The first step in solving the problem is recognizing the problem….


This article won the 2021 GMO Newsletter Award for a first person article for GMOs with fewer than 75 members. It originally appeared in Columbia Dressage and Combined Training Association newsletter, Direct Rein, October 2021.

My name is Beth and I am addicted to saddle pads.

I collect them like some people collect Kewpie dolls or Disney figurines, but I tell myself I’m better than those people because although no one needs a collectible troll doll, I re-ally do need saddle pads. But I don’t need as many as I have.

There is no other good explanation for why I have in my possession, as of last count, no less than forty-two of them. Now if I owned a stable full of horses, or taught lessons, or had riding camps or even lots of riding friends who came over then this number might not seem as outlandish. But currently I have three horses, only two of which are ridea-ble, and only one of which has even a slim chance of being ridden more than once a week. So I need at the outside like, four saddle pads, if I get fancy and use different ones for flatwork and jumping. Even allowing for daily riding (which is unlikely to happen in the foreseeable future) and laundering that only makes eight.

I have then five times the amount of saddle pads I could ever use. And yet every time I get a new catalog, or shop at a horse show or festival I seem to come home with another one. The colors and trim and styles available are apparently endless so I don’t have to worry about repeating myself.

Getting new gear is one of the fun parts of any sport; I have seen my dad get as excited over some new go-fast for his sailboat as I ever have over a new bit or pair of riding socks. There is always something better or more advanced to try, but as sports go equestrian pursuits have more gear options than almost anything else because after all we are outfitting not just ourselves but our equine partner. God help you if you decide to get into four-in-hand combined driving teams!

I remember as a horse crazy kid poring over the Miller’s Harness Company catalog (black and white, bare bones photography, no longer in business) looking at shedding blades and martingales and other mysterious exciting items, the utility and purpose of which I could only guess. I hoarded my birthday and Christmas money and sent off for things that I could afford even if I didn’t know what they actually did, which is how I ended up with a cactus cloth and several curb chains in different sizes.

Horses meet a lot of different needs for a lot of different types of people. I guess one of the needs they meet for me is by providing an acceptable outlet for my need to dress things up after outgrowing Barbies.

Is this how the whole idea of a “clothes horse” came about?

Until next time- Beth Hussey

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