“I have a dream that one day a black child will ride for South Africa in the Olympics,” said Enos Mafokate, founder of the Soweto Equestrian Foundation, who came to London for World Horse Welfare’s recent annual conference.

During his presentation, Enos spoke about the immense opportunity equestrian sport can provide for young people, recounting his experiences as an aspiring equestrian competitor - an unheard of ambition in South Africa during apartheid.

From groom to Games

Enos’ story is particularly inspirational. He was born in 1946 in a Johannesburg township. Discovering his passion for horses in the late 1950s, Enos overcame racial barriers in equestrian sport and began competing in show jumping in 1962.

Recognised by David Broome for his natural horse riding abilities in 1980, Enos went on to complete in the working hunter class at the Royal International Horse Show at Wembley, making him the first black rider to represent South Africa in Europe. In 1992, he attended the Olympic Games as part of a development team in Barcelona, Spain, and later he captained the winning South African team at the All Nations Cup in Swaziland.

Helping the community

Despite his competitive successes, Enos always remained true to his heart. At the peak of his international career in 1990, Enos began giving free riding lessons to children from his local community.

Enos completed World Horse Welfare’s farriery training course in Cape Town, where he gained professional shoeing skills, and continued to work as a competent farrier. In 2007, and in partnership with Johannesburg City Council and World Horse Welfare, Enos founded a not-for-profit organisation, The Soweto Equestrian Foundation (SEF), in the heart of Soweto.

The SEF is now an affiliate of World Horse Welfare, which has supported various aspects of its development including helping to fund the construction of the further stabling and student accommodation. Having built excellent training facilities within the equestrian centre, Enos has truly been able to encourage participation in equestrian sport and promote the welfare of working horses through hosting World Horse Welfare’s farriery and harness-making courses.

Realising the dream

The Soweto Equestrian Foundation aims to open the elite world of equestrian sports to people who would never otherwise have the chance. Over 700 children from the local community, care homes and orphanages have been introduced to horses and horse riding at centre.

Every week disabled children from Adelaide Tambo School in Soweto enjoy the benefits of riding a horse – which acts as occupational and physiotherapy and increases their confidence.

Enos also encourages children with the desire to reach the top level of equestrian sport to compete at national and international levels. So much so that in 2010, the SEF Vaulting Team won a number of classes at the South African Vaulting Championships, with one of the team members subsequently being selected to represent South Africa at the World Equestrian Games in Kentucky.

An inspiration

“World Horse Welfare is so proud to be working with Enos and the Soweto Equestrian Foundation to improve the lives of working horses and raise the profile of horses in the country,” said World Horse Welfare chief executive Roly Owers. “It has been a delight to host him this week on his visit to London. We were all deeply inspired at the conference by Enos’ passion and commitment to realising his dream, and were delighted that we were able to help him share this dream with others.

“At World Horse Welfare we are concerned with the wellbeing of all horses, from the highest level Olympic eventing horse to the working horses that toil day by day in the developing world, in places such as Soweto. Enos’ story shows the connection between these two horse worlds, and the opportunity that equestrianism can provide for young people.

World Horse Welfare Trustee Pippa Funnell added: “I thought Enos’ presentation was one of the most moving and inspirational that I had ever heard. The world of equestrian sport needs more people like Enos who persevere through adversity and still find time to bring the sport to the younger generation.”

this is awesome!!!