A young equestrian is proving the color of your skin doesn’t matter when it comes to success in the saddle.
She’s only 11, but Miah Young has found her passion in life. She’d rather be at the barn than pretty much anywhere else. Once she’s in the saddle, she’s on top of the world.
Miah said “being free” goes through her mind when she has the reins in her hands and she’s jumping Primrose the Paint.
“What wakes us up in the morning? Horse shows,” said Jeremiah Young, Miah’s father. “When (it’s) 5:30-6 o’clock in the morning, the televisions are all on -- dressage shows, jumping shows.”
Miah has won countless shows and awards. The young rider has her parents to thank for helping feed her passion.
“My mom and dad inspired me because they told me about their horses,” she said.
And they pay for lessons, including with Jane Steen, one of Miah’s four trainers. Miah’s parents also outfit her and the horses she rides and take her to competitions, where Miah takes over.
“She’s responsible for the horse, especially at shows, and when she comes to do her lessons, she’s responsible for the horse from the time she gets there until the time she leaves,” said Derri Lassiter Young, Miah’s mother. “So she really does everything by herself.”
Miah’s parents said she made it clear early on that she would be a horsewoman -- not just a rider, but a serious competitor.
She even opened up her own bank account, saving up to buy her own horse.
“I’ve gotten all the way to $600,” she said. “I’m doing that by my birthdays, my good grades and Christmas.”
But as free as the young equestrian feels while riding, she’d like to see something change at the horse shows where she competes and makes friends.
“The one thing that needs to change is more Black riders,” she said.
News4Jax asked her how she thinks that can happen.
“By me showing,” Miah responded.
Miah said it makes her happy to know she’s helping raise awareness that competitive riding needs to be more diverse.
“When we go to shows, we don’t see many African Americans. Actually, we’ve been at shows, and we see no African Americans. We’ve ridden at barns, and we don’t see any African Americans,” her mother said. “I wish there were more African Americans involved in this sport because it is a beautiful sport. It really is.”
Miah’s mother said it may be a cultural reason why there aren’t more Black competitors -- a lack of exposure or a financial barrier.
“Especially if you are competing,” she said. “If you’re just riding at a barn, however, it’s not that expensive -- no more expensive than any other sport I would say.”
Miah’s father thinks change is on the way.
“Like Formula One and Lewis Hamilton, and the Williams sisters and tennis, and I could go on and on,” he said. “But we’re exposed, and we’re doing it. I think exposure on both sides, I think that will make a world of a difference.”
Both of Miah’s parents have long loved horses, but they had no idea their daughter would be so driven to ride and now sharing a message for other young equestrians of color.
“I want to say keep up what you’re doing and also try your best,” Miah said.
The aspiring eventer also looks forward to a career as an equine veterinarian.
Her parents are so proud she’s happy to show everyone winners come in every color.