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Because of Horses

Apr 5, 2019

Elise's guest on this episode is Mollie Bailey, senior reporter at The Chronicle of the Horse, and the author of “#MeToo: The Story of A Trainer, A Trophy and An All-Too-Common Betrayal.” The article, which ran one year ago, continues to rattle the horse industry as abuse survivors from across the country share their stories.

Mollie’s investigative reporting connected the #MeToo movement in the broader community to the world of equestrian sport. Through her tactful interviews and powerful writing, Mollie helped to give voice to women who for decades had held their stories close to their hearts. She kept the needs and stories of the women at the forefront while maintaining the highest standards of journalistic integrity.

For 28 years, the US Equestrian Federation presented a silver cowboy hat called the Jimmy A. Williams Trophy to the winner of its lifetime achievement award. Williams, who died in 1993, was a prominent horseman based at the Flintridge Riding Club in Southern California. But in 2017, the organization quietly removed Williams’ name from the trophy. Mollie heard rumors connecting Williams to possible sexual misconduct, and she began to investigate.

Williams worked with as many as 37 future top professional riders during his career. Among these riders were U.S. Olympian Anne Kursinksi and US Equestrian Federation chef d’ équipe DiAnn Langer, both of whom accused Williams of inappropriate sexual behavior and agreed to tell their stories to Mollie.

Mollie’s article received widespread acclaim both in and out of the equine industry. It inspired stories and was referenced in both The New York Times and the online newsletter Deadspin.

“#MeToo: The Story of A Trainer, A Trophy and An All-Too-Common Betrayal” prompted countless other women to come forward to share their own stories of sexual assault and misconduct. It helped to initiate necessary dialogue around a difficult subject that for too long has remained hidden within the industry.