Pride in

06 July 2018

As part of this year’s Pride celebrations across the world, we spoke to some openly LGBT equestrian stars about how the sport embraces diversity…

Britain’s Olympic gold medalist Dressage star Carl Hester, Blyth Tait, the New Zealand Eventing legend, and Olympic medalist Hans Peter Minderhoud, whose partner is fellow Dutch Dressage athlete Edward Gal, discussed their experiences within the equestrian world…


Why do you think equestrianism is so diverse?

Blyth: “I think because the people attracted to equestrianism are great people. They understand the challenges of training and competing with horses and generally respect and admire those who show empathy for all.


“There has always been a level playing field for all genders. I think it is still one of very few sports where men and woman compete together, have no advantage and as such blend happily.”


Carl: “It mixes sport with artistic, certainly with dressage there’s a lot of artistic flair in there. I think that’s probably what brings it together. You’ve got to have a caring side because it’s animals we’re dealing with. It’s difficult because saying these things you don’t want to make it sound that everyone that’s in it then they should be gay!”

We’re used to
things being
open and different

Do you ever feel you’ve been treated any differently?

Hans-Peter: “No, I haven’t, but in our sport it’s not an exception being gay.”


Blyth: “I have never knowingly been treated any differently. I have a good rapport with the other riders, have enjoyed some amazing sponsorship agreements and have attracted a great bunch of owners throughout my career.”


Why do you feel it’s different in other sports?

Carl: “Equestrian is about an entire team, it isn’t just about you. You know there’s trainers, farriers, physios, everyone behind you to support you along the way. It’s one of the only sports where gender is equal, we aren’t all just boys and that levels the playing field immediately as there’s no stigma attached. We’re used to things being open and different to other sports and this is just another aspect of that.”



What would you say to a young LGBT athlete afraid of coming out?

Carl: "If you never have a problem with it then other people will treat you with the same respect. Lots of people can struggle with coming to terms with these things but if you’re open then this will be reflected back to you, surround yourself with people who care."


Hans-Peter: "First of all, if you don’t want to come out yet, or not ready for it, then don’t. You don’t have to be afraid because I think it’s not a big issue anymore. If you are ready for it then come out, it’s hard to get a happy life if you can’t be who you are!”


Blyth: “Be your true self. It will certainly enhance your performance as an athlete to be comfortable and unafraid in your personal life. There is support available if needed but in general, equestrianism is very accepting.”


Images by Ridsport (Stockholm Pride) / Arnd Bronkhorst / Liz Gregg


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