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Two things I really, truly love: perfectly imperfect horse-themed illustrative artwork, and the grace and space to be allowed to screw things up a bit and bounce back. The latter, I think, is something that’s particularly worth adding into your life in January, which is a heinously long month that’s somehow both incredibly sluggish feeling but also constantly, invasively peppered with pseudo-motivation and the idea that everything you do is setting the tone for your year to come. Newsflash, though: January is just January, and you are just a human being, and you are doing your best, and it’s totally okay if ‘your best’ is just getting through the day some days. And on a horsier note, it’s also okay if your horse has an extra day off because the short days are messing with your energy levels; it’s okay if your ride feels like you’ve taken five steps back rather than one step forward. It’s all good. The sun will rise again tomorrow, the days will be longer soon, and you will try again, and you will succeed again, and at some point, you will fail again, and it’s all fine. We’re just specks of dust anyway; we might as well try to eke a bit of peace out of it all, right?
(You can find more of Natalie Klaassen’s work here. It’s a joy!)
National Holiday: It’s National Celebration of Life Day. Maybe this is the time to start using that gratitude journal your well-meaning auntie bought you for Christmas.
US Weekend Action:
Your Monday Reading List:
If you’ve ever gone through the onerous process of trying to find the perfect horse to buy, you’ll probably need a bit of a humour injection. My experience of the whole thing is a little bit like how I’ve heard women describe childbirth: by the time the next one rolls around, you’ve forgotten the pain of the process and are overcome with excitement about the possibility… but then, BAM! You’ve either got to squeeze a small human out of your hoo-hah again or, in this case, your bright ideas that you’ll get to sit on loads of lovely horses and have a really jolly time are quickly wiped out by the fact that actually, all those sale ads you’ve painstakingly pored over are often actually replete with misrepresentations. COTH’s summary of what some of those advert catchphrases really mean hits the nail on the head. (It’s all worth it when you find your perfect horse or hold your tiny baby, I think, probably.)
Before we dive headlong into the new season, it’s always fun to relive some of the action of the old. Catch up with Liz Halliday as she reminisces on her trip to California for the National Championships at Galway Downs, where she truly had the weekend of dreams. Roll on all that’s to come in 2024!
Power imbalances are everywhere in sport. In many cases, they’re a necessary and positive thing: productive hierarchy in staffing systems means that less experienced grooms and working students have management in place to turn to for assistance and structure; coaches having the final word on schooling plans and lessons can push students to make the right calls for their horse and safely push themselves out of their comfort zones, too. But when the powerful party has slightly more insidious intentions, this can take a nasty turn. Whether we’re looking at the case of Larry Nassar, who used his position as a team doctor in US Gymnastics to abuse hundreds of young girls, or in the many cases of trainers or bosses similarly abusing young people in their barns, studying the dark side of power imbalances is essential. It goes beyond sexual abuse, too — and advocacy organisation Global Athlete is digging into the quagmire to try to create positive change to protect athletes, both in their training structures and on the world stage. Find out more about what they’re doing, and why this is so important, here.
And finally, snowbirds: enjoy this throwback from our sister site, Horse Nation, which sees beginner ski-bunny Leslie Threlkeld take to the slopes and find a few comparisons with riding — and also a few key differences, including… the importance of French fries manifesting itself in a rather unfamiliar way.
We spend a lot of time rewatching videos of the established pros tackling five-stars – but what about those intrepid first-timers? Relive Holly Richardson’s ride around Burghley with Bally Louis and join us in wondering how colossal one’s figurative cajones must have to be to choose Burghley as your first go at this level: