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