'No One Can Ignore a Black Woman on Top of a Horse:' How Brianna Noble Celebrates Black Joy Through Horses

Eli Zaturanski

bri and dapper dan
Eli Zaturanski

When Brianna Noble showed up at a Black Lives Matter protest in California atop a horse named Dapper Dan, it was safe to say heads turned. On his back, the horse trainer, mother, and Olympic hopeful looked like a modern cowboy. With a handkerchief bandana tied around her neck, she led the charge of protestors in open rebellion against police brutality. 

"I was just p---ed, sitting at home and seeing the video of George Floyd," Noble told the Guardian. "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.'" 

  • For Noble, horses are more than just a tool to make a statement -- they are instrumental in bettering the lives of Black and Brown communities.

    "What one puts into a relationship with a horse, is directly returned," Noble tells CafeMom. "As fight or flight creatures, a horse's very survival relies on their ability to read the emotions and body language of its herd around itself. When humans step into this position, horses become an amazing tool -- allowing us to look deeply into ourselves. Mimicking our emotions, they put up a mirror that allows us to evaluate ourselves in an ever forgiving, nonjudgmental way. Yielding directly to the amount of pressure we exert."

    She continued, "Cause and effect, a lesson that transcends all aspects of life, is one the most important things the horse teaches us. We learn to not only control our bodies physically, but also learn great control of our emotions. Being allowed to experience this inter-special bond tends to have life changing effects on the humans that are allowed to partake in its magic."

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  • But entry and access into that world is often gated. 

    Eli Zaturanski
    Eli Zaturanski

    BIPOC are wildly unrepresented in the equestrian world, with barriers being socioeconomic opportunities and, as some state, flat-out racism. 

    Noble fell in love with horseback riding and equestrian competition at a young age. 

    "As a child I grew up in the barn with my big sister Brittany, Noble explains. "During the summer I didn't have child care so I was my sister's responsibility and we would take the bus and walk to get to the barn. My sister worked for lessons, and I got to follow her around and loved to watch her jump, and wanted to do the same thing.

    "Being Black in in our equestrian community can definitely be hard. The fact that you look different is something you become aware of at a very young age. Sometimes you face blatant racism, and other times you are simply a curiosity. It's like being the only white flower amongst a field of red roses. Eyes are naturally drawn to the one thing that's different," she tells CafeMom.

  • In an effort to level the playing field, Noble has a dream to bridge the gap between inner city, economically different kids and horseback riding. 

    mulatto meadows
    Brianna Noble

    Noble runs her own business, Mulatto Meadows, where she dedicated her career to picking up unwanted and untrained horses, and giving them training. The idea is to equip these horses with the skills that will enable them to be useful to people and ultimately give them loving homes.

  • Her recent "fame" is also helping another lifelong dream come to fruition. 

    Noah Berger

    The Humble Project, an initiative to connect inner city kids to horses and nature, is something she is now aggressively pursuing.

    "I have worked since I was a teenager to provide access to horses for intercity youth through multiple organizations and I even taught a camp for the City of Oakland," she says.

    "Humble is a project that I have been working on really getting off the ground for a few years, but until now I never really had the financial assistance needed to do more than a few events every year... We are currently working hard and diligently on the administrative side of things to ensure all of our i's are dotted and t's are crossed. I have put a hold to my lesson program for the next month or so to ensure that we can get the full program off the ground as quickly as possible."

  • Investing in Black joy and bridging some of these racially exclusive sports is what Noble hopes will leave the world a better place.

    Eli Zaturanski
    Eli Zaturanski

    In fact, she instills it in her daughter regularly. 

    "It is my hope that my child will learn responsibility, love and respect from her daily interactions with our horses," she says. "They teach us lessons that make us successful in many different avenues of life. I want her to use those skills to do whatever it is in life that ignites passion and excitement within her. Not all wars are fought on the battlefield. The kids are what is going to change the world. This is why I choose to focus so heavily on inspiring positive futures in our youth."

    If you'd like to contribute to The Humble Project, donate to the GoFundMe here.