The stuff of dreams

The way we shop for sad­dles, boots and eques­trian ac­ces­sories has been trans­formed by tech­nol­ogy, but tack cat­a­logs will al­ways have a spe­cial place in my heart.

EQUUS - - Back Page - By Mary Lynne Car­pen­ter

The glossy cover catches my eye. I hold the weight of it in my hands. The feel of the slick pa­per be­tween my fin­ger­tips is smooth, even slick. Pages full of equine-re­lated items dance be­fore my eyes. What is this trea­sure trove of pos­si­bil­i­ties? A tack cat­a­log.

On­line shop­ping cer­tainly has ben­e­fits. A re­duc­tion in waste­ful pa­per pro­duc­tion has, no doubt, spared many trees and is pos­i­tive for the en­vi­ron­ment. The con­ve­nience of point-and-click shop­ping is hard to beat. I would not want to go back in time, but I must say that I had a spe­cial re­la­tion­ship with the tack cat­a­log, one that is hard to for­get.

I grew up in the 1970s and 1980s. My im­me­di­ate fam­ily was not equine-in­clined, but an aunt who lived across the coun­try in­tro­duced me to the won­der­ful world of horses dur­ing a va­ca­tion. Fully in­fected with the horse bug, I con­tin­ued rid­ing back at home---my life re­volv­ing around weekly lessons.

The les­son barn had a small tack shop on the premises. Look­ing at all the items for sale was the next best thing to spend­ing time with a real horse. Those hours at the barn and the tack shop were pre­cious. My sched­ule was dic­tated by fam­ily who loved me but did not share my in­ter­est.

Some­where along the way, I dis­cov­ered tack cat­a­logs. Sud­denly I had a link to the horse world that did not in­volve wait­ing on adult trans­port. I could sit on the fam­ily couch or

snug­gle un­der the cov­ers of my bed and im­merse my­self in all things eques­trian. Those cat­a­logs held all of my hopes, dreams and am­bi­tions for a life with horses. I spent many an hour en­vi­sion­ing my ideal horse and all the ac­tiv­i­ties we would do to­gether. I care­fully crafted lists of all the items that would be nec­es­sary for this imag­ined life to­gether.

When I fi­nally did get my first horse about 20 years later, I gath­ered every tack cat­a­log that I could find. Go­ing through those pages to ac­tu­ally pur­chase items for a real live horse of my own was an im­mense plea­sure ---a sat­is­fy­ing end to all of my years of wait­ing. My first horse’s name was Blue, and that be­came his barn color. I took great care to find as many like-col­ored tack and ac­ces­sories as I could. I sat­is­fied my de­sire to have al­most ev­ery­thing match­ing, right down to the par­tic­u­lar shade of blue that looked best with my new geld­ing’s coat color.

The act of once again thumb­ing through tack cat­a­log pages trig­gered many child­hood mem­o­ries for me. I ex­pe­ri­enced a strong sense of déjà vu. I had been here be­fore. Ex­cept this time, my heart was not burst­ing with long­ing for a horse, and my need for tack was not imag­ined.

Fast-for­ward again a cou­ple of decades and Blue is no longer with me. Since his pass­ing, other horses have come into my life. I still reg­u­larly shop for tack and ac­ces­sories but now I mostly use my com­puter or smart­phone.

We adapt to tech­no­log­i­cal in­no­va­tions, wel­com­ing the pos­i­tive changes they bring. But I some­times won­der how we will in­te­grate them into our mem­o­ries. Had I grown up scrolling through im­ages on my smart­phone, would I have ex­pe­ri­enced the same vis­ceral re­sponse to tack shop­ping? Years from now when the smart­phone has been re­placed by some other gad­get, will I write about bit­ter­sweet mo­ments as­so­ci­ated with us­ing my touch­screen to se­lect my new tack?

Per­haps. But one thing I know for sure is that the tack cat­a­log will al­ways hold a spe­cial place in my heart.

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