The eventing community accomplished an amazing feat last week as eventers from around the world raised an astounding £500,000 to help Jonty Evans secure the ride on his beloved Cooley Rorkes Drift. While I have never had the pleasure of meeting Jonty personally, he seems, by all accounts, a tremendous horseman and all-around great guy.
I think it goes without saying that the hearts of eventers everywhere rejoiced with the news that Jonty and Art reached their goal and will remain together moving forward. This is truly something to be celebrated. Riders invest so much time, money and love in the making of an eventing partnership, and it is nothing short of gut-wrenching to see such a partnership be torn apart for reasons outside of the rider’s control.
So, as an eventer and a horsewoman, I am delighted for Jonty Evans and his team and downright proud to be a member of the worldwide community that is eventing. There is a thought, however, that I just can’t shake since this wonderful news broke.
£500,000 pounds is a lot of money. That’s nearly $650,000 in U.S. dollars. Thrilled as I am for Jonty, Art and all of their connections, it is hard to ignore that number. All of that money bought one horse. A tremendous horse at that, but it certainly brings to mind a whole slew of things that could be done with such a large sum.
I’ve often heard it said that eventers “take care of their own,” which is undoubtedly true. We are so proud of our eventing family, but it is often overlooked, I think, that beyond our eventing family we also belong to the broader, global community.
I will never forget one particular trot set (among hundreds) when my dearest friend asked me if I had ever thought about how unimportant our efforts were in the context of the world. “There are kids starving to death,” she said, matter-of-factly, “and we spend all of our time teaching horses to jump over sticks.”
Having spent every minute and every dime at my disposal on horses up to that point in my life, I really had never paused to consider what I was contributing to the world.
Being an eventer is a privilege which cannot be underestimated. As much as we joke about being “broke” and share in the lighthearted struggles we call #EventerProblems, I think we all know that anyone who has the means and opportunity to event is fortunate beyond measure.
The #JontyAndArt effort stands as irrefutable proof that eventers are a powerful force for creating positive outcomes in our own community. Perhaps this accomplishment can also serve as an inspiration to extend our influence beyond the reaches of our own midst and affect more change in the world.
But how can I personally make a difference? The eventing lifestyle is time-consuming and expensive, and many of us don’t have a lot of extra money leftover at the end of the month to give to charity or time to spend volunteering. But can I be mindful of where my money is going and make simple changes to be a more beneficial member of society? Absolutely!
Fleeceworks: Last year Judy McSwain, Fleeceworks president and founder, launched Pads With Purpose with a vision to give busy event riders an easy yet tangible way to support worthy causes. Thanks to this program, giving back is easy: Pick your pad, pick your trim color (from 12 choices!) and then choose which charity you’d like to receive 10% of the purchase price.
You can choose to support Halt Cancer at X, Thoroughbred Charities of America, Feeding America, Animal Rescue Corps, Mission K9 Rescue and The Literacy Project. More charities will be added as the program grows.
SmartPak: Another company that plenty of eventers (and riders of several other disciplines) already know and love is SmartPak. Until I started looking into this topic, however, I knew nothing about SmartPak’s charitable work and environmental initiatives. SmartPak’s social responsibility page goes into great detail about how SmartPak gives back and strives to be a company that helps animals, people and the environment.
The company not only sells products that we all love and makes feeding supplements simple and efficient, but on top of all that they are thoughtful about their impact in the world. From horse welfare work to an exclusive line of products supporting breast cancer research and an impressive array of strategies to be more environmentally aware, SmartPak is putting in the work to help the enormous economic impact of the equestrian industry have a positive impact.
C4 Belts: One way of giving back that many eventers are familiar with is purchasing a C4 belt. The company’s name stands for “Choose your Color, Choose your Cause.” According to the C4 website, $1 from each belt sale is given to charity. When buying a belt, you vote for a charity. These votes are tallied quarterly and the allotted money donated accordingly.
We all wear a belt with our breeches, so it may as well be a belt that helps support a good cause like C4. Not to mention, these belts come in an unbelievable array of stylish colors and patterns and can be cut to size for a perfect fit.
Voltaire: Voltaire Design not only sells top-of-the-line saddles but also has a relationship with JustWorld International, an organization working with partners in the equestrian community that are dedicated to supporting children in impoverished nations by providing services and programs in nutrition, health and hygiene, education and cultural development.
From sponsoring the organization’s events to creating a line of limited edition saddles with $1,000 from each sale going directly to JustWorld, Voltaire is doing its part to give back.
Mars: Mars also has a number of impressive social responsibility goals, so you can never go wrong with treating yourself to some candy. With the involvement of Mars in the eventing community, this is like a buy-one-get-two-free deal. We get to fuel ourselves with Skittles and Twix at events while supporting a socially responsible company and one that is involved in sponsoring our sport.
Thrift Stores: A lot of barns have their own preferred style of riding apparel but whether you ride in a polo, athletic tops, T-shirts or button-downs, thrift store shopping is a win-win. During my time as a working student I wanted to dress like the professionals I was riding with every day but had very little spending money. So I went to the thrift store and got beautiful, like-new button down shirts for a few dollars a piece. What rider doesn’t love to save a little bit?
Many thrift organizations such as Goodwill and Salvation Army hire people in your local community who are in need of employment. In addition to saving money and helping people in need, thrift store shopping can also be a super fun activity. Whether you need a date with your significant other, time to catch up with friends you haven’t seen in a while or a rainy day outing with your barn pals, thrifting is a great option.
This is just a sampling of ways to contribute positively to society and spread eventing’s “good vibes” into the world outside of our sport. We’d love to hear from you next! How do you give back? What can our sport as a whole do to give back to the global community? Let us know your ideas in the comments.