My beloved schoolie, Dreamer, is as honest as they come. He goes wherever I point him. He’ll jump out of whatever terrible spot I put him in. He’s just an all-around good guy. But he isn’t super-motivated to move forward. Like many seasoned school horses, I suspect he’s learned that the consequences for taking his sweet time with an inexperienced rider are minimal, and the work considerably less. So if he’s having an especially lazy day, he might just put 78 strides in a five-stride line. He’s not particularly bothered by squeezing or kicking or even the occasional swat with a crop. He just sort of does his thing.
My second thought was that I don’t even have any spurs, other than the odd number of long-necked, slip-on spurs from my saddle seat days that are floating around the trunk of my car. Those would be totally inappropriate at a hunter barn.
My third thought was, “Ooh! I get to buy spurs!”
My fourth thought was how weird the third thought was.
Who can resist a little horse-themed retail therapy?
I’ve been riding most of my life and have been a horse owner for more than a decade. Over the course of a number of years, I acquired most of what I need. Other than a discipline switch about five years ago which forced me to buy a new saddle and fittings, I haven’t really had to buy much for my horse or riding in a long time. Of course there are consumables like fly spray, wound ointment and supplements that are on the regular shopping list, but the fun stuff is sort of over. I have what I need, and like most horse owners I’m not exactly swimming in disposable income, so I don’t usually buy anything horse-related on a whim.
Before I owned a horse, I would pore over every glossy catalog that showed up in the mailbox, deciding what things I’d buy for my future horse and barn. Now that I own a horse, those catalogs tend to go straight into the recycle bin so that I’m not tempted to spend. Same goes for the emails announcing big sales at my favorite online retailers. Unless we’re talking 95% off, I’m probably not gonna buy anything I don’t truly need.
So when a voice of authority (my instructor) tells me that maybe I should use this horse-related thing that I do not presently own, it’s like receiving permission to splurge. It’s weird, though. Spurs—English-riding spurs, anyway—are kind of boring. Even if you get the blingy ones, they’re still just spurs. How is that exciting?
Studies have shown that shopping can significantly increase endorphin levels in the brain, leading to feelings of euphoria. That’s right: retail therapy is a real thing. I guess maybe my seemingly bizarre reaction to the thought of buying a mundane item has a scientific explanation after all.
This random slideshow I found explains it all.
The flip side of this, I suppose, is that showing restraint is not a euphoric feeling. Every time I see a lightweight fall barn jacket or equestrian-styled rain boots that I want (which is, like, every day lately) I just have to turn away. I definitely don’t feel happy about it, but I do feel like I’m being smart by resisting the impulse to buy things I don’t really need. I mean, my horse doesn’t care if I wear ratty old sweatshirts to the barn, right? And making intelligent money-management decisions means there are always funds in the bank for those boring essentials like joint supplements and blanket repairs. So, I guess I’ll keep resisting the wants in order to be prepared for the needs.
The good news is that my hard brush seems to have gone missing out of my grooming tote, so I do have an excuse to hit the tack shop for some $2 retail therapy. I’ll take it.
Do you have an equestrian-gear weakness? Have you found a good way to guard your budget? Feel like admonishing me for my consumerist tendencies? Click “Submit a Comment” below and share away!
Back to The Near Side
Leslie Potter is Managing Editor of HorseChannel.com. Follow her on Twitter: @LeslieInLex.