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Sylvia Rideoutt Bishop: Pioneering African American Female Horse Trainer

Sylvia Rideoutt Bishop: Pioneering African American Female Horse Trainer

Explore the extraordinary life of Sylvia Rideoutt Bishop, the pioneering horse trainer who made history as the first black female licensed trainer in the United States.

Sylvia was born in Charles Town in 1920 and developed a deep passion for horses at a young age.

Her love for these majestic animals was sparked during a visit to the local racetrack, where her fascination with horses began.

Sylvia’s father, James Rideoutt, was born in Jefferson County in 1892 and is laid to rest at the historic Fairview Cemetery in Gibsontown.

Growing up, Sylvia’s affinity for horses grew, and she eventually pursued a career in horse training. Despite facing challenges as a woman of color in a male-dominated field, Sylvia’s dedication and talent led to her receiving an official license to train racehorses from the state of West Virginia in her 30s.

Throughout her career, Sylvia trained numerous winning racehorses and became known for her kindness and generosity. She was always willing to help others and often shared food with those in need.

Sylvia’s legacy extends beyond her achievements in horse racing; she was a trailblazer who broke barriers and inspired others to follow their dreams.

Sylvia Rideoutt Bishop passed away in 2004 at the age of 84 and was laid to rest at Pleasant View Memorial Gardens.

Her legacy as the first African American female horse trainer continues to inspire many, and her contributions to the sport are remembered fondly by those who knew her.

To learn more about Sylvia Rideoutt Bishop’s remarkable life and legacy, watch the YouTube video below or click here to listen to an interview with her daughter:

On April 12, 2024, the city of Charles Town and Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races came together to honor the legacy of Sylvia Rideoutt Bishop with the unveiling of a memorial sign.

The unveiling ceremony, held in the 100 block of North Charles Street in downtown Charles Town, was a heartfelt tribute to Sylvia’s achievements and her impact on the community.

The event featured the Wainwright Baptist Choir, a portrayal of Sylvia as a young girl on her pony, and speeches from Pastor Richard Rideoutt, Mayor Robert Trainor, and Sylvia’s daughter, LaVerne Bishop.

The memorial sign serves as a lasting tribute to Sylvia’s remarkable life and accomplishments.

Join us in honoring Sylvia Rideoutt Bishop’s memory and celebrating her lasting impact on the world of horse racing and the Eastern Panhandle.

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