The horse world is expensive. Nobody denies that, and the typical owner isn’t often faced with a lot of areas where they can cut corners and not hurt their horse’s overall well being. I don’t know about you, but I am more routine with equine dentist appointments than my own!
When I decided to quit my job and go back to school, I knew I was going to have to “rein in” my equestrian expenses. Sacrificing my horse’s basic needs like quality boarding, feed and vet care were out of the question. That’s never a place to skimp, but I needed to shift my horse budget from one of a marketing professional to a graduate student on a tiny stipend.
Before I began slashing lessons and horse shows, I started with something that I didn’t realize I had accumulated so much of — stuff!
Being an equestrian blogger for a long time, my news feed became inundated with stuff. Equestrian trends for summer! New leatherwork to try! Fancy boots that are similar to last year’s fancy boots but now with patent leather trim! It was easy to think I needed them all, and for a while… I shopped like I did.
New sunshirt colors? Oh yes, that’s for me. A fancy jumper bridle for the 2’3″ jumpers? Surely I needed that. Let’s not talk about all the times I walked into the tack shop “just to buy some treats” and came out with bags full of boot socks, conditioning sprays, saddle pads and all sorts of stuff I can’t even remember at this point.
Soon my closet had more casual riding apparel than I had days in the week to ride. My horse had a halter for every occasion, and my tack trunk couldn’t shut with all of my grooming equipment. I was rich with things, but not with savings.
So when I knew I would be attending school this fall, I put a hard stop on shopping for superfluous items. I’d read blogs in my feed talking about the latest new fashions, but I wouldn’t click through to see what was available in my size. When Tailored Sportsman came out with beautiful pastel breeches with tan patches, my little hunter heart skipped a beat… but I did not buy. Instead I kept washing and re-folding the breeches I already had in my closet, and told myself it was better this way.
When the bottles of spray and goo ran out in my tack trunk, I asked myself if I even needed to replace them. Turns out, a thorough curry every day did more for my horse’s coat condition than anything I’d ever put on him. We were living a summer of minimalism. He relished from the extra attention, and happily tilted his head to the side whenever I found the perfect itchy spot.
In six months, the only “stuff” I bought for the barn were de-wormer, fly boots and fly spray. And you know what? My horse didn’t care one bit. He didn’t know we weren’t as fashionable, and after a while — neither did I.
I think there’s a time and a place for fancy splurges with horses. I continue to adore pretty things, and love to flip through tack catalogs oogling expensive leather goods as much as the next person. While I won’t sit here and say that I’m never going to stress purchase a bridle or sunshirt again, I do feel a lot more liberated from the pressure of stuff.