I had an interesting thought on Halloween this year. As I was getting dressed up in my cowgirl “costume” for my son’s class party it made me really think about how and why we dress for riding and the barn.
**I want to preface all of this with the caveat that I am not promoting rampant consumerism of meaningless things. I want to convey that while some things in life aren’t worth the purchase because they won’t provide a value or a sense of happiness or years of worthwhile use…other things will.. My (mostly) entire point of this is to show that there are so many aspects that we love within being a rider, and they exist together. To peel the onion and see why it is that we love horses and riding and everything associated with it is very interesting to me, and I think you’ll see it too. We love this life because the joy and layers to the journey are endless. This is just one of them.
Oh, and that if you love something that is a material object, that’s ok.
I wear what I wore to my son’s class fairly regularly. I am a little bit of a Wenglish rider since we are country people, and own and raise cattle in our rural Northern California area, but I come from both a gymkana-barrel racing AND Hunter-Jumper background. For me, the worlds are definitely mixed on the regular. I selectively wear what is most comfortable for me to live and ride in. So as I put on my chaps, it got me thinking about where clothing and feelings align and what it means to dress for the barn.
There are so many things that come into play when deciding what to wear to ride. From the weather conditions to the length of your ride, those things are pivotal. But what about the spiritual, the cultural and the emotional portion of your riding clothes? It felt ceremonial getting dressed for my son’s class because instead of wearing my normal Bella breeches, I was wearing Wranglers. And instead of wearing a helmet, I put on my hat. But I wouldn’t be telling the truth if I said that there isn't something special about dressing for the barn, despite the fact that I literally do it everyday, as I am sure you do, too. Do you ever put on your breeches just in case your kids or your life give you an extra moment to sneak outside or to the barn? Do you ever decide to wear your hair a certain way because you might just be shoving it under a helmet sometime in the afternoon?
What about preparation for a riding day- do you lay out your clothes the day before a lesson or plan in your head what you will wear? I do. I do it based on the weather (comfort related) and for how I feel. I want to FEEL GOOD when I ride.
Often I think about marketing since I own this tiny business. And in that marketing is how I can best convey to you all what makes our clothes different. Of the many ways I have worked this out and tried to get my message across is how our clothes feel on, the comfort, the functionality and how big those two things are within our business DNA. But recently I have been really thinking of the emotional and spiritual part of our identities as riders and equestrians as well as all of the other aspects of your lives that make you interesting people.
What I keep coming back to and what went through my head Halloween day, is the idea that while I wholeheartedly believe that what you look like outside of your insides-your world facing facade doesn’t matter and does not impact your horsewoman abilities, that what you wear does actually matter. Bear with me, because I don’t mean aesthetics.
What we wear matters to us. It just does. You might not care about color, but you have a favorite pair of boots. Because, they fit right, they allow your foot to flex or you don’t get blisters with them. So the pleasure of putting them on matters. Wearing those boots matters.
You might not care about how your hair looks, but you do care about having a hair tie that functions and holds your hair back. Your hair tie matters.
Recently, and due to the many motherly obligations that happen in the latter part of the year, I have been wearing jeans a lot more. I wear the Bella or the Ges 2.0 breeches EVERY. DANG. DAY. I am not exaggerating, as some other moms from my kids’ school can attest. It is the truth. So while having to wear jeans frequently, I have had to come up with something that is as comfortable for undergarments. I cannot find traditional undergarments that make me as comfortable in my jeans as I am in the seamless built in underwear of the breeches.
So, from my body’s perspective: even the tiniest parts of what we wear MATTERS.
Setting aside comfort and function, let’s go back to the ceremonial and the spiritual. Have you ever had an heirloom piece of clothing- a watch or a necklace that reminded you of a loved one? One that made you feel their presence or reminded you of being with them? That random piece of clothing or that shaped piece of metal or leather is not random to you. To you, that article matters. And if you wear it, that means what you are wearing matters. A necklace you touch might be a physical reminder of your relationship with God or another spiritual guide in your life.
Also consider highly superstitious sports athletes like Baseball players. The same gloves are put on in a particular way, always in the same order. Do those gloves make a functional difference? Yea a little, probably. But what they don’t do in actuality, they make up for in spirituality. What you wear matters if it keeps your mind focused or your heart at peace.
When I consider all of these things, it reminds me, The closer I am to my riding clothes, the closer I feel to my horse. Even when I am far away from them.
So maybe that sentiment is the truest reason as to why what we wear riding matters.
And maybe that is because the closer I am to my horses the more at peace I am. The closer I am to my horses, the more likely I am outside, breathing fresh air, taking in the sunshine. The closer I am to my horses the closer I am to building the relationship and life with my horse that I want. Maybe the closer I am to my horses the further away I am from other things.
So the next time you get dressed, even if you don't think that things like clothes have any significance to you or your life, maybe consider making that moment something you acknowledge and give some gratitude to. Give thanks for the ways that a piece of clothing- something so simple-can make you feel connected, accepted, aligned or at peace. And if your clothing doesn’t do that for you, change it.
This blog a work in progress. I might flesh it out more at a later date or continue it further or deep in the future. There are so many nuances to our decisions to invest in certain clothing, treasure items that bring us joy and find fulfillment in the act of dressing for our rides. It is endlessly interesting and love you all joining me in discovering and learning more.