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Tilly Berendt


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Wednesday Video from Kentucky Performance Products: 5* Working Student for a Day

Whether you’ve been a working student in the past, are one currently, or are planning to become one as a stepping stone to a career in the industry, there’s one thing you know for certain – it’s hard work. But it’s also jolly good fun and hugely educational, particularly if you pick a rider known for their meticulous approach to horsemanship. The creator of today’s video, Caitlin Oldham, did just that, heading to the base of British eventer Harry Meade — sometimes affectionately referred to as ‘The Professor’ — to hone her skills.

In this comprehensive diary, she shows what a day on Harry’s yard is like for its most integral members of staff — from snoozing superstars and trotting oxers to every variety of poo-shoveling, it gives you a great look behind the curtain at this high-powered yard while also giving you some great horse-care inspiration. Plus, if you’re an aspiring working student yourself, this is basically essential viewing to prepare you for your role to come.

Go Eventing, and go working students!

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Monday News & Notes from Fleeceworks

Eventing’s back and I’m getting soppy again. But first: a long-awaited #eventingfail.

“It’s just made us all realise what we’ve got, hasn’t it?”

Thus spake Long Tall William F-P, grinning like a kid at Christmas in the lorry park at Tweseldown Horse Trials in gloriously sunny Hampshire yesterday — and it was a sentiment widely shared. Lockdown — and the ongoing pandemic — has been an odd time; coronavirus patients aside, there are those who have struggled to adapt to the new circumstances, who have found the experience extraordinarily painful, and there are those who have rather welcomed the weirdness, enjoying the breather from a normalcy that didn’t, perhaps, quite fit their needs. And then there are those somewhere in between on the spectrum; the people who have missed some parts of their life with a kind of constant dull ache, while simultaneously feeling quietly happy in many other ways. But one thing really is for sure — we’ve all missed eventing, in whichever form we welcome it in into our lives.

“I’ve not been this excited about Tweseldown since — I don’t know when!” laughed William over the buzz of the burger van’s generators, the shrill shouts of boxed-up horses yelling their hellos across the lorry park, and the socially-distanced catch-ups taking place hither and thither. No, I thought, neither have I — but I hope I don’t slip back into ‘normalcy’ so quickly that I forget what a special joy it is to be back out and about.

National Holiday: It’s National French Fry Day. I celebrated prematurely at the burger van out eventing over the weekend, and I’m not sorry.🍟

Your Monday Reading List:

The last few weeks have been chock full of big conversations, intense debates, a tonne of learning opportunities, and, gloriously, the sowing of seeds of change. This piece from Horse&Hound details some of the people leading the charge for a more diverse equestrian industry in the UK. [‘Change is coming’ to improve diversity in equestrianism]

Honestly, nothing has ever made me want a mule more than this INCREDIBLE throwback. Oscar the mini-mule was a stalwart of the hunter leadline ring (and apparently a dedicated killer of Jolly Balls) back in his glory days, and I promise you, you need to start your week with these photos. [Throwback Thursday: Oscar Brought Big Ears to Leadline]

Have you taken on any unusual challenges over lockdown? Amelia Harvey certainly did, in an attempt to rebuild her relationship with her cheeky gelding Jack, with whom she was rather at odds after a tricky autumn. After discovering that the horse needed a new saddle — which was on backorder — Amelia began riding and jumping him bareback with impressive results. Apparently he once bucked her off ten times in one ride so honestly, this gal’s got cojones. [Rider bucked off 10 times in a row uses lockdown lack of saddle to master bareback jumping]

Hoof wounds are one of those things that kind of give me the fear. Mainly because I’ve never quite gotten over the unavoidable queasiness of seeing the abscess hobble in those heady moments before you realise why the horse is three-legged lame. Ugh. This quick read was a good brush-up for me over the weekend – it’s been a while since I’ve dealt with a hoof injury of any sort, and I hope that continues, but it never hurts to brush up. [Managing Horse Hoof Wounds]

Tim Price’s absolutely delightful Wesko is the FEI’s Horse of the Month. If you can look at that big white face and those dairy cow eyelashes and not fall hopelessly in love with the KWPN dreamboat, I’m afraid I simply don’t understand you at all. [FEI Horse of the Month: Wesko]

CHIO Aachen — aka horsey Shangri-La — couldn’t go ahead this year due to COVID-19, but it’s coming to you in digital form. Partnering with the stats chaps at EquiRatings and technological whizz-kids SAP, my favourite event in the world is also giving you the chance to get involved, with a champions tournament in the Eventing Manager app. Styled after Fantasy Football, Eventing Manager allows you to campaign a team of superstars, going head-to-head with the simulation to try to come out on top. It’s GREAT fun and time-suckingly addictive — and the market’s open now. [CHIO Aachen Goes Digital to Crown Eventing Champion of Champions!]

Natalie Sharp started 2020 full of hopes and dreams for her first Olympic Games as a groom. Then COVID-19 happened. In this blog for the British Grooms’ Association, Natalie — who works for Japan’s Toshiyuki Tanaka and Ryuzo Kitajima — explains the ups and downs of life in a pandemic when a lifelong goal is suddenly put on ice. [If I Said I’ve Found Lockdown Easy I’d Be Lying]

What I’m Listening To:

My weekend was dominated by the New York Times Magazine’s 1619, an extraordinarily well-researched and inventive podcast that details the history of slavery in America and links it with the present day, creating a remarkable — and utterly unpausable — patchwork quilt of a narrative. I listened to episode one as I mucked out, episode two as I rode, episode three as I plaited my horse, and episode four as I trawled through the supermarket’s chocolate aisle at 9pm to stock up on lorry snacks, and I suspect I’ll polish the rest off during my 4.5 hour drive to Nicola Wilson’s yard tomorrow. How anything I tune into after will top its skillful execution is utterly beyond me.

Where I’ve Donated:

I’ve been loving putting together a first order for books for the incredible Saddle Up and Read, using the profits from the Racism Ain’t Cowboy t-shirt and sweatshirt line I’ve been posting out from my little cottage. As the kind of pony-mad kiddo who lived with her nose in a book, it’s been a fun way to remember some of the horse stories I ate up like chocolate, and I love the work that SUAR does to bring this magic to a new generation.

That’s why I was even more excited to see this great event in the pipeline by the fab Milton Menasco and Dapple Bay Co. A virtual read-a-long with PONIES? Sign. Me. UP.

Monday Video from Fleeceworks:

I’m not going to lie to you, lads. I kind of want to get my horse a weave.

Horse Wigs

She makes wigs for horses.

Posted by 60 Second Docs Animal Style on Friday, 15 November 2019

Friday Video from SmartPak: When Eventing Legends Judge the Lower Levels

The last 18 months or so has seen the equestrian vlogging scene take on a life of its own, and quite remarkably, this hasn’t slowed down in the face of a global pandemic. Instead, creative video-making types are finding new ways to stay motivated and keep churning out content for their viewers.

Enter Virtually Eventing, a series put together by British eventing vloggers Tina, Lucy, Meg and Emily. All four compete at the lower levels, though from bases scattered around the country, and they have one other thing in common: they love a jolly good giggle.

Their latest video sees them take on a BE100 level dressage test (that’s Training level, yankee doodles) for submission to an online competition. But there’s a twist — not only are they competing against other entrants in the virtual show, they’ve also recruited some very, very big names to analyse their rides. It’s not just good entertainment, it’s a surprisingly educational way to glean some great pointers for your next dressage test. As someone who has to ride the very same one this weekend, I’m watching very closely indeed.

Go Eventing — whether it’s on YouTube or in person!

Monday News & Notes from Fleeceworks

Day 2 of the #StrzegomSummerTour: Behind the scene…

Photo by Mariusz Chmieliński

#shtstrzegom #WKKW #eventing #strzegom

Photos for riders: [email protected]_

Posted by Strzegom Horse Trials on Saturday, July 4, 2020

I can’t even begin to describe the sheer joy and unparalleled comfort I take in scrolling through social media and seeing live-streams of events (real ones, not dodgy phishing ones that steal your identity) and collections of images from the first internationals back after the total wipe-out that 2020 has been so far. These photos, captured at the Strzegom Summer Tour in Poland by Mariusz Chmielinski, are right up my street — particularly the wonderful shot of a mother and daughter competing together. We all know I’m an emotional eventing type, and nothing has changed over the past few months.

National Holiday: It’s International Kissing Day. Now might be a good time to reevaluate your social bubble.

Your Monday Reading List:

Blenheim might be cancelled this year, but another event has stepped in to host its CCI4*-L and CCI4*-S for eight- and nine-year-olds. That event is Burnham Market, best known for its early spring CCI4*-S, and a new entry into the cancelled 2020 Event Rider Masters programme. It’s a bit different to Blenheim, but those seeking crucial qualifications likely won’t mind too much. [International Classes Added to Burnham Market in 2020]

“You’ve never seen a horse in the hood,” says Adam Hollingsworth, Chicago’s Dreadhead Cowboy. The well-loved figure was part of a viral video that swept the country — and beyond — which showed him riding one of his four horses in a Black Lives Matter protest. But the video didn’t go viral because of the unlikeliness of an inner-city cowboy — it went viral because of a false accusation that Hollingsworth had stolen his mount from a policeman. This New York Times piece delves further into the power of an internet assumption as well as the extraordinary positivity that horses bring to inner-city communities. [‘You Can’t Just Get Up and Steal a Police Horse’]

The Court of Arbitration for Sport has opted to allow public complaints about horse welfare. The decisions comes after yet another endurance scandal hit the headlines, in which Emirati rider Abdul Rahman Saeed Saleh Al Ghailani appealed against his 12-month suspension by suggesting that the complaints against him, made by a campaign group, didn’t mean the FEI’s regulations. While this decision will have the most far-reaching impact on endurance, it’ll make some ripples across the disciplines. [Sport Court Supports Public’s Right to Report Horse Abuse]

Some questionable decision-making is preventing the Philadelphia Urban Riding Academy from moving into an appropriate site. While you might not be Philly-based, it’s worth giving this piece a read and, if you can spare five minutes, sending an email or making a phone call to demand that this hugely beneficial programme is given the support it needs. [Frank Rizzo’s Racist Legacy is Blocking Black Students From Learning to Ride]

Noori Husain, a Muslim equestrian, is encouraging more people from a variety of backgrounds to get involved with riding. In this piece, she discusses competing while fasting, her experience with her headscarf, and the extra pressure she often feels to represent all Asian riders when competing. [‘I’m just a person doing what she loves’: Muslim rider calls for more minorities to try riding]

In less than a week, British Eventing will be back — and there’s so much I’ve missed. I delved into ten of the most delightfully mundane bits that I’ll be embracing wholeheartedly at the weekend. [10 mundane things we’ve missed about eventing]

What I’m Listening To:

One of my favourite pastimes is diving into the Desert Island Discs archive and having a jolly good recreational weep. The classic BBC Radio 5 show is absolutely faultless in its format, which sees guests sent away on a hypothetical exodus to a, well, desert island, to which they can bring just eight songs, a book, and a luxury item. It tends to bring out unique and wonderful anecdotes, and I can’t recommend a deep dive enough — but as a starting point, check out Jilly Cooper, queen of the horsey bonkbuster, and eventing legend Ginny Elliott. Bliss.

Where I’ve Donated:

Like most of us, I’m a sucker for a rosette — even more so because I only ever seem to win them when I go to dressage shows. (Baffling, really, when I then throw down a spectacularly uncompetitive 36 out eventing, but hey ho!) That’s why I was thrilled to put down six off my good English pounds to get myself a rozzie from Ride Out Racism, a new charitable scheme launched by 18-year-old Reece McCook. Purchases of the rosettes — or a tasteful pin badge, which I’ll be wearing on my lapel at Tweseldown next week — go to helpful ROR’s mission to increase diversity within equestrian sport. You can get yours here. 

Monday Video: This virtual fence judge briefing from British Eventing Technical Advisors take you through the briefing you would expect on a day of competition, as well as additional COVID-19 protocols in preparation for the safe Return to Sport in July 2020.

Friday Video from SmartPak: When the Unhorsey Set Strikes

I’ll admit it — the TikTok trend hasn’t really reached my house. And it’s not because I hold a PhD in maturity, as some have suggested as the insidious root cause of a lack of TikToking action, but rather, the opposite: as someone who can spend glassy-eyed hours mindlessly scrolling the ‘Gram until I end up with the dopamine drools, I know that if I allow myself yet another timewasting app, I’ll go full Wall-E.

Nonetheless, sometimes the TikTok videos find me (in large part because a determined friend of mine insists on turning our WhatsApp chat into a personally curated gallery of comedy videos, a service she could probably charge for). And then there’s this, which made its way to classique social media — the place where the youth, they doth not hang — and made me giggle my way through a ferocious Equestriad 2001-fuelled hangover. Not an easy prospect, nor, I suppose, something I ought to be admitting here, but we are none of us too big and too noble for a social bubble booze-up, and I have no regrets. (I have a few minor regrets.)

Anyway, this sassy lil TikTok number addresses one of the most common complaints that the non-horsey have about equestrians — the souvenirs we leave behind. And in comedically sweary, devastatingly sarcastic fashion, Hannah Sims offers a functional (?) solution. Honestly, she’s got my vote for Prime Minister.

Open Door of the Week: The Diversity Bursary

Photo via Creative Commons.

Nation Media — that’s EN, Horse Nation, and Jumper Nation collectively — has long been been engaged in a conversation about how we can create a fair and welcome environment for anyone who wants to be a part of this world, regardless of colour, size, gender identity, physical ability, religion, or sexuality. Often, that conversation comes back to one question: “What can we do, right now, that could actually make a meaningful difference to someone?” With that in mind, we’re thrilled to launch our first-ever diversity scholarship fund.

This feels like an appropriate time to talk about allyship and growth, because being an ally isn’t an end point or something you can ‘complete,’ like a level in a video game. It’s an ongoing process of learning and being humble enough to admit when you’ve got something wrong, despite the best of intentions.

In launching the fund, we made a misstep in the process of putting our intentions into words, unintentionally implying that we wanted our applicants to create a diversity plan for the sport. We’ve been grateful for smart, informed conversations with our readers, and have made changes to the clarity of the brief and learned from the feedback. Reader Alex put it succinctly: “Finding the right balance between elevating minority voices/giving them a seat at the table and leaning on them unfairly for solutions isn’t always straightforward.”

One piece of feedback we received several times over was that the amount offered, $1,000, is too small. This is the first time Nation Media has ever been able to offer a scholarship fund, and it comes as we reach the end of a fiscally devastating pandemic that saw much larger media companies all over the world close their doors for good. Most of what you see on EN and its sister sites is a labour of love — there’s no magic bank vault in digital content operating in a niche, and though several of our team do the equestrian media ‘thing’ full-time, we’re here because we believe in the site, not because we earn the big bucks producing it.

We have every intention of working to grow the fund in future — and we would be happy to open the coffers to contributions, if our readers feel that they’d like to make a donation to future scholarships — and we hope that, in the meantime, our eventual winners will be able to do something with the funds that they may not otherwise have been able to do. In the grand scheme of this mad, expensive world, it may not be an enormous sum of money — but speaking as someone who grew up in fairly abject poverty (but benefited, absolutely and completely, from white privilege), I know all too well that a few hundred dollars can feel pretty life-changing, whether it’s used to get you to a clinic with a BNT, who you might then chat to about a working student role, or whether it’s used to attend a seminar and do some vital networking, or whether it’s used to enter a competition that might be otherwise out of reach, or pay for a registration, or simply arrange a bootcamp block of lessons with a local trainer.

Moreover, the point of the scholarship isn’t just a check in the mail. It’s a promise to underrepresented voices that, within this community, they have a platform for being heard. The door is always open.

There is no unassailable way to wade into an issue as complicated and personal as racial equality. There is no easy, perfect solution to even a piece of the problem. It’s going to get gritty, it’s going to be messy, and at times we will disagree, but it’s critical that we put aside our egos and our politics to work on it together. Attacking one another in unconstructive ways only discourages others from getting involved.

At NM we’re committed to not only facilitating constructive discourse, but ensuring that it gets translated into action. We’ve published thousands of words on the subject of diversity and inclusiveness, but there is a gaping chasm between words on a page and real-life application. The diversity scholarship, as insufficient as it is and as imperfectly as we may have rolled it out, is a fledgling attempt to bridge that gap. We don’t have much money but we’re putting it where our mouth is.

We know we can’t change the world with this, and we certainly don’t think that launching a scholarship absolves us of any responsibility to continue working. But we hope this could make some difference to someone while we continue tackling the knotty intricacies of the wider sport’s diversity issues.

Leslie Wylie contributed to this story. 




Monday News & Notes from Fleeceworks

A friend sent me a video earlier of a vaulter performing some sort of unfathomable mid-air flippy moment aboard her sweet-eyed and enormous horse, with a short message: “Next time you ride Bella?” As a remarkably unathletic person, the very idea of it fills me with horror. But vaulting as a sport is something that I find fascinating, though I know so little about it and have no intention of ever touching it with a bargepole myself.

But why don’t I know anything about it, when I’m an innately curious person and irredeemably obsessed with all things horse? Had I simply written off the discipline as something so wildly unconnected with my life that I need never think about it again, except on the rare occasions when it’s forced into my line of vision and I feel a little flicker of something in response? Did that mean that vaulting, as a discipline, has any less merit than my mediocre attempts at eventing? Had I just accidentally stumbled upon some sort of slightly tenuous but decidedly apt metaphor for what’s going on in the horse world right now? In any case, this week I plan to learn a thing or two about vaulting, if only from following the utter badass pictured above. But no, you won’t see me trying the same move on my spaghetti-necked eventer…!

National Holiday: It’s National Camera Day, which just serves to remind me of how little time I’ve been spending with my trusty Nikon over lockdown. I’m sorry, little guy. We’ll be back at it soon, I promise.

Your Monday Reading List:

13-year-old eventer Trinity Allman is the star of a series of fairytale-inspired images that are being used to promote diversity in the sport. And let me tell you, this kid can WORK a camera. Her mum Kerrie hopes that the images, taken by Jade Greenfield, will inspire companies and media outlets to diversify their shoots and increase representation. [‘Willingness to change’: hopes fairytale pictures will help promote diversity in equestrianism]

Kieran Paulson is a transgender man. He’s also an equestrian. Our sport is among the most gender-equal in the world, undeniably, with men and women competing on equal terms and winning in equal measures. But transgender and gender binary riders are few and far between, so many of us may have some questions or confusion about their experience. I’ve been devouring this beautifully-written blog, which sadly hasn’t been updated since 2018, but is well worth a read nonetheless. [Transequestrian]

Indoor arenas are re-opening in the UK from July 4 after the British Horse Society lobbied on behalf of its members. Rightly so, really, when you consider that most indoors don’t even stop rain or snow from venturing in, so they surely aren’t that indoor, right? [‘Welcome news’ as government confirms indoor arenas may open from 4 July]

This astute, heartbreaking, comprehensive piece about top dressage rider and trainer Philesha Chandler has been on my mind for days. From being tasked with cleaning a trainer’s house as a working student to being sabotaged by her own trainer at the NAJYRC, Philesha’s experiences will leave you winded — but the scope of her accomplishments and the extraordinary optimism and wisdom she shares will fill you with hope, too. [A Change is Gonna Come: A Conversation with the Chandlers]

One of the biggest talking points of the weekend came from within the showjumping world. US rider Andrew Kocher is under investigation by the FEI after allegations that he used electrified spurs in competition, and in the wake of the accusation, multiple photographers have checked their archives and found evidence of the same device in use at shows over a long period of time. This prompts several questions, including: is it time for another review of the FEI stewarding process, which only allows for a slim glimpse at an often-adrenalised animal? [FEI Investigating Allegations That Kocher Uses Electrified Spurs]

Inspired by the plethora of polework videos popping up on the ‘Gram? Dressage rider and coach Elizabeth Allen offers up five great ones for you to try this week, each making use of a different part of one mega layout. Get those biceps working, chums. [Five creative polework exercises]

Sometimes you just need a bit of the wry wisdom of Mr Stickability to start the week right. Formidable and surprisingly funny, Andrew Nicholson is a modern legend for good reason. This republished interview is full of great snippets — though it does make me miss the greatest challenge an equestrian journalist can undertake, which is getting a ‘well done’ out of him for an interview. [Absolute Andrew]

What I’m Listening To:

I’d hate for you all to crack on with your Monday morning mucking out without a great podcast to listen to, and this week, I’m treating myself to a deep-dive into the archives of my favourite, The High-Low. Hosted by delightful journalists Dolly Alderton — of Everything I Know About Love fame — and Pandora Sykes, it’s a weekly hodge-podge of cultural chit-chat, book, TV, and podcast recommendations, interviews with authors, and, in a recent episode, quite a lot of discussion of peculiar-smelling deep-sea sharks. It’s a great way to dive into whip-smart conversations on current events while also feeling as though you’re propping up a bar with two bloody excellent gal pals. Diarm Byrne of EquiRatings gets an eternal high-five from me for introducing me to this weekly treat while we were (propping up a bar) at Aachen last summer.

Where I’ve Donated:

Forgive me for what could be seen as self-promotion here, but last week I launched something I’m super excited about — a limited range of t-shirts and sweatshirts bearing the slogan ‘RACISM AIN’T COWBOY’. 100% of the profits from the sale of these snazzy garms will go to equestrian access programmes in the UK and the USA, and each sale also buys a book for Saddle Up and Read, the North Carolina-based literacy programme that gets kids in the library and in the saddle.

There’s no doubt that the Black cowboy will be one of the enduring symbols of the 2020 human rights movement, but this isn’t a new phenomenon — in fact, it’s estimated that around 25% of cowboys were Black, and ranching was one of the first legitimate jobs that free Black people pursued after the abolition of slavery. I’ve written about this in some more depth over on the website — head on over and have a look.

Monday Video from Fleeceworks:

This vintage Kentucky footage is CAPTIVATING… and also slightly terrifying. After some serious lockdown binging, I’m pretty sure I’d be let loose on course without any weights in my saddle cloth.

Friday Video from SmartPak: Poles for Days with Lainey Ashker

One of my favourite simple social media pleasures is watching Lainey Ashker’s Grid of the Day videos. The mechanics of them are always spot on, and you can watch each horse she rides through them learn with each stride. Do I actually go and set them up myself, though? Embarrassingly, not really — I’m a bit on the lazy side where pole-lugging is concerned, and tend to just dive into whatever’s been left in the arena by the last person in there.

Funnily enough, though, Lainey’s newest grid might be the one I actually take the time to build — and it’s almost certainly the most pole-intensive yet. But this super set-up makes the art of the turn so black-and-white that I — the queen of the pole-that-shouldn’t-have-tumbled — almost can’t avoid building it in my quest for a summer season full of FODs. In the meantime, though, I’ll happily rewatch the video a few times while I work up the strength to go course-building.

Thursday Video: Catch Up on the Heels Down Diversity Panel

The hot topic of the moment within the equestrian world is diversity – why is it lacking? How can we make the sport more welcoming? Are we unintentionally contributing to structures that exclude certain groups of people? While there’s no simple answer to any of these questions, the first step in creating a considerably more equal industry — and, as such, an industry that can be taken more seriously in the mainstream — is open, educated discussion and debate.

That’s exactly what the Heels Down Media team provided when they hosted a Diversity in Horse Sports discussion panel, chaired by equestrians Abriana JohnsonBrianna NobleShaquilla Blake and Mavis Spencer. This cross-disciplinary group of women came together on a busy Zoom call replete with figures from across the industry to discuss what’s going on right now, what can be changed, and how the industry can be made a better place for everyone. It’s an enlightening, inspiring watch, and one we highly recommend if you’re feeling a bit flummoxed by the finer details of the movement.

As always, we welcome respectful, considerate conversation on the serious topics here on EN, so feel free to discuss the panel in the comments. Have you, or has an organisation you’re involved with, made changes to promote diversity in the wake of this conversation? Let us know, as always, down below.

Monday News & Notes from Fleeceworks

Ready to weigh in on one of the FEI’s more controversial recent decisions? Our friends at the Irish Eventing Times have opened the floor for debate about whether the 2021 European Championships for eventing should be reinstated — a question that will see the team present the feedback to the FEI in hopes of a more welcome outcome. Simply head on over to the above Facebook post and chime in with your thoughts. Do you think a European Championships right after an Olympics is insane? Or do you think it’s essential to allow non-Olympic nations to gain experience for future cycles?

National Holiday: It’s National Kissing Day, which just seems rude, frankly, for those of us still living the lockdown Bridget Jones lifestyle. Slightly cruelly, us sad acts have been given a lifeline in the form of National Take Your Cat to Work Day. Ha-bloody-ha.

Your Monday Reading List:

If you need a bit of foal content to set your week up for success, look no further than this diminutive (sort of) Shire. Little George was born on June 10 at Hampton Court Palace in South London, and is enjoying a bit of peace and quiet before he makes his public debut in a Shire extravaganza on the palace lawn, where he’ll be, um, blessed by the Queen. It’s alright for some… [Birth of royal Shire brings ‘sunshine’ to Hampton Court Palace]

The Chronicle of the Horse has been doing some great work in showcasing Black voices over the last week, and this time, hunter pro David Loman weighs in with his perspective. It should go without saying that ensuring we’re reading broadly around the racism and diversity issue is crucial right now, particularly for those of us who are white and thus unversed in the nuances of everyday racism. You’ve probably learned a lot about riding over the years from reading – this is just another way you can broaden your horizon and further your education. [A Black Horseman’s Perspective on our Current Climate]

Speaking of the Chronicle, I really enjoyed this piece on looking for the positives in this ongoing downtime. It feels particularly pertinent, now that eventing is starting up again, to look back at how the time out from competition has benefited me, my horse, and my outlook, too, as I think about the ways I want to cover the sport going forward. Reading others’ introspection on the same topic is oddly comforting. [Finding Positives in the Downtime]

Tiny, bubbly Kiwi Libby Law is one of the most lovable characters on the global competition circuit, and the Canon-carting photographer is one of the most talented, too. This week, she takes to the stage for the FEI’s My Top 5 Photos series, sharing her shooting ethos, her greatest motivations, and, of course, some truly epic photographs. [Libby Law’s Top 5 Photos]

A horse in Virginia has tested positive for EHV-1, with a further six horses suspected to have been exposed. The veteran mare who tested positive in Fauqier County has since been euthanised, but it’s well worth brushing up on your knowledge of this contagious virus, which has both a neurological (EHM) and non-neurological form, and which is particularly dangerous for pregnant mares and their unborn foals. [Virginia Horse Tests Positive for EHM]

Oh, and in case you missed it? British Eventing’s been given the green light to resume, and I’m doing a little happy dance. Now to figure out what the rest of my season might look like. Also maybe take up running again. [British Eventing Given Green Light]

Open Door of the Week: 

Riding is expensive — we all know that. Quality training that can give you the edge is even more so. And the kit you need to look the part? It can all add up to a sum that stops you short before you even reach the in-gate. That’s where the Robert Lawrence House of Opportunity comes up. Rob, a USHJA trainer, USEF judge, and experienced AA circuit competitor, created the scheme to allow riders facing economic hardship to participate in clinics, get ahold of the kit and clothing they need, and even gain access to scholarship funds. While the opportunities available are hunter-jumper orientated, they’re a great resource to keep on file if you’re in the Carolinas area and struggling to get your foot in the door of the horse world. [Rob Lawrence’s House of Opportunity]

What I’ve been listening to: 

There’s nothing I love better than getting stuck into some straw beds with a great podcast on the go. It’s utterly optimal thinking time, frankly – and I know I’m not along in this. Over the weekend, I’ve been obsessively listening to Dissect, which is produced by Spotify Studios. It’s long-form musical analysis, with each ‘season’ focusing on a different album, but don’t be fooled into thinking it sounds dry – each hour-long episode of the current season, which focuses on Beyoncé’s Lemonade, has me pondering its genius for the rest of the day.

Where I’ve donated:

Saddle Up and Read has my spare change this week. This North Carolina based initiative focuses on improving literacy – but it cleverly uses access to horses and ponies as a way to do so. I can put my hand on my heart and say that as a poor kid growing up in tough circumstances, books and horses really did save me – so I’m thrilled to see the amazing work that founder Caitlin Gooch is doing for kids in underserved communities.

Monday Video from Fleeceworks:

Horses will carry us all to freedom — and there’s no denying that the poignant image of the Black cowboy will be one of the defining visuals of the 2020 human rights movement for a very, very long time to come. Here’s a short video from the latest peace ride, which took place in Oakland, California. Heels down, fists up indeed.

Friday Video from SmartPak: What Does Eventing in the New Normal Mean?

The Fox-Pitt Eventing crew have proven themselves to be something of YouTube maestros during lockdown, keeping us all entertained with insights into the inner workings of Wood Lane Stables, an impromptu ‘home international’, and tonnes of top tips for all of us to steal from their worldbeating team.

This week, they team up with eventing organiser Alec Lochore – the man behind Musketeer Event Management, who stage major internationals such as Barbury and Houghton, and the Consultant Equestrian Sport Manager for the Tokyo Olympics — to find out how eventing might look upon its resumption. With British Eventing announcing its green light for a mid-July kick-off, Alec’s insight makes for some particularly interesting viewing. How will the sport look? What should riders and their support teams prepare for? Will masks be required? Alec answers all your burning questions and more.

Australian Olympic Committee Threatens to Remove Equestrian Australia’s Accreditation

Chris Burton and Santano II representing Australia at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, where the team took the bronze medal. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

Following the shock news that Equestrian Australia had entered voluntary administration last week, the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) has warned the federation that its accreditation for next year’s postponed Tokyo Games could be on the chopping block if a list of demands aren’t met.

The ongoing saga began on June 3rd, when Sport Australia — the body responsible for allocating funding and support to the country’s various sporting federations — told Equestrian Australia that it would no longer fund its efforts because of its poor governance.

The Australian Institute of Sport has taken over the equestrian team’s high performance training programme, though it cannot nominate athletes for the Games – only a governing body can do so, which means that Equestrian Australia must leave administration by the deadline to nominate teams in June of 2021. Chief executive Matt Carroll of the AOC has said that Equestrian Australia’s membership will not be automatically reinstated unless it is re-accredited by the FEI and seen to make marked improvements in participation numbers, governance, and safety across all levels – a particularly pertinent request in the wake of 2019’s inquest into the deaths of young riders Olivia Inglis and Caitlin Fischer, which course design, the handling of accidents, and existing safety measures come up for review. Among the 31 recommendations passed down by the Coroner’s Court of New South Wales were rule changes to require a medical response team consisting of at least two medical providers on site at events, each with a baseline level of quantified competence to deal with accidents appropriately. Other recommendations included an increased focus on training volunteers to respond to accidents, further testing of safety measures included on courses, and a more robust reporting system for competitors to relay any concerns about the course.

Equestrian Australia’s foothold was further weakened by scandal surrounding 4* eventer Callum Buczak, who was charged in October with sexually assaulting another rider in February of 2019. In not banning Buczak from competition through the course of the investigation, EA was found to have breached the FEI’s safeguarding policy, and in doing so, was complicit in the further harassment of the victim by Buczak and his partner through March of 2020, for which the rider received further charges in May. Buczak was eventually barred from competition after intervention by the FEI.

Co-signed by Sport Australia’s Chief Executive Robert Dalton and Australian Institute of Sport Chief Executive Peter Conde, the June 3 letter reads: “In our view it is the fundamental structure of sport’s national governance that has proven itself manifestly unfit for purpose and now needs to be overhauled. No other sport funded by the Australian Sport Commission has experienced this level of board turmoil. It is self-evidently an unacceptable situation that does not serve the interests of the sport.”

Funding, the letter continues, will cease as a result of governance that had “fallen well short of acceptable standards.”

Now, the board – which has seen three chairs and three directors resign over the last 16 months – must take action to ensure that Australia’s equestrian teams are able to compete at next year’s Olympics. Former Olympian Ricky MacMillan is campaigning for election to the inspection committee for the administration process; her prior experience saw her take on the role as chair of Equestrian Australia in 2019, but she resigned after just six months, publicly renouncing the federation as being “taken over by a gang of four directors” and claiming that change in the sport under the current governance would be “unobtainable.” MacMillan’s appointment had been a popular one, with the former dressage rider immediately moving to appoint a national safety officer to work on implementing the 31 safety recommendations addressed at the inquest. Meredith Chapman, who filled this role, is set to release a formal response regarding the recommendations as Equestrian Australia now enters a battle for its spot at Tokyo.

“We will revisit our position on these matters when Equestrian Australia demonstrates to our satisfaction that it has developed, and will implement, a new governance model that achieves our core requirements of being structurally democratic, representative and stable,” says Sport Australia.

Wednesday Video from Kentucky Performance Products: Sofa Sessions with Karen O’Connor

I don’t know about you guys, but by the time I hit the Wednesday hump, I need a solid bit of decent eventing TV time to see me through the evening and give me the extra spice I need to tackle the rest of the week. Fortunately for me (and, like, all of us) the Jon and Rick Show is serving up a plate full of the goods with extra Tabasco guaranteed.

Episode nine sees eventing legend Karen O’Connor take to the sofa for an in-depth chat about her incredible career – a must-see for anyone who fangirled from Biko through to Teddy with nary a pause for air. US Eventing’s esteemed CEO Rob Burk also pops on to provide an update on all things sport resumption, while Canada’s Mike Winter checks in with all the news and views from across the pond in the UK. Consider my midweek slump truly abated.

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Charity Raffle for COVID-19 Relief Sees £6,000 Saddle Package and Plethora of Training Days in Prize Pot

Oliver Townend is among the Voltaire Design ambassadors to have donated a prize to the Saddle Up 4 The NHS initiative. Photo courtesy of Saddle Up 4 The NHS/Voltaire Design.

Saddle Up 4 The NHS is an exciting new charity initiative that’s been launched by our friends at luxury saddlery company Voltaire Design in conjunction with the Royal Windsor Horse Show, and is intended as a vehicle to raise significant funds for medical charities in the UK and Ireland in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The premise is a simple one. Rather than following the silent auction format that he’d seen making the rounds online, Voltaire Design General Manager of United Kingdom and Ireland Matt Tarrant wanted to create something more accessible, allowing riders without significant expendable income the chance to win big in the expansive prize pot, which features a growing list of options. A £25 donation, made through designated Saddle Up JustGiving pages for the NHS Charities Together and Ireland’s Mater Foundation earns the donor a raffle ticket. When the raffle is drawn after its close on August 16, it’ll be done progressively, allowing winners to choose their prizes.

The first name drawn will hit the jackpot. They’ll take home the Ultimate Voltaire Design Saddle Package, which has a value of over £6,000 and will include any bespoke jump or dressage saddle of their choice from the Elegance range, totally custom-made for them and their horse, matching stirrup leathers, a girth, numnah, baseball cap, ear bonnet, socks, lanyard, keyring and a handy weatherproof carry bag, perfect for show days. They’ll also then get the first choice of all the remaining prizes in the pot. 

The second winner will then get to choose their prize from the remaining list, followed by the third winner, and so on and so forth until all the prizes have been snapped up. This gives you some pretty great odds — the prize list is extensive — and ensures that you’ll be able to choose something that you’ll truly benefit from. This is particularly pertinent considering the huge amount of training days offered around the UK and Ireland — you can choose to enjoy a lesson with a top rider in your area, or you can go further afield to ride with your idol. The choice is yours!

Fancy a lesson with the legendary Tina Cook? You could get your hands on just that – as well as a snoop around her Sussex yard. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Some of the sumptuous prizes on offer include lessons, experiences and merchandise from FEI World #1 eventer Oliver Townend, current British Showjumping Open Champion Harriet Nuttall, equestrian legend Geoff Billington, 5* superstar Tina Cook, and the incredible Tina and Graham Fletcher and their sons Will and Olli, currently the National u21 and u16 showjumping champions respectively, as well as a whole host of other leading riders and trainers. Voltaire Design are also enormously excited to be working closely with some of their partner brands and events, including the Royal Windsor Horse Show and Fairfax & Favor.

Says Tarrant, “Voltaire Design has always been much more than just a saddle brand – with its world-class family of truly talented, dedicated and generous riders, trainers and partners, it’s a community. We saw an opportunity to bring together the people that make that community as special as it is in the UK and Ireland to hopefully raise a significant sum for NHS Charities Together and The Mater Foundation and to do our bit to support the national efforts in the ongoing fight against COVID-19. By launching in a raffle format, we hope to make this as inclusive as possible for anyone wanting to donate and to give back not just to our incredible healthcare organisations, but to the wider equestrian world by providing access to riders, trainers, and incredible opportunities for anyone who enters.  With such an exciting and unique array of prizes we hope the equestrian community will buy as many tickets as possible.”

Accessibility, seriously good swag, and the opportunity to do some good? Count us in. You can check out Saddle Up 4 The NHS and get your entry in here.

Go Eventing, and go Voltaire Design!


So You’re a Horse Person Grappling with the World Right Now – We Can Help.

The world is a strange, turbulent place at the moment, and if – like most of us – you prefer to keep your brainwaves at 100% equine occupancy, you might have some misgivings, misunderstandings, or simply some questions about the world’s biggest conversation right now. Initially written as a wildly long Facebook status on my own personal (UK-based) profile, this slightly eventing-themed question-and-answer bulletin has been written to help simplify this extraordinarily complex conversation, dispensing with the new dictionary of buzzwords and instead using examples we all understand. 

Riders around the world have united to stand up for human rights, a trend started in Compton, CA. Photo by Lindsay Long.

“I’m a Conservative [or a Republican, if you’re in the US]. Isn’t the Black Lives Matter movement a left-wing thing?”

The horse world is a majority Conservative industry, primarily because if we’re looking at policy voting, the Conservative party tends to have an increased focus on issues that affect the countryside and people whose work is intrinsically connected to agriculture and the land. I get that. But if you’ve staunchly and outspokenly supported the Tory government, you may feel that showing any sort of support for Black Lives Matter makes you a ‘lefty luvvie’. It doesn’t.

The issue of systemic racism – which means racial injustices within the structures our country is built upon, rather than individual racism, such as the use of slurs – isn’t a party issue. Systemic racism has existed since, well, always – through Tory leadership, through Labour leadership, through both Democrat and Republican leadership in the States. It is a failing that has continued no matter who’s in charge. It’s a human rights issue, not a political party pissing match. There’s never yet been a political party who has served all the people it supposedly represents, or tackled in full the changes that desperately need to be made. Anyway, let’s be real, I think we can all agree that most politicians are total clunges* anyway.

*if you’re an American, this is a fun new word for you from my side of the pond. I’ll let you look it up yourself.

“I’ve previously shared or said some things against the Black Lives Matter movement. I’m worried that if I don’t stick to my guns now, I’ll look weak, or like I spoke without thinking before. Am I going to look like an idiot if I change my mind?”

Nope. You’ll look like someone who has the intelligence and humility to increase their frame of reference, put the work into learning, and grow from the experience. You know, like we all do every off-season.

Remember in 2017, when Ros Canter suddenly went from being somewhere in the top 30 in five-stars, to consistently showing up in the top five? It seemed like overnight, she’d become this fast, fierce competitor – like everything had just fallen into place. Naturally, everyone wanted to know how on earth she’d done it. What had changed?

“[Chris Bartle] found that my reins had got shorter as Allstar B got keener, and begun pulling my body forward [on cross-country], so I wasn’t always ready for the next element,” she explained, detailing that extensive video analysis and a few stints on Chris’s training see-saw, Rock-On Ruby, had led to the revelation that simply allowing her reins to be longer could change everything. And it did – in 2018, she became our World Champion.

Does that mean she was shunning every riding method she’d used before? Nope. Does it mean she, or anyone else, was saying she was a terrible rider pre-2017? Not at all. If she hadn’t been humble, hard-working, and willing to try new things that were probably uncomfortable at first, would she be the reigning World Champion? Probably not.

“But ALL lives matter, not just Black lives.”

The phrase ‘Black Lives Matter’ can also be read as ‘Black lives matter too’ – not ‘only Black lives matter.’ The movement works towards equality, which can only be achieved when the group that suffers the most inequality is the focus of systemic change.

Look at it like this – all four of your horse’s legs matter when you’re preparing for a three-day, right? You want all of them to be tight, cold, hard and sound enough to safely tackle the task ahead. But if your horse suffers an injury to a tendon, he’s not sound to run, is he? You don’t look at him and think, ‘well, he’s got three other sound ones, that’s good enough’ – instead, you put in the hard labour and the sleepless nights to get that injured tendon healed, strengthened, and back to its best before you even think about filling out another entry form. You know that overall soundness and fitness for purpose depends on every element of your horse’s body being in the best shape possible. Sometimes, that means focusing your attention on one area.

Or, to quote a sign at one of London’s protests, ‘saying All Lives Matter is like saying All Jobs Matter while people are clapping for the NHS.’

The equestrian community: with liberty and justice for all. Photo by Lindsay Long.

“Why do people keep talking about white privilege? I came from a low-income background myself and had to work really hard to be able to ride. I’m not privileged.”

I’m glad you asked. ‘White privilege’ doesn’t actually refer to privilege as we often think of it, as material wealth. It simply means that because you’re white, you are highly unlikely ever to have been discriminated against for your skin colour, nor will you have faced any kind of systemic racism yourself. You may still be lacking in privilege in a variety of ways — if you’re a woman, you’re more likely to experience violence or sexual assault. If you’re LGBTQ+, you’re more likely to be discriminated against or experience violence or harassment because of your sexuality or gender identity. If you live below the poverty line, you will face specific obstacles because of your lack of resources, finances, and access. Someone who intersects multiple privilege loss zones — for example, a poor queer Black woman, will experience a higher number of hurdles and more frequent discrimination. A straight Black man will enjoy sexuality privilege and gender privilege, but he won’t have white privilege.

“Why is the UK going mad over this, too? George Floyd was an American who got killed by an American cop. Maybe they have problems over there, but we don’t have those sorts of issues here.”

I’m afraid we do, and I won’t have enough space in one social media post to cover the whole shebang, but I will link to some great resources at the bottom if you’d like to learn more about the UK’s structural injustices, which include…

  •  The Windrush scandal (no, nothing to do with the programme of the same name that trains aspiring Olympians.). After World War II, Britain was rebuilding from the rubble – the only problem? The work force had been so depleted by the tragically high number of fatalities that there was barely anyone left to undertake the labour that would bring the faltering economy back to life. The solution? Bring in some help. The post-WW2 efforts were bolstered enormously by the huge number of Caribbean people who were offered citizenship under the 1948 British Nationality Act if they would relocate to the UK and join the workforce. They did, effectively saving us, and have continued to live here as tax-paying citizens with families ever since. Until 2018, of course, when the Home Office decided they didn’t fancy upholding that Nationality Act anymore, and detained and deported many elderly people who had been a huge part of our post-war efforts. Families were torn apart, lives were lost, and injustice prevailed.
  • In 1997, the 350-page Macpherson report was published, revealing an enormous racial bias in Britain’s police force. The report, which followed the dropping of charges against a group of white youths who murdered Stephen Lawrence, found significant evidence of harmful racial bias in almost all of the UK’s structures – the police force, the education system, the workforce, the NHS, and so on. Analysis by the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, in tandem with a group of psychologists, also found that Black males are more likely to be considered dangerous, more like to be assumed to carry a weapon, and that white British citizens will, in most cases, use the actions of ‘a few bad apples’ to form their opinions of the group at large – but ONLY when that group is formed of ethnic minorities. We’ve all seen Rollkur in action, but we don’t think everyone who does dressage practices it, right? Now imagine we made that kind of baseless flip judgment.
  • Ethnic minorities are three times as likely to be thrown out of, or denied entrance to, a bar, nightclub, or restaurant as white people. 38% of ethnic minorities polled say they’ve been falsely accused of shoplifting, while on 14% of white people polled had experienced the same. Minorities are twice as likely to experience ‘casual’ abuse from strangers – name-calling, uninstigated violence, or hate speech – as white people.
  • BAME people are routinely kept out of positions of power and influence. A study undertaken in 2013 found that of the 17,880 university professors in the UK, an astonishing 85 were black. 85. 15,200 in total were white. In January 2017, there were NO black academics in management, director, or senior official roles in the British university system, despite a hell of a lot of black academics qualified and available for the roles.
  • Black people represent 3% of the population of England and Wales while accounting for 12% of the prison population. British police officers haven’t been prosecuted for the unlawful killing of a black man since 1971 – but that’s not because it hasn’t been happening. It has – but justice has not.
  • Mark Duggan. Sheku Bayoh. Sean Rigg. Sarah Reed. Cherry Groce. Leon Briggs. Christopher Alder. Brian Douglas. Belly Mujinga. Say their names.

“Okay, so I understand why the movement exists, but I don’t feel I can support it because I don’t like violence, and those protests look like they’re getting pretty violent to me.”

This one’s a tricky one, and something I’ve seen a lot of on social media recently. Videos and photos – many of which are easily debunked – are widely shared, often with a status remarking that the sharer thinks that violent protesters are undermining the whole message of the peaceful movement.

But here’s the thing – if you’re ONLY sharing the videos and images of rare instances of violence, and not sharing a single message offering an explanation of why the (majority peaceful) movement is happening, you are helping to undermine that message. By contributing to flooding social media with just the negative, you’re helping to drown out the positive. By not doing research on the video or image you’re sharing, you’re aiding in the spreading of misinformation.

So how can we take a more thoughtful approach to using social media in this fraught time? Well, first of all, we all need to make better use of Google, which offers us all the opportunity to fact-check what we’re sharing before we click the magic button. I’ve seen countless people sharing a status recently decrying the ‘horror and heartbreak’ of seeing a British monument to World War II fighters defaced during a protest. The image accompanying it? A statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee, who fought for the continuation of slavery, and whose statue (in Virginia!) has been the subject of ongoing debate over removal for many years now. Know how long it took me to fact-check that with Google? Approximately five seconds. You know how annoying it is when you get tagged in that 52 Free Thoroughbreds post every year? Don’t you want to SCREAM at the tagger that they could spend two seconds reading the comments or Googling those damn Thoroughbreds to know that they got rehomed approximately 183 years ago? Yeah, that.

I’ve also seen a fair amount of people sharing videos that supposedly debunk the ‘myth’ of systemic racism. The thing is, there are facts, statistics, and numbers to prove that this systemic racism exists, so sharing an entirely anecdotal video of a handful of individuals saying they haven’t experienced it isn’t actually an argument with any foothold. Also, it’s worth taking a step back for a second and thinking about why you’re sharing it – what harm do you expect is going to come to you if systemic racism is addressed? Again, systemic means ‘within the system’ – it is not a personal attack, nor is it saying that you as a person have failed. Yes, we’re all talking about how we can improve ourselves, how we can learn and be kinder and more engaged, but when we talk about systemic injustice, we aren’t calling you out. Please don’t take it so personally – instead, take some time to read fact-based resources from both sides of the argument and make your own mind up, rather than jumping on the status quo on social media.

Also, as an aside, none of us can really speak for the brave soldiers who lost their lives fighting for our freedom in the war – but if I had to give my life for human justice, I would want more than anything for my legacy to be a continued focus on humanity. I would hope that the lucky ancestors of that great and terrible sacrifice would do me proud by standing up for the voiceless. If they pushed the oppressed down in favour of defending a monument, it would be rather like dying for nothing.

“Fine. But we’re in a massive pandemic, and I think it’s selfish that people have gathered for mass protests. I’ve had to give up my competition season, a significant chunk of my income, and access to my family and friends – how can protestors stomp all over that?”

An understandable viewpoint. But remember this – very, very few at the protests wanted to have to be there. We have all been shielding ourselves, suffering from lost income, and missing our friends and family like hell. It’s just that systemic racism is kind of like a pandemic too, except it’s gone on for centuries and killed a hell of a lot more people. Instead of thinking “it’s selfish that these idiots have gone out and broken social distancing to protest,” think, “it’s pretty damn depressing that in 2020, people still have to put their lives in danger to fight for basic human rights.” Particularly when you remember that the BAME community is affected at a disproportionately high rate by COVID-19. Sit with that for a minute.

“This is just such a big issue – I’m overwhelmed and I feel like there’s pressure on me to do something.”

Man, it really IS a big issue, I feel you there. Here are my tips.

1) Help spread factual information to your friends and family, either by sharing a few (fact-checked) posts on social media, or by calling out your pals when they make questionable comments or jokes. Remember, stay kind and respectful – it’s easy to react in anger when you hear someone say something harmful, but if you do, they’ll immediately be put on the defensive and they won’t listen to what you have to say. Lead with love, even if it takes more time and patience. Take a deep, slow breath before starting.
2) Look for petitions that take two seconds to sign and can make a big difference – petitions for policy changes, petitions for adjustments to curriculum so the next generation learns a more rounded view of British history. I’ll link some good ones in the comments!
3) Think about the areas of influence you have. Can you make a positive change there? For example, I work in equestrian media. Every horse magazine is full of pages and pages of white faces. So I’ve organised some photo shoots with BAME riders, so our pages are more diverse and any reader can pick up a copy and see themselves represented. This is just one small change, but it’s a positive one. I am working on considerably more, because I’ve chosen to make this a big focus in my career, but you may only be able to make one straightforward change – don’t underestimate how much good it can do.
4) Donate. Maybe you want to contribute the cost of a latte to helping programmes like the Ebony Horse Club or the Urban Equestrian, or horsey literacy initiatives like Saddle Up For Riding. Super! I’ll link some for you at the bottom of the post.
5) Acknowledge it. Maybe you can’t afford to donate. Maybe you’re scared of backlash if you post on social media. Fine – but don’t ignore the issue. Take the time to think about it and learn to see it in action. Message me if you need support, to borrow a book, or if you’re facing an inbox full of threats and nastiness. I’ve been there, and I will stand with you and help you through it.

“Well, I still don’t like it, and if you try to respectfully offer me a different viewpoint, I’ve got some choice names to call you.”

I will allow for one (1) feeling to be hurt by the nasty names you call me. The feeling I choose is hunger – so thanks, you’ve just helped me with my pre-eventing diet! Thank you in advance for how swiftly you have helped me to traverse cross-country.

Photo by Tilly Berendt.


Equestrian initiatives you can support:

The Urban Equestrian Academy provides access and opportunities to underserved communities in Leicester. 

While the Ebony Horse Club does the same in London’s Brixton, with their rider Khadijah Mellah winning 2019’s Times Young Sportsperson of the Year award after becoming the first jockey to win a race in a hijab.

St James City Riding School provides riding and animal husbandry opportunities for kids living in Gloucester, achingly close to the UK’s horsiest areas but unable to access them.

Fletcher Street Urban Riding Club continues a century-long legacy of horsemanship in Philadelphia, providing invaluable opportunities for both young inner-city riders and the Black male mentors they learn from.

Saddle Up and Read is a US-based literacy programme designed to help bolster education for kids in underserved communities while also giving them the chance to hang out with horses for the first time. They’ve been working hard to build up a library of horse books that feature diverse characters, too. Help them out here.

Other initiatives you can donate to:

The Bail Project helps out activists and protesters who are arrested during the BLM marches. There have been some horrific cases of kettling and brutality that have come out of these arrests.

The Movement for Black Lives supports a number of valuable initiatives, including youth projects, legal support, and support for immigrants.

The Innocence Project works to assist wrongly criminalised people, providing support and representation to those who have been incarcerated without committing any wrongdoing, and working to transform the legal system.

Say Her Name focuses specifically on Black women and the injustices they face, both at the hands of the police and in the maternity ward, where they’re considerably more likely to die in childbirth than white women.

The Belly Mujinga Memorial Fund paid for the funeral of the British transport worked who was the victim of a heinous racial attack, in which a commuter who claimed to have COVID-19 spat on her. Now, the fund will be used to provide a better life for her young daughter.

The Stephen Lawrence Trust provides support and training for underprivileged young people to help them take their first steps onto the career ladder.

The Runnymede Trust is Britain’s leading thinktank, committed to working towards a truly post-racist society.

Petitions you can sign:

This petition calling for justice for George Floyd is officially the most-signed petition in US history. Pretty cool.

A petition to add The Good Immigrant, edited by Nikesh Shukla, and Reni Eddo-Lodge’s Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race to the GCSE curriculum. 

Ensure sufficient BAME representation in clinical teaching at medical schools – particularly relevant as we deal with a global pandemic that kills BAME people at a significantly higher rate.

Suspend the export of riot shields, tear gas, and rubber bullets to the US, where they’re used to enact some Tiananmen Square level nastiness on peaceful protesters.

Add anti-racism education to UK curriculum.

Adopt a better-rounded approach to teaching the history of British colonialism.

Amend the UK Equality Act so Black children and teenagers aren’t sent home from school for having natural Afro hairstyles.

US – Make it a criminal offence to make a false 911 call, as demonstrated by Amy Cooper.

Introduce the Hands Up Act, which would make it a criminal offence punishable with 15 years behind bars for police offers charged with shooting unarmed citizens.

Justice for Belly Mujinga, which is focused on increasing protection and support for British transport workers.

Justice for Breonna Taylor, the frontline healthcare worker who was murdered in her home by plain-clothes policemen when they bungled a drug raid (the suspect they sought was already in police custody).

There are many, many more – please do leave links in the comments to petitions you’d like added.

Books for learning more about systemic racism (non-fiction):

Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge explains systemic racism and micro- and macroaggressions simply, clearly, and in a manner that makes this non-fiction tome slide down easily. It’s important to note that Reni doesn’t feel comfortable profiting from increased book sales as a result of the murder of George Floyd, so has asked, if possible, that you borrow a copy and donate what you would have spent to a BLM-related charity. Sign up for a library card if you don’t have one and you should be able to borrow an e-book, or purchase here and match the cost with a donation.

Part memoir, part in-depth exploration of the legacy of structural racism in the UK, Afua Hirsch’s Brit(ish) is a book you’ll gobble up in one, it’s that good.

Akala’s lyrical writing and razor-sharp intellect lends itself beautifully to Natives, in which he uncovers British history and what it means for people of all races in the modern day.

Ibram X. Kendi provides an invaluable resource for aspiring allies in How To Be An Antiracist.

As well as a primer on how systemic racism has morphed throughout American history in Stamped From the Beginning: The History of Racist Ideas in America.

If you love a good workbook, Layla Saad’s Me and White Supremacy is full of super journaling exercises to help you figure some stuff out.

Nikesh Shukla deftly pulled together The Good Immigrant, a collection of short essays from a variety of different viewpoints – all immigrants in the place they now call home. It’s one of my favourite books and brimming with different, wonderful voices.

Books for learning more about systemic racism (fiction):

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is one of my favourite writers, and Americanah is one of the best novels I’ve EVER read. It follows young Nigerian Ifemelu as she relocates to the US to flee military dictatorship, discovering when she gets there that her race – something she’d never had cause to think about before – is suddenly a very big THING. Whip smart, funny, and powerful, I’ve leant it to so many people and always miss it when it’s gone.

Like so many people, I read the Booker prize-winning Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo in a fast-paced haze, drawn through the book by its lyrical rhythm and its deft interweaving of twelve women’s stories. Most are Black, some are white, and their stories span different chunks of the 20th and 21st centuries, criss-crossing and weaving amongst one another in surprising, remarkable ways.

Tayari Jones’s An American Marriage focuses on a common theme – the incarceration of an innocent man. But this remarkable novel goes deeper than simply focusing on law and order – it covers the emotional ripple effect of a false conviction on a young Black man’s new wife and the third party that becomes a crutch.

Some may say that White Teeth or On Beauty are better recommendations here – and honestly, they’re amazing, so do read them – but my Zadie Smith pick is NW. Slightly more experimental than her previous novels, it follows four Londoners from Kilburn as they navigate adulthood with varying results. It’s a book I read several times over, itching to highlight passages because they resonated so much.

You’ve heard of the underground railroad – but what if it was, quite literally, a railroad? Colson Whitehead adds a sprinkle of magical realism to the brutal underbelly of American history, crafting a novel in The Underground Railroad that’s exciting, compelling, beautiful, and heartbreakingly relevant, even today.

TV shows, films, and documentaries to help you learn about systemic racism:

Want to learn more about the faults in America’s justice system? Why is it that US jails are full of Black men? 13th on Netflix hammers home some hard facts.

David Olugosa’s Black and British is a super book, but it’s also brilliant watching in this BBC programme.

Unsure about how racial bias infiltrates criminal proceedings? Strong Island, a documentary about the murder of William Ford Jr in 1992, will teach you a thing or two – but it’ll break your heart in the process.

Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing premiered in 1989, but it couldn’t be more apt for this moment in time. It’s a comedy – of sorts – centring around one hot day and the act of police violence that kicks off a spate of civil unrest.

Dear White People is honestly one of the best things Netflix ever did. Smart, cool as hell, and funny, it’s also got an eagle eye on the microaggressions that Black Americans face on a daily basis – as well as some of the major issues.

What does intersectionality mean, anyway? Well, it’s basically when two zones of inequality combine – and in the case of Moonlight, that’s being a Black man in America, and being a homosexual man. This is an utterly gorgeous, beautifully shot film, with superb acting from Trevante Rhodes and Mahershala Ali.

Based on the Young Adult novel of the same name, The Hate U Give sees its teenage protagonist grapple with finding her voice when one of her friends is fatally shot. It made waves for a reason.

Monday News & Notes from Fleeceworks

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Tapping into a long tradition, black cowboys are taking to the streets. This past Sunday in Compton, Calif., a group of black men and women known as the Compton Cowboys led a peaceful protest through the streets with Mayor Aja Brown. As hundreds of people marched alongside, the cowboys rode with their fists raised in the air, yelling, “No justice, no peace,” as the music of Kendrick Lamar, also from Compton, blared in the background. Around the country, hundreds of other black cowboys and cowgirls have joined in the protests over the death of George Floyd and against police violence and racism. Their presence is a reclaiming of sorts of the traditional role of mounted riders in demonstrations. Historically, horses have been used by military units and law enforcement as a way to show authority — their visibility and height seen as a symbol of power. The @comptoncowboys grew out of a group of 10 friends who came of age in the 1980s and 1990s — one of the city’s most violent and chaotic eras. They learned about horses on Richland Farms, an agricultural community in the heart of Compton. Many of them have talked about what it means to be a black cowboy in one of the world’s most stigmatized communities, and how horses provide salvation from past trauma and safety from police violence. Randy Hook, in the 2nd photo, saddled his horse that day for a larger cause, he said: “I could cry, and I never imagined anything like this. We’re making our family proud, our ‘hood proud, and our city proud.” Keiara Wade, the only woman in the Compton Cowboys, in the 6th photo, expressed similar emotions. “These horses feel whatever we feel, and they are hurting right now because we are hurting right now, too,” Ms. Wade said. “There is so much love and unity within the black cowboy and cowgirl community. We’re just trying to bring that energy to these marches in a peaceful way.” Tap the link in our bio to read more from @mychivas. Photos by @kaylareefer.

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Sometimes I have to stop and look back on how the world has changed, pell-mell, over the last six months. So, so much is so different — and it’s not just because we all got locked down, either. It seems like everything is changing; the way we look at our own lives, the way we look at other lives, the decisions we make, the priorities we work around, the goals we set. The world is a different place; a bit quieter, sometimes, a bit louder, certainly, sometimes.

Then I look forward. If so much can change in six months, what will life look like a year from now? Five years from now? Twenty five? A hundred, when my ashes will long since have been scattered at Aachen? Will it be a happier place? Will it be a more equal place? Will the horse industry have caught up, and will our cross-country courses and arenas be a melting pot of smiling faces, who can simply focus on how wonderful it feels to ride a horse, not worry that their brown skin means that they’re not welcome to do so? I certainly hope so. And that’s why Eventing Nation will continue to learn and teach in turn, helping us all to build something better for some not-too-distant tomorrow. I can’t wait to see you there.

National Holiday: It’s National Bourbon Day, but also, rather confusingly, World Blood Donor Day. Giving blood is a brilliant thing to do, and we highly recommend it. We also recommend bourbon — but please save your heavy drinking for AFTER your donation.

Your Monday reading list:

The diversity conversation isn’t going away any time soon. Not until we’ve redressed the balance, anyway. If you’re not sure how a problem so complex can be addressed, EN editor Leslie Wylie has written a great piece summarising many of the conversations that took place at the 2019 Tom Bass Seminar for Diversity in Sport at Tryon IEC. It’s the first part of a fascinating series. [A Pane of Glass: The Problem of Diversity in Equestrian Sport, Part I]

If you’re a take-action type (you’re a horse person! Of course you are), this piece from Horse Network provides some actionable advice for playing your part on an individual level. With advice from writing to your sport’s governing bodies, calling out equestrian media for defaulting to all-white models, all the time, and more, it’ll make you feel much more in control of a situation that might feel quite overwhelming. [What to Do When Solidarity Isn’t Enough]

Hands up if you love to see an OTTB in a slightly strange second career. I definitely do – and it probably doesn’t get more left-field than protecting baby rhinos from poachers. Anna Mussi explains how she uses her ex-racehorses to help her monitor her charges and keep them safe. Oh, and fun fact — the collective noun for a group of rhinos is a ‘crash’. Possibly also the collective noun for a group of adult amateurs after Happy Hour, amiright? [Former racehorses help thwart poachers to save rhinos]

Lauren Kardel is a hunter-jumper rider. She’s also Black. In this stark, honest account, she tells The Plaid Horse about being racially profiled by police, and how the experience affected the way she thinks about her place in the horse show world. It’s bruising but beautiful, and an important one for us all to read — particularly those of us learning to be the best allies we can be. [I Would Like to Introduce Myself]

The striking image of the Black cowboy is going to be one of the iconic symbols of the 2020 human rights movement. That’s a pretty big moment in the sun for horses — but this isn’t the first time they’ve partnered Black riders for a lope to freedom. In fact, 25% of all cowboys post-Civil War were Black — for those former slaves who’d been trained as ranch hands, it was one of the earliest paid jobs available to them as free men, and they helped to rebuild the ranching industry in the deep South and western USA. This stunning photo series takes a look at the modern day version. [Capturing the vibrant culture of Black cowboys]

Monday video from Fleeceworks: 

In today’s episode of ‘I would like to escape from normal life for a few minutes’, let’s head to a luxury stable in the mountains for a tour. Bliss.


#FlashbackFriday Video from SmartPak: British Eventing’s Back – So Let’s Revisit London 2012

The updated British Eventing fixture list for this summer has been released ahead of a planned return to competition in the first week of July, and that’s definitely worth celebrating. And how better to do so than by settling in for the binge of the century, reliving all 6+ hours of the cross-country action at the spectacular London Olympics in 2012 — a glorious and glittering ode to the creme-de-la-creme of sport in the UK.

Sit back, relax, and get ready for an evening very, very well spent. Have you got your entries planned yet? Let us know — and Go Eventing!


Wednesday Video from Kentucky Performance Products: Helmet-Friendly Hair How-Tos

If there’s one thing that truly unites us all, it’s this: thick hair and riding helmets are just. Not. Compatible. Fortunately, a few hair-and-beauty YouTube rabbitholes later, I still can’t manage a cut-crease eye, but I’ve got a well-stocked arsenal of new ways to tame my mermaid locks under my long-suffering AYR8.

In today’s video, Michelle Rosemond gives an easy-to-follow demonstration of two practical solutions for fitting natural hair into riding helmets, and her super styles can be adapted to be used for any type of thick curls. If you’re anything like me, no amount of ponytail tightening stops your shorter front layers from slipping down mid-ride like sweaty little eels of misery, so I’m going to be incorporating a few deft twists to keep those bad boys in their assigned seats tomorrow. Then I’ll give that cut-crease another go.

Fight back against an energy crisis that can impact condition and performance.

Equi-Jewel® is a high-fat, low-starch and -sugar formula developed to safely meet the energy needs of your horse.

Whether you have a hard keeper that needs extra calories to maintain his weight, or a top performance horse that needs cool energy to perform at her peak, Equi-Jewel can meet your horse’s energy needs. Equi-Jewel reduces the risk of digestive upset, supports optimal muscle function, maintains stamina, and helps horses recover faster after hard work, all while providing the calories your horse needs to thrive.

The horse that matters to you matters to us®.

Not sure which horse supplement best meets your horse’s needs? Kentucky Performance Products, LLC is here to help. Call 859-873-2974 or visit


Monday News & Notes from Fleeceworks

What a week it’s been (again! Madness.). It’s been exhausting, it’s been bruising, it’s been desperately sad and also incredibly hopeful, all at once. The world is on the cusp of changing into something kinder, something a little bit closer to equality, and I can feel the seismic shift on the horizon. But the fight for human rights isn’t quite over yet, so stay strong, stay kind, stay gentle and patient when it’s so hard to do so, and keep helping your friends and family to understand exactly what’s being fought for.

If you ever feel under attack because of it, or a little bit like an island in a sea of dissent, know that we’re here. You can find me on social media and I will always stand by you in spirit. (NB to a small minority: if you fancy taking that invitation as an excuse to slide in my DMs and verbally attack me, know that I’ve got a week’s worth of practice dealing with those shenanigans now, so am fairly deft at roundhouse kicking a nasty message back into the ether. My inbox is reserved for joy, kindness, respectful debate, and videos of husky puppies on treadmills.)

A few people messaged me yesterday to check in on how the police horses at the Parliament Square protest were doing. We are, of course, absolutely delighted to say that a social media post has confirmed all were tucked away happily in their stables yesterday evening. No one likes to see evidence of animals in distress, least of all those of us whose entire lives revolve around them. But this note takes us into some murky waters.

What is crucial to note when discussing the viral video that made the rounds is that these protests have been overwhelmingly peaceful, but that these isolated incidents are the videos that make the rounds — and that’s partly because there’s an agenda there. After spending a socially distanced afternoon photographing yesterday’s protest, I was saddened to see not a single mention or video of the thousands of people kneeling quietly, singing and dancing together in celebration of Black cultures, or joining in with a feminist celebration in which we all turned to the Black woman nearest us and told her she was beautiful. That’s what social media missed, so we have a responsibility to ensure that a viral video doesn’t become the defining moment of a movement to which it bares little resemblance.

You’re allowed to be angry because horses were involved. Nobody is taking that away from you. But we urge you to be thoughtful in the way you present your anger. That’s a powerful, wonderful thing.

National Holiday: It’s National Best Friends Day today. Give yours a little bit of socially distant love, and save an extra-sloppy smooch for the four-legged one, too.

Event Entry Notes:

Surefire Horse Trials entries will be open until Friday, June 12, 2020. All paperwork must be complete by that date. Please check the website for updates

Your Monday reading list:

If you want to learn a little bit about why we’re currently seeing the biggest global protest against racism in history, Jumper Nation editor Lynn Mueller has compiled a brilliant starter list of resources for you. Can I describe Lynn for you in a sentence? Not at all — to try would do a disservice to this dynamic, intelligent woman who contains multitudes. But one of the many, many things she is is Korean, and so she knows all too well the sad reality of racism and then many insidious forms it can take. What does that mean? Well, that we should probably take a moment or ten to listen to what she’s got to say, for one. [Fight Against Inequality: Resources from Readers]

Brianna Noble has become one of the faces of the Black Lives Matter movement, and we’re huge fans of this compassionate trainer of tricky horses and her gelding Dapper Dan. Once upon a time, Dapper Dan was a nearly impossible mount, but plenty of time, love, and invaluable patience has turned him into the type of partner you can ride into a protest in a major city. Erin Gilmore caught up with Brianna to find out more about this remarkable woman and her equine partner. [Brianna Noble is the Horsewoman We All Need Right Now]

It’s no secret that equestrian disciplines are among the most whitewashed of all the sports. But how can we fix that? It’s a conversation I’ve had countless times over the past few years, with the EN team and media colleagues, with riders of all backgrounds, with my diverse group of friends outside the industry who see the horse world as something that wouldn’t want them even if they wanted to be a part of it. It’s an enormous oversimplification to say that the financial commitment that riding requires is the issue here — yes, it’s part of it, but we’re looking at a much more complex issue. But access problems that give children in underserved communities the chance to get close to these special animals is a great first step, as the Chronicle discovers when visiting Baltimore’s City Ranch. [A Closer Look at City Ranch]

Dan Jocelyn’s Olympic mount Silence has been euthanised at the grand old age of 30. There’s not much we love more than seeing these great campaigners enjoy a long, happy retirement. Now, Dan has shared some of his fondest memories with the New Zealand Thoroughbred — a touching farewell to the horse who changed his life. [‘He did things dreams were made of’: farewell to Olympic event horse]

What we’re watching: The clever, witty, and ineffably cool Dear White People on Netflix. This has been one of those shows that I’ve devoured over and over again, hungry for more and so, so grateful for its existence.

Where we’re sending a donation: Leicestershire’s The Urban Equestrian takes the concept of inner-city equestrian access programmes and moves it to the UK’s Midlands, where the city of Leicester sits amid some of the country’s richest hunting country and horsey culture. The story of founder Freedom Zampaladus is an incredibly compelling one, and the work the programme does to change the lives of its kids is profoundly valuable. They’ve got a GoFundMe here.

Monday video from Fleeceworks: 

You probably need some ponies in a paddling pool right now. We’ve got your back.

Friday Video from SmartPak: Meet YOUR New Frangible Fences at Plantation Field

That’s right, folks — these ones are entirely down to you and the huge effort of the eventing community in raising vital funds for frangible technology. The two new tables — one at Intermediate, one at Preliminary — will make their debut this weekend at Plantation Field, and charity maven and all-around go-getter Jon Holling is on hand to give us all a first glimpse.

Frangible technology, as we all know, is no joke, and the eventing world is hard at work to figure out ways to make our sport safer without sacrificing the elements that make it unique. One of the most reliable methods for increasing safety is the widespread use of technology, such as frangibles and MIMS clips, which allow a fence to collapse out of the way when struck, minimising the risk of a rotational fall, which tends to occur when a horse hits an immovable obstacle. The only problem? These useful little guys aren’t cheap – in fact, the cost averages out at around $1,000 per fence. While the USEA supplies a frangible grants each year totalling $26,000 per annum, it’s become clear that the need for this technology significantly outweighs the funds allocated to it.

After a series of tragic accidents last year, 5* rider Jon had had enough. He teamed up with Leslie Law, Kyle Carter, Emily Holmes, Andy Bowles, Doug Payne, and Robert Kellerhouse to try to realise a huge goal: raise $500,000 to ensure that all tables at Preliminary and above would be fitted with frangibles by 2023. So far, that fundraiser is at over $80,000, and this weekend, you’ll get to see the first fruits of their — and your — efforts in action.

Positive action and big results — it’s what the eventing family does best.

Go Eventing!

British Eventing to Resume from July 4 – Here’s What You Need to Know

British Eventing’s summer and autumn season is set to resume next month. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

British Eventing has released an updated statement today (June 4) expressing its intent to return to competition on July 4, the date on which the UK will begin to reopen the hospitality industry, cinemas, and places of worship. Do we consider most one-day events places of worship? Totally, baby. The most recent easing of England’s lockdown — which differs from those in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland — saw groups of up to six people allowed to practice some sports together, as well as the resumption of one-on-one coaching in an outdoor setting.

Now, following the release of Stage Three of the UK government’s five-stage plan for the resumption of elite sport — catchily titled ‘Return to Domestic Competition – No Spectators’, or RTDC — British Eventing has been able to formulate its own long-awaited plan. Though Stage Three doesn’t allow for an immediate reopening, the guidance issued in ‘Our Plan to Rebuild: the UK Government’s COVID-19 Recovery Strategy‘ has allowed BE to set a working date for sport to recommence in line with new safety policies.

“This will be dependant on us being able to deliver a safe, socially distanced sport, and we are confident that we can do this,” says BE. “On this basis, and only in line with any Government guidelines, we are working with the organisers in July with the intention of resuming sport from 4th July.”

A recent resumption survey distributed to BE members has offered some insight for the organisation moving forward.

The statement provided answers to a number of questions regarding logistics as we approach this second season of 2020.

When will entries open?

Each event will supply BE with a ‘decision to run’ date, the date by which they’ll need to make the call to run so that they can start their preparations. Consider this the new ballot date – you’ll need to get your entries in beforehand, so that the organisers have an idea of viability. If there aren’t sufficient entries by the decision to run date, organisers may opt to cancel.

BE will only open entries when government guidelines make it certain that the event in question will be able to run. As of now, they’re planning to open entries 7–10 days before the decision to run date. The fixtures list will be updated to show this new ballot date — and entry status — clearly.

What happens if there’s another full lockdown?

BE remains embroiled in a dispute with their insurance policy’s underwriters, which has put on hold the refunds due from events cancelled at the beginning of lockdown. Because of this, it’s unlikely that any pandemic-related cancellations over the next few months will be covered by an abandonment policy. With this in mind, BE is working on a ‘Pandemic Refund Policy’ with its constituent organisers.

While this offers some financial security, it’s not quite what we’ve all become used to under the usual policy. If an event is cancelled due to a second wave lockdown, the entrant will receive a refund of, at minimum, 30% of the net entry fee paid, plus applicable VAT. This will be valid up to three days before the competition’s projected start date, and organisers may choose to return a higher percentage if they wish. Refund information pertaining to each event will be found in its schedule on the BE website. Start fees will be paid with your entry and will be refunded to you if you aren’t able to start the competition for any reason.

However, if the current insurance debacle can be sorted and the underwriters agree to cover future pandemic-related cancellations in the abandonment policy, you can expect the refund process to be as it was in the good old days. You’ll still be required to pay abandonment insurance, mind – the policy is still in place to cover all the ‘normal’ cancellation reasons, such as heavy rain.

How’s balloting going to work?

No change — balloting priorities will be as they’ve always been. Get your stickers out.

Will times be strict, or can I still put my number on the board for jumping phases?

It’s time for us all to get really good at time management, because your allocated time is now set in stone. This is key for a few reasons — firstly, BE will likely need to implement a track-and-trace policy to be allowed to go ahead, so they’ll need to know who’s in the collecting ring or competition ring at any given time. Secondly, there’ll be a limit to the number of people allowed to warm up at once. Sticking to times makes this much easier to police and will hopefully avoid a time limit being placed on the collecting rings. If you miss your time, unfortunately, your competition is likely to end there, though there may be some flexibility from event to event.

How many competitors will be allowed to compete?

It’s necessary for events to reduce the amount of riders on-site each day, though no firm number has been delivered yet. While riders are currently allowed to compete five horses per day, this will likely be reduced as well.

What about my owners?

Initially, one owner per horse was to be allowed on site — but now, with the increased emphasis on household groups in government guidance, there’s a bit of wiggle room there for family groups who own horses. BE’s current stance is that they won’t restrict owner numbers unless they need to.

Okay, this sounds like my entry fees are going to go through the roof. What’s it going to cost me?

Actually, entry fees will remain blissfully untouched — BE’s view is that each event will save enough money on reducing tents, scoreboards, and so on, that the costs will be balanced out, despite fewer competitors.

It’s been sunny for like, four years straight now. What’s being done to prepare the ground?

BE is working closely with organisers to ensure they have sufficient means of preparation — including access to the BE-owned stable of ground prep machinery.

I heard you’ll be banning dogs. Is this true?

Nope! After overwhelming feedback from members, BE has relaxed their stance on dogs, provided we can all be sensible and not manhandle one another’s pooches with our grubby mitts. This will come as welcome news to some and very sad news to others. Talk amongst yourselves, kids.

If I’m honest, I only event because running cross-country justifies my filthy burger habit. Will I be able to get my fix from July 4?

You will indeed. Now that lockdown is easing slightly and more restaurants are opening for takeaways, BE is comfortable providing catering vans as long as social distancing is enforced. How good is that first cheeseburger going to taste? SO good. We’ll even welcome the previously unforgivable unmelted grated cheese on the chips.

What’s the rest of the year’s calendar going to look like?

Prepare for some changes, but head over to the British Eventing website and look out for the Resumption Fixtures Calendar, which will be available in the coming weeks. The current fixtures list clearly shows which events have been cancelled, and BE will be working with organisers to fill gaps with new or date-adjusted fixtures.

Cool, I’m well and truly excited now! But wait — is this actually going to happen?

Look, ultimately the government and, latterly, the British Equestrian Federation have the final say here, and if we see a sudden spike in COVID-19 cases, this could all be shelved. But at the moment? It’s looking pretty good from here.

Oh, hey, I’ve just remembered the kerfuffle about vaccinations — where do I stand with those?

Stay tuned for further guidance there, sports fans. BE will also be contacting members about membership and season tickets, so watch your inbox.

In the meantime, dust off your back protector, spruce up those 20m circles, and let’s Go Eventing!




Wednesday Video from Kentucky Performance Products: The Power of a Dream

The conversation surrounding equestrian sport’s undeniable diversity problem is an ongoing one, and certainly a common one amongst the team here at Eventing Nation as we look at the platform we’ve created and try to figure out the best way to use it to help.

One of those ways is by being accountable: ensuring we’re showcasing riders of colour, increasing representation and showing aspiring riders that they are welcome here. Another is by talking honestly and candidly about micro aggressions, barriers to entry, and systemic racism, so that we can all learn together and equip ourselves to dismantle these inherent structures and work towards a more level playing field. Then, of course, there’s the long game — figuring out how to create new gateways and how to restructure access points so that they’re more universal. We’ll be publishing some of the ideas and conversations we’ve been having amongst ourselves and with riders from a variety of backgrounds over the coming weeks and months, but this evening, we know that everyone is tired. We know that a fight like this is a huge one, and an exhausting one, and we know that sometimes you’ve got to give yourself a breather and take in some restorative joy. So tonight, we wanted to share a glimmer of hope from our friends in the racing industry, which was suitably shaken and stirred by the sparkling light that is teenager Khadijah Mellah, who became the first-ever hijabi jockey to win a race last year.

Together, the eventing community is able to make history — we’ve seen it before when one of our own has needed us to rally. We can move mountains when we work in tandem. Here at EN, we’re so proud to have a diverse, smart, forward-thinking readership, and we know that you will be just as important a part of these changes as any of us behind the scenes will be. So let’s stand strong, clasp hands together (from a distance, because, y’know, still a pandemic going on here), and change our corner of the world for the better.

Go Eventing.

Fight back against an energy crisis that can impact condition and performance.

Equi-Jewel® is a high-fat, low-starch and -sugar formula developed to safely meet the energy needs of your horse.

Whether you have a hard keeper that needs extra calories to maintain his weight, or a top performance horse that needs cool energy to perform at her peak, Equi-Jewel can meet your horse’s energy needs. Equi-Jewel reduces the risk of digestive upset, supports optimal muscle function, maintains stamina, and helps horses recover faster after hard work, all while providing the calories your horse needs to thrive.

The horse that matters to you matters to us®.

Not sure which horse supplement best meets your horse’s needs? Kentucky Performance Products, LLC is here to help. Call 859-873-2974 or visit

Ready for the Rendezvous: Pau CCI5* Expresses Intent to Run in 2020

Hallie Coon and Celien at Pau in 2018. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

For those in need of a glimmer of hope in these funny old times, look no further – we come bearing the happy news that Les 5 Etoiles de Pau, France’s autumn CCI5*, is still set to run in 2020, with all preparations for the fixture going ahead as usual.

“We are currently receiving many questions about the organisation of this year’s event,” said press officer Juliette Feytout in a statement today (June 2). “We are continuing to work on the 2020 vintage of the 5 Etoiles de Pau — a major celebration that will mark the 30th edition of this event, which is on the calendar of all the best riders in the world.”

In a season that’s been ravaged by the effects of COVID-19, this will come as welcome news — though it’s prudent to remember that much still hangs in the balance, and a second wave throughout Europe, or the continued closure of borders, could yet put a stop to the Pau dream. But should it run, we could be looking at a very exciting October indeed — Pau is set to run from October 21–25, with the inaugural Maryland CCI5* at Fair Hill and the World Championships for Young Horses at Le Lion d’Anger both scheduled for the week prior, October 15–18.

Us right now: Gwendolen Fer celebrates her win with Romantic Love. Photo by Libby Law.

When it comes to the expectant legion of fans, supporters, and riders alike holding out hope for a bustling end to the Season That Wasn’t, Pau acknowledges its own impact: “For our 40,000 visitors who eagerly await the event each year and the million people who follow it via streaming; for the 150 private partners and suppliers who rely on us; for our 100 exhibitors who are preparing their stands; for the territory in which we are anchored and that the 5 Etoiles de Pau helps to bring to life and promote each year; for the riders and drivers who await this exceptional sporting event, our team will give everything and do everything to ensure that Pau takes place this year, of course respecting the health regulations that may be necessary.”

“We would like to thank the partners who have already renewed their confidence in us despite their own difficulties, as well as the public who continue to buy their tickets, the exhibitors who attend, the Pau event volunteers who have registered – we need your support to continue. You will contribute to making this 30th edition an event even more extraordinary than usual, which will have a very special flavour.”

Mais oui.

With the cancellation of Adelaide’s CCI5*, Pau — if it’s able to run — will close out the 2020 five-star season, as well as the European season. You’ll be able to catch not just top-level eventing, but also world-class combined driving throughout the week — plus flash mob prize-giving madness, oysters for breakfast, and one of the best mountain views you’ll ever lay eyes on. The flavour of Pau is already pretty spicy, so we are truly beside ourselves with excitement over how this year could look.

You can nab your tickets to the 2020 renewal here, and stay tuned — we’ll be pulling together a travel guide to help you make the most of your first trip to the Pyrenees.

Go Eventing, and Go Pau!