I’m on a roll with these philosophical posts, aren’t I?! This week’s topic is the obsession with “new”. New horse. New truck. New trailer. New saddle. New boots. New horse boots. New breeches. New show coat. New sunshirt. New fill-in-the-blank technology. New bridle. All the new! Don’t get me wrong, I like new. Probably too much. I definitely purchased new things in the past year of coronopocalypse that I absolutely didn’t need. Where does this obsession with new come from?!
I’m not going to present a bunch of original research or anything scientific, just my perspective. I look at the accounts and people I follow on social media as well as the podcasts I listen to and the books and magazines I read and you know what? Hardly any of them talk about old stuff. I live in the United States and live a very very privileged life. My basic Maslow needs aren’t even a passing thought beyond what to have for dinner (something that is usually organic, grown locally and if it is meat it’s probably grass fed, READ privileged) and when to pay the mortgage for the lovely property where we have lived or 15 years now. I then fill my brain space with the things I don’t have that I want in the future and I have really begun to annoy myself!
I’ve made a concerted effort to stop following accounts on Instagram and Facebook that focus on new stuff. I don’t want to read about the latest breeches, I love my tried and true Tailored Sportsman breeches that are high quality and made domestically. I don’t need another new saddle (there is another post here, I have so many thoughts on saddles…). I recently bought the nicest bridle I’ve ever owned and that baby should last me the next 30 years if I take good care of it.
It’s exciting when someone gets a new horse, but it kind of makes me sad how quickly people go through horses just because they are chasing a ribbon or a trophy. I understand that riders progress as they gain skills, but there are plenty in all disciplines who just use up a horse then move onto the next one and do the same thing again on repeat. I want to read more about people (especially hunter/jumper/dressage/eventers) who buy a young domestically bred horse and bring it along either themselves or with a trainer then show it for the next 20+ years in various disciplines as the horse ages and it’s body changes. I want to read less about people who import a 5yo warmblood that jumped 1.3m in Europe, take it to the hunter ring in the U.S., then sell it a year or two later to do it all again with another horse. Those “sales” horses frequently end up in the cycle of being shown hard for a year or two then getting sold, repeat, until they are broken. I recently learned about a horse bred and raised by a friend that had what appears to be a pretty short, but reasonably successful, career in the hunters and is now quite lame and is more or less a lesson horse and it is still in it’s early teens. Of course this happens with horses that are meticulously cared for and not shown to death, but it happens the most to horses that are shown in this new year-round schedule with few or no breaks longer than a few weeks.
I have plenty of the things I listed previously and I absolutely don’t need anything new. At least not in the near future. I’m going to do future blog posts about my old stuff and how it has aged, including my horses. Would I buy it again ? Did it require much maintenance? Was it difficult to bring along/break in? I am going to use my privilege to support local and domestic manufacturers and buy less stuff. I’m writing this here more for accountability in a public setting than to make a grand statement.
Lauren recently did a brutally honest post about tack hoarding. She hit the nail on the head when she identified the obsession with having the latest and greatest of all the things as coming from a feeling of inadequacy. I come to that feeling from a different perspective than Lauren. I grew up riding and it has always come pretty naturally to me. My feeling of inadequacy comes from a deep seeded fear of missing out (FOMO) and not being “cool” combined with having grown up in the AQHA world which is constantly derided and ridiculed by hunter/jumpers. This has made for a constant desire to fit in which I sought by having the “right” stuff.
In my old(er) age I care less and less about fitting in and what other people think of the things I wear and do. Boot City sets a pretty good example here because he has not given a f$*k for 20 years or more. We talk about it frequently. He had some incredibly major life events before he was 30 so he has the perspective of your average 75+ year old adult. It is really nice to have a life partner that doesn’t contribute to any of one’s feelings of inadequacy. Quite the opposite really. In my annual goal setting and long-term planning I have changed my perspective from what I want to get and acquire to what I want to do and experience.
We all know with horse ownership that tomorrow is never guaranteed. Every single horse is one incident away from being a pasture ornament or worse. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have Jaguar every single moment of his 27 (28 next week!) years and I don’t take for granted that I’ll ever get that again. Every ride with Simon and Coco is a blessing. I’m going to enjoy every moment and take every opportunity to be grateful for them and the joy they bring to my life. I’m not going to worry about if they are wearing the latest boots and I am riding the trendiest saddle brand and if I have the trendy appropriate “extras” to identify my discipline (I’m looking at you bonnets, figure 8 nosebands, martingales and other things that serve a purpose but often get used by riders who have no idea what is their function other than part of a trendy costume for a discipline).