In Defense of Treating Myself

There are two main schools of equestrians that I follow on Instagram: those with seemingly bottomless pockets who are always wearing the newest trends and have impeccable matching tack, and those who don’t give a rat’s ass about all that and pride themselves on riding well instead of relying on appearance.

I don’t think I have the necessary qualifications to join either group.

When it comes to the first group, I simply don’t have the funds to keep up. I don’t have a groom to hold my horse so my whites stay white, I can’t show at WEF for 12 weeks every winter, and I’ve never spent more than $100 on a bridle.

And when it comes to the second group, I care too much about my appearance. And not gonna lie, I don’t ride well enough to outshine any untidiness in my dress. Many people do. I am not one of them.

So I’m basically stuck in no-man’s land: vain enough to want all the pretty things, but unable to justify the expense when I have rent due at the end of the month.

I think we can all agree that buying expensive tack or riding clothes does NOT make you a better rider. Something about turning a sow’s ear into a silk purse and all that. And there are plenty of options that are budget-friendly, neat, coordinated, and are perfectly serviceable. So why do I keep lusting over the $200 pants, when a $70 pair of pants serve the purpose just as well?

We could delve into a deep analysis of my inner psyche and how society has conditioned us to seek approval and blah blah blah, but let’s not. It’s really simple: I don’t just ride because I love horses.

Of course, I love horses. That part is obvious. But there’s another reason that I love this sport so much. It’s the aesthetic. And I think this is what makes it hard for me to identify with the second group: they have a love for the sport that is based more purely on their love for riding, and that’s wonderful! I love it too! But my love for this sport has another facet, for better or for worse.

I LOVE the look. Matching leather, sleek show coats that coordinate perfectly with the horse you’re on, subtle monograms, having every hair in place. There’s a reason the equestrian look has been in style for literally centuries- it’s the perfect mix of elegant and functional, classy and sporty.

So to the person who says, “if you didn’t buy that show coat, you could show in an extra division” I say this:

You’re right. I could go for the budget-friendly options and then I’d be able to show more often and probably I’d become a better competitor and maybe even a better rider. There is no denying that.

But I’ve made a lot of sacrifices to be able to afford this sport. All willingly and eagerly made, but sacrifices nonetheless. My sense of style and delight in high-quality leather will not go on that list of sacrifices.

Someday maybe I’ll have the luxury of a budget that allows me to have it all. But in the meantime, I will continue to work my butt off to be the absolute best rider I can be and progress at home and at shows. I will sweat through everything I own, I will tromp through mud without hesitation, I will wipe horsey eye boogers on my jacket, I will rest muddy hooves on my pants.

You can bet your boots that I’m gonna feel gorgeous doing it.

What’s your favorite way to treat yourself?

32 thoughts on “In Defense of Treating Myself

  1. Amanda C 04/27/2016 / 10:38 am

    No defense necessary. I don’t think it’s anyone’s business what you (or anyone else) buy or why!


    • hellomylivia 04/27/2016 / 10:45 am

      Honestly I want everyone else to buy stuff so I can read all the product reviews πŸ˜‰


      • Amanda C 04/27/2016 / 10:51 am

        I just want everyone to have nice, pretty things.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Allison Stitzinger 04/27/2016 / 11:02 am

    You do you, girlfriend! I find that when I’m dressed nicely in clothes & tack that I really love, it helps me take myself seriously as a rider and really ‘show up to work’.


    • hellomylivia 04/27/2016 / 12:32 pm

      Agreed completely, it’s almost like putting on that uniform gets you mentally in the zone


  3. Lauren 04/27/2016 / 11:27 am

    I could have written this post myself. Completely agree with you.


  4. carey 04/27/2016 / 12:02 pm

    Great post. I love the style of it all, too. I want all the pretty things.


  5. Megan 04/27/2016 / 12:42 pm

    I’m definitely in the camp of “how many lessons would this cost me” for most things. I’d love to really show off my blingy DQ side but I just can’t justify it to the level that I’d want to, and I adore lessons so much. But I’m definitely working to set up a separate savings account for horses (separate from my regular horse expenses in my checking account) that can grow over the months so I don’t have to feel guilty spending money on stuff πŸ™‚


    • hellomylivia 04/27/2016 / 12:48 pm

      That’s such a good idea!! I don’t have an actual separate account, but I’m trying to do something similar- I have my wishlist, but those things only get bought if A) I’m not showing that month and have some leeway in the budget or B) some unexpected income falls in my lap. Lessons for me are a non-negotiable, I’ll ride bareback while wearing a pillowcase if I have to πŸ˜‰


  6. Olivia @ DIY Horse Ownership 04/27/2016 / 1:36 pm

    I’m a sucker for nice leather. I’ll just wander around tack stores petting saddles. I don’t care as much about my own stuff, so most of that is cheap. It’s just going to get dirty anyway since j can’t afford a groom so I’m not up for spending a lot.


    • hellomylivia 04/28/2016 / 7:30 am

      Haha glad I’m not the only saddle petter πŸ˜‰ Certain things that I know will get filthy, I definitely don’t like spending too much on.


  7. Stacie Seidman 04/27/2016 / 3:35 pm

    Pshhhh… I’m a Jew. Which means I’m “Frugal”. Or just plain old cheap. Whatever. But we all know I love nice things. Do as I do… be patient, for all the pretties eventually go on sale. ALL of them! Stalk ebay. And also, sometimes something unknown can be way nicer than the expensive version. I’m mildly obsessed with the Joseph Sterling bridles from The leather is amazing and while they aren’t under $100, they’re not too far over. Or just let me know what you’re lusting after and I’ll happily stalk the internet for you to find it cheaper. Or something similar that’s more affordable. #shopaholic


    • hellomylivia 04/28/2016 / 7:32 am

      I’m new to the world of ebay stalking and omg it is addicting. And THIS right here is one of the huge reasons I love the people I meet on blogland- we all want to help each other find the pretties πŸ™‚ ❀


  8. sarahczspots 04/27/2016 / 3:55 pm

    I’m too practical to buy all the things really. I paid big bucks (to me…lol) for my western saddle but only because I could justify with the logic that I’ll never need another one in my life now. I really struggle spending money on some things because of all the farm expenses. I’d rather have a new run in in one of my fields than a hunter outfit that fits me. I also buy basically everything used. I do, however, say do what makes you happy.


    • hellomylivia 04/28/2016 / 7:35 am

      Used allllll the way! Good quality gear that I don’t have to break in, for cheaper??? Sign me up every time. And agreed completely that certain things take priority- happy healthy horses trump everything else!!


  9. Hillary H. 04/27/2016 / 11:26 pm

    This is relate able to most equestrians. There are so many different levels though. I have nice clothes and tack because I operate in the school of thought that if I buy something nice once that’s better than spending more on things that are cheaper but need to be replaced more frequently.

    I like nice things and try to save up for quality even if that means I don’t get instant gratification. But ditto your sentiments on good turnout. You don’t have to have the most expensive things to appear tidy and respectful.


    • hellomylivia 04/28/2016 / 7:39 am

      I couldn’t agree more- there are of course exceptions, but I’ve found that often in the equestrian world, you get what you pay for. I’ve heard the saying “buy once, cry once” and I’ve found it to be very true.
      “You don’t have to have the most expensive things to appear tidy and respectful.” Can I get this blown up to poster size or something??? Seriously I LOVE how you worded this, and I think I need this reminder sometimes!!


  10. Jenn 04/28/2016 / 7:19 am

    If you need any help treating yourself, you know where to find me πŸ˜‰ #enabler #definitelyNOTsorry


    • hellomylivia 04/28/2016 / 7:40 am

      You are going to be the reason I declare bankruptcy and move into Frankie’s stall.


      • Jenn 04/28/2016 / 11:32 am

        ….I don’t see a problem with this.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Emma 04/28/2016 / 11:21 am

    I think that’s the greatest thing about being an adult ammy. We make the sport and our sacrifices to participate work for us, however we see fit. There have been times where those extra rounds at a show meant more to me than the jacket, just as there have been times when dammit I just want the jacket. At the end of the day we are doing it for personal fulfillment. Bc it makes us happy, in whatever way shape or form. And if we all liked the exact same things it would be boring as hell lol


    • hellomylivia 04/28/2016 / 12:06 pm

      Couldn’t have said it better myself!! I spent next to no money in the months leading up to Ocala because that was the priority, and then a little while after that I got the stupid pants. Cheers to not being boring ❀


  12. Jackie V 04/28/2016 / 9:02 pm

    eBay, ebay, ebay! I’ve bought soft shells, trophy hunters, parlantis (for $155!), ogilvy and equifit, all for 50% or more off retail. It gives me something to do at work when I’m bored. Just be diligent and you will find the deals!


    • hellomylivia 04/29/2016 / 7:37 am

      Well I know what I’ll be doing with all my free time…Blogland coming together to find pretty things for cheap is my FAVORITE!


  13. redheadlins 04/29/2016 / 8:54 pm

    Yep I’m here too! Yes sometimes I set something down as I would rather have a lesson. But I also want to look nice in said lesson or show, so shoot me;) I swear I ride better if I feel nice about my appearance, so in my mind it is totally justified!


    • hellomylivia 05/02/2016 / 7:43 am

      Agreed! It’s almost like a uniform of sorts. A fabulous, filthy uniform.


  14. Holly 04/29/2016 / 9:39 pm

    I’m not riding right now but honestly, this is me in life, in general. Yup, spend a little more on a nicer suit because if I stand up a little straighter and walk with a little more confidence at work, then why not? Buy the nicer black heels once, break them in once and wear them forever. So sue me if I’m a little obsessive about having my hair done, makeup done, nice clothes if that’s what makes me a happy confident person – on and off the horse.


    • hellomylivia 05/02/2016 / 7:44 am

      YASSSS. To all of this- whatever makes you a happy confident person. Perfect.


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