Press Releases

The Legacy of Cheryl White: America's First Female Black Jockey

Muirneen Townhall on the Legacy of Cheryl White

METRO DETROIT — August 23, 2023 — Muirneen Equestrian, a steadfast advocate for diversity in horse sports, is excited to announce an upcoming virtual townhall event that delves into the remarkable yet overlooked legacy of Cheryl White, the first-ever female Black jockey in America. The townhall will be hosted by Sarah Maslin Nir, co-author of "The Jockey and her Horse," and Abriana Johnson, founder of Black in the Saddle and the authenticity reader on the book.

Cheryl White, a pioneer in the world of equestrian sports, broke barriers and shattered expectations when she became the first female Black jockey in America. Her story is now being brought back to its rightful place in equestrian history with the support of the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame and Muirneen Equestrian.

Reflecting on the significance of Cheryl White's story, Sarah Maslin Nir remarked, "Cheryl White was a pioneer who at age 17 became the first-ever female Black jockey in America. I am so thrilled to bring her erased story back into the world alongside my co-author, her brother Raymond. With the help of Abriana Johnson, the founder of Black in the Saddle, and Muirneen Equestrian, we are proud to continue amplifying diversity in equestrian sports to inspire a new generation."

Furthermore, Muirneen Equestrian is proud to collaborate with the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in promoting a special event on September 2 in Saratoga, NY, which honors the life and contributions of Cheryl White while promoting "The Jockey and her Horse" book. The museum's event aims to celebrate Cheryl White's remarkable achievements and is a testament to the significance of Cheryl White's lasting impact on the equestrian community.

Matt Reichel, representing the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, expressed his enthusiasm, stating, "The National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame is ecstatic to help share the story of Cheryl White and to inspire diversity and inclusivity throughout the equestrian sport. We thank Muirneen Equestrian for the opportunity to amplify this story and to shine a light on a too-often overlooked part of our history."

"It is a sobering fact that Cheryl White's story was systematically erased from the history books due to the racial biases that black equestrians have faced in the sport. No event or townhall will make up for this fact, but our goal is to bring our community together to celebrate her legacy and give her the proper credit for how she paved a path for equestrians of color," stated Shelly Watts, CEO of Muirneen Equestrian.

Muirneen townhalls are sponsored by Via Nova Training, Tipperary Equestrian, and Safe Riding. All townhalls include an ASL interpreter and live captions.

About Muirneen Equestrian

As a proud woman, immigrant, and veteran-owned brand, Muirneen Equestrian sets a new standard for bold and inclusive riding apparel. Beyond fashion, Muirneen shares sidelined stories and underrepresented faces and bodies. Muirneen Equestrian is not just a company; it's a powerful movement inspiring diversity, body positivity, and kindness in horse sports.

Tevis, Team Reynolds, and Treasure

Muirneen Townhall on the Tevis Cup, endurance racing, and bridleless riding

METRO DETROIT — August 22, 2023 — Muirneen Equestrian, an advocate for diversity and kindness within the horse sports community, is thrilled to announce an upcoming virtual townhall event. This townhall will delve into the captivating world of endurance racing, bridleless riding, and the treasures found in equine companionship. Hosted by the remarkable Team Reynolds duo Heather and Jeremy Reynolds, this townhall is a must-attend for the equestrian community.

"At Muirneen Equestrian, we want to introduce equestrians of color to the sport of endurance riding," stated Shelly Watts, CEO of Muirneen Equestrian.

The focal point of the conversation will be the prestigious Tevis Cup, an iconic endurance race known for its challenges and triumphs. With Heather and Jeremy Reynolds at the helm, attendees will gain unique insights into the rigorous training, boundless dedication, and profound bond with horses that define the world of endurance racing. Additionally, the duo will share their experiences of bridleless riding, shedding light on the art of communication and trust between rider and horse.

"I like to inspire riders to learn to listen to their horses and have fun. I'm looking forward to sharing my experience during the townhall," expressed Jeremy Reynolds.

This interactive and enlightening townhall offers a rare opportunity to gain direct access to the perspectives of accomplished endurance riders, creating a space for equestrians to learn, connect, and be inspired. "We are looking forward to sharing the sport and adventure of endurance riding with equestrians from other disciplines," shared Heather Reynolds.

Muirneen townhalls are sponsored by Via Nova Training, Tipperary Equestrian, and Safe Riding. All townhalls include an ASL interpreter and live captions.

Aldean, Art, and Apathy

Townhall on Confronting Controversy with Compassion

METRO DETROIT — August 1, 2023 — Muirneen Equestrian, a brand focused on inclusivity within the horse community, announces an upcoming townhall event. The townhall aims to foster an open and empathetic dialogue surrounding the recent uproar sparked by Jason Aldean’s music video. This event will be hosted by Muirneen models Dr. Monay Legette and Anne Ashley.

The music video features footage from the Maury County Courthouse. In 1927, a mob of hundreds lynched Henry Choate, a Black teenager, for an alleged crime he denied. His life was taken mercilessly as he was hung from the courthouse for all to see. This gruesome act is not an isolated incident; Maury County witnessed around 20 Black men and boys suffer similar fates, lynched, killed, or disappeared by White mobs or the Ku Klux Klan.

“Turning away from the issue is not an option; it is crucial to address it thoughtfully and empathetically. Avoiding discussions about this dark chapter in history does not erase its impact or make things better. Instead, we should approach the topic with sensitivity for the black community,” shared Shelly Watts, Muirneen Equestrian CEO.

Attendance is encouraged for all individuals who believe in the power of dialogue and compassionate conversations to effect positive change in the equestrian community.

Para-athletes in Horse Sports

Muirneen Hosts Para-Equestrian Townhall

METRO DETROIT — JULY 20, 2023 — Muirneen, Tipperary, Safe Riding, and Via Nova Training are proud to invite all equestrians and companies to participate in an engaging and enlightening townhall event. The virtual event aims to facilitate a candid conversation about para-athletes in horse sports, focusing on inspiring diversity, inclusivity, and understanding within the equestrian community.

Hosted by esteemed para-athletes Shannon Duffy and Lauren Reischer, this townhall promises to be an insightful discussion about what it truly means to be a para-athlete or para-equestrian. The townhall seeks to foster a greater understanding of the experiences, challenges, and triumphs of para-athletes and para-equestrians.

As a company dedicated to promoting diversity in the barn and the competition ring, Muirneen recognizes the importance of creating an inclusive environment that embraces individuals of all abilities. This townhall serves as an opportunity for attendees to explore and demystify the concept of para-athletes and para-equestrians, encouraging open discussions on topics that may have been previously considered sensitive or difficult to approach.

Shannon Duffy, a passionate para-athlete, remarked, “I am excited to be part of this townhall, as it represents a crucial step towards building a more inclusive and diverse equestrian community. Let’s come together to learn, support, and celebrate the talents and contributions of para-athletes in the competition ring and beyond.”

To ensure that all attendees can fully participate, an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter will be available during the townhall. This commitment to accessibility and inclusion is generously sponsored by Via Nova Training.

“We look forward to welcoming equestrians and companies alike to this momentous townhall, as together, we strive to create a more united, compassionate, and diverse equestrian community,” commented Shelly Watts, CEO of Muirneen Equestrian.

Muirneen Equestrian also encourages attendees to invite fellow equestrians and reach out to their favorite brands, urging them to send representatives to participate in this important event. By spreading awareness and knowledge, the equestrian community can collectively work towards fostering a more supportive environment for para-athletes.

Most Diverse Photoshoot in the History of Horse Sports

Muirneen Equestrian hosts the most diverse equestrian photoshoot in the history of horse sports

METRO DETROIT — June 10, 2023 — Muirneen Equestrian launched a blind model casting call where no photos were requested, and over 650 equestrians around the country responded.

Who was selected as a Muirneen model?

  • Over 650 applications were received (yes, every single application was reviewed!)
  • 60% of Muirneen models are BIPOC (black, indigenous, people of color)
  • 50% of Muirneen models are curvy or plus-size
  • 20% of Muirneen models are mature
  • 5% of Muirneen models are para-athletes

“We had the best time together. I had no idea what most of the models looked like until the day of our photoshoot. It turned out amazing! I felt happy seeing so many models exchange phone numbers to stay in touch. We love building relationships in the equestrian community,” explained Shelly Watts, CEO of Muirneen Equestrian.

“Growing up riding, I was often the only brown girl. My first job out of college was with a well-known equestrian retailer, and I noted that businesses owned by people of color were basically nonexistent. I love that Muirneen is owned by a person of color. I truly admire the diversity and inclusivity that Muirneen showcases but especially love that the little brown girl in me is seeing other BIPOC women being represented in the equestrian community,” shares Krystle B., Muirneen model.

Protecting Wild Beauty

Muirneen Townhall on Protecting Wild Horses in the United States

METRO DETROIT — May 8, 2023 — The townhalls are built around Muirneen’s mission to inspire diversity, body positivity, and kindness in horse sports. This conversation will be focused on our value of kindness—to horses.

The goal is to have an authentic and unfiltered conversation about the plight of wild horses in the United States. We will also hear about how the horses were trained for Black Beauty with R+.

Shelly Watts, CEO of Muirneen Equestrian, will be joined by host Ashley Avis.

“Ashley Avis seriously embodies grace, humility, and powerhouse ambition. Only a few of her accomplishments: writer/director of Disney+ Black Beauty, Wild Beauty documentary, and upcoming City of Angels movie by Warner Bros,” comments Watts.

Townhall Barn Rules:

Remain kind under all circumstances, explore new horizons, and sit under the tree of empathy. Those that do not respect these barn rules will be removed from the town hall. These town halls are recorded and will be used for our Muirneen Equestrian podcast.

We will have an ASL interpreter signing for all townhalls—graciously sponsored by Via Nova Training.

Invite your fellow equestrians and ask your favorite brands to send representation!.

Black Equestrians Want to be Safe. But They Can't Find Helmets.

Black Equestrians Want to be Safe. But They Can't Find Helmets.

METRO DETROIT — March 4, 2022 — The New York Times article titled “Black Equestrians Want to Be Safe. But They Can’t Find Helmets” has caused quite a stir in the equestrian and non-equestrian communities.

Many supportive comments pushed helmet companies to consider African American hair – natural and locs – when designing their helmets. Other comments of racism, bigotry, and assimilation flooded the comment sections across social media platforms.

Chanel Robbins, the main equestrian featured in the article, commented, “This sport isn’t designed for us.” In response to this article and the social media comments, Muirneen Equestrian and Chanel Robbins are teaming up to host a townhall.

An open invitation has been sent to all equestrian brands, magazines, and stakeholders to have an authentic and unfiltered conversation about diversity in horse sports.

“It was hard reading all of the comments. It’s easy to have an uncaring attitude when the problem doesn’t affect you. We will be taking note of brands and magazines that are there to represent their companies and those that are conspicuously and continuously absent from conversations like these,” says Shelly Watts, CEO and Founder of Muirneen Equestrian.

“I bet people would have more compassion if they just talked to their black and brown equestrian friends. Many people, companies, and institutions have this stance that you, as the non-white person, must change to meet “normal” social contexts. I have dealt with this my entire life as an immigrant. We should be thoughtful and considerate of the vibrant, beautiful cultures and traditions that exist. This includes hairstyles, clothing, languages, and tattoos,” concludes Watts.