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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.
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.