“Get something for Miss Gina”

“Get something for Miss Gina. Love, Mom” was the only thing written inside a card I received from my mother yesterday. The card also included a check; generous and, though it shouldn’t have been, surprising.

I always forget my mom is a horse person. She had a gray Arabian gelding on whom she rode hunters for a few years- his name was Romeo. There is a picture somewhere of a very small Stephanie perched atop his little gray back. My mom rode intermittently throughout my childhood, although she gave up taking lessons in favor of toting me to lessons and horse shows. About twelve years ago she was riding around our farm aboard a Quarab gelding (my first horse-sized equine) named Buster while I poked along on Sadie, a pleasant Quarter Horse mare. Something spooked Buster and he threw my mom. She broke her collarbone and hasn’t ridden since. She continued to take me to lessons and shows, often acting as a groom. She made sure my boots were dusted off and my pinney was on properly. She walked hot horses while I guzzled Gatorade after a hard cross-country round.

My mom met G last month when she came to visit; she was appropriately impressed and took an immediate liking to Gina. So I shouldn’t have been surprised that she sent me some money with the instructions to buy Gina something nice, but I was anyway.

Onto the fun part: like most horse owners, I budget carefully to make sure my horse’s needs are met. Board, feed, hay, farrier, worming, vet- I meticulously manage my money to make sure Gina (or Moe, or whatever horse I have) doesn’t want for anything. (In college, when hours were low at work, I always went to buy Moe’s feed before going to the grocery store. Sometimes this left me with $10 for food for two weeks, but Ramen noodles are ridiculously cheap.) My monthly expenses don’t leave me with much leftover money for fun stuff, so I keep a list around for when a relative or friend asks what I’d like for my birthday or Christmas. Or for when I get an unexpected windfall.

Here are some highlights of The List:

Classic Leather Halter: I’m a big fan of leather halters. They look sharp, last a long time (if properly taken care of), and most importantly, will break! Sure, breakaway halters will do the same job, but I think they look tacky.

Plain Raised Bridle: I like simple bridles. The best bridle I ever bought was one purchased for $20 at a silent auction. Nothing fancy about it at all. With regular cleaning and conditioning, it lasted me for years until it disappeared after I loaned it to a former polo teammate. The bridle Gina came with is a hideous padded noseband monstrosity. It’s black, which I hate, has a loop for a flash noseband (the actual flash is missing), and worst of all, has white padding. White. Talk about fugly. Needless to say, it looks disgusting. I would never, ever take her to a show in it. Thanks to my mom, I just might buy this very plain (but elegant) brown leather bridle.

Saddle Pad: Since the shaped saddle pads never, ever seem to be able to fit my saddles, it seems I’m destined for a life of square pads. I like that these come in so many festive colors. I’d definitely get the pink and green for schooling. And get it monogrammed. What?? That totally fits Gina’s princess attitude.

Peacock Irons: The saddles I’m riding in these days are both on loan. One is a very nice, very expensive Passier dressage saddle kindly on loan from my trainer/friend, Anne. One is a relatively uncomfortable, extremely odd-fitting all-purpose saddle on loan from the equestrian center. (Most of my tack is on loan from them. Some of my tack was taken by aforementioned polo teammate- he has bridle, saddle, pad, girth. Other tack is in trunk in Tennessee, which my father refuses ship due to expense. So I’m having to piece together a collection, again.) The all-purpose currently has kid-sized leathers and irons on it, since most of our clients are children. The saddle is never used in the program, so I’m free to use it as I wish, and I currently wish to replace the irons with Stephanie-sized ones. Peacock irons are a must for me; Pony Club instilled a healthy fear of being dragged without them.

Tipperary Helmet: Pony Club also taught me that riding without a helmet equals certain death. While my Western riding friends have proven this to be sometimes untrue, I generally keep protective gear on my head. That said, I won’t tell you how old my current velvet helmet is. (Side note: isn’t Velvet Helmet the best band name ever?) It needs to be replaced and I’ve had my eye on this Tipperary for a while. It looks awesome and reviewers rave about its comfort and airflow. Sign me up, because it’s 90+ degrees in Oklahoma.

There are a million other things on my list, including a lovely Stubben jumping saddle I’ve wanted for years. (I told Johnny that he should definitely get me that instead of an engagement ring, should the mood to propose strike him.) Will I buy any of the things on my list with this recent windfall? Maybe. But I’ll probably just end up buying G a giant bag of carrots instead.

Author: Stephanie

Equestrian, amateur cook, people person.

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