- By Laura Mullane
A couple of years ago, as my husband and I were walking through our nearly complete barn that we’d had built on our property after years of talking and planning and loan-acquiring, he said, “We should name each stall after a college we won’t be able to afford to send our kids to because we built the barn. This one will be Princeton. That one, Stanford. The wash stall can be Harvard.” I laughed, but couldn’t help but wonder if, someday, my children might not think it’s so funny.
Like most people who own horses and whose last name isn’t Gates or Trump, there never seems to be enough money. We spend our days looking at our checking account balance, wondering if we can will more money into it simply by staring at it. We ask our accountants if we can claim our horses as a tax write-off. “Can’t they qualify as dependents?” we say, as they roll their eyes and take another swig from the flask they have hidden in their desk drawer (which we secretly think would be a really nice hunting flask and wonder how much it cost). We obsessively watch hay prices. We stalk sales at tack stores like vultures circling a carcass. When our friend throws out a halter because it’s torn and the leather is frayed, we say, “I’ll take it!” and find a roll of duct tape. Problem solved. We’re the dumpster divers of the equestrian world.
Those of us who live in the horse world know: For every magazine article featuring an equestrian wearing a bespoke cubbing jacket and boots, who splits her time between Manhattan and Wellington—where she has a horse property valued at the equivalent of Guatemala’s GDP—there are hundreds of the rest of us, whose breeches have holes and whose gate latches are made of baling wire.