I don’t really know where my obsession with the collection of tack began. I’m not picky and I don’t discriminate; my tack trunk(s) are safe havens for rejected horsey equipment, a sort of Land of Misfit Toys for equestrians, welcoming stray grooming utensils, beaten down sports boots, and miscellaneous saddle pads. The storage in my house is sad, my wallet is sad, but my horses are happy, so I am, too.

I am a recent graduate of the equestrian program at the University of Findlay, so I recently moved out my house in Ohio and with that, moved out of my tack locker. Students are assigned one locker each year, however I paid to split a second locker with another student this year. I claimed this locker was to keep my big things in, such as coolers and sheets, and to keep my smelly saddle pads away from the clean ones. It was really just because I have way, way too much tack.

I remember moving in as a freshman and keeping a relatively empty locker. I would see the contents of seniors’ lockers pouring out onto the floor and would wonder, ‘How on Earth did you ever accumulate that much stuff? How do you even know what all you have in there?’ I had never had a tack locker or even a tack trunk. I had a rickety metal saddle stand I bought at a tack swap that stood in the the corner of the tack room with a saddle pad over it to keep it clean. Having the option to even keep my tack tucked away was a treat, but I never imagined my possessions growing so rapidly.

It began when upperclassmen started graduating and handing their supplies down at insanely low prices, or for free. They would explain to me why I needed that item, and I would write a check. Have I ever used that girth extender I bought three years ago? No, but I still have it and it’s ready for use as soon as I ride a big-bellied horse. Did I need to buy the swallowtail saddle pad with three holes and two stains? No, but now I get to ride with a swallowtail pad and it makes me happy.

I’m a member of one of the Facebook tack and apparel trading pages, and joining it was the best/worst thing I could have done for my finances. People selling great items at great prices perk my ears up, I swear.

Ultimately, I think seeing our horses happy makes us happy, which is the only reason we would ever shell out the insane amounts of money we do. No dogs are ever cared for with such expensive taste (except maybe the Queen of England’s dogs, I guess). Cats require food and a litterbox, while horses require everything you could think of plus a little extra.

If I were a horse, I hope I’d have a person who would spoil me with the things I love. Our horses are truly a gift; if they’re going to let us hop on their back , the least we can do as riders is make them feel content.