Monday News & Notes from Fleeceworks

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Just a typical Grand Prix Sunday…

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And so here we are, at the end of all things — or at the end of summer, anyway, particularly if you’re stuck in the endless deluge of English August right now. Even if you’re not — and unless you’re in like, the endless sun of the West Coast — you’ll have smelled the faintest hint of the changing of the seasons over the last week. The leaves are looking a little bit browner, those early mornings have an edge to them, and you might even have — gasp! — pulled out a turnout rug to keep on standby.

2020 has sped by (okay, sometimes it’s drooled by at the pace of swiftly-setting maple syrup) without most of the touchstones we usually use to mark the passing of a year. Goals have been dismantled, annual pilgrimages to major competitions have been cancelled, and in so many ways, the startling realisation that we’re heading into the sunset months feels like a personal failure. What have we done with 2020? Have we wasted a year?

We haven’t. While it might not be a normal year by anyone’s reckoning — and sure, we won’t be clamouring to repeat it anytime soon — it’s been a year of change. It’s been a year to focus inwards, to address what we really need from our lives; to hone, and to create, and to shuffle our priorities in a way we’ve perhaps never had the time or inclination to do. But it’s been bigger than us as individuals, too; bigger than perfecting 20m circles, taking time to read more books, baking the perfect banana bread. This has been a year in which we’ve learnt so much about the world around us and the part we can play in it — consciously or unconsciously, for better or for worse. So, so many of us have broadened our perspectives and closed our mouths, learning to see familiar environments through unfamiliar eyes. We’ve stood up and shouted, we’ve stood down and listened, we’ve got some things right, we’ve got many others wrong, and we’ve learned — a crucial first step in being able to enact positive, long-lasting change. Now, although 2020 is on its way out, we can look ahead to the year to come, knowing that whatever it may bring, we’ll be ready to handle it with grace and fortitude. So today, I’m not letting the hint of autumn bring me down. Instead, I’m looking at it as a step towards a better, more inclusive year. That’s a pretty damn good trade-off for having to pull the turnout rugs out, I think.

National Holiday: It’s National Diatomaceous Earth Day. Time to raise a glass to the sedimentary rock in your life. Or, if you’re in the UK, it’s time to enjoy a Bank Holiday. Much better.

Weekend Results – US:

Weekend Results – UK:

Global Eventing Bulletin:

  • The second leg of the condensed FEI Nations Cup series took place at Poland’s Strzegom Horse Trials, which ran a plethora of international classes including a CCI4*-L that was 40% Prices. They didn’t win, though. Catch up on EN’s coverage here. Full results available here.

  • Ireland’s Ballindenisk held a ‘home international’ — open only to riders within the country, in keeping with Ireland’s current border regulations — with classes from one-star to four-star. Sarah Ennis and Horseware Stellor Rebound claimed the CCI4*-S, proving that COVID-19 hasn’t dampened their inherent zoom. You can find results here.

Your Monday Reading List:

Australian eventer Paul Tapner has headed home after three weeks in the hospital. His stint follows a freak fall out hacking, which lead to a stroke. Team EN continues to send our collective well-wishes to our friend Taperz, who’s one of the busiest bees in eventing. [Paul Tapner in ‘good spirits’ as he leaves hospital following brain bleed]

There’s truly no therapy quite like horses. This beautifully-penned account of a young rider in the Maryland Therapeutic Riding programme will give you pause for thought this morning — and, okay, maybe bring a tear to your eye, too. “One important and distinct fact that must be weekly-remembered (and weekly-reminded) is that Lewis is afraid of horses. Every week, he arrives with his mother so that he might overcome the fear within his mind in order to improve the strength of his body. Fifty two times per year, Lewis finds the resolve to sit up high on the back of an animal a hundred times his size, to practice the peculiar balance beyond simply standing on one’s own feet, to stretch out muscles that would otherwise wither and fall into atrophy, to connect with beings outside of his own magnificent experience. And though we help him, we are just little humans standing below with our arms ready to catch his small form were he to fall. But he is still afraid. He sees something that we do not see.” [Good Boy]

What does it mean to be an ally? That’s the focal point of Shaquilla Blake’s op-ed for Noelle Floyd, which challenges the idea that a person can be silent without being complicit. Her voice will empower you today — after that, it’s up to you to pass that power along. [Equestrian Allies, It’s Time to Speak Up]

We’ve all picked up new hobbies during the pandemic, but have you tried your hand at a new discipline? Grand Prix dressage rider Anna Buffini has, and it’s a rogue one — she’s put her gymnastics background to good use and learned the art of Roman trick riding. And you thought DQs were poncey? [Anna Buffini Embraces Her Inner Daredevil]

Horse&Hound has rounded up some of the most, erm, creative showjumps out there. Would you be up for giving any of them a go? More leg needed, we think. [16 of the spookiest showjumping fences — would your horse go near any of these?]

Monday Follow:

We love Anne Thomsen‘s whimsical equestrian illustrations, which marry old-school picture-book charm with all the nuance of a life lived in the barn. But we really, REALLY love this little masterpiece, which reminds us all to make use of our democratic privileges (and work on rollback turns, too).

What I’m Listening To: I’d be lying if I said I didn’t LIVE for an embarrassing anecdote. Other people’s, my own, it doesn’t matter — if it combines the magical elements of a full-body laugh with a toe-curling bit of cringe, I’m in. So I was delighted to see that the latest instalment of the COTH podcast covers just that — juicy little bits of head-in-hands embarrassment from some of your favourite riders. Delish.

Donation Station: 2020 has truly been the year of the social media challenge, and here’s one for a great cause. Brooke is one of the world’s foremost equine welfare charities, working tirelessly to improve the lot of working horse, ponies, mules and donkeys around the world by providing education, outreach and vital veterinary services. You can do your part to help this week by taking part in HACK5. The premise is simple: tack up and head out for a five-mile ride, donate a fiver here, and tag five friends to challenge them to do the same. Giddy up!

Monday Video from Fleeceworks:

Sometimes, you just need to dive into one of my favourite classic videos — like this one, in which eventers and jockeys swap jobs around monster tracks at Gatcombe and Aintree. You wouldn’t see these sort of shenanigans these days, that’s for sure!