Monday, April 13, 2009

Modern Equestrian Authenticated, Part 1

The truth about real equestrian tack rooms is that they are often ugly blemishes on equestrian facilities. Literally a dirty little secret at the top of the isle with crusted stable dirt, dust, and dingy saddle pads everywhere.

Old tack allowed to accumulate on the top racks and stable dirt crusted everywhere.

They are most often wood panelled affairs which requires little or no maintenance over the years and is forgiving of dirt and dings.

I mean, Chums, the real thing, the practical working tack room, is no prince of the design biz, but the accoutrement are perhaps a more perfect and rewarding thing as I see items of the tack room turning up everywhere. I cannot remember where I saw (though a reader will know): An old, used, and not particularly good saddle was for sale at a major retailer as a piece of decor. It was not inexpensive. I marveled to myself about the number I have given away and an opportunity lost.

Some advice if you choose to display a saddle not your own in your home (do be sure it has been used and have it cleaned, Dahlings, that saddle I came across was grotesque), you need a fitting saddle horse. Not a rack. A good, worn, softened saddle carried someone through many happy rides in a glorious if arcane sport. It was the work of craftsmen whose art is leaving us.

It deserves a proper home if it has been retired to the house.

Please don't bolt a piece of metal to a wall, that is not at all a decent thing to do. And please, make sure it is a good saddle anything less is just as indecent: Hermes. Antares. Tad Coffin. An old Crosby. A work of sporting art.

Richly-finished and superbly crafted tack trunks often represented in magazines as stable and horse show storage are more often permanent and beloved furniture: Hardwood tack trunks rarely travel any longer, they are far too heavy and costly to take the beating of the trailer ride. When I was eleven, my Mother commissioned a hardwood trunk. It is magnificent. Built by the son of a local stable owner, it is constructed of fine mahogany and cedar. It never has and never will see the inside of a long haul trailer to Ocala or Wellington. I've seen several built by craftsmen who were not truly equine-trunk craftsmen, to horse people they look like a poor joke on the homeowner. Always a good idea to get the real McCoy and have your brass added sparingly.

This item below is not the genuine article, more like an approximate, but it is decor, not equipment. I think it's fine but the purists would about-face, leap on to their steed, and whisper about you at the hunt breakfast. You know, if you are confident, giddy up.

Not as glamorous but more accurate would be the hardwoods favored in equine-inspired decorating in Virginia and Maryland. Very pretty, much like my own, but not intended to travel. Also a very nice permanent item in a real tack room, I like a whole wall of them but I told you already I was a glutton.

The traveling trunks are more likely vinyl in the stables colors with the riders initials in the vinyl or on a plate. It is important in the horse world that all the customers have the same travelling, the stables' colors are how we recognize one another's isles, riders, and horses at shows.

They are also a perfect marquis for the stable to advertise.

Finally, there is the Baker trunk.

This plaid authentic Baker is traditional to horse accessories and most commonly seen in light weight horse blankets.

I think it would make a fun tongue and cheek upholstery in a hunt country library.

Some show riders also travel with braid, foot, and bit boxes for small grooming tools or tack if they have the room in the trailer and the hands to carry it. It is easier to justify transporting all the extras when the rider or stable is moving to the show grounds for the season which is the case at the Wellington/ Palm Beach and Ocala, Florida venues to which many northeaster competitors travel for the winter season. Smaller, and lovely on a console if relocated into the house.

For selfish and comforting reasons, it would be lovely if more tack trunks were incorporated into "equestrian inspired" room decor. As a rider, they are are the equivalent of the luggage pieces in vignettes all over home magazines these days. They are the keepers of our sporting life and the baggage we carried from our home stables to jumping fields all over. When I look over decor photos of equine style, I am looking to see if assumptions are evident and cliches are present. I am looking to see if they really knew the thing or threw the obligatory hat, gloves, and field boots into the photo to lend some legitimacy to the hunt art or to put the room in a context it would not otherwise have.

One sees rooms now and again which might do well to have a tack trunk considered to lend authentication or to be a lovely, though rarely thought of, replacement for another, maybe less compelling and surprising piece in the room. At least, that is my humble idea. But could a tack trunk not add some interest to any of these scenes? And since they are custom made to dimension if you wish, could they not enjoy a place in any horsey staging? I dare say so. Possibly you can imagine how they might fit into these rooms.

Traditional Home

Southern Accents

Southern Accents

Southern Accents

Garden and Gun


Renee Finberg said...

wow wee

another horsie girl !
nice post !

foxfire said...

Just stumbled across this post and loved every picture! I have horses, so the decor in many of these rooms makes me smile!