It would be a remarkable sight on a normal day ‒ a young black woman riding her horse down the urban streets of Oakland, California. But yesterday it was remarkable for another reason: 25-year-old Brianna Noble rode Dapper Dan alongside thousands who marched to protest the murder of African American George Floyd by a white police officer one week ago in Minnesota.
The video footage of Minneapolis police Office Derek Chauvin kneeling on George Floyd’s neck went viral and has seen spawned a chaotic series of riots and violence not seen since the Civil Rights era. Across America, and the world, including Toronto and Montreal, thousands have turned out to peacefully protest systemic racism and ongoing police brutality.
When Noble decided to take part in the protests in her hometown of Oakland, she wanted to stand out and make a statement.
“It wasn’t a very planned thing,” she told The Guardian. “I was… sitting at home and seeing the video of George Floyd. I felt helpless and thought to myself: ‘I’m just another protester if I go down there alone, but no one can ignore a black woman sitting on top of a horse.’”
And no one did. Images of Noble and her horse, who had a Black Lives Matter placard across his hindquarters, went viral on social media and the story was picked up around the world. This sort of attention is exactly what the young horsewoman, who trains wild and feral horses, wanted. “I know that what makes headlines is breaking windows and people smashing things,” Noble said to a reporter. “So I thought: ‘Let’s go out and give the media something to look at that is positive and change the narrative.’”
Changing the narrative is what she is hoping to do for equestrian sports in general. The vast majority of people who participate in horse sports are white, and it is also expensive, making it out of reach for most, especially those from lower income families. Noble, who wants to compete for the United States show jumping team one day, also wants to work towards making riding more accessible to children and people of colour.
For his part, Dapper Dan took his new starring role in stride. Noble backed the horse herself and in her Instagram post she writes, “From the hardest horse I’ve ever started in my life, to my go to partner I can trust to carry me through the sketchiest of situations. I’m so glad I decided to keep this horse. He has made me laugh, cry, bleed, and continues to make me a better horsewoman on a daily basis. Hats off to my Dapper Dan for giving me a pedestal to stand (well sit) upon and inspire change.”
Also check out ‘Brianna Noble: 5 Fast Facts You Need To Know’ (below) and follow Brianna @urbancowgirl510