Thursday, February 27, 2014

Want...or Need?

When I was little my mom had all kinds of little catch phrases for different situations.

Say we passed someone smoking on the street. "What happens when you smoke cigarettes, Carli?" she would ask.

"You get cancer and then you DIE," a wide-eyed little Carla would respond.

Say I was being bad. "I'm going to call 1-800-GYPSIES on you!" she would say.

"NOOOOOO!" I would say.
(side story: When I went to Madrid, a Roma woman chased me on the street trying to get me to buy something, and kept yelling, "NO TENGAS MIEDO DE LA GITANA!!!" at me. By that point I had gotten over my gypsy fear though.)

And whenever I saw some amazing thing on TV that I NEEEEEEEEEDED MOM PLEEEEEEAAAAAASE, she would say, "Well do you need  it or do you want it?"

In hindsight most of these catchphrases were pretty bizarre,  but the last one definitely stuck, and since  Little Bay Horse  brought up the topic, I thought I would get up on my soapbox about needs vs. wants in the horse world too. Not that I'm qualified to do so, but hey, that's what is so great about blogging.
Also I am home sick and Dr. Gato has recommended I lift my spirits by reading or writing
Of course, unless you rely on horses for your livelihood, they are always going to be more of a want rather than a need. But once you give in to the "want" of having a horse, all of a sudden so many "needs" start piling up. Shoes, vet, shelter, feed, tack that fits. These are pretty basic things I think anyone would agree are "needs" (at least for a horse who is rideable). But what about other things? Supportive boots? Supplements? Lessons? Shows? What divides a need from a want, when objectively they're all really wants when it comes to horses?

Although I love horses, I do see it as a hobby, not an all-consuming force that takes over my life. Through trial and error I've realized I don't really want to ride 4-5 days a week, or train up a completely green horse, or even have a set schedule of hacking Mondays, dressage on Tuesdays, jumping Wednesdays,  etc...I just do what's fun for me on that particular day, and what I can afford. Even as a kid, it sort of baffled me that some of the girls at my barn were showing at rated shows practically every weekend. When it comes to special wants like shows and clinics, I think that they need to be just an occasional thing so you have some time to look forward to them! (Don't get me wrong, though--I was WAY jealous of those girls.)

And today as an adult, I kind of scratch my head when I see people struggling to make ends meet for themselves, but they have a $2000+ saddle, brand-name everything, and board at a super-expensive barn. It's like, don't they know life would be SO much easier if some of those costs (and in some cases, debts) were reduced?

I'm not trying to point at anyone in particular, since I've seen so many people this applies to, and I'm not trying to say you shouldn't ride if you have limited means. There are lots of ways to ride for free, or to work off some of the costs! However, I do think it is so tempting to justify crazy spending just because your horse is your baby and you want to take the best possible care of him. There is an article on a sort of related topic on Horse Nation today--and although it is blasphemy to say it in equine bloggerland, I do think it is possible to love your horse too much if it's at the expense of the rest of your life!

I know from experience that it's not fun to have to say no to going out for lunch with barn buddies because you have perfectly good groceries at home, or to skip the XC schooling day along with all of the hauling, coaching and other fees. But it's also not fun to subsist on peanut butter sandwiches, and only drive to absolutely necessary places because you bought a saddle on a whim and literally have no money until your next paycheck!

Anyway, to avoid ending on a  know-it-all note, I thought I'd make a list of some of my top horsey wants right now:

Joules everything. I don't own anything by Joules, but I drool over everything by them in the Dover and Smartpak catalogs every time they arrive! Their clothes are the perfect mix of preppy and weird. And so springy!
I like all these patterns, so why not wear them all at once? Oh yeah, because it's a $90 polo.

Straightforward stripes on the outside, party on the inside.
Fuzzy Mountain Horse boots! Well, now winter is HOPEFULLY over (though there might be snow on the ground for my birthday next week, which has never happened in my entire life). I would totally pick these up if I found a really good deal used...but I just can't see the sense in buying them full price when ridiculously cold winters like we just had are the exception rather than the rule in MD.

If the dog was included I'd pay full price.

A Melton coat for hunting: Now if the whole thing with Polly works out as planned, and I end up hunting during the formal season, this creeps closer to a "need" on the spectrum. Of course those are a lot of "if"s, so when I meet with her owner, I'm going to ask if it's something I should shop around for in the meantime...or ask Byron to shop around for me as a birthday gift :)

A cubbing jacket for hunting, and 10,000 patterned stocks: You may have gathered from the Joules stuff above that I like pattens...the more the better. Tweed cubbing jackets and patterned stock ties simply enable my love of matching different patterns together. Some call that mismatching, but where's the fun in that?

 What are your horsey wants?


  1. "And today as an adult, I kind of scratch my head when I see people struggling to make ends meet for themselves, but they have a $2000+ saddle, brand-name everything, and board at a super-expensive barn. It's like, don't they know life would be SO much easier if some of those costs (and in some cases, debts) were reduced?"

    This. I wonder this a lot. I own nice things and I train, but I am not broke, I am not poor. I'm actually doing just fine. I am FRUGAL though. I hate paying full price for stuff but I will and if what I want is expensive I budget for it and save and then buy it. I can wait and buy rather then GET RIGHT NOW to make sure I keep being financially fine rather then getting that rush from having some newest and greatest thing.

  2. Yes...that's the way to do it, especially for big-ticket items! I learned that the hard way but it was an important lesson.

  3. A subject near and dear to my heart. I see friends struggle to pay the bills yet one of them "has to have a horse" and my heart just breaks. I know how it feels to be without one, but I also know that if I was living paycheck to paycheck I wouldn't dream of putting my family through knowing that $500+ per month went to my hobby.

    I think sometimes my barn, trainer and lessons must make it look like I spend a ton, but I spend less than most people spend on board alone since I work a lot of it off. I spend very little on tack and clothing and spend a lot on training and clinics. Connor might be wearing a red saddle with havana reins and a black bridle right now, but damn if we're not going to move up to BN and kickass next season.

    It's why I like eventing, so much emphasis is placed on how you do it rather than what you look like while you do it.

  4. Nothing wrong with a little mismatching :)

    And wow--$500 for total monthly horse care, I wish. That is why I'm glad I am just leasing. All I can afford is half a horse in my area!

  5. I don't pay that much, but you know what I mean. ;-)

  6. We live in such an I want it now world! I want nice things- don't get me wrong but I either save or wait till my birthday/Christmas to get them :)

    Sometimes I splurge but never in place of paying a bill!

  7. I agree with this, however, where I come from, a lot of people live pay check to pay check, and they spend that pay check on lots of things that I think are utterly stupid. They'd rather eat peanut butter sandwiches so that they can get drunk every weekend. But that's their prerogative, I feel. I think that if it's something you enjoy, it doesn't matter. At the point I'm at now, I barely scrape by. I'm by no means extravagant with my horse costs, but my pay simply doesn't allow me much extra, if I had no horse, I'd have an easier time financially. But would I have a better life? I doubt it. I moved to a new city and literally Know no one but the people at the barn. Sure I'd have money to buy myself chocolate milk but the horse makes me happy and you can't buy happiness.

    So while I agree wholeheartedly that people take it to an extreme sometime, to each their own.

  8. I agree completely if the expense of getting something you "want" like a name brand saddle pad makes it difficult/impossible to do the things you need then maybe you need to look at your priorities and make sure you are happy. I do have some expensive horse tack but the couple if name brand/fancy things I have I worked hard and saved for and they didn't hinder me paying my bills. MOST of my stuff is second hand, bought on clearance or just plain cheap. Some things I even made myself :) I also shopped around for board and while the place I'm moving is way more than I've spent in the past (I was boarding for free and then went to $150) at $300 per month it's still on the cheap side of boarding for the area and it means that I can take lessons and actually progress in my riding. Also, it was done with a very clear look at my budget. I wish more people would examine what they really need vs want.