When I was watching the Kentucky Derby this past year, I wondered why I didn’t see any women in the race. I wondered if women have ever been in the race. (The answer is yes, and the number of female jockeys is six.) During my research for this interview, I slipped down a major rabbit hole and learned a ton about today's guest, former professional jockey and horse trainer, Diane Crump.
On February 7th, 1969, Diane became the first woman to compete as a jockey in a professional race in the United States. She was also the first woman to ride in the Kentucky Derby in 1970, where she rode a horse called Fathom. These days, Diane runs her own business doing equine sales, which almosts seems like a horse and rider matchmaking service. If that wasn't all enough, she worked with author Mark Schrager on the upcoming book about her life called Diane Crump: A Horse Racing Pioneer’s Life In the Saddle.
In this episode, Diane and I talk about all things equine and horse racing. Yes. All. The. Things. This includes women’s right to ride and gender (in)equality in horse racing. Plus, we talk about the importance of quiet determination and focused fascination. Diane also shares poignant insights about the freedom to follow (but not force) what’s in your heart and navigate all of the negativity. Seriously, Diane walks her talk for focusing and letting negativity roll right off of her.
I so love talking to women who are not letting BS or burnout stop them. Diane is no exception. I am so happy to share this conversation with you. Check the links below to listen.
Selected link love + resources from the episode:
Diane Crump: A Horse Racing Pioneer’s Life In the Saddle, Mark Shrager (book)
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All of this wisdom is from Diane Crump herself (with some minor edits for readability).
[00:15:01] Don't overthink it. Do it. Stop thinking. You could have the plan. Of course, we have to think, but to overthink, it defeats the purpose. Go do it. The action speaks louder than words.
[00:32:22] [On negativity and criticism] I don't listen to that. I don't listen to those voices. I don't listen to negativity. I turn it off.
[00:48:34] [On taking action and moving forward when you can’t see the whole vision] As long as I got to ride, I was okay with all of it. Just please let it happen. That's the way I felt. Just let it happen.
[00:49:26] [Before her barrier-breaking race] With that I put my goggles down and about 60 seconds later they rang the bell. We were off. I knew what I was doing from then on. It was what I'd worked for. It was what I'd hoped for. I knew I could do it, and I did. It would be fine.
[00:50:10] [On the crowds swarming her as she walked to the paddock before her barrier-breaking race] It was curiosity. That's all. It was strictly curiosity. It was people not believing that it was really going to happen or that a woman really could [be a professional jockey], but, obviously, women can do anything that they want to. Anything that we've been led to do - we're called to do - we can do.
[01:05:45] [On equality in the jockey’s locker room] We have come a long way. I was definitely happy to see that little by little we were beginning to see equality playing into things. I love to see that, because for me, it's not about man, woman, black or white. For me, we're all equal in God's eyes. [...] What's important to me is that everybody gets to do what's in their heart, whatever that is - that we all have that chance.
[01:15:34] I've discovered over all these years that you can not force anything to happen. No one can force things to happen.
[01:18:55] I just want to tell anyone that whatever they have inside of them, whatever it is, they can do it. I don't care. Don't listen to outside voices. If you know this is your dream, this is your goal, it's in your heart, then you don't listen to what anybody else says. Only if they're positive and they help, you listen. If it's negative and not helpful, you don't listen. Don't listen to negativity. It's what’s in your heart. If you know it and you believe it, then you can do it. Don't let anyone tell you differently.
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