facebook.com/groundtodaddle
Xion Abiodun is a videographer and a graduate of the SF Bay View’s Community Journalism School.