One thing that I have always hoarded far too much – books. Even now, stuck on a little dot of an island, I have 6 books on the go at the same time – 4 are on my kindle and 2 are actual books. And, I do have a couple of crates and bags scattered around the world, mainly… books.
One of my current books is a page a day on self-disciple, motivation, and anti-procrastination. It is pretty easy, that one page a day. A couple of days ago, the theme was something that already resonates with me. It said, we should try to simplify, live with less. It makes you more focused, less distracted, more able to deal with coping in bad situations where you do have to live without something, and more resourceful about being able to adapt.
I already live simply – no house, no furniture, no animals, no physical office or workspace. Only carrying with me what will fit into my suitcase. I have been threatening for years to attempt the 100 item challenge – you can only own 100 things. But, you know… books….
When I flew into Asia, I came with my giant, 30kg suitcase and 8kg hand luggage. When I flew onto Bali, I came with 12kg of luggage, leaving the bulk in Singapore. I have travelled with less, because it’s only been a short trip, with less things to do, less commitment, less need of things. So, now here I sit, with about 5 changes of clothes, my laptop, 2 books, a kindle and ummm…. That’s about it. I certainly have less than 100 items, can’t trim down my possessions much more, and do you know what? It’s awesome. Less thinking everyday about what to wear, what to do, tidying up, sorting out. It’s very cool. So when the book said, see what you can trim and delete from your life – well, not a lot really. (It does help that all you need here are a pair of shorts, a t-shirt and a pair of flip flops…)
What’s all this got to do with horses? Who, honestly, keeps things clutter free and easy with their horses?
Years ago, I worked for an Olympic 3-day eventer. He had about 10 horses, and the tiniest little tack room ever. Each horse had a halter and a bridle; a rug or two. And that was basically it. There were maybe 5 saddles, a handful of bits, a pile of clean saddle pads, and…. The horses were ridden in simple snaffles, cavesson nosebands, no martingales or gadgets, nothing. On one occasion, I asked him if I could hack one of the horses out with a martingale, because he could get quite full of himself and explosive. Sure, was the reply – if you can find one in my tack room? He’d said this with certainty, because he knew that he didn’t own one. (He later asked me – do you know what a martingale is? Well, yes, I replied – strap from girth to reins, passes through a neck strap? No, he explained, it’s a flashing neon sign, saying that the horse’s owner doesn’t care to educate him and just ties his head down instead… I haven’t used a martingale since…)
When I had my yard in Zimbabwe, every horse had a halter and a fly fringe. All the riding horses had a simple snaffle bridle. Most had a winter rug, and there were a variety of saddles, certainly not one each. Each groom had a grooming kit, there was a first aid kit, a pile of working and show saddle pads, and…. Nothing. 80 horses shared one very small tackroom, because their kit was so simple. No gadgets, no martingales, very few boots, one or two flash nosebands.
I look at some of the yards (most of them) where I go to teach – horses each have vast tack closets, enormous tackrooms, and riders still store their collection of 89 different coloured matchy matchy sets of saddle pads at home. I did tell one young rider that the only reason she had a horse was because she figured that at her age, it was not appropriate to dress up Barbie dolls any more…
So, my challenge to you – could you strip down to less than 100 items in your tack cupboard? Could you ride your horse just in a simple snaffle and saddle? No martingales, no gadgets, no nosebands, no side reins or bungees or multitudes of 89 different coloured saddle pads? It really does make your life simpler!