The stereotypical image of a gunslinger atop a steed is getting an urgent update today, by a group of equestrians who are leading their own demonstration for gun control.
In Wellington, Florida, some of the sports' most notable riders are participating in Ride for Our Lives, a campaign to curb gun violence in schools.
The event kicks off tonight, when three-time Olympic show jumper Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum will lead a procession of prominent riders into the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. They urge equestrians across the country to post photos and videos of themselves with their horses and the hashtag #RideForOurLives. Equestrian magazine "Chronicle of the Horse" has provided printable signs at their website, and the Palm Beach event is open to the public.
"This is not about right or left; this is about protecting our children and standing up for them," said Michaels-Beerbaum in a statement. "We encourage the equestrian community to take a stand to show that we need to do something about gun violence in schools in the United States. We ride together today as a testament that it’s time to take action."
The ride happens the same day as more than 800 March for Our Lives demonstrations are being held worldwide, in solidarity with the students at Marjory Douglas Stoneman High School in Parkland, Florida, who organized a march to Washington, D.C. after a Feb. 14 shooting at the school killed 16 people.
"We're not standing for a specific rule change or a specific political party; this is a bipartisan effort to unite behind the fact that we don't want our children killed in schools anymore," said Michaels-Beerbaum.
The Palm Beach Equestrian Center will host a memorial to the victims on Mar. 31. The Marjory Douglas Stoneman choir will sing before that night's grand prix.
"We are committed to protecting and growing the future of our sport, and keeping our children safe is critical," said Katherine Bellissimo, one of the owner/operators of the equestrian center, in a statement. "The vision of our partnership is to unite equestrians in all layers of life."