Monday News & Notes from Fleeceworks

As the chaotic energy of 2020 rages on around us, I’m always glad for a bit of good news. Ramp that up to great news, and it’s enough to feed me for weeks — and I’m sure I’m not alone in this. Something going right — even if it’s just a little something, like finally nailing the changes or producing a foot-perfect round of jumps in a lesson — refuels your weary brain, giving you impetus to keep on keeping on.

Over the weekend, that impetus was given to all of us at Team Nation Media by the announcement that our ever-expanding new Diversity Fund would be split among 27 extraordinary applicants. Between them, they represent so many disciplines, so many parts of the world, so many viewpoints, so many lived experiences, so many hopes for the future and resolutions to see the world, and the horse industry, become a better place. I feel stronger and smarter and better for having been exposed to what they have to say, and I think you will, too. One scholarship fund won’t change the world, but if it offers a platform and some validation to people who so often struggle to get either of those things in the horse world, the change will come. It will be brought about by all of us together, elevating one another and learning when to be silent and listen, and when to stand up and fight for what’s right.

More than ever, I feel so honoured to be a part of this team — a team that’s always had the heavy conversations behind the scenes, the ‘okay, we’ve identified the shit, now how do we shovel it?’ frankness that’s seen us through a pandemic (so far, anyway!) and will see us through the reshaping of an industry, too. Over the last months, our team behind the scenes has provided a safe space for no-bullshit, no bigotry discussions; a welcome antidote in the early days of summer, when communicating online offered up a 50% chance of ending up with extraordinarily nasty private messages from those who simply can’t — or rather, won’t — accept that things aren’t ‘just fine’ as they are. These days, the ratios are skewed so much more in the favour of people interested in positive, productive change — people learning, people reading, people adding their voices to the mix in a way that moves the dialogue along, rather than tearing it down and watching it burn. It almost feels like we can exhale, but we’re not quite there yet. There are still petitions to sign, imbalances to address, micro- and macroaggressions to nix. This summer has seen some headway made — now let’s regroup, refuel, and prepare for what’s to come. We’ll be bringing you the perspectives of our scholarship recipients over the next couple of weeks to help you do just that.

National Holiday: It’s a jolly good day for our friends north of the border — today is New Brunswick Day, British Columbia Day, and Alberta Heritage Day. How aboot that?

US Weekend Results:

River Glen: Website | Final Results

Cobblestone Farm: Website | Final Results

Olney Farm: Website | Final Results

UK Weekend Results:

Little Downham: Final Results

Cholmondeley Castle: Final Results

Dauntsey Park: Final Results

Your Monday Reading List:

“I can’t wait until she kicks my ass.” Thus spake top lass and truly excellent eventer Tamie Smith after an excellent showing at Rebecca Farm saw her and daughter Kaylawna sweep the top four places in the Advanced class. In this piece, she gets real about her headspace — the mentality she’s adopted to cope with the pandemic, the rollercoaster ride of having been a young mother and an aspiring pro, and the unique duality of being the mother of a mixed-race daughter and the wife of a police officer during the defining civil rights movement of our generation. [Ringside Chat: Tamie Smith Reflects On Silver Linings, Motherhood And Resiliency]

Shortly before his passing on July 17th, civil rights leader and congressman John Lewis penned one final missive. “When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century,” he implored, “let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war.” There’s plenty of work to be done yet, but let Lewis’s legacy give you the push you need to make this week a great one. [Together, You Can Redeem the Soul of Our Nation]

Now that eventing’s back up and running, what does 2020 look like for Team USA’s High Performance horses and riders? Erik Duvander gives us all a detailed update, walking us through the challenges faced so far and the plan of action from now until Tokyo. All I’m saying is, the French had better dust off ‘Cotton-Eye Joe’. (Honestly, they never need an excuse.) [High Performance in the Time of COVID-19]

No Burghley? No problem. An intrepid team of eventers, including 5* riders Louise Harwood and Alan Nolan, are planning to cycle from Badminton to Burghley on what would have been the weekend of the 2020 Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials, all in aid of the the vital air ambulance services that so many riders have found themselves indebted to. No word yet on whether they’ll have a crack at the Cottesmore Leap, which one rider — who shall remain unnamed — stated with worrying confidence is “totally jumpable on foot, if you had a good run up and the proper trainers on.” [‘If you have a goal, you work harder’: eventers swap saddles in Badminton to Burghley challenge]

What I’m Listening To:

I really, truly thought I’d managed to find and devour every pod that had ever been recorded featuring interviews with either of my two favourite contemporary writers, Zadie Smith and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I was wrong — boy, was I wrong. A quick panic search when I ran out of new episodes of my old standbys mid-muck out brought up the holy grail — a conversation between both women, recorded in 2015 and released by the New York Public Library. 

Oh, man, what a total and utter joy of a listen this is. You get a snippet of Adichie’s extraordinary novel Americanah, you get honest, funny chat between two exceptionally quick-witted people, you get open discussion on feminism (you can be a feminist and a hot babe who likes to shake what her mama gave her, Adichie says firmly, and I quite agree), race, writing, relationships, and life in general. Whether you’re a writer, a reader, or just a human being who’s curious about the multiplicities that reside within all your fellow muddled-up people, you’ll get so much out of this. If you’re anything like me, you’ll also add another ferocious red lipstick to your collection, too.

Donation Station:

As a perennially poor gal trying to keep myself and a horse alive, I’m all too aware that some of you may find it difficult to commit to monetary donations to the causes you believe in. But if you’re cash-strapped and feeling helpless to make a difference, never fear — there are so many ways you can still play a valuable part in making the world a better place. Live close to a horse rescue or an access programme? Great! Get over there and volunteer — you’ll never, ever regret it. Got a tack trunk full of stuff you never use, but which always seems to rise from the bottom just to get in your way? How about a wardrobe full of riding clothes you’ve duly replaced but hang onto just in case you need a backup? Super.

Make this week the week that you finally Marie Kondo your horsey life and find all that stuff a loving new home. Riding for the Disabled programmes, inner-city access programmes, animal sanctuaries, and even equine-assisted rehabilitation programmes can all use functionally sound equipment, and that old show jacket could be the final puzzle piece for an aspiring competitor who has nothing but their big dreams and a riding school horse to work with. Something as simple as cleaning out your (literal) closet could help that rider become a competitor. That’s something truly special.

Monday Video from Fleeceworks:

It’s not wholly horsey, but rather, a celebration of the power and profundity of sport — and Nike’s ‘You Can’t Stop Us’ ad campaign is getting everyone talking, in a good way. Give it a watch, and remember why we all do what we do, no matter what life throws at us along the way.