Every Spur Tells a Story


    Life with Horses - Every Spur Tells a StoryToday was trash day in my neighborhood, which meant that I was curbside before sunrise, shoveling a wheelbarrow full of manure into the bin before the noisy trash truck lumbered up the hill. As odd as it seemed, to be standing out there in the brisk gray dawn, shoveling poop in my sweatpants, I knew that someplace there were other horsewomen repeating the same ritual. I’ve learned that it really is a small horse world, after all.

    For example, I occasionally go through bursts of activity that consist of me browsing on ebay and Craigslist for one-of-a-kind deals on horse stuff. Hey, who doesn’t? You never know who might want to unload some vintage braided romal reins or a set of sports medicine leg boots for a few bucks. My latest discovery was a pair of really nice engraved silver spurs. They were well-used, but in great shape. They weren’t fancy show spurs, but seemed to be good working spurs that I could use to prod my lazy geldings around town. Within a few days they were mine for a great price. As I emailed the seller back and forth, I learned that she had owned an Appaloosa for years. It was a wildly colored gelding named Duke. He was beloved, and once he died the seller simply decided to part with everything equine, including Duke’s spurs.

    “I’ll never find another horse like him,” she wrote, “plus I’m getting older, so I figured I’d just let all this stuff go.”

    Duke’s spurs—as well as his western bit—have now been passed on to Joey and Wally.

    It made me realize that every piece of tack and equipment (providing we keep it long enough) tells a story. I studied the jumbled pile of spurs in my tack box and thought of each horse whose sides they’d rubbed. I recalled how my first warmblood, a big, plain mare named Syracuse, required dressage spurs with tiny rowels for her schooling sessions. She wasn’t an argumentative horse. She was merely dull. And slow. Yet she was a lovely ladies’ hunter and my, she looked so elegant in her midnight blue-black coat! I also admired a pair of silver huntseat spurs that were engraved with floral scrollwork. My sister gave those to me years ago when I showed Hammie, my bay Trakehner gelding. He was sweet yet hot, like good honey mustard. Those spurs were my one piece of blinged indulgence and I always felt exceptionally snazzy when I wore them in a hunter class, as if I was being a little bit naughty.

    My collection of bits, bridles and leather halters with tarnished brass nameplates elicit the same sense of nostalgia. Ditto for fine bristled brushes with wear marks on the backside, where years of cradling them with one hand has worn through the thin layer of varnish. I begin to wonder: “Is there some essence of horses past, some microscopic DNA of horses I once rode and cherished, still lingering there?”

    Consider your tack sometimes. Each piece tells a story. I promise. Think about that next time you’re shoveling manure at 6:00 a.m. on a wintry day.

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    1. OK, so now I’m going to cry.
      Every time I look at bits — HA! — and pieces of my lives with beloved horses of the past, I remember all the wonderful times.
      I sincerely feel sorry for Duke’s owner for not hanging on to a few precious possessions. I cannot imagine selling them all away. But bless you for giving Duke’s memory a new life.


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