Winter 2022 ‘Ever So Sweet’ Scholarship Awarded to Sierra Lesny

Sierra Lesny, recipient of the Ever So Sweet Scholarship for winter 2022. Photo courtesy of SEE.

Strides for Equality Equestrians and the United States Eventing Association Foundation are proud to announce the recipient of the Ever So Sweet Scholarship for winter 2022. The scholarship, which is the first of its kind, is fully funded by Edy Rameika and provides an opportunity for riders from diverse backgrounds to train with Sara Kozumplik for two months in Florida. Sierra Lesny is the second recipient of the bi-annual scholarship.

The scholarship covers expenses for full board and training costs for Sierra’s horse, several lessons per week, housing for Sierra, a stipend to cover living expenses, competition fees, and coaching at competitions. Sierra got her start riding at her grandmother’s lesson barn when she was two years old. She has spent most of her life catch riding any horse that was available at the time, which has taught her a lot about patience and flexibility.

“This opportunity will allow me to grow as a rider,” Sierra says. “I have been riding since before I could walk and horses have always been a part of my life, but since I financially have not always been able to go full force into the horses, I have worked really hard and been a groom and a working student. I have loved it and it’s taught me so much and definitely made me a better horse person, but I haven’t had as much time to devote to just my riding skills.”

Photo courtesy of SEE.

Sierra is excited that she will be able to dedicate two months entirely to her riding and development as an up and coming professional. Sierra is eager to get her foot in the door and find her place as a trainer. She says, “This is definitely an opportunity that anyone in my position dreams of, and I have dreamed many times about going down to Florida and getting to work with an amazing trainer in the hub of the horse network during the winter … being able to be a part of that is absolutely incredible!”

Sierra will be an ambassador for the ESS scholarship, which is part of the Professional Pathways programs SEE is developing. She will play an essential role in fostering a more inclusive environment within equestrian sports: “For all of us in this world with a darker skin tone, it can be scary and lonely at times. But the only way to change that is to take up space. Be here, be proud, and support one another.”

The scholarship will provide Sierra with the opportunity to make professional connections, which will not only help her as an individual, but will contribute to improving access and opportunities for other BIPOC riders.

“For me growing up, not seeing many people that look like me in the horse world was disheartening,” Sierra says. “Putting people in this space so that younger kids grow up seeing someone that looks like them, doing the things that they want to do is the most important.” You can follow along for updates on the Strides For Equality website and Facebook and Instagram pages.

Graphic courtesy of Strides for Equality Equestrians.