Anyone is familiar with stuff wearing out and breaking. If your dishwasher stops working, you replace it, after evaluating how much you can afford to spend, what you’re using it for, and so forth. If you’re doing lots of stuff with your horse, you need a fair amount of equipment to do it all with. If you’re traveling for shows, trail rides, parades, or other activities, you need a truck, a trailer, specialized tack, and special clothing. My husband and I took our horses to living history events off and on for almost half their lives, so our “show turnout” included historically correct saddles, bridles, clothing for ourselves, picket lines, manure forks,…..yeah, you get the picture.
When your horse is older and you’ve reached a point in your own life where you’re not necessarily planning on “the next horse,” you start evaluating things a little differently. We find we adjust our activities. We retired our horses from living history activities some time ago, and as Bars has gotten older, he’s not quite up to the same level of running around on our local trails that he once was. Now, as equipment starts to wear out, we find we really have to stop and evaluate “Are we really going to need this?”
Anyone with an expensive hobby evaluates expenses carefully to some degree, and anyone who owns a horse does this all the time, because few of us have money growing on trees. But circumstances change, and those changes alter the criteria we use to evaluate expenses. My current girth is showing signs of wear, and I might conceivably use a new one. I use it almost five days a week, after all. But that usage pattern could change drastically and without warning, and then I’d have an almost new girth that I’d have to do something else with. So, you hold off, asking yourself “do I really need this?”
Sometimes, however, you’re given little choice. What recently began as a routine service on our trailer has turned into needing a new floor. For those of you who haven’t had to do this, it’s expensive. Five years ago, there would have been no question that that money needed to be spent. But now, since we hardly use the trailer any more, we had to think a little bit. In the end, we decided, “yes, we really do need this.”
These decisions are often not completely based on whether you can reasonably afford to spend the money, but rather, how long you can expect to use any particular item. A few years ago Bars stepped on a rein and broke it. I had a spare bridle, and for awhile I debated whether I really needed another one. I did a lot of shopping online, comparing the cost of buying just a new set of reins, a whole new bridle, and probably agonized over it more than I needed to. But I just kept asking myself “am I still going to need this in five years?” I ended up getting a good deal on a sale bridle & reins that I’m still using.
But you ask yourself these questions all the time. “Will I still need this in two years?” “Will today be the last ride?” When your horse is 30, every day that he’s still standing is a gift, and you have to take each day as it comes, because tomorrow the picture could change drastically and forever.
So, today we still need this. Tomorrow will take care of itself.