Camilla Bingham’s showjumping blog: something I’m taking very seriously…

So, I’m taking this sustainability ‘malarkey’ seriously. I really believe it’s important we do what we can and not bury our head in the sand while, not so far out of sight, our planet is squealing from the consequences of our actions. We cannot be perfect, I’m not sure anyone can, let alone in the equine industry, but we owe it to our furry friends to consider the future. If we all give it our best shot, big differences can be made.

The problem is that the whole topic is now at the forefront of lots of brands’ marketing strategies. It’s being exploited as another angle to sell us more stuff. I’m finding it hard to work out which companies are genuinely going above and beyond to reduce their carbon footprint, over those who are jumping on the sustainability band wagon, with no real substance behind their claims.

And on top of this issue is the awkward challenge of being a young rider trying to find sponsors to support me, let alone brands who share my own values.

Which is why (drum roll…) I’m especially excited to announce that I will be working alongside the lifestyle brand Honest Riders. I want to align myself with a brand that has the same values and ethics that I put into my horses and lifestyle: quality, patience and personality. Honest Riders has developed a brand of clothing made with the environment in mind. The clothing is made with organic cotton in the UK and sweatshop free, the horse care products are cruelty-free natural products, kinder on your horse and kinder on the environment. A nice little extra is the packaging, which is all recyclable even down to the cellotape.

Me modelling some of the Honest Rider clothing

Their #RIDERSONAMISSION campaign highlights their ethos that equestrian style ‘shouldn’t just look good but do good too’. A proportion of profit from one line of jodhpurs goes to One Tree Planted, a charity helping reforest areas of mass deforestation. #RIDERSONAMISSION has developed into a little community where people share ideas on sustainability not just on your yard but in your lifestyle.

So what can you do to help make our industry that little bit better at being sustainable? Here are some of the tips I’m currently following:

  • Consider quality over quantity. I once listened to a podcast where they said if you want to buy an item of clothing you should ask yourself if you can see yourself wearing it more than 30 times, if not then it’s not for you. Something I am trying hard to commit to, and consequently I buy a lot less! Bonus.
  • Buy second hand
  • Sell old clothes
  • Seek out alternatives. With the amount of time people are spending on social media it’s no excuse now not to take notice of the alternatives that are out there to make small changes to create bigger change. We’re so used to using cling film, so useful but horrible for the environment. An alternative is bees wax covers.
  • Watch out for sneaky products. One thing that shocked me the most was the items that had teeny tiny bits of plastic that you would never expect: sponges, tea bags, face scrubs and of course the excessive plastic packaging that food and products come in.

The life of a model, being de-dog-haired by Honest Riders Founder Zoe Kiff

So I hear you, this blog is supposed to be a diary of my life with the horses, not a lesson in how we should all be doing better. As it’s a quieter time for us with regards to the shows, I spend a lot more time at home, and to mark the start of my Team Honest Rider journey, we had a photoshoot here at Puttenham Place. The shoot included me, and fellow sponsored riders Jasmine Harding-Heitzmann and Lilli Fiddes. It was such a good day, let me take you through it…

For starters we all received an email with a schedule, so we knew exactly what we were in for, as well as the countless outfit and scene changes!

Headed back after a surprisingly calm group canter

Come 1pm and Puttenham became a full photoshoot venue — a first for our yard! It was so exciting and there was lots of banter — especially from Jess at Stride Management and Bill who works here at Puttenham about my cameo modelling appearance — apparently brushing your hair is a MUST for a photoshoot…

Honest Rider has produced a brilliant autumn/winter range with some fantastic slogans — no scope no hope, seeing a stride, inside the time, all of which have sales proceeds donated to charity. All ridiculously warm and cosy.

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With none of us having done a photo shoots before, as you can imagine there was a lot of giggling, but it was such a nice relaxed atmosphere and even more fun when we all started riding. Photographer Sophie Lefevre was fab at putting us all at ease and (encouraging!) us to be as natural as possible. The horses were great and much more sensible than I anticipated, cantering up a hill together. We did a couple of shots in the school over some jumps too — I opted out of the no hands jumping… it’s further to fall off a horse than a pony!

Overall, the past couple of weeks have been such an experience for me. Teaming up with a fantastic brand, with a sustainability vision that we all share and want to drive forward.

I am now looking forward to getting back out on the international circuit with our Belgium tour next month, where I will be spreading the Honest Rider work and pushing forward the #RIDERSONAMISSION campaign. Watch this space.

Until next time,

C x

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