February 2 is National Girls and Women in Sports Day. This annual holiday celebrates the achievements of female athletes, recognizes the impact of sports participation for women and girls, and honors the progress and ongoing fight for equality for women in sports. The following five women mean a lot in our equestrian sport and are therefore honored on this National Girls and Women in Sports Day.
The following five women in the equestrian industry have been carefully selected to take their place in this top five of the National Women in Sports Day. Of course, this list is far too short to name all the powerful women in the equestrian world. Every woman who makes an impact on our equestrian sport plays an important role in the development of the equestrian industry!
1 genericforgreece.com. Danielle G. Waldman
Dani G. Waldman, “the woman with the feathers,” is a professional rider and perhaps one of the most remarkable appearances in the arena. The flying feathers carefully woven into her hair really make a statement. “The fact that men and women compete equally against each other has made it a much more accepting and open environment. I don’t like that there are fewer women at the top of the sport, I would love to see more of them. I don’t feel an equality. There is a difference between men and women. To say that we need to be the same is difficult, some women ride certain horses better than men do, and vice versa. There are strengths to being a woman, and there are weaknesses also. But of course, I love when I kick the guys’ asses”, she says with a smile.
2. Judy Ann Melchior
Does Judy Ann-Melchior even need an introduction? If there is one power woman in equestrian sports, it’s Judy Ann. As an international showjumper, breeder and owner of the largest showjumping studbook in the world: Studbook Zangersheide, Judy Ann is one of the pillars of our industry. “I try not to be Léon II,” says Judy Ann. “Those shoes are too big to fill. I do my best to continue the business as best I can and keep growing. Horses make me happy; I can’t imagine my life without them.”
3. Jessica Springsteen
If you spot a rider in the arena who not only looks perfect but also has lots of talent, you are undoubtedly looking at Jessica Springsteen. This American and Olympic rider can be seen at the highest level of the sport. She is a role model for many young girls who look up to her in awe. As perfect as everything she does seems, it didn’t always run smoothly for Jessica either. “When I turned eighteen, everything suddenly became much more difficult. I was used to being able to finish at the front and win a lot of times. When you cross that age of eighteen, you’re suddenly up against riders who are older and have a lot of experience”, Jessica explains. However, she was able to prove herself as a top rider and a great role model in the sport.
4. Malin Baryard-Johnsson
With a gold Olympic medal around her neck, Malin is one of the top female riders in the sport. When this Swedish rider enters the arena, you can’t help but look up. Her unique riding outfits and with the amount of self-confidence she goes through life is an example for all young women. In addition, she is also constantly committed to the general welfare of horses around the world with her ReGive Project. “Our horses do everything for us, but not everyone is in a position to do the same for their horse. Through ReGive, we can help improve the lives of brave, strong horses and their owners in vulnerable parts of the world.”
5. Laura Kraut
Finally, we saved the best for last! Kraut competed in the Olympics three times and has been featured at the biggest competitions in the world. She was the oldest American athlete ever to secure a podium finish since 1904 with a silver team medal. This power woman has been in the equestrian industry for over 50 years and has made her mark worldwide as a successful rider, coach and most importantly a woman with a backpack full of talent. Kraut is a true anchor in equestrian sports. US Equestrian named Laura Kraut International Equestrian of the Year earlier this year.
The History Behind NGWSD
Every year since 1987, the United States Congress has recognized the contributions of women to sports and society during the first week of February. Also in that year, it was President Ronald Reagan who issued the proclamation 5606, creating National Women in Sports Day. This annual celebration kicked off with Olympic volleyball player Flo Hyman for her achievements and work for equality in sports. Since her passing, the NGWSD has evolved into a celebration of all female athletes and athletic careers.
Photo: © Tomas Holcbecher